Below are 4 basic principles that have kept me in the game and my bankroll healthy.
1. Patience – the biggest weakness for most players is playing too many hands. People want to be active and involved when they’re playing poker, but a lot of the winning formula is patience. Players will see guys like Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey playing all sort of hands from any position, but here’s the thing…you’re NOT them! So its best to play within your level of experience and wait for the best spots to put your money in.
2. Position – this is a very simple concept but its one that’s constantly ignored. The later position you have the more aggressive you can play, the earlier your position the tighter you have to play. Think of Blackjack, the dealer gets to act second and thus has a huge advantage over the player. In poker the same idea applies. I’ll even muck decent hands from middle position sometimes depending on how the table is playing, because the game is a lot easier when you don’t have to deal with tough decisions and getting to act last can make your decision process so much easier.
3. Money Doesn’t Matter – in these turbulent economic times this statement might be hard to understand, but to thrive at the poker table you must have a certain disregard for money. You can’t think about every dollar you put in the middle and how it relates to real life. An observant player will carve you up if he realizes you’re playing with scared money. Besides you should be playing in a game that your bankroll can support, a game where even a series of losses won’t put you on the rail. So when you’re at the table you have to convince yourself that the money doesn’t matter, they’re just chips and you’re just trying to get more chips. All the matters is making the best decision on each and every hand.
4. Keep Your Ego In Check – Always be honest with yourself and your results. Most people play poker because they have a competitive nature but you need to know what level you’re at and which game is best for you. There’s nothing wrong with taking shots and playing out of your comfort zone from time to time but in order to make money you need to have an edge over your opponents. Playing against good players will make you a better player but it isn’t always healthy for your bankroll.