SELECT THE RIGHT GAME FOR YOUR SKILL LEVEL AND POKER BANKROLL: Do not enter a game with higher stakes just because you were successful at a lower level. It is often better to be the best player at an easier or softer table (lower level), than the loser at the harder table (higher level). Poker, like Real Estate, is all about ‘location, location, location‘. Always ask yourself – am I in the right room, at the right table, in the right seat? Do not hesitate to change rooms, tables or seats if the answer to any one of those questions is ‘no‘.
NEVER PLAY POKER WHEN YOU ARE TIRED OR UNABLE TO KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK: You won’t play your best if you play tired or ‘on tilt’ – don’t play tired or when you do not have your emotions in check. Always make sure that you are rested and able to act rationally. If you lose your cool during a game, take a’ time out’ to calm down — otherwise, you risk having other players pick up on your ‘state-of-mind’ and take advantage of your play. Make sure you are at your best anytime that you consider playing serious poker.
NEVER PLAY POKER WITH IMPORTANT MONEY: Your poker bankroll is your poker bankroll and your private funds should be separate and distinct from anything related to poker. Consider entering the casino with a select number of buy-ins and no more (EXAMPLE STRATEGY: playing 2-5 NLH – enter the casino with two $200. buy-ins. If you lose the first buy-in; you can consider pulling out the second buy-in. If you lose the second buy-in, you are done for the day – period!) (never, never, never access your personal funds to transfer money to your poker bankroll. (LIMITED EXCEPTION: unless the portions of your personal funds that you access are excess monies and not part of what you need to conduct your personal life in a comfortable and financial healthy manner. This limited exception should be rarely used).
BE WILLING TO FOLD MORE OFTEN: Don’t feel like you have to play every hand – you will only lose more this way. If you are dealt a poor hand, do not stick with it hoping to improve upon it. If you are obviously beaten, be willing to part ways with your hand, no matter how good it was when it was dealt, or how much money you have committed to the pot.
SOMETIMES, THE BEST HAND THAT YOU PLAY IS THE ONE THAT YOU DO NOT: Disciplined lay downs are the sign of a high level of play. Being able to lay down a hand in crucial situations is difficult and requires much discipline. When done at the right time and for the right reason, laying down a hand can make the difference between ‘living to fight another day’ and surrendering your tournament life.
PAY ATTENTION TO OTHER PLAYERS AT THE TABLE – ALL OF THE TIME: Watch other players at the poker table, even if you are not in the hand or have already folded. Watch for patterns, player reactions, body language, exposed cards, and the information made available at ‘show down‘. File this information away and insure that it is available when you need it. It may not seem significant at the time, but a time will present that it will become significant – be ready to use it. At the poker table, you must be all about ‘getting information’ and never about ‘giving information.’
NEVER SHOW OR EXPOSE YOUR HAND, UNLESS YOU ARE REQUIRED TO DO SO: Never show or expose your hand – period! There is seldom a reason to give away information about your play and that is exactly what you accomplish when you show your hand. Armed with that information, other players can reconstruct the hand and key your actions to the hand that you exposed. The more petals of the artichoke that they peel away the closer they get to the heart of the matter and thereby learn the ‘ins and outs‘ of your play and your game (EXAMPLE: some might say that they are crafting a ‘table image,’ but ‘at what cost?‘). Do not show or expose your hand – period!
DO NOT ASSUME THAT PLAYING IN A CASINO IS JUST LIKE PLAYING ONLINE: At the casino, you will have to play more wisely against possibly more skilled players. Also, your body language and tells are now front and center – on display for all, unlike the image that you can create and essentially hide behind online. Your live poker face is nothing like your online avatar.
BLUFF SPARINGLY AND WISELY: Do not bluff just for the pure sake of bluffing. Do not use a bluff as a way to get yourself out of folding all the time. Fold if you have to — bluff occasionally. Bluff when the board or community cards present situations (cover, or smoke screens) that you can capitalize upon and thereby allow your hand to masquerade as something that it is not. Bluff when the opportunity presents based upon the play of your opponents. Bluff sparingly, when it makes sense and never when it does not.
DO NOT RAISE UNLESS YOU THINK THAT YOU CAN CALL A RE-RAISE: Anytime that you raise, there is always a chance that you will be re-raised, so make sure that you are prepared to do so in case if it happen.
DO NOT CALL UNLESS YOU THINK THAT YOU CAN RAISE: When another player bets, play the hand if you think you might have the best hand, and you want to make opponents pay to draw out on you.
BE A GOOD SPORT – A HUMBLE WINNER AND A GRACEFUL LOSER: No one likes to play with a ‘show-off‘, or a ‘sore loser‘. Maintain a good attitude, and keep in mind that nobody needs or wants a poker lesson after you have knocked them out of the tournament. Give your fellow players the space to make their exit with dignity. Sportsmanship is an honorable trait and one that you should seek to demonstrate at all times.