Learn how to consistently Win at Poker
How to Consistently Win At Poker
Have you been wondering what’s the difference between professional poker players and you, and what tactics, tricks and strategy they are applying that makes them win at poker consistently?
Wonder no more, because this article is designed to help poker players who seek advanced poker strategy that makes one win at poker, guaranteed.
Poker is a zero-sum game unlike casino card games, meaning that one persons losses benefit opposing players.
There is no magic to winning in poker, you just need experience and the ambition to take the game serious.
A lot of people think poker is sheer luck, or totally based on one’s gut instincts, and that is not true at all. What is true, however, is that most professional poker players play a very similar style because there is only one way to win at poker.
They all base their decision on mathematical concepts and conceptualised strategies.
Of course, various styles can lead to success, but, all these different styles are based on the same strategical elements that are required when you want to beat poker consistently.
But can you really win every time at Poker? No. Poker is a close edge game, meaning that even if you are a winning player you will lose very often. The way winning poker players track their statistics is either by return of investment (ROI) when they play tournaments, or in cash games in bb per 100hand (bb/100).
For example, if you play heads-up tournaments and have a 10% ROI, that means that you will win 55 of 100 games long-term compared to your opponent just winning 45/100 games. So, although with every game you play you make 10% more of what you have invested, you will lose almost half the games.
Is that ROI achievable? Yes, at least on stakes not higher than $60.
And, let’s say you are winning with 5bb/100 in cash games, that means that you will win around 0.05bb for every hand you play. If you now play NL $100, that would translate to $5 in winnings for every 100 hands you play.
Is 5bb/100h achievable? Yes, as long as you don’t player higher than NL$50.
The higher stakes you play the better are your opponents, and that is why your winrate is shrinking.
How to become a successful poker player
There are a couple of ingredients you need when you aim to consistently make money playing poker.
1. You need to study frequently.
Most players play, play and play even more, while not studying or barely studying if at all. Especially when you just started playing poker it is important to learn, gain experience and sharpen your skills. The one that stops studying when thinking he’s already good enough will sooner or later have to involve himself with the latest poker strategy because the game is steadily evolving.
Poker is a lot like being on a treadmill, if you don’t put in the effort to come forward, you will fall back.
You can study by reading our articles, watch our poker videos or get your questions answered in our forum.
2. Have patience, poker is like a marathon.
One of the main reasons why there are so many losing player in poker is that they don’t have the patience to wait for good hands, and want to win every single pot.
They might be playing 1 or 2 tables and think “Damn it, again a shiddy hand, i play it anyway, so boring!”, and whups, a play that isn’t profitable longterm has been played.
If you like to play many hands, which i find totally reasonable because i do like it too, i advice you to play heads up poker, because there it is required to play most of your hands to be profitable.
Or maybe play more tables, anyhow, if you want to stick to regular 6/9 max tables but want to play poker profitably i advice you to stick to our poker cheat sheets which exactly tell you which hands to play (profitably) from each position.
3. Choose the right game type.
Well, there are so many players, even if they are profitable, wasting their time playing a poker game variant that doesn’t make the best fit for them, or is just not the most profitable option.
It is important to try get best at a poker game that you like better than others, and is profitable enough to make it worth your time. Some games are just too competitive, especially for beginners, even on the low-stakes.
The "Secret" Poker Strategy every pro applies to make money
You can break down poker strategies in two parts.
1. Pre-flop strategy
2. Post Flop strategy
That’s it. Sounds easy? Well, playing correct pre-flop is an easy thing to do as there are not many variables, but having an advantage over your opponents post-flop is where it gets tricky as there are 1000s of different variations of flops, turns and rivers.
And you will also face many many different bet-sizings, that you need to counter by adjusting your strategy.
It’s variables, variables and variables.
Think in Ranges
In poker, you should always think in ranges, meaning, instead of you thinking “Oh, i missed the flop, i check” you should instead think ” Oh, i have tons of hands that are superb in my range which my opponent can’t have, im going to bet small to win the pot because my opponent can’t reasonably backplay with a high frequency there”.
The deck, used in no limit Texas hold’em, is consistent of 52 cards and allows 1326 different pre-flop hands.
Below, i’ll define what a range exactly is.
So, as you must think in ranges when planning to take poker seriously, i will tell you which ranges you need to optimize, day in and day out. The harder you will work off the tables by doing poker theory, the harder time you give your opponents.
There are tips and tricks in poker that, if you make use of them , will guarantee you winning money consistently over the long run.
And these tips and tricks i’ll uncover now. But, we work through it systematically, step by step.
I’ll break down the parts of poker that allow conceptualized strategical thinking…
2. Defending vs raises
4. Positional thinking
Don’t worry, once you finished reading this article there will be no question marks left on how to win at poker.
When i say frequencies, i mean that you need to balance your ranges so, that in the long run, your opponent will have a difficult time profiting of you. It’s a marathon, remember?
One hand that you played and had a positive outcome might has a negative expectation value (EV) in the long run. For example, paying the wrong price for a draw is like buying a overpriced house.
You might now got a house, but you paid the wrong price, and if you want to sell it, you are making a loss.
Just imagine two of the biggest real estate companies competing, and one of them is repeatadly doing bad deals by buying over priced properties. It comes to mind who’s the silly one losing profit over the long run.
Let’s start and talk about actual poker strategy, how to apply it and how to work it all out.
How to Play Poker pre-flop
Pre-flop is when things start, it’s the term used to describe the situation you are in before the community cards have been dealt. But before anything, you need to know which position you are in.
This is a Poker table, and you can see the terms used to describe your position, UTG for example.
The positions are categorized in four different brackets.
UTG (Under the Gun)
Mp+1 (Middle Position)
SB (Small Blind)
Mp+2 (Big Blind)
The earlier your position is, at the table, the fewer hands you want to play. The term used to describe the early positions “Under the Gun” is not caryying a dangerous name for no reason, but being UTG means that all people behind you (Except the SB and BB) will have position on you. And that is why you should be tightest there.
Starting Hands and Defending Ranges
So, what hands can i profitably play from each position? You can see that in the image below. Have a deep look and study the charts whenever you forgot what hands to play exactly to refresh your memory. Take a copy too!
These charts have been developed with a Poker Tool called Pio-Solver which is a tool that hes been created by mathematicians and professional poker players to attempt solving poker, moving the game from being based on intuitive decisions to scientific based game play.
Sounds pretty cool, or? It is indeed, using it is one of the fastest, solid and most effective ways to become a stronger player that is pretty much better than anyone who doesn’t use it.
You should always open-raise pre-flop to between 2-3x big blinds and never limp (with a VERY few exeptions), unless you are in the small blind where you should limp tons of hands given the good price.
The reason why you should restrictively open-raise when playing a hand pre-flop is that you would split your ranges when you limp and raise first.
If you’d do both, you’d be vulnerable towards exploits by your opponents that recognize patterns in your range construction. It is very difficult, might be impossible, to have two proper balanced ranges pre-flop.
So, that in mind, please just open-raise if you want to play winning poker.
What to do against3-bets
Now, you should have an idea of what hands to play pre-flop, but what if you get raised (3-bet is the definition for that)? Well, usually you should defend 50% of your hands that you initially have open-raised with. That’s just a thumb rule, and you should adjust your strategy depending on whether your opponent is 3-betting agressively or more passively.
Your Button open-raising range ( 45%, 597 combis)
Your defeding range vs a 3-bet ( 24%, 325 combis)
As you can see, as per Pio-solvers suggestion, we should defend about 55% of the hands we have open-raised.
Of course you shouldn’t just call with all of them but instead 4-bet (which is another raise after a 3-bet) some of the hands. The best poker strategy in those spots is to flat call medium to strong hands, and 4-bet some of your weaker holdings that would be a marginal call otherwise, and also 4-bet your premium hands (QQ+AK+).
Ako, for example, means Ace King off-suited, and 65s six five suited. The s or o describes whether it’s a suited hand or off-suited.
You could 4-bet something like this: QQ+, JJ with a 50% frequency (sometimes you flat), Ako/s+ and for bluff some hands like AT, 53s and maybe Q8s and 64s type of hands.
Your goal with this strategy is to deny your opponent nudging you around with a more dynamic approach than just always 4-betting solely your premium hands. He could bluff 3-bet too, so why not bluff 4-bet!
Adjust vs different opponents
What hands should you 3-bet with, you might asking. I can give you the answer to that.
You have two different strategies that you could chose when 3-betting. Which you chose is dependent on your opponent. Let’s categorize three different player types, and after i’ll tell you how to 3-bet vs each of them.
So, we got three different player types which you will face commonly, whether you play cash games or tournaments. You got the pro who plays pretty solid and doesn’t leave room for exploitation, then you got the calling station who loves all type of hands and you got the stealer, who, if given the chance, trys to rob you with a a raise to steal your blinds.
Let’s check what strategies you can use when 3-betting, and which of them to use vs the three opponents.
3-betting linear just means you 3-bet only value hands and a few suited combination (65s, T9s type of hands) to have good board coverage post-flop
3-betting polarized means you 3-bet with your strongest hands and hands that you think are too marginal to call with.
Against the professional poker player and the calling station you are best off by 3-betting linear, because they both are opening pretty reasonable ranges pre-flop which don’t leave space for you profiting because they fold too much vs a 3-bet pre-flop.
Against the calling-station, however, you should 3-bet a wider range of value hands simply because he’s calling too many trash hands. . 3-betting polarized against him would be a pretty terrible idea given that he flats most his hands and you have a terrible playabillity with your bottom hands of the polarised range.
Against someone who open-raises way too many hands pre-flop, and can be categorized as a stealer, it’s a good idea to 3-bet polarized, at least under the assumption that he folds his trash hands pre-flop.
How do you profit in Poker?
Equity is the magic word that lets you profit in poker. Equity describes your chance in % of winning the hand.
If you play a $1.000 pot and you have AA, and your opponent has KK, you have 80% equity, and as per expectation you will win $800 in this scenario. Use this equity tool to simulate your chances of winning to get a hang of the probabillities of winning certain hands on certain boards, run-outs etc.
To summarize, your goal in poker is to have favourable equities when investing money to have a greater chance of winning than your opponent. If you constantly get it in bad, you will lose money, each and every time.
But, how do you achieve having good equity when playing poker?
By recognizing patterns in your opponents “strategy”, whether it’s his bet-sizings, opening-ranges or timing tells you find recognizable patterns in, you could profit of each of them.
There are even poker tools out that help you track your opponents play style when playing online poker. To name some of them: Pokertracker, HoldemManager or the new tracker Hand2Note (which is the best).
Some poker sites forbid the use of such software but most don’t. And the best thing is that the best of all those tracking programs (Hand2Note) is even free for low-stakes players.
These tools are a great assistant in finding recognizable and exploitable patterns in your opponents game.
Poker Tracking software saves your hand history and tracks the frequency of different plays made by by your opponent, such as:
VPIP = Voluntaly put money in pot
PFR from position = (pre-flop raise from utg-bb)
Fold to 3-bet
CB = Continuation-bet
These are just a few of the thousands of different stats a poker tracking tool can show you.
Note* Not only those tools can save your hand history but also sites like sharkscope.com. There used to be pokertablerating.com where you could check your cash game results at, but that site has unfortunately closed. The only left cash game tracking site is highstakesdb.com, but this only tracks high stakes results($25/$50+).
Now, let’s go over and do some poker strategy for when you play play post-flop.
You need to Understand Poker Game theory
Every professional poker player who’s winning successful has at least a basic game theory understanding.
There are certain concept you need to know, and apply, if you want to consistently win at poker.
What are these?
Odds and Outs
Game Theoretical Optimum (GTO)
As poker is a game of incomplete information, and is rather based on guessing and assessing what your opponent does, you must combine a set of different strategies to compress your opponents assumed different holdings.
You are basically trying to put your opponent on a range, not a single hand, see how your equity would do against this range and make a move dependent on your assessment. If you think you are behind, you bluff, if you think you are ahead you try to get some chips by betting which is generally considered a value bet.
If you don’t knwo whether you’re good or not, you should mostly check.
When and Why you should Bet
What i am going to reveal now is poker strategy that every excellent player, such as Phil Ivey, Patrick Antonius or Trueteller is using to make money at poker.
Categorise your your bet always into the following
You want a worse hand to call
You want a better hand to fold
Bet to deny Equity
You want random hands to fold
As earlier mentioned, you can exploit a player by 3-betting polarized in case he folds too many hands of his range.
But post-flop game theory works a little different than pre-flop.
Let’s talk a little about risk/win ratio.
As we have discussed, you should always think in ranges and combinations when playing poker if you want to win. I’ll give you a very simple example on how to apply this trick.
Assuming you open-raise from the button and the big blind calls your steal with these hands: 55-22, A9s-A2s, Kjs-K2s, QTs-Q2s, J4s+, T5s+, 95s+, 85s+, 75s+, 64s+, 53s+, ATo-A2o, KTo-K2o, Q4o+, J7o+, T7o+, 97o+, 86o+, 76o
Pre-flop you have around 56% equity with your range vs the big blinds range. This means that if you would just go allin all the time, and your opponent does call every time, 100 times, you’d win 56 times.
That is a considerable edge.
If you glance at both the images you should instantly recognize that your range is much stronger than the opponents. You have all the pairs (99+) and all the strong Ax combinations that your opponent would 3-bet vs a button steal given your wide opening-range.
So, how does this fact plays a role when playing post-flop poker?
Well, to keep it simple, assume the flop is 2-2-2. What do you think has happened? Exactly, nothing!
This means that we still have a range advantage and should play super aggressive and bet in most cases to make him fold. Pio-solver suggests betting with every single hand in this scenario.
And this concept isn’t only applicable on extreme dry boards but generally to be used on all type of dry boards that are not likely to have helped your opponents range, such as A-2-2, K-7-3 or T-T-3.
Odds and outs
It is essential to know a little bit about odds and outs, at least if you aim to win at poker. However, don’t worry we won’t bother with super difficult math problems. Calculating your odds based on the outs you have post-flop (cards that help) is simple, and once you get the hang of it is just like eating cornflakes.
So, we have already mentioned that the card deck used in Texas Hold’em is consistent of 52 cards, to be precise, it has any card from the deuce up to the ace in four colours, spades, diamonds, hearts and clubs.
Often you will have uncompleted poker hands that, although not of value yet, could become a really strong hand. So you are drawing to hand, like straight, flush or any of the hands included in the poker hand ranking.
Now, for example, let’s say you called in the big blind with T9o and the flop is 8-7-2. You don’t have a hand yet, but every 6 and J will give you the nut-straight, meaning it can not be beaten.
Now that we know that there are 4 of each of the cards that help you to make the best hand are in the deck, we can count at least on 8 outs, and that is not including your outs to the T and 9.
Taking all the hands (that do, or potentially do help you) into the calculation gives us 14 outs.
Calculating the probability of improving to the desired hand:
1. Count your outs
2. Divide the number of outs you have by the leftover cards in the deck
As you know that the flop brought 8-7-2, and you have T9, you must discount 5 cards. So there is 47 cards left that could come at the turn and we have 14 outs. Now let’s do the calculation: 14/47= 0.29.xx%
The number you get when doing this calculation translates to the probability of improving on the next street, turn or river. You can, to simplify, translate the extracted number to a % ratio by dividing the result (0.29%) by 100%, and turn it into a hit/miss ratio.
For example, 29%/100%=34.xx
Doing this calculation helps you to quickly figure out how often you improve your hand on the next street (3,4-1)
Tips and Tricks to Consistently win at poker
There is only one way to become an excellent poker player and that is by using poker-tools. Knowing how to count the cards is good but why not let a machine do all the tricks for you and improve your workflow and save plenty of time.
Using poker tools is mandatory if you aim to win at poker on a consistent basis simply because it speeds up your calculations and simulations a lot. Also its suggestions often reveal hints that you haven’t been aware of, and could have never figured out on your own, because hey, who is as good at math as a computer. Noone.
Below ill give you some tips on what poker tools (which you can find here) to use and how they are helping you.
Well, machines are pretty tough to beat so why not play like one?
Well, machines are pretty tough to beat in any game or way so why not play like one? Pio-solver helps you to play like a robot, putting your ranges into a game theoretical optimum which consequently leaves no room for exploitation, meaning, not even the best poker player in the world could beat in the long haul.
Wanted to as good as Phil Ivey?
Why not be better with the help of this program, I am serious.
In the video below you can see how Pio-solver works.
To put it in their own words…
In tournaments you often have to adjust you strategy dependent on how far you’re in it, and that is exactly what the tool ICMizer is helping you with. Check the video below to understand how the program works.
Earlier we have talked about poker tracking software. Hand2note is such a program and allows you to save your and your opponent’s hand history, build statistics based on the player’s frequency of certain activities and shows you detailed statistics in a heads-up-display (HUD) located on the poker table of the poker sites software.
Poker tracking software is the single greatest aid in finding exploitable tendencies in villains strategy, and particularly Hand2note is the greatest of its kind on the market.
Combining these three tools (or two if you don’t play tournaments), putting them to work is almost guaranteeing your success at the poker tables. Almost as powerful as the three musketiers!
Summary - Be Analytical , dynamic and aggressive and modern
Be analytical by using modern technologies.
Study your game, use poker tools and think deeply about why and why didn’t you bet. Analyse your and your opponents game, think and consider what changes could be made to further enhance your win-rate.
Remember, the higher your win-rate, the lower the variance.
Be dynamic and agressive.
Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee, not the other way around. Adjust your game towards different opponents to maximise your winnings. This is one part of poker strategy that you can’t neglect, just think about every other competitive profession, be it football or boxing, the team behind the scenes is analysing their opponents tactics thoroughly, and advise adjustments according to the discovered weaknesses.
Playing poker professionally is not difficult, it is how easy you make it. You can be stuck losing money, or maybe playing breakeven for years just simply because you lack studying the game and putting in the effort necessary to win at poker. Many players hop into the game thinking they are good already, which is just always false.
Maybe you are even winnign already but don’t realise that further theory sessions would help you winning quicker and even much more.
You need to practice and then learn from your mistakes by studying to ultimately find and keep success, steadily.
My poker winnings from the past year (2017-2018)
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