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Poker – Finding Your Game

Poker – Finding Your Game

Poker players are always trying to improve their game. We’ll pay thirty bucks for a book and read it from cover to cover trying to find just one idea that will give us an incremental improvement. But I’ve recently discovered the best way to grow your bankroll – finding your game.

I’ve read dozens of books, studied tricky hands and experimented with different playing styles. But my bankroll always crept down, usually slowly. I’d book a few big wins and lots of little losses and the bottom line was that, over time, loses exceeded winnings. Not by a huge amount, but little by little, chipping away at my bankroll. It didn’t matter what kind of ring game I played, and tournaments were just an exercise in frustration.

In an attempt to improve my no limit game I started playing single table sit-n-gos. And I started winning. A lot. Not a lot of money, because I started out playing two dollar games, but finishing in the money most of the time. After a month I moved up to the five dollar games, and found they were just as easy to win. I moved on to the ten dollar tables, found my winning percentage dropped dramatically, so I’m back to the five dollar games for now.

The best way I’ve found to win is to avoid playing during the early rounds. Until the table is down to six players don’t play anything but super-premium hands, and be quick to lay them down if the flop looks scary. Let the hotshots and loose cannons take each other out. Save your chips for the middle round.

Once you’re down to six players it’s time to loosen up your starting hand requirements, although you should stick to good staring hands in late position. If the flop doesn’t hit you, fold. You’ll need to accumulate some chips to have a shot at the money, but avoid all in situations unless you’ve got the near nuts. And whatever you do, don’t chase flushes or straights unless you can do it for very few chips. Once the blinds hit 50/100 it’s time to start stealing them; until then it’s not worth the risk.

When you get down to four players the real fight starts. Most players will tighten up to avoid busting out on the bubble. If you’ve got a huge chip lead it makes sense to sit back and let the other players take each other out, but if you’re in the middle of the pack (or the bottom of the barrel) this is the time get aggressive. Steal blinds every chance you get. Use pot size raises to grab pots before the turn.

If you’re finding your bankroll is creeping down slowly, maybe you’re just not playing the right game. Experimenting with other games just might get your bankroll moving in the right direction.

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