How to learn the basics?

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silversun87

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Hi guys,

I decided recently that I want to learn how improve my poker game so I made a pokerstars account and started playing.

Excluding a few promising results in small stakes tournaments early on I find I'm losing pretty much constantly (especially when it comes to cash games). I always thought of myself of being a reasonably decent player when playing against friends but online it seems it's not the case.

The more I play online the more unsure of myself I start to feel regarding which hands to play and when. I am probably not playing correct hands a lot of the time so I want to ask if you could recommend any resources (books, youtube videos, threads or anything really) to help me get a good understanding of the basics of the game.

Basically I want to understand what hands I should play and how in order to tilt the odds in my favor in the long run. I'm currently playing big hands, pairs and connectors (mostly suited) but I think I'm missing some of the nuances. Sometimes I bluff but I'm not very successful at it. I prefer to play tournaments over cash as I have a somewhat tight style of play. I play for small, no more than a few dollars entry, as that's what I can afford. I try to play every day.

Books I've read in the past are: Doyle Brunson's Super System (which didn't help a lot in terms of play style as he's more of an aggressive cash player), For Richer, For Poorer - Confessions of a Player and I'm currently reading The Mental Game of Poker, Jared Tendler.

Any advice is appreciated :)

Thanks!
 
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gryphon3005

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Well, welcome to the Club and to Pokerstars where I play. First, I would recommend you find the 30 day course right here on the club site. Take the course and soak up everything you can. Second, find videos on sites like youtube from poker coaches like Jonathan Little and Alexander Fitzgerald. You don't have to fork over any money to take lessons from these guys (you might down the road but only if you get really serious about poker). Once you find some videos you will more that cover a range of topics. These videos can work as a supplement to the Cardschat 30 day course and will help you get off to a good start.

From your post you concentrate on what hands to play. That's all well and good but you need to expand your thinking. The course and videos will help you get thinking about position and range. For example, you should have a much smaller range (fewer hands that you will open with) in the early positions as compared to the late seats, the button, cutoff and hi-jack.

Try to play the same tournaments each day and play close attention to the other players. You should start to notice some standing out as always seeming to do well. Watch their play. Try checking the tournament without joining to see if the players you noticed are playing that day and then go their table and follow them for a while.

I hope these suggestions will help you find your feet. Good luck.
 
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silversun87

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Thanks so much! I will start with the 30 day course and the videos.

Indeed, I try to play the same tournament types so I can get a good feel of how I'm performing and I noticed some players recurring. Regarding range and position what I know so far is that in late position you can be more aggressive and can play poorer hands than in early position (depending on the situation). I didn't get into too much detail as I didn't want to make it a very long post.

What I feel I'm struggling with when I succeed in guessing correctly what cards the other players hold, is calculating my chance of winning while I'm in the hand and there are various types of draws on the table and/or multiple opponents as to know if I'm still favorite to win the hand. This would help me understand if I'm losing due to variance or just because I'm making bad choices. Do you have any special system to calculate when you only have a few seconds to think or do you go by gut feeling?
 
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schtiuky

schtiuky

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try this one too. and maybe something from nicolas thaleb about randomness.
 
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gryphon3005

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Thanks so much! I will start with the 30 day course and the videos.

Indeed, I try to play the same tournament types so I can get a good feel of how I'm performing and I noticed some players recurring. Regarding range and position what I know so far is that in late position you can be more aggressive and can play poorer hands than in early position (depending on the situation). I didn't get into too much detail as I didn't want to make it a very long post.

What I feel I'm struggling with when I succeed in guessing correctly what cards the other players hold, is calculating my chance of winning while I'm in the hand and there are various types of draws on the table and/or multiple opponents as to know if I'm still favorite to win the hand. This would help me understand if I'm losing due to variance or just because I'm making bad choices. Do you have any special system to calculate when you only have a few seconds to think or do you go by gut feeling?

Yes, gut feeling is something all experienced players use but it only serves you well after you have accumulated a lot of experience. For now do your best to avoid entering pots with several players. A multi-way pot is always more difficult to play because it's easier for at least one player in a large group to connect with the flop. If it's not you then you are likely folding after the flop when that guy bets. And, don't chase. The best players in the world will fold after the flop when they are facing an aggressive bet and their hand has completely missed the flop. If you have a straight or flush draw after the flop and someone tables a big bet, fold. Yes the outs say you have decent odds to make your draw but you're still an underdog. These two steps might help by taking away some of the pressure your feeling.
 
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CallmeFloppy

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I would agree with taking the 30 day course and watching Jonathon Little's videos.

One thing I would add is to stick to one topic at a time. Read on of the 30 day courses, search for videos that relate to that topic, then play a little to apply what you learned. Then after playing, review the course and videos and see if you can solidify or even pick up things you missed from the lesson as you review how you played.

Once you have done this, then move on to the next lesson
 
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DaMooca

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Nowadays there is a plethora of material available on the internet.
I remember that when I started playing it was very limited and the main ways to improve it was through books.
Today it is very easy to become a good player with the amount of information we have, just be willing to pay the price and study hard to improve the game.
 
Roller

Roller

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Find others at a similar skill level or just the next level above your current playing level, this can be very beneficial to your game. You can learn so much about your game so quickly from another player it can simply be the fastest way to the road of improvement.
 
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pontvadasz

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If you play pokerstars, join pokerstars school and online streams. Free training, practice opportunities.
 
Katie Dozier

Katie Dozier

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Thanks so much! I will start with the 30 day course and the videos.

Indeed, I try to play the same tournament types so I can get a good feel of how I'm performing and I noticed some players recurring. Regarding range and position what I know so far is that in late position you can be more aggressive and can play poorer hands than in early position (depending on the situation). I didn't get into too much detail as I didn't want to make it a very long post.


Best of luck with taking the course and please let us know (in the daily threads in this forum) if you have any questions as you make your way through it [emoji4] Based on your thoughts in this thread, I think the course will prove to be helpful for you and I hope you enjoy it!
 
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scubed

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Any advice is appreciated :)

Thanks!
Study! Play. Study! In the beginning I think 80% study 20% play is a good idea. Slowly this number should invert to 20% study and 80% play!

I agree go with the CardsChat 30 day course first https://www.cardschat.com/become-a-winning-poker-player/

Then... stay with sites that are well-known Jonathan Little, Red Chip Poker, UpSwing

Study poker math and practice off-table.

Write down hands and review them.

... STUDY and PLAY.

Good luck! :D
 
KRANKES

KRANKES

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Thanks for the tipp with the 30 day course. I found it and it looks REALLY interesting.
 
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silversun87

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Best of luck with taking the course and please let us know (in the daily threads in this forum) if you have any questions as you make your way through it [emoji4] Based on your thoughts in this thread, I think the course will prove to be helpful for you and I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you Katie!

I really appreciate the fact that you offer a course free of charge. I'm on day 25 now, so almost there. I was already familiar with some of the things you talk about in the course but I did however also learn a lot of new concepts and useful strategies, so I'm very grateful for that.

In case you're interested in some feedback what I thought to be the most helpful for me was learning about how to play position (I was not paying at all attention to that before), trying to get a more precise read on the opponent by really taking the time to study them (I was doing this too loosely), the approximate ranges pre-flop that should be played (I was playing too tight in late positions) and the table in chapter 10 with the odds for various draws was just what I was looking for to help me understand if I'm making profitable decisions or not. I will probably also invest in a poker tracker if I keep playing long-term thanks to you explaining how it works.

What I didn't find clear in your course was the chapter on interpreting pot odds. I also posted in the specific thread for that chapter my calculations showing that the math doesn't add up for your example if we take the entire hand into consideration. Collin was kind enough to reply that is the sunken cost fallacy if we take in consideration previous betting rounds. You can call it what you like though, if we're losing money in the end to me it does not make sense. Maybe explaining the overall context would work best for that chapter to understand what you mean.

On a broader note I tried following the overall theme of the course to play more aggressive poker (for example betting when I'm on various draws with good overall odds instead of playing them passively and waiting to hit my hand) but so far it just destroyed my bankroll and I'm mostly losing playing like this as I seldom seem to hit them. Variance can be a bitch. I will stick with this style for a while though but it's hard for me to make a transition from tight player to aggressive. Wondering if others have struggled with making this shift as well. As I'm learning and my bankroll is limited anyway I'm playing micro stakes and there is a lot of betting going on there anyway, can't help but wonder if I was better off waiting to make a hand. After two weeks of losing money constantly which is unusual for me I decided to take a couple of days break to try and get some perspective on this.

Anyway, thanks again for everything! :)
 
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