Looking ahead to the New Year, many of us are contemplating about where we want to go in our poker careers. Some of us will continue playing the game recreationally while others may take the plunge and turn pro.
Regardless of your goals for 2017, one thing we all can agree on is that we want to get better at playing poker. Below are 11 things that you can do in 2017 to improve your poker game.
Set Goals and Plan for Those Goals
First, look at what you want to accomplish in poker and start devising a plan on how you will accomplish those goals. Set short, mid and long-term goals for your game and list what steps you intend to take to achieve those goals.
Maybe you are a recreational player that one day wants to play in the WSOP Main Event. How will you make that happen? Start by setting goals and creating a plan.
Dedicate Time for Study Every Week
Long gone are the days of “playing your way” to being a better play. The game has evolved to the point where you need to be a true student of the game in order to become a high caliber player.
Set aside time every week to study the game. Even if it is just 30 minutes to an hour, this time will make a difference in your long-term results.
Practice Better Bankroll Management
Many poker players lack proper bankroll management skills, and that’s for the ones that actually attempt to practice bankroll management. A solid percentage of players don’t even practice bankroll management and many find themselves unable to consistently play poker.
It doesn’t matter if your bankroll is $50 or $50,000, you should be at least attempting to manage your roll. Those that are already doing so should evaluate your technique and make sure you’re doing everything possible to sustain and grow your roll.
Keep Better Records
How many of you actually keep records on your play? One way you can improve your game is keep records of your sessions and use those records to evaluate your play. Do you know you bb/h at .50/$1 vs. $1/$2?
Many players do little more than download their hand histories and evaluate whether they played a particular hand the best way possible. They overlook many other idiosyncrasy of the game that can only be picked up by proper record keeping.
Read Books and Watch Videos
Another way to improve your game is the old school method of reading poker literature or watching poker strategy videos. There are hundreds of books on the market and thousands of strategy video series out there so you will need to do your research on which are the best.
Don’t just stick to “strategy books” but also consider picking up some autobiographies such as Ace on the River or Check Raising the Devil. While you may not learn a lot about straight poker strategy, you can learn a bit about real life in poker and that can be just as valuable as learning how to triple range merge.
Consider Hiring a Poker Coach
Most poker players will benefit from spending time with a poker coach. The best coaches will evaluate your play and help you spot and fix leaks in your game in addition to help you learn new strategies to move up in limits or win more often.
Read More: Poker Coaches: What Do They Charge?
Make sure you do your research when hiring a coach and don’t just take someone’s word about their ability. If they have skills, you should be able to see evidence of that fact.
Engage in Serious Poker Discussions With Friends
One of the best ways to improve your poker strategy is to engage in serious discussion with friends that also play poker. This will provide you with different viewpoints about your play but will also allow you to improve your critical thinking skills while you analyze both your game and that of your friends.
Find a Poker Mentor
One of the best things that I did when I started playing live poker was befriend a man that would quickly become my poker mentor. If you know someone with a lot of experience in the game that is willing to share their knowledge or even take you under their wing, jump at the chance.
I was lucky in my personal choice, as he was able to not only teach me about how to improve my poker game but also how to navigate the poker world at that time. Keep in mind that a poker mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be the best poker player. Sometimes a guiding hand can help you mold you into a better person and a better poker player.
Read More Online Strategy Content
There’s tons of high quality poker strategy content being produced annually by various poker sites. Some of this content is created by pros that are moonlighting as writers while some is crafted by knowledgeable poker writers.
Find a few writers that put out regular content and follow them regularly in order to supplement your poker training materials.
Learn At Least One New Poker Variant
If you want to be the best player possible, you should be regularly expanding your horizons. This means that you should be regularly learning new forms of poker or new variants of your favorite game.
When we say learn new variants of your favorite game, we mean learning another style. For example, if you specialize in NL Six-Max, consider working on your full-ring game or your heads-up play. If you’re a cash game specialist, consider improving your tournament skills.
With the growth in popularity of mixed games, it is a good idea to learn new poker games whenever possible. Check out other poker games and see which interest you and start to learn them. In time, you will provide yourself with additional revenue streams.
Improve Your Poker-Life Balance
Finally, if you want to be a world-class player, you need to improve your poker-life balance. Too many players over the last decade have dedicated every waking moment to poker and wind up burning themselves out. Others end up destroying family and personal relationships trying to chase poker glory.
Life is more than poker and you need to find a balance between playing the game and living your life. This is most important to those that want to take up poker as a serious pursuit or as a career.
Finding the right poker-life balance will make your a better poker player and a better person. That way you won’t find yourself burnt out with poker at 25 and wondering what you’re going to do with the rest of your life.