74 Ways to Win at Poker – The Grinder Manifesto
- Be the aggressor
Each time you bet or raise you give the opposition a chance to fold, in which case you win the pot. When you just check or call, they can’t fold. Your profit goes down.
- Play your game
There are many profitable styles in poker. Playing in your own personal style will increase your winnings.
- Take the dog for a walk
There’s a life outside of poker. If you take care of your life, your poker will be sharper and you’ll win more…
- Use stopping rules
It may be wrong according to theory, but pre-defined rules for when to leave a game have worked miracles for many players before you. It’s a guiding hand for the times when you’re tired and weary.
- Think poker
In between games you can spend a lot of time thinking about your calls and folds and bluffs. The more you think about poker, the better you get. The better you get, the more you win.
- Get a poker bonus
Playing to clear a poker bonus is a way to get some of the rake back. A good bonus always adds cash to your bottom line.
- Don’t play too high
If each pot bet makes your nose bleed, you’ll be scared and play cautiously. Opponents with fatter wallets will exploit you. When you get exploited, your profit goes down.
- Don’t play too low
If losing big pots doesn’t make you feel bad, you’ll be calling too much. When you call too much, your profit goes down. Find stakes that match your risk advertence.
- Keep your cool
No matter what happens, keep a straight face. Losing your temper decreases your profit.
- Take notes of your opponents
If that guy in seat five re-raised you with AJ five years ago, use it against him when he does it again. A quick check in your notes and you can come over the top of him.
- Be honest about your mistakes
Making excuses for your bad plays is a fail-safe way to never improve your poker. If you see a mistake for what it is only once, you’ll be able to avoid it forever.
- Practice a lot
In practice, good decisions often come down to intuition, or gut feeling. The only way of perfecting this “system” is to train it. Only by playing thousands of hands can you move your decision making from brain to backbone.
- Play your position
Acting last is a valuable advantage. You control the information and can always adjust to the opponent’s actions. Every time you play a hand in position, you increase your profit.
- Do the opposite to your opponents
When they’re crazy, slow down. When they slow down, go crazy. Poker is like a game of roshambo – when they go with rock, chose paper. When they chose paper, go with scissors.
- Don’t play tired
You need to concentrate on the game. When you’re tired, concentration goes down. Your profit goes down with it.
- Learn to quit
When you’re playing poorly, don’t hang in there. Stand up, get on with your life, save yourself some money. Good quitting skills are a key to profitable poker.
- Chose a good site
You play better when you feel comfortable. When you play better, you win more. Change site if you feel uncomfortable.
- Don’t play drunk
Poker is a game of rational decisions. When you’re drunk, rationality goes out the door. Your profit goes out with it.
- Choose your starting hands well
Some starting hands are more valuable than others. If your average starting hand is a little better than your opponent’s, how could you not win in the long run!
- Don’t play from the blinds
When you play out of the blinds, you have bad position by definition. Avoid it, even though you have already put in a few chips in the pot. Exception: it’s profitable to play from the big blind against the small blind. Then you act last.
- Be creative in position
Playing speculative hands like 76 can be profitable if stacks are deep. But save those stunts for when you’re in late position. Being creative out of position can get very costly.
- Read good books
Reading is the key to learning. While practicing is essential, reading speeds up your learning curve. For every good book you read, your profit goes up.
- Talk about poker
Many pros tell us their poker education came from discussing poker with their buddies. Every time you discuss a play you’ve made or a theoretic concept, you improve the way you think about poker. When you think better, you earn more.
- Choose tables well
Your poker profits come from other players’ mistakes. Don’t sit down with people who play flawless poker. If they’re really nice people, buy them dinner instead. It’s much cheaper.
- Sit after the bully
If you choose to play with the bully at all (see above), take a seat on his left. That way you have position on him, and you get to choose which hands to play against his constant aggression.
- Don’t move up when losing
If you’ve lost a few buy-ins, upping the stakes to win back your cash is a very effective loser. Actually, stepping down and turning the downward trend is the smart way.
- Analyze your hands
Don’t just play, play, play. Take a minute now and then to look back at hands you’ve played, try to understand what went wrong and what you did right. Discuss them with your pals. Hand analysis improves your win rate.
- Take notes during live games
Some people may have perfect memories, but you’re not Stu Ungar. A short note about a situation in the game is good for your post game analysis.
- Study your poker stats
By looking at statistics you can discover patterns in your game that are not clear from looking at individual hands. “Oops, AJ in early position costs me on average $5. ” Just don’t let stats cloud your judgment in a game situation.
- Use statistics software
A software tool that imports all your hand histories and sets up huge tables is an awesome aid for your analytic brain. It helps you get a bird’s perspective of your game (and others’).
- Find the overlay
If a tournament with guaranteed prize pool doesn’t fill up, you win your share of the overlay by just registering (in the long run, that is.)
- Look out for added value
At any given point in time, there’s always some poker site or poker room that provides free cash in an attempt to attract players. Don’t be too proud to accept a little bribe.
- Watch poker on TV
Like it or not, but those pros in the televised poker shows are brilliant poker players. You don’t even know what you can pick up from them before you picked it up.
- Watch poker TV with no sound on
When you filter out the babble, things get clearer. Now you notice their faces, now you can read their body language. Silence frees your brain’s processor power for analysis. Analysis means cash on your account.
- Watch a poker show repeatedly
The second time you watch the same poker show, you’ll pick up new insights. And the third time. And the fourth time. Every time you pick up new insights, you boost your expectation.
- Play in many rooms
Each online poker room has its pros and cons. By moving between poker rooms you can suck the best out of each individual poker room.
- Play with the right people
One guy drives you crazy just by being himself. Another guy constantly outplays you. Stay away from both; they will destroy your bottom line.
- Exploit your table image
If people think you never bluff, bluff a lot. If they think you always bluff, bet only winners. By exploiting your table image you use deception deceptive. By using deception, you increase your winnings.
- Study body language
You’ll never know for sure what cards the opponents are holding. But if you can read people like open books, their cards become irrelevant. That’s a very profitable way to play cards.
- Train your poker face
Most of the time nothing exciting happens, then all of a sudden you’re in a blazing hot spot with a super hard decision to make. It mustn’t show in your face.
- Deep-freeze your betting pattern
Always use the same movements when placing a bet. Be a machine, disconnect any emotions you may have, perform the movement like a dance choreography.
- Get a blog
A poker blog is a perfect place to communicate your poker experience with other people. Communication is an interactive way of thinking. Thinking improves your game.
- Get the rake back
Every percent of the rake that you can get in return from the poker site is extra stuffing in your bankroll cushion. Browse the web for poker sites that offer rakeback deals.
- Read your opponents
Things happen all the time around a poker table. Every little event influences the opponents. Keep a close eye on them and you’ll be able to draw your conclusions.
- Exploit other people’s weaknesses
It’s not as bad as it sounds, as long as it stays inside the game. One player is too tight, one is too loose. Use it against them by using that information and adjusting the way you play against them.
- Don’t ever go on tilt
First of all it’s not a nice experience. Second, it ruins your game completely and can get very expensive. On the other hand, having opponents think that you’re on tilt can be pretty profitable.
- Cool off in sit and gos
If you get in a state and feel the tilt closing in on you, quit your deep stack cash game and go to the sit and gos. Here you can let off steam by playing lots and lots of hands at a fixed price. Damage control.
- Don’t make it personal
Opponents will try to provoke you to get at your chips. Realize it’s never personal; and don’t take it personally. If you make it personal, your decisions will be based on factors outside of the game. They become irrational.
- Avoid unlikeable people
If there’s an opponent you just can’t stand, chances are that factor will take over your focus and disturb your game. When your game is disturbed, you’ll win less.
- Learn rare games
While everybody excels in holdem, they’re much weaker in other games. Weak opponents are your safest way to poker profits.
- Improve your focus
Meditation and similar methods can improve your ability to focus. When you’re more focused, you win more.
- Increase your stamina
When a poker tournament drags out into the late night hours, players get tired. If you can be a little less tired, you’ll have an extra edge. Every extra edge is money in your account.
- Watch the news
If you can follow the discussion at the table, you’ll be more comfortable. When you’re comfortable, you play better. When you play better, you win more. By just watching the news.
- Do the math
You don’t have to be a math whiz processing endless calculations in a split second at the table. But by understanding basic poker math you can build your poker decisions on stable ground.
- Train your powers of calculation
The kind of math you’ll need when seated at the poker table is pretty straight forward, but it takes practice. Carry out the standard calculations many times and you’ll win an extra big blind for each time.
- Study probabilities
If you have a feeling for the probabilities that govern common poker situations, you can carry out on-the-fly pot odds estimations in the midst of the fierce poker battle. Money in your pocket!
- Treat your partner well
Again, feeling good – and being good – increases your power at the poker table. A minute invested in your partner is an added big blind in your poker bankroll.
- Multi table wisely
When you play several tables, your profit on each individual table goes down a bit. But as long as your total hourly rate goes up, you can open up additional tables and increase your profit.
- Apply bankroll requirements
Even if you’re a winner, you’ll have some swings. If your bankroll is too small, these swings can put you out of the game. If you cannot play, you cannot win.
- Try new games
By trying out unknown poker variations you’ll learn new things about your old favorite game. Every time you learn something new, you increase your win rate.
- Learn to fold
Folding can be very hard. But don’t call just because you’re curious. The expected value of folding is zero, meaning you cannot lose. When you cut your losses, your profit goes up.
- A dollar saved is two dollars won
Saving money has been a sure-fire way to build profits since shortly before the pyramids were built. Don’t throw good money after bad money. If you can’t win the pot, don’t feed it your chips.
- Get used to bluffing
Bluffing shouldn’t be a super exciting adventure that makes you hold your breath. Bluffing with the proper frequency should be standard procedure and as natural as breathing. When you can bluff without really noticing, you’ll win more.
- Don’t bluff calling stations
If there’s a player at the table who cannot fold, don’t try to bluff her. Instead you may bet your good hands harder against her and expect to be paid off.
- Don’t get fancy against the un-fancy
Creative moves and third-level thinking won’t work on opponents who simply don’t understand the concepts. If the opponent plays ABC poker, play ABCD.
- Understand your table image
The way people perceive you dictates how they play against you. If you understand how people perceive you, you can predict their play. If you can predict your opponents’ plays, you’ll win more.
- Throw a party
Poker’s is not your whole life. Kill the laptop once in a while and enjoy life. Enjoying life will make you feel much better about your poker. Feeling good ignites inspiration and drives cash into your pocket.
- Live right
According to an old saying in poker, in order to get lucky you need to live right. If you can figure out what that means, you definitely deserve to win more.
- Keep the distance
Remember it’s just a game. Don’t take it too seriously or you might wake up one day realizing that “poker is no fun anymore.” If it’s not funny, you could just as well put in a few extra hours in your boring job.
- Screw the odds
Avoid being obsessive about those numbers. They are important, but it’s also important to let your intuition loose. So once you understand the odds, stop thinking about them.
- Prepare for failure
Thanks to the unpredictable fall of the cards, you cannot avoid failing time and time again. To be a winner you must be able to handle repeated disappointments with equanimity.
- Play higher
If you can move up in stakes without losing your edge, you’ll earn more money. Of course, if you move up and start losing, you can lose very fast. Also, remember your bankroll requirements.
- Say goodbye to politics
Politics takes too much time. If instead you play more poker, you will get better. Also, having been a poker player effectively closes all political doors.
- Quit your day job
Work takes so much time. By playing more you improve your game. When your game gets better you win more. And you’d better, now that you’ve quit your day job.