When Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of poker main event in 2003, it was instrumental in launching the professional poker career of many players. It’s not because of anything that Moneymaker did after the tournament. It’s because the win came at a perfect time to ignite the poker boom.
A combination of media coverage, availability of poker games online and in land-based poker rooms around the world, and an amateur poker player in Moneymaker who won his seat in the WSOP at an online satellite poker tournament created the perfect storm.
Many things have changed in the poker world over the past two decades, but you can still become a pro poker player easier today than at any time before Moneymaker beat Sam Farha at the final table in 2003.
Here are four ways you can play like a Texas holdem poker pro.
1 – The Opposite Rule
Texas holdem is the most popular variation of poker, and it’s easy to learn how to play. But this doesn’t mean that it’s easy to be a professional holdem player. You have to learn how to play well in many different areas, and there are few hard and fast rules when it comes to strategy.
Many people preach that tight and aggressive play is the best way to win, but this isn’t true in every situation. The reason why tight play is usually better than loose play is because most holdem players play loose. But the best way to play when you’re at a table filled with tight players is to play looser than your opponents.
The best Texas holdem players are able to adapt their game and strategy to fit the situation. Most of the time, the best strategy is the opposite of what everyone else is doing. This works better in some situations than in others. This is why it’s so important to learn how to make adjustments in different situations.
Overall, tight play is better than loose play. When you play loose, you play hands that don’t show a long-term profit. When you play tight, you fold most of the unprofitable starting hands, so you play mostly profitable hands.
But when everyone at the table is playing tight, you can win more when you loosen up your starting hand selection. Just don’t overdo it, or that eliminates your advantage.
But when you’re playing against a table full of aggressive players, it’s more profitable to sit back with your best hands and let your opponents trap themselves. You still need to turn on the aggression in the correct situations, but you don’t have to play every hand aggressively to turn a profit.
You can’t use the opposite rule in every situation, but you need to learn how to adjust your strategy based on profitability in every situation.
2 – Odds and Expectation Rule
It’s almost impossible to be a winning professional Texas holdem player without using odds and expected value. Amateur poker players tend to resist learning about and using pot odds, but once you learn how to use them, you never have to study them again.
Many poker players think it’s hard to learn how to use odds, but it’s easy once you decide to do it. You can learn everything you need to know about poker odds in a couple hours, and with a few additional hours of practice, you can build a skill that you can use for the rest of your life.
Once you learn what poker odds are and how to use them, the next step is learning how to use pot odds to make profitable decisions. This is an easy transition once you understand odds, and this is one of the big differences between winning and losing poker players.
Every decision you make at the poker table, from folding or entering the pot before the flop to calling or betting on the river, is either profitable or unprofitable.
The key is to learn how to determine the long term value, either positive or negative, for every decision. When a play has a positive expected value, it means that you make a profit in the long run making the play. When a play has a negative expected value, it means that you lose money in the long run.
If you want to be a professional Texas holdem player, focus on mastering odds, pot odds, and expected value. Once you master these areas, you’re going to be a winning poker player now and in the future.
3 – You Pick Your Opponents
The most well-known poker pros are tournament players, because tournaments are the main format shown on television. But many of the same pros you see on TV also play in cash games, and some poker pros specialize in cash gameplay.
When you play tournament poker, you have to play against the other players in the tournament, but when you play cash games, you have choices about where you play and who you play against. The most successful poker pros know how to find profitable games.
Poker pros usually play in traditional poker rooms, and many of them also play online. But you also can find them playing in private games. The goal is to win money in the long run. The way to do this is to play better than most of your opponents.
While it’s important to build your skills and ability so you’re better than most players, this isn’t the only way to make sure you’re one of the best players at the table. Find and create opportunities where you’re playing against weak poker players.
If you can go to the poker room and find tables filled with weak players, you can make money there. But you might be able to make more profit by finding private games filled with bad players, or create your own private games where you control who plays and who doesn’t get invited.
You can start using this strategy right now, no matter where your poker skill level is at this time. Even if you’re not the best poker player you can be yet, you can still win consistently if you make sure you’re always one of the best players at the table.
The most profitable poker pros aren’t necessarily the best poker players in the world. The most profitable poker pros are the ones who win the most money, and one way to do this is by winning against bad players.
4 – Play Within Your Bankroll
Professional poker players know that they have to manage their bankroll. If you run out of money, you can’t play, and if you can’t play, you can’t win. Good and bad Texas holdem players have ups and downs. Sometimes, bad players win for a short time and good players lose for a short time.
If you’re a profitable Texas holdem player and can stay in the game long enough, the profit will follow. But you have to play within your bankroll so you can stay in the game long enough to reach your long term profit potential.
The best bankroll situation is to have enough money to play in any game that offers long term profit that you can find without worrying about going broke on a downswing. A few poker players have a bankroll this big, but most are forced to play below certain levels because of bankroll restraints.
As your skills improve and you gain experience, you’re going to learn a safe total bankroll range. Until you learn from personal experience, you should have 20 to 30 times the average buy-in amount for tournaments and no limit cash games, and 200 to 300 times the big bet for limit cash games.
If you want to be a professional Texas holdem player, you need to learn how to adjust your game using the opposite rule, master odds and expectation, pick your opponents whenever you can, and play within your bankroll.
These are the things that pro players do, so you need to implement them when possible. You can also check out this page on 5 Texas Holdem hands and how to play them for more Texas Holdem poker tips!
You can start improving your results today by doing a better job of picking your opponents. The best long-term strategy is to become a master of positive expectation, because every great poker player uses expectation to turn a long-term profit.