You don’t have to be a pro poker player to want to win. Even if you play for fun, your goal can be, and should be, to win a little bit of money. A little extra cash can go a long ways, helping you to pay for your car rental or pay for that once a year vacation you want to take. At the very least, you want to win (or breakeven) so you don’t have to be constantly reloading your poker bank account.
And the truth of the matter is, winning at poker doesn’t have to be that hard. That’s relative, of course. If you want to play the higher stakes such as $1/$2 no limit hold’em or $50 sit and goes, then you clearly have your work cut out for you. You won’t be able to just stroll in, sit down and walk all over the table.
That said, there’s no reason why you can’t sit down at the lower stakes and easily grind out a small bit of profit. I’m going to provide you with some tips on how to do that below.
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10 Beginner Tips for Making Some Money Playing Poker
Here are 10 tips for how you can make some money playing poker at the lower stakes — even if you’re a beginner.
1. Learn the Fundamentals
My first tip is to learn the fundamentals. For example, when I started playing sit and goes the fundamentals included staying tight early on, loosening up in the later stages and learning push/fold strategy. However, the fundamentals could also include things like position, how to make proper raises or bets and calculating pot odds. You’ll find that having an understanding of these fundamentals will take your game a long ways — much further than learning something fancy, such as when to check/raise 3-bet donk-shove the river.
2. Know Why You’re Doing Something
Just as important is knowing why you’re doing something. Why are you c-betting? Why are you shoving all in? Why are you betting 500 chips into a 20 chip pot?
You can read all the strategy articles you want to on how to play winning poker, but without actually understanding why you’re using these strategies, you’ll never be able to use them in the right context. If you don’t know how to use a strategy optimally, you’re much better off not using it at all.
3. Turn Off the Chat
This tip is a little unorthodox, but I feel that turning off the chat can improve a lot of players’ win-rates.
In my opinion, the chat box does not offer anything positive, unless you are playing poker purely for fun and to socialize. And if you are, that’s okay. However, if you want to play to win and make a little bit of money, the chat box will do nothing but piss you off and get you into pissing matches with the other players. For a lot of players, it’ll just put them on tilt.
4. Play to Win
In the case of tournaments, a lot of players focus on cashing. However, you should focus on winning the tournament. You’ll find that by focusing on winning the tournament and taking a top finish, that the money you win by doing so far outweighs all the times that you squeaked into the money, even if you make it into the money more often than you take a top finish.
5. AK All In Pre-Flop
AK is not a made, winning hand. It’s the best unmade hand that you can have.
However, players treat AK as if it was the nuts and they think it’s okay to get all their money in with his hand. The truth of the matter is, that most times when you get your hand in you’re a flip at best, and if you don’t correctly assess your opponents range, you could very well be getting your money in bad. If this is you, I highly recommend that you scale back on your aggression with “big slick.”
6. Be Careful Chasing Draws
This is some old-school advice, but for lots of players, it’s still needed. Something that will immediately increase your earnings is avoiding long shot draws. Things like gut shots and drawing to hands that aren’t the best (like the lower end of a straight, for example). What’s more is that when you do chase draws, you should understand the math behind it, because hands that look good to chase might very well be unprofitable in the long run.
7. Don’t Open Limp
Open limping, in general, is a bad tactic. It screams passiveness and weakness. Players who do not have a hand, are bad or want to play lots of hands are the type to limp in.
Do not be this player.
If you have a good hand you should raise it. There are few exceptions to this rule, in my opinion. For example, limping baby pocket pairs in sit n goes. Other than that, you should be raising all of your good hands or (possibly) calling other players, and folding out your garbage.
8. Use a TAG Style of Play
If you want to grind out a small bit of profit at the small stakes, one of the best ways to do that is to adapt a tight aggressive style of play. Essentially that means raising and betting your strong hands and folding everything else. TAG players play fewer hands, but the hands that they do play are usually the best at showdown, and that can win big pots.
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9. Stick to 6 or 9 Handed Tables (To Start)
If you’re a beginner I highly recommend sticking to tables with six or nine players. The reason why you want to stick to tables with more players is because the more players there are, the fewer hands you should technically be playing. That’s because the majority of hands you’re dealt aren’t valuable enough to be played (so you should fold more).
In a shorthanded situation, such as heads up or 4-handed, however, you can’t sit around and wait for hands like AJ or KK. You have to play hands like A2s or K9. In fact, it’s not so much that you can’t just wait around for these hands, but often times these hands are the best in a shorthanded situation. But, in order to play these hands well, you need to be able to read hands, manage pot sizes and know when to let go of hands like top-pari.
10. Play Fewer Tables
Playing multiple tables at once is a great way to increase your hourly rate. However, if you’re not playing professionally or as a source of income, then there’s no reason to play more than three or four tables at a time. That’s plenty of tables to keep you focused and not get bored, but not so many tables that you can’t play your best and make the highest ROI possible.
Not only that, but players who play 15 or 20 tables at a time usually aren’t improving their game, they’re only improving how much money they can generate per hour. If you’re a beginner, this is the exact opposite of what you want (or need) to be doing.