2014 New Year’s resolutions

Has 2014 been a banner year at the tables for you? Or one you’d like to forget? Whatever the case, prepare for 2015 in style with our essential New Year’s poker resolutions

The end of every year is a time for reflection, to look back on the good and bad of the past 12 months, and to look forward to what lies in store for the year ahead. It’s a time when people sit down and write out their resolutions, usually vowing to give up cigarettes or alcohol, or go to the gym and lose weight. 

Resolutions like this are fine – if generally doomed to end in failure in February – but this is PokerPlayer and all we care about is what happens on the poker table! Luckily for you, New Year’s resolutions for your poker game can be incredibly helpful and profitable if you follow them through. And you can still drink, smoke and eat burgers too. Here is a list of some things that you should consider to make 2015 your best year at the tables ever…

Review your play

Before you play a single hand in 2015 it’s vital to take some time reviewing the thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of hands that you played in 2014. The easiest way to do this is by using tracking software such as Hold’em Manager or Poker Tracker. Filter your results to the year 2014 and there are some basic things you can look at that will immediately be helpful. The first is seeing what hands are big winners for you, which are big losers and if there are any surprises in the mix. For example, while it’s a tough hand to play, Ace-King should still be one of your most profitable holdings. If you are losing with this then it implies mistakes are happening somewhere – perhaps you are playing A-K too passively preflop or continuing to call down postflop even when you look beat.

It’s also a good time to look over your general stats and see if anything stands out. If you had a losing year then check out the Adjusted EV results to see if you were just running bad. Conversely, if you couldn’t stop winning take a look at the EV graph to see if it was really down to you being the next poker phenom or if you were just on a spell of run good. Being honest with yourself in poker is so important, and recognising your own faults is one way to do this.

If you don’t have tracking software then it’s still easy enough to review your game. The best way to do it is enlist the help of someone you regularly play poker with, and honestly review each other’s strengths and weaknesses. So long as you are prepared to swallow a bit of ego this can be mutually beneficial as you look to crush in 2015.

Take it live

Online poker may be relatively new but it’s already snapped up the lion’s share of the market, and many poker players have never set foot in a bricks-and-mortar casino. If that’s you, you’re missing out. Make 2015 the year where you pop your live poker cherry. While online poker offers plenty of advantages – including easy access to the fridge and nobody judging you for wearing a slanket – live poker has lots to offer too.

There’s nothing like the feeling of going deep in a live tourney or sashaying out of the casino after a good cash game. Also, live poker allows you to meet like-minded people from which good friendships can develop.

From a strategy standpoint there’s much to offer too. Live games are typically much softer than their online counterparts, with many players seemingly there just to have a good time rather than to play well and focus on their decisions. There’s also the added bonus of live tells and physical reads that can add a whole new dimension to the game. Simply put, if you can beat online poker you should be able to win live too.

Ignore table games

Poker is beloved around the world because, while it’s a gambling game, if you exhibit more skill than your opponent you will win in the long run. That element is what distinguishes poker from all other casino games, in which a sizeable house edge is an inbuilt part of the package. 

Now, with more and more online poker rooms housing casino games and sports betting options, it’s easier than ever to give it a shot. As tempting as it may be to spin on the roulette wheel or play a few hands of blackjack, it’s crucial to remember that those games are very different from poker. By all means gamble on those games if you wish but ensure that your poker bankroll is kept completely separate from your casino game cash. They are different games with different rules and different expected outcomes, and it’s important to approach them in this manner too.

Grab the free stuff

It might not be the Santa’s Grotto it used to be but there are still tons of excellent promotions each month in the poker world that you should be taking advantage of. The first, and most important, is rakeback. Every time you play a poker hand the house takes a small percentage of that as the ‘rake’ – rakeback allows you to then grasp a chunk of that rake for yourself. If you play online a lot, monthly rakeback payments can easily add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. A reliable rakeback site is RakeTheRake.com. Go there and you’ll find a list of poker sites that offer rakeback and easy instructions on how to sign up.

It’s important to keep an eye out for sign-up or reload bonuses too. They’re almost always worth doing – you can usually just instantly withdraw the money you deposited, meaning that you’re effectively on a freeroll. Money will usually be released incrementally into your account depending on how much you play. If you play a lot, you’ll get the full bonus amount, and if you don’t play at all then nothing has been lost.

It’s easy to forget that we the players are paying poker sites for the privilege of using their software to play poker on. Just like in a supermarket that has some excellent offers on, it’s worth perusing the aisles to see if you can get a little discount too.

Prepare like a champ

It would be very difficult to play football well if you’d had three beers, refused to warm up and were only half-paying attention to the action. Argue all you like about whether or not poker is a sport, but those same principles apply 100%. Despite that, a lot of poker players grind online while watching TV, cooking dinner or one of thousands of other distractions. It’s going to be impossible to play your best if you aren’t completely focused on poker.

It’s tough to balance poker time with the demands of work, a family and other commitments, but try to create balance in 2015 that means you are giving your poker game the respect it deserves every time you log in online or arrive at the casino. By minimising distractions your chances of winning will increase – and trust us when we say poker is much more fun when you are winning!

Have fun!

Sometimes there’s so much talk in the poker world about money, strategy and luck that it’s easy to forget the main reason we all fell in love with poker in the first place: it’s a hell of a lot of fun! Whether you’re playing for pennies with your mates or for life-changing money in Vegas, it’s one of the greatest games in the world and there is nothing else like it.

So the next time you feel like throwing your mouse out the window, head-butting the wall in the casino toilets or berating someone for being a fish, just take a step back and remember that poker isn’t just about the money. It’s a game first and foremost that is there to provide you with some fantastic entertainment.

Keep this positive outlook about you in 2015 and you’ll suffer less from tilt, recover from bad beats more quickly and get excited about playing. After that, the rest is down to you – and the cards!

What are your poker resolutions for 2015? Let us know on Twitter @PokerPlayer365 and we’ll print the best next issue.

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