Self-help: What’s the best way to improve your poker game?

There are lots of ways you can improve your poker game – which one can’t you live without?

Before the internet, poker players had to hone their skills in real-life games, perhaps alongside a few trusted poker strategy books. While these are effective learning tools, such approaches can be very slow – especially for the ambitious poker player.

The internet has made it easier than ever to develop your strategies and to access advice and tips from talented, experienced players. But where to begin? Do you want to find a mentor? Hire a coach? Trawl the internet for tips? Rely on strategy sites? Analyse poker gurus? Delve into the psychology of the game?

Which resource might be your poker saviour? Here we look at the key benefits of some of these powerful resources.


Finding a poker mentor is a great way to accelerate your learning. They’ll be able to give you a thorough understanding of the basics (such as preflop, how to deal with tilt, continuation bets, etc.), and provide advice as and when you need it. It’s easier to message a mentor than search hundreds of websites for advice.

Mentors can also help you analyse your game. After a session, you can go over your hands and see what you did right and what you did wrong. Any mistakes will be made clear to you, and hopefully you’ll be unlikely to repeat them.

The benefits to the mentor include a sense of satisfaction from helping a new player develop, and being able to re-cap the basics of the game for themselves. As a player develops, they may be able to help the mentor analyse their own hands.

Friends with experience in poker may offer to mentor you, or you may find a mentor in an online forum.


As any poker player who has tried will know, finding a good coach is not always easy. Sometimes it takes several coaches before you find one that suits your level, playing style and personality.

Since most coaches cost money (and if they don’t then they would be better described as mentors), it is a step for the serious player. Such an investment also has to bear fruit – or it is simply a waste of money.

Delivery of coaching takes many forms: face-to-face sessions; via email (where hand histories can be sent and analysed, or questions asked); via Skype or other online video systems; or by phone. You may find you learn better with one of these particular communication methods.


Poker books and the internet are awash with tips, both for beginners and more experienced players. Reading through a list of tips is often a very digestible way to improve your game. Thousands of poker players have learned their skills the hard (and expensive) way, so you’d be mad not to take advantage of their knowledge.

From simple notions such as never drinking alcohol when playing poker, to picking the right game for your bank roll and skill level, there are an abundance of poker tips available – tips you can use to improve your game straight away.

Strategy sites

While strategy sites may also offer up a wealth of useful poker tips, they also offer more in-depth analysis of poker strategies. As well as giving you access to articles written by seasoned pros, strategy sites often feature poker forums, too. The former can give you illuminating insights into poker from the viewpoint of successful players, while forums are a great place to see their strategies tested and discussed. Forums are also a great arena for letting off steam, asking questions, or simply interacting with fellow players.

A simple internet search for poker strategies will turn up some of the leading strategy sites. Signing up to a few of these will give you access to a great deal of knowledge about the modern game.


Poker gurus are the embodiment of what most of us want to be – great poker players. As such, it’s little wonder that so many of us turn to these gurus for inspiration and advice.

While the term may be bandied around a little more than it should these days, ‘guru’ really refers to the most successful poker players – whether they play live, online, or both. They are the individuals that enjoy recurrent success in tournaments, and who are therefore looked up to by the poker community.

Unless a specific guru writes a regular blog or has published books on poker, the best way to benefit from a guru is by watching them play in televised or recorded tournaments. This can provide invaluable insights into their psychological game as well as laying bare the nuts-and-bolts of how they play.

Gurus also offer inspiration; they prove that it really is possible to make a living – and even become wealthy – from playing poker.


For many, understanding the psychology of poker is at the heart of playing to win.

The effects of self-doubt, tilt and steam are well-documented – and for the most part, familiar to most long-term players. Understanding the psychology of poker can help to limit or eliminate the impact of the emotional side of the game. Getting swept along by such emotions, on the other hand, can lead to silly mistakes, lack of concentration – and chasing losses.

A firm grip of poker psychology is also invaluable in predicating competitors’ actions – and then outwitting them. Equally, psychology can help you effectively deceive your opponents, time after time, unbalancing them to your benefit.

Consider reading Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker (2010) by James McManus – one of poker’s most knowledgeable historians – a book that provides an in-depth introduction to the game and its psychology. Tommy Angelo’s The Elements of Poker is another well regarded book that offers revealing psychological insights into poker, as well as how professional poker players manage life outside the game.

Which is your poker saviour?

Which of these resources can best help you develop your game? The truth is that any one of these ‘poker saviours’ could help immensely in improving how you play. But perhaps the best advice – for the serious player – is to give your attention to all of them.

For even more great poker advice like this why not try a free subscription to the digital version of PokerPlayer magazine? Here’s how…

Click the links for PokerPlayer magazine on iOS, Android or PCs

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This article was sponsored by Titanbet Poker


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