All too often, people learn the basics of poker, enjoy a few low stakes games, move up to a higher stakes game, lose everything, then either give up, or delude themselves into thinking that they're missing some big secret.
Poker novices spend a fortune on poker books, videos, and classes promising the "Secrets of the pros" or "An unbeatable poker strategy". Really, the answer to the question "What do you need to become a good poker player?" is simple. There's no secret strategy, no magic poker tips that will turn a beginner into a pro. All you need is a quick mind, and a lot of practice.
Some people grasp the core poker concepts quickly, for others it takes a little longer, but anyone can learn them with time.
Good poker players are able to quickly identify the style of each player at the table. They label each player, for example: "Fish", "Maniac", "Tight", and they can remember those labels - and adjust them where necessary, for the duration of the game.
Good poker players can quickly count outs, assess pot odds, and work out whether a bet is worth making - or how much they need to bet to make the required bet too risky for their opponent to stay in the hand.
These concepts are the foundation of strong poker players. When you're first playing, it can take a long time to work this stuff out. If you're like I was as a beginner, you might need a calculator and a pen and paper when you're first getting started. If you can't reckon things quickly enough to play online poker, why not invest in an offline poker game for the PC or your favourite games console. After a couple of weeks of practice you'll be able to put the calculator to one side and do all your reckoning in your head.
When these poker basics are intuitive to you, you can be confident you're well on the way to becoming a good poker player, and you can look at some more advanced poker strategies.
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