2017 is now upon us. Ronda Rousey is no longer an arm-bar dispensing machine that can do no wrong, it's now cool to be a poker player "slash" vlogger, Great Britain is no longer a member of the European Union (or is it?) and a punchline to a joke made in The Simpson's a few good years back turned out to be the best prediction for the 2016 presidential election.
The world is going fast and the same goes for poker. "Timing is everything" so in this article we'll explore some of the poker goals that you might want to include in your personal list for the next 12 months.
Pick the Best Poker Room
This is more important than ever before. With big sites and networks offering increasingly tougher fields combined with smaller and smaller rewards, with PokerStars valuing marketing deals with Kevin Hart and Cristiano Ronaldo over the Supernova Elite rewards for their loyal customer base it might be the perfect time to ditch the big network for something slightly more exotic and a lot more profitable. The most obvious and safest direction would be the Microgaming Poker Network with reputable skins like StanJames, BetVictor, PKR, Betsafe, etc.
The network managers showed the rest of the poker world how it's done by keeping the old reward scheme (30% rakeback, attractive deposit and reload bonuses plus affiliate rake race eligibility for the players which is especially important in the context of The PokerVIP World's Biggest Rake Race) to attract the grinders, and also allowing everyone regular screen name changes which was an obvious nod to the recreational players.
These changes, combined with decreased rake resulted in a huge spike in popularity for the network and this trend will most likely continue in 2017. Another attractive option would be the newly popularizedAsian GG Network and its flagship skin Natural8.
Get More Serious About Live Poker
Between the emerging Asian market and growing social media presence of poker players, it's hard to imagine that the rumors of poker's demise will finally come true. Online poker is tough but still in a good place and this shouldn't change in the next few years.
However, poker is in its essence a very complicated mathematical problem and since computers are far better at math than human beings (at least once we tell them what we want them to calculate) there will come a time in the future when poker bots will best even the masters of the game. We're not there yet and there's no reason to panic, but it's definitely a smart move to include some live cash games and tournaments in your poker schedule for 2017.
Speaking of hedging your bets, if you're predominantly a holdem player you might want to look into this hot new game in town called Pot Limit Omaha. While PLO established itself as the second most popular cash game variant a good few years back, it avoided a sudden explosion in popularity and as a result, PLO is still somewhat of an uncharted territory.
If you're willing to look past the insane variance associated with playing a four card poker format and you don't mind playing fewer tables (or combining a few different poker rooms for the sake of optimal table selection) PLO can reward you with higher win rates than the ones that are possible to achieve in today's tough holdem cash games environment.
Start Learning About GTO
If you have no idea what PokerSnowie or PioSolver are 2017 might finally be the year to learn more about these powerful pieces of software. Even if holdem is still far away from being solved, the game theory optimal approach to poker might enable you to transcend the outdated tools and mantras many poker players still use to talk and think about poker.
"3betting with AQo CO vs. MP is my standard" or "if you value bet this river you have to call the raise" might have been good enough in 2012, but if you're still dreaming about becoming a successful mid stakes player at some point in your future, you have to concentrate on what's really essential to understanding poker - the EV and game theory. PokerSnowie and PioSolver are the best tools for the job.
Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Poker is the best example of the fact that looking at problems in isolation can only get you so far. Once you realize that every subsequent decision at the poker table is connected to your overall strategy it's easy to understand that this fact can transcend the game of poker.
Honing your strategy at the tables is just one piece of the puzzle and the first step on a way to becoming as successful at poker as you possibly can become. Your sleeping schedule, social relationships, physical and mental fitness can all affect the quality of your poker game.
It's entirely possible that buying a gym membership or signing up for a martial arts class can affect your game in a much more profound way than adding another hour of coaching videos to your daily routine. Poker is a fun pastime that can also become a source of income but it's not the end all be all which many of us tend to forget about.
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