When Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker in 2003 he set of a chain of events that led to an insane boom for online poker. Only five years old at the time, internet poker went crazy with people clamouring to risk their hard-earned money in search of glory and a nice payday. There were so many new players who didn’t know any poker concepts beyond what they’d seen on ESPN or how to play at a UK casino online; it was incredibly easy to grind out a profit.
Fast forward to 2019 and the easy days are long behind us. It is no longer enough to just read a single book and just turn up to win money. There are some positives for taking up this beautiful game today though, the amount of quality information available is enough to take you to a high level very quickly. Of course provided that you work diligently and smartly.
Get the Right Software
Back in the day we were all flying blind, so to speak, but now there is a plethora of options to get you on the right track. Firstly, a database is to be recommended. This is a much argued point in the current climate of some providers banning their use, but there are additional points to consider.
As a poker player you should be using all information available to you. This is difficult though. New players often rigidly trust everything their HUD tells them, or they play without one and miss out on so much. The reason we recommend you start with a HUD is that it will shorten the learning curve. There is information everywhere online on what the most important stats should be around. Once you streamline your strategy you will develop a feel for all of the frequencies. Playing without a HUD will definitely increase your ability to focus on specific reads but the overall learning process will be much slower.
- Hold’em Manager 2 or 3
- PokerTracker 4
The second piece of software you should be using every day for analysis is Equilab. The concept of equity is crucial to understand even the most basic strategies. Equilab will show you in seconds how far ahead or behind you are on all possible boards. There is a more advanced version called Power Equilab but it is not necessary unless you are an advanced player.
One cool feature of Equilab is the quiz function where you can test yourself daily to how well you are progressing. Being able to accurately assess what each player’s equity is a huge advantage if your opponents cannot do the same.
Finally, once you are up to speed with reading your HUD, performing database analysis, and fluent with equity you can introduce yourself to the mighty Flopzilla. This piece of kit will open up a whole new world to you.
Flopzilla will train you to visualise how often each combo makes each possible strength of hand.
Unfortunately, for those of you who are math phobic you are going to have to grasp the nettle and do your best. Poker is nothing more than an elaborate maths puzzle with additional elements, such as psychology, thrown in for good measure. It’s also no good taking the 1990 live poker stance that “I’m a feel player” and don’t need to understand the numbers. You need every advantage you can get in today’s tough games.
Luckily for you, here on PokerVIP we have all the information needed to get a grip with all of the important mathematical concepts. You will learn about pot odds, implied odds, frequencies, blockers and EV calculations.
This is enough to work your own way through most situations and you can post on our forum to have your work checked by an experienced player.
The Mental Game
This isn’t the most important concept if you still don’t know the real basics but it won’t take you long to arrive at a skill level where it is important. Mandatory reading for all new players should be The Mental Game of Poker 1&2 by Jared Tendler. This is not just advice on keeping your head straight during your sessions but also includes many gems on the adult learning process. If you start off on the right foot and follow Tendler’s advice you’ll be in the best possible position to play professional poker within a year or two.
Learning to Walk Before You Try to Run
So where next after you’ve armed yourself with all the right tools? It’s obviously straight into strategy. After all, knowing how to play the hands is the be all and end all of winning money. The trick though is to be working on the right things in the right order.
The point of highlighting everything above is that it’s all you need to really kickstart your career. You must avoid the danger of wasting your time learning concepts that will give you minimal return in your results. It is a deep trap to comfort yourself with the feeling that you are accumulating so much sophisticated knowledge but if it’s not helping your results then what’s the point?
Here are the basic concepts which you should master before moving onto difficult material.
- Pre-flop: - What hands to play from each position and how to adjust. 3/4/5 betting.
- Continuation betting on flop
- When to barrel on the turn and river.