Getting good at poker is going to take some time. We know that might be a shock with all of the “make a million dollars in a year as a poker player” guides floating around. But the truth is that if you really want to get good at the game you have to take things slowly. Just learning the basics of ABC poker might take you six months alone. The idea that you’re going to unlock a ton of wealth simply through playing poker is something that just might not happen. What you can get, however, is the feeling of really improving your strategy and therefore your critical thinking skills. Even though the actions are simple, their impact isn’t simple at all. Do you know when to fold and when to raise? Do you know when you can check and when you might be leaving money on the table? These are just a few questions that come into play when poker is concerned.
But everyone wants to know how they’re doing, so we’re going to sit down and try to answer that question.
There are some statistics that you should follow. A poker tracker will be able to help you out by looking at all of your hand histories. If you don’t have your hand histories, you can get them simply through your online poker site of choice. Most of the top names in poker online will be able to do this for you. If you’re lost for how to get this done on your choice poker site, you can just email support. And if support can’t seem to get back to you, then you’re not playing on a big enough poker site so it might be time to move around. We have plenty of guides on that, though.
Back to the subject at hand: you need certain statistics. One would have to be VP$IP. This acronym means “Voluntary put in Money in Pre-Flop”. At this point, you might be thinking: of course I put money in, I was the Big Blind! That’s not what VP$IP is measuring. It’s looking at all of the times you bet before the flop. Most new players have a really high statistic for VP$IP, because they’re playing way too many hands. If you’re used to playing totally free poker, such as through a social media platform, then you’re playing way too loose. It’s easy to play a bunch of hands when there isn’t money on the table because there’s absolutely no risk. If you run out of virtual monies, the site will just give you more. But when you’re playing with hard earned cash, you need to manage your bankroll differently. This also means that you can’t play bad cards and hope that you’re going to get lucky. Yes, this means that if you fold 7-2o, there is going to be a flop that is 7-7-2. How often will this show up, though? Not very often at all.
Takeaway #1: Play fewer hands, and get smart about folding.
The next statistic would have to be Won Money When Saw Flop (W$WSF), which represents the number of times you won when you saw the flop. Notice that the two stats work together. If you have a low VP$IP, it means that you’re folding appropriately. Yet if you have a low Won Money When… statistic, it means that you just aren’t winning very much when it comes time to see the flop. This may point at you being a calling station, because you’re just calling and checking the flop without really having good cards. See why card selection is so important?
Of course, you need to look at the Big Bets won per 100 hands. This statistic needs to be couched in terms of the others, in that they’re all connected. Don’t forget that just because the BB/100 is really weak. You’re supposed to be getting better over time.
Be aware that you can also look at the statistics of other players and take your own notes. Some people think that looking at other poker players is a waste of time, because the tables are randomized. But that’s not always the case: you could run into other good poker players more often than you might expect. On the other hand, you can also run into a lot of fish and score some pots simply because you are a numbers aware poker player.
In short, it’s time to chew on the numbers, look at your hands, and figure out how you’ve been feeling. Are you playing in an emotional state? It might be time to get over whatever stress you have going on and move on to better poker. Don’t forget that it’s never a bad idea to take a poker break if the pressure really starts getting high. Happy hunting!