The three stages of a poker player Part 1: Genesis

The journey from a fish to a shark in poker is not an easy one. The path you take will be filled with pitfalls, enticing shortcuts, and setbacks, but for the few who players that manage to not stray from their chosen path the reward at the end is often well worth it –both financially and spiritually. In this series I will examine the three stages players will reach along their journey as a poker player, and what skills they have learned and what they need to work on to improve.

So with that in mind let’s start off with your first steps in poker, we’ll call it Genesis…

What you know

At this stage in your poker career you are pretty much a blank page. There may be a few scribbles here and there, or even a short-hand note, but for the most part your knowledge of the game is very raw, and even concepts you have been exposed to are not fully understood.

What you don’t know

The answer to this question is, pretty much everything! As I said above, even areas you have been exposed to at some point are not fully understood, and your ability to apply any strategies or concepts is next to zero.

What you need to work on

The first thing you want to do is get a good grasp on the rules and the basics of poker. Everything from hand rankings to reading the board, to how the action moves around the table should be your primary focus.

Once you feel you have the rules and the basics of game-play down its time to start your real poker education. The best place to start is with a basic strategy book, and by reading strategy articles available online for free.

As you start understanding that poker is a skillful undertaking (and you are learning these skills) it’s also time to start gaining some experience and playing poker.

From here most players continue reading books, articles, maybe even visiting a poker forum or joining an online poker training site. And at this point you are likely going to be a solid, consistent, winner in micro-stakes online games and low-stakes live poker games –if you’re not winning after reading a few books and spending a few months practicing your newfound strategies then we have a major problem on our hands.

But a funny thing happens at this point; you start to realize that for all you have learned you really don’t know anything about poker! There is something missing from the resources you have been learning from, and to move on you’ll need to take the next step. Players who continue to read books as their primary education will find they are often behind the times by a few months to a few years, and while these strategies will always prove successful in the smallest-stakes games, they will never win against “thinking” opponents.

Players who want to improve will come to the first crossroads of their poker journey: Some will choose the easy way and continue to beat the small stakes games, while a smaller number of players will try to take their game to the next level –some will be successful, but many will not.

In Part 2 of this series I’ll take a look at how you can fight through this first roadblock in your career.


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  • Posted in: Fun Stuff, Poker Strategy & Tips
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