Tip 51
Game selection adds to your profits

Recognizing profitable games is an underrated poker skill.  It is quite possible that a player adept at choosing the right game wins significantly more money than a far more money than a far more skilled player who lacks judgment in game selection.  Do not underestimate the value of choosing the right game.  Here are some guidelines:

  • Don’t sit in games full of tight-aggressive players.

This is the style of play that gets the money in hold’em.  If several of these players are in your game, they snatch up whatever profit is available from the weaker players.  Look for another game.

  • Look for games with loose-passive players; those are the easiest games to beat

This implies that the most profitable games may not have the biggest pots, as passive play tends to promote smaller pot sizes.  However, these players won’t charge you the maximum when they hold the best hand.  Provided you don’t return the favor, the chips will be heading in your direction.

  • Avoid wild and crazy games when your bankroll is short.

Games with big pots are appealing, but may not be your best move when you are on short money.  You will have both your biggest wins and biggest losses in wild games.  It is often best to seek out more passive opposition, particularly when you cannot afford a big loss.

  • Winning at poker is all about the edge you have over your opponents.

Poker is a long-term proposition, and if you play in situations in which you have an advantage, you will be a long term winner.  You must objectively seek out games in which you do have an edge, and avoid games in which you do not.

  • That said, it may still be correct occasionally to sit in a game that you can’t beat, due to the presence of a few excellent players in the game.

You are doing this for educational purposes, as you will spend your time in this game observing everything the experts do, so that you can replicate it in your own play.  Just don’t do this at a limit you cannot afford.

  • It’s okay to play with great players, as long as bad ones are present.

In limit hold’em, the amount of money you lose to players who are better than you is much smaller than the amount you win from very poor players.  This is true, of course, only if you are at least a fairly good player.  So, don’t be afraid to sit in a game with a few players whom you identify as being extremely skillful, if some poor players are there as well.  Most of your profit will come from these bad players.  Also, the experts will likely stay out of your way most of the time, allowing you to play mainly against the live ones*.  You are much better off in this type of game than in one in which every player is fairly good, although none is exceptional.

* Live one:  A very loose player, usually implying one who loses.

Tip 52
Move up

If you have experienced success (or at least gained experience) at hold’em at one limit, you will probably consider playing in a bigger game at some point.  This is particularly true if you have been successful, as the possibility of winning significantly more money at a higher limit is a strong incentive to step up.
  Before you do so, however, you must make sure you are adequately bankrolled for the move.  This is not a concern if your bankroll is renewable, but if you fear going broke, you should adhere to certain guidelines.  In general, assuming you are a winning player, many experts recommend a bankroll of approximately 300 big bets to remove the risk of going broke.

  The better you play compared to your opponents and the smaller the game, the less strict that figure need be.  In general, though, for a $ 2-$ 4 hold’em game, you should have a bankroll between $ 600 and $ 1000 to “weather the storms.”  Someone with equivalent skills ought to have a bankroll of $ 12,000 for a $ 20-$ 40 game.  And for a    $50-$ 100 game, $ 30,000 to $ 50,000.  And “bankroll” here means money set aside specifically for poker.  It does not include the “rent money” or your savings.
  Simply having the bankroll to move up does not mean that it is necessarily in your best financial interest to do so.  It is probably best not to increase limits until you have become a consistent winner at your current level.  One incentive you might  choose to provide for yourself  is to force yourself to win  at your current level the required bankroll for the next highest limit.  When you have increased your bankroll to the necessary level, you can step up.