Keep the Records of Poker

Another thing you’ll wan to be sure to do when you play any type of poker is keep record.  It’s not that hard.  For a very basic online poker record, just write down the date, length of time you played, and how much you won or lost.  This will help you if you happen to win a lot of for tax purposes, but it will also give you an idea of how you are doing overall.

If you find yourself losing several sessions in a row, don’t get too worried – everyone “runs bad” from time to time.  But if you find yourself consistently losing more than you win over a long period of time, evaluate your play.  Try to focus on what part of your game needs work and what can make you a better player.

Always Be Learning

If you want to become a consistent, winning card player, it’s a good idea to be learning more about poker constantly.  You’ll be learning at the card table, but there are also plenty of ways to be learning outside of the card room.  Take advantage of those opportunities.  Buy more books or magazines on poker and learn new techniques.  Use the Internet.  Just as there are many places in which you can play poker onlne, there are also many places where you can learn about poker.

One of my favorite sites is This is an outstanding website that was recently re-designed, and it now includes places where beginners can post questions, along with message boards for finding home games and asking general or advanced questions as well.

Another site I frequent is a newsgroup that’s probably the most well known the web for poker:  You can find this using a simple search under “groups” at  Here you will find all sorts of posts on various poker topics, including many from people asking for others’ thoughts on the proper play of different hands.  You can also consider starting your own web page on poker, as I have done.

Software: A Good Investment

Computer software is very useful.  It’s a powerful tool that will help you a lot in your game.  While play money table at poker websites are free, you won’t learn a whole lot from them, as the style of play there is incredibly loose.  If you purchase software for your computer, though, you can have different opponent styles, set the table limits, and get results that are much more real-life-like.

Computer software also gives you all the staristics you could ever want, from the tightness of the game to analysis of your own play (my favorite).  If you want, the software can also give you advice as how to play each hand.  Be sure to check out programs such as Wilson’s Turbo seven card stud to help you in your game, and it’s well worth the investment.  Other companies offer similar software as well.

Table Image, Etiquette & Attitude

I’ve included this section particularly for those players who have never been to a card room before – it’s a way to keep in mind the things that they should avoid.

Cell Phones

It seems that at every table where I play, someone is trying to talk on the phone while playing cards.  I recall one instance where it got so bad the deler had to say something to a guy.  Naturally, you may be busy or need your phone for emergencies – but at the table, your focus should be on the game and not on talking on your cell.  It’s also rude to other players who are trying to focus on the game.


Avid drinking! Having a beer is all well and fine, but that’s what the bar is for.  Everyone knows that as you drink more, your judgment will become more clouded.  You want to be as sharp as you can, so avoid alcohol when you’re playing.  By the same token, if you ever see someone who obviously has been drinking, he might as well have a flashing neon sign above him saying, “Free money here.”  He won’t be focusing on the game very well, so he should be an easy target for you.


As for table image, pretty much anything goes in a public card room.  You can’t be fooled by someone’s style of dress – the only way you’ll really be able to figure out how a player will play will be by watching him carefully and learning from his playing style.  Still, you can pick up on some things, such as how he presents himself.  If he has chips in no particular order in front of him and doesn’t watch Poker Play of the game carefully when he is not in the hand, it’s sign that he is more of a loose player.  However, if he has chips neatly stacked and looks very focused on the game, he is tighter and a more solid player.

How should you present yourself?  Wear whatever you feel comfortable playing in.  Me, I always wear the same thing – a black shirt and a tie with a deck of cards or images of dogs playing on it.  That’s just what I feel comfortable playing in.  Most poker players are superstitious, so if you have a favorite shirt or rabbit’s foot that you feel will help you in your game, go ahead and wear it or bring it. 

You want to portray yourself to the table as a tight, focused card player who is ready to play – so don’t be the guy with the chips all over the place, on the phone, or watching the TV.  Have your chips stacked neatly in front of you in stacks of five, ten or twenty, and be focused on the game.


The right attitude is also poker fundamental to being a winning poker player.  You want always to be in the proper mind set when you are playing cards.  As I said early on, if you feel yourself going on tilt or starting to chase a lot of cards, get up and take a walk or cash in the rest of your chips – you won’t be playing your “A” game.

Always try to remain optimistic, too, even if it has been a long time since you’ve been able to play a hand.  The good hands will come, and when they do, you want to be focused, so you know how to play them right.  If you think you’re a bad player, then you’ll probably go home right through the exit – without stopping off at the cashier’s cage first.

A Word on Tells

When it comes to tells, there’s no better source of information than Mike Caro, the “mad genius of poker,” who is an expert on the subject.  While I do not claim to be as much of an expert on tells as Mr. Caro, thee are some tells I have noticed that are common in players at the low limits and in home games.  They are most likely to occur on seventh street, but they can also happen during the earlier rounds of the hand.

One tell that players frequently exhibit occurs when they miss a hand after getting their last card.  When a player gets his last card, and he hasn’t made his hand, he may sigh a bit, or shake his head slightly.  Some players will even pick up their three hole cards, shuffle them, slowly look at them, then frown slightly.  This is a great indicator that a player did not make his hand, but it doesn’t last long.  For this reason, it is important to watch players’ faces on seventh street.  Notice how they react to their cards.  That sigh or frown won’t last forever, so watch your oppoment to catch it.  Your last card isn’t going anywhere.  Before you look at it, watch your opponents’ faces to help clue you in as to whether they have made their hands Another tell is a player’s showing his hand to Poker Pleyar next to him.  Some players are blatant – they’ll tap Poker Player next to them on the shoulder and even say, “Can you believe that!” Others are subtler.  They’ll shake their heads slightly and let their hands out enough so their opponents can see them