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Some poker players develop an erroneous idea concerning how to make substantial money at poker.Their idea, probably formed in the process of learning to beat small limit games, actually springs from one more valid that of game selection.If is certainly true that the more game selective you are the better your hourly rate should be because you will spend more of your time in easier games.In the smaller games, where the competition is weak and games to chose from are plentiful, just a bit of game selection can usually have you playing in some of the easiest, “softest” games there are. 

Perhaps because this is what they’ve so often experienced in these games, the players I refer to arrive at the notion that an understanding of how most effectively to beat soft, loose poker games (which does require some specialized strategy)  is all they really need to make plenty of money at poker.They decide, in fact, that learning how to beat tougher games is a waste of time.One place where I’ve seen this idea expressed is in answer to questions posted on the Internet.  A poster may ask, for example, how he should have played a particular hand.Let’s say it was a hand which involved a preflop raise, then immediately became heads-up against the big blind.  Sometimes such a question heads-up against the big blind. Sometimes such a question receives a response such as, “Well, your first mistake was playing in such a tight game to begin with.”

While this attitude makes some sense in the lower limits, it can lead you astray if you hope to make the more substantial money that poker has to offer.To do that you will have to play in and beat middle to higher limit games. It can’t be done in small limit games because, in any game, the betting limit sets a cap on

what you can make over time. And as you move up the limits, the games get tougher. Furthermore, the higher you go, the fewer the opportunities for game selection.If you want to make $ 40 per hour you will probably have to play at least $ 15- $ 30, and more likely somewhere between $ 20-$ 40 or $ 30 – $ 60, depending on how well you play, where you play, and how much opportunity you have for game selection. At these limits you will frequently find yourself in games that are nothing at all like the soft small limit games.They are definitely beatable, but they would be considered quite tough if measured on the same scale used to judge the smaller games.

(Exceptions do occur, and you should of course be ready to take advantage of unusually good games.)What if you want to make considerably more, say, over $ 100 per hour?  Well then, get ready to play a minimum of about $ 60 – $ 120, and be prepared to face some opposition that’s tough by anyone’s standards. Though such games do become softer at times, if you opt to play in them only when they resemble easy low limit games, you’ll mostly be waiting around.In my area, you don’t even have to go very high to run out of game selection opportunities. Here, game selection possibilities are limited even at the $ 9-$ 18 level, nonexistent at $ 40 –$ 80 game here, then you have to be able to beat a game that often contains five or six of the best players in a metropolitan area of about 2.8 million people, and a couple more who are no slouches either. 

The same phenomenon occurs in areas where the highest limit game to be spread is smaller still. You may find that in a cardroom where the $ 15-$ 30 game is the biggest game in town, that game is at least semi-tough – especially if that form of poker guide is not new to the area.This is not to discount the game selection opportunities that are available in middle and higher limit games. Especially if you are competent in more than one form of poker, and are located in one of the major poker centers, you will have some choices. Indeed, when you do have an unusual amount of choice (such as in Los Angeles or Las Vegas) proper game selection can make a very large difference in what you earn. 

That does not mean that the games you choose, the better games, will always (or even often) qualify as soft. Furthermore, even in the largest cardrooms, as you move up through the middle limits towards the higher limit games, your choices will inevitably thin out.Clearly then, it pays to learn to beat tougher games.  Of course when I say “tougher” I’mnot referring to the very toughest games. Beating those games requires near world class skills, and even then may not be worth the bother. I’m talking about games, common at the middle limits, tending toward the tough side, but still quite profitable for many skilled players. These are the games you must learn to beat if you want to make decent money at poker. If you want to make quite a lot of money you’ll have to learn to beat still tougher, higher limit games.

There is no secret to how you do this.  You study the game while you get the playing experience.So learn how to beat the soft games, but also study the concepts which apply to tougher games, but also study the concepts which apply to tougher games.This will force you to think more deeply about poker, but will be well worth it. Do be poker game selective, but as you learn and improve don’t always opt out of games with slightly tougher lineups; for they may be easier than what you’ll be facing when you move up, and are good preparation for that move.As you become able to beat them for a fair hourly rate,enabling you to move up in the limits, your wallet will thank you.

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An Illusory Winner /

On Randomness, Rushes, HotSeats, and Bad Luck Dealers / Bad Beat? Think Again

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Short-Handed Play: Don’t Miss out   /  How I Learned Poker: Part I

 How I Learned Poker : Part II   /