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This chapter gives you advice that applies equally well to all forms of poker.  this advice covers most of the games you would play in a home game and any Hold’em game in any casino in the country.  After this chapter we will advance to specific practical advice that applies only to Hold’em poker.

Get Ready to Play
  You have to be in the right frame of mind to play poker.  It is, after all, a game of skill.  You have to use your brain.  So it figures that the condition of your brain should be of concern to you.  Ideally, you should be fresh, well rested, free of mental distractions and problems and have the desire and ability to play.  You should have uppermost in your mind exactly what the object of poker is (to make money ) and exactly how to go about it.

The Object of This Game is to Make money.
  Unless you’re playing with the kids for matchsticks or have  to lose to the boss for job security reasons, you should look at your poker playing buddies as miniature walking, talking gold mines.
  If you keep records of your poker sessions, and you will if you read this book, you’ll see that your poker playing time is worth so much per hour to you.  It’s just like working for someone else for a wage.  How much you make per hour is up to you, your skill and the games you choose to play in.

Be Prepared to Beat Any Poker Game
  How much you like or dislike a particular poker game should have nothing to do with how profitable it can be for you.  If you are to be a real Poker Player, you should be able to play any type of game you run into.  The key to this attitude is the fact that you know that any type of poker game can be objectively analyzed and there is usually one best way to play.

Concentrate on Making the Correct Decisions
  The object of poker is to make money, but how do you go about it?  How do you win money from nine other people who are trying to win your money?  There are several answers to this dilemma.
  First of all, you are often playing with people who aren’t trying to win your money.  They play because they like to socialize, they like the excitement of the game and it’s what they want to do with their time.
  And here’s the most important tip I can give you about your opponents, especially in a casino game: A lot of the people you play against in a casino hold’em Game are there not because they’re poker players, but because they’re gamblers and they have discovered that playing poker is how they can get the most bang for their buck.  Slot machines take your money too fast.  The blackjack tables can take all of your money in one hand, craps is non-thinking game and the house edge in roulette is too big.

  Even though the object of poker is to make money, that’s not what you should be thinking about during the game.  The only thing that should matter to you is the quality of the decisions you make.  When it is your turn to check, call, bet, raise or fold, you should make the best decision possible at the time with the information you have.
  Poker is a game of skill, but the real skill is in the decision-making.  Wouldn’t you agree that a consistent winner at this game is a good decision maker?  And wouldn’t you agree that the guy who loses the most money in your game makes the worst decisions?

  Whoever makes the best decisions in the long run will win the most money in the long run,  your job in this game is to consistently make the best decisions you can when it is your turn to act and not to worry about the money or even how the hand turns out.  Don’t even worry about poker winning the pot you’re in.  once you make the correct decision it doesn’t matter what happens after that.
  It is possible to do the right thing and still lose the hand but you won’t lose the game in the long run.  You know it’s possible to do the wrong thing and still win the hand but that doesn’t mean that deliberately playing incorrectly is the way to play all the time.  Play the best way you know how and the money will come.
Profit from Superior Decision-Making
  Realize that your profit from this game comes from the mistakes your opponents make.  If the quality of decision-making is equal among all the players then there won’t be many mistakes made and any one player’s profit or loss will not be that much more or less than any other’s.
  It’s when one player (you) has the ability to make decisions that are superior to the opposition that you will make a Lot of money in this game.  You don’t have to be an expert to be in this position.  If you are a good player in a game full of poor players you should be able to clean up in the long run.

Don’t Drink Alcohol When You Play, Not Even One Drink
  If you play in a casino you’ll see that all the alcohol you can drink is served to you free of charge right at the poker table.
  As we spoke about before, since you play poker against other players and not against the house, they are not providing these drinks in an attempt to get you drunk and then take advantage of your drunken state by making you play badly.  The real purpose of serving you free drinks in a Casino is to make you want to stay and play longer.  This exposes you to the house edge in whatever game you’re playing and it affects your decisions.  This is why a blackjack player who is ahead $600 will stay and play until it’s all gone or why the slot player who hits a $ 300 jackpot will put it all back in the machine trying to hit an even bigger jackpot.
  In a way, the slot player who is drinking has an advantage over you.  His decisions don’t matter.  There is only one way to pull the lever on a slot machine but there are a hundred different ways to play a poker hand and they all require that you be able to make good decisions.  Let the other players drink; you’ll get their money that much faster.

Play Aggressively
  You cannot check and call in Hold’em and be a winner.  There’s a term that describes a weak, passive Hold’em player, and it’s Calling Station.  So many more good things can happen to you when you bet instead of check.  if you are a calling station then you can win only by having the best hand at the showdown.  You will never be able to take advantage of strategic moves like check-raising, semi-bluffing, bluffing and using deception in playing your hand.
  You have a dozen ways to win a hand if you’re a complete poker player, and having the best hand, when your bet is called at the end, is only one of them.  You’re giving up a lot of money and opportunities if the only thing you know how to do is to wait for the nuts.

Remember.  It’s one Long Poker Game
  Look at your playing as one long poker game that lasts a lifetime but is interrupted by sleeping, eating, working and vacationing.  The first hand that you play today is just the next hand after the last hand you played yesterday.  You should take an even tempered approach and realize that whether you’re winning or losing is determined by your overall Win/Loss record.
  How you’re doing today is not as important as your trend of wins or losses and your actual cumulative total.
  It’s critical that you keep records of your poker playing so that you know exactly where your stand.  It will help you analyze your performance and detect trends in your play.  You may realize that you consistently lose playing at one particular casino, you may lose on Wednesday, you may lose when you’re no longer a favorite to win money in the game.  There are a variety of reasons why you’d no longer be a favorite in a particular game:

  • You’re already losing and you don’t see any chance of getting it back in this session.
  • You’re tired or otherwise distracted.
  • Some of the poor players have left and they’ve been replaced by better players.
  • There’s little or practically no money on the table even though there are players in the seats.
  • You have won so much money that there’s just isn’t any left to win.  My advice is to leave the game if you should have over half the money on the table.  At this point you are risking too much to win too little.  It’s difficult to win more than half of the money on the table and if you stay beyond that you’ll often find that you’ll be feeding money back to the other players.
  • You’re being outplayed for some reason.  You may be ill or mentally below par and not realize it.  If the gang that you usually beat up is beating up on you, you should quit the game.
  • You started out with a few losing hands and now have discovered that when you have a winning poker hand , you don’t get any action.