Should you start playing poker in 2020?
Poker was still very much alive in 2019 and will continue to be so in 2020, that's my opinion.
It may be true that the games are getting harder. The average player in 2020 might be better than the average player was in 2019 and will very likely be a lot better than the average player was 10 years ago.
That doesn't mean poker is dead. The average player at my tables over the past year wasn't very good. Yes, most players have some general idea of the most important basic poker concepts. They know the concepts exist, but they don't know how to apply them. They're used in wrong situations, for the wrong reasons against wrong opponents, ...
So why should you start playing poker in 2020?
- It's a social game, most players are there to have fun, someone's just got to start the conversation.
- It's a challenge, you'll get to pit your wits against other players.
- Every hobby costs money, this one also offers the chance to win some. (Or a lot?)
- There are absolutely no obligations or requirements. You play when you want to where you want to.
- Winning a tournament is an amazing feeling and a huge confidence boost. Plus you win some money!
Looking for a local poker club in Belgium?
Play more hands from late position, play fewer hands from early position.
Nearly everyone in today's games is probably familiar with this concept. But do you know exactly which hands are profitable from each position? I don't, I'd like to believe I know my ranges (a lot) better than most players in my games though. What I can tell you is that everyone is making a ton of mistakes here, right at the very start of the hand. Which only sets them up to make even more and worse mistakes later in the hand.
If you've been around live poker you most likely know what limping means. Limping is just calling the big blind (bb) preflop. It's also one of the very first things a studying poker player will learn. Do not limp!
I'm not going to go into why limping is terrible here. You'll have to do some research yourself, it's not hard to find.
The best part is, everyone knows limping is bad! Ask anyone who's been around poker for a while. They'll agree with you that limping is bad. They'll agree with you that they should stop doing it. Wait, what?
In live games, people limp all the time. They know it's bad, they might even know why it's bad. (unlikely) But they'll keep doing it!
Playing too many hands
It's been said over and over, playing tight is the right way to play poker.
For most players, especially in loose live games, playing 10-15% of hands is exactly what you want to do.
I've sat in extremely loose and short stacked games where it's best to play even less than 10% of hands. What's funny about this is that everyone else at the table will think you're a horrible player for playing way too tight. They'll often even call you out on it. The best part? These same players are the ones that will be paying you off when you do play those very few hands.
Calling too much
There is a lot to be said about this topic, I'm not going to go too deep into it here.
People love to chase draws, they're afraid of being bluffed and they can't fold top pair. Value bet!
Not getting enough value
Again, a complicated subject.
Most players are afraid of running into a monster or getting bluffed off of their hands. So they miss a lot of value from their strong hands.
Don't be like most players, value bet!
Overvaluing strong hands
The other side of not getting enough value.
You'll often see players who just keep betting when it should be obvious their hand is no longer good.
What is a value bet? A value bet is a bet that will get called by a worse hand.
A lot of people confuse this with having a better hand than your opponent.
If you have a strong hand, but your opponent won't call with anything worse, you cannot bet for value!
Read that again, it's important.
Bluffing too much
You'll sometimes run into these types of players who just seem to be playing and betting every hand.
They're most likely bluffing way too much. Start calling more.
Yes, you're going to lose against them when they do have a strong hand, that's the risk of playing good poker.
Not bluffing (enough)
Then there are other players who never, or rarely, bluff.
I know someone I play with regularly who never bluffs. I've been challenging them to show me a bluff for months now. It hasn't happened so far and I don't think it will happen anytime soon. Some people just don't bluff, at all. Start folding a lot more against them.
Most players fall into this category. So as a general rule, you can fold more often than you theoretically should, since people are not bluffing enough.