Becoming A Winning Poker Player

Becoming A Winning Poker Player

In today’s article, I want to talk about what it takes to become a winning poker player in today’s environment. With solvers, GTO strategy and other complex systems, it can be as confusing as ever to become a winning poker player in 2022. However, the opposite can also be said where it is as easy as ever to become a winning poker player with all of the available free or cost-efficient content out there. Today we will discuss the mindset and strategies needed to becoming a winning poker player in 2022.

The 80/20 Principal

First off, I want to talk about the 80/20 Principal and how we can apply it to poker. In the business world, this principal might say that “80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers”. We can apply this concept to poker in a few ways. First, when playing, it is probably true that 80% of your income in poker comes from 20% of your “customers”. These are the losing, big fish players that are just there to gamble and have no understanding of fundamentals. In my opinion, this is where most of your money in poker comes from.

It is important to understand this as game selection is a big part of poker. Find yourself in the right game, and becoming a winning player becomes much simpler. For me, right now, the weakest players in poker are playing tournaments and satellites. I gain a lot of my profit each year from low to mid-stakes tournaments and satellites because of the weak players I face in these situations.

Applying The Principal To Fundamentals

We can also apply the 80/20 Principal in how we study. Let’s continue to look at tournament poker. In my experience, 80% of your total Return On Investment (ROI) comes from having solid fundamentals. A large percentage of your winnings in tournaments is about having incredibly solid fundamentals.

I have students coming to me all the time asking about this crazy river check-raise they saw Chidwick make on the river. They watched the WSOP and want me to analyze Fedor Holz thought process in a huge triple barrel bluff deep in the Main Event. While these are important to know, having solid fundamentals is where you build a solid win-rate in tournaments. Just like an NBA player practices dribbling, shooting, and defense every day, a poker player needs to practice the fundamentals.

Jonathan Little

Get your free Cash Game Cheat Sheet From 2-Time World Poker Tour Champion Jonathan Little

The Tools You Need

For a tournament specialist, here are some of the fundamentals that are essential to becoming a winning tournament player:

Knowing your Raise First In ranges and how to adjust based on stack sizes: Knowing the adjustments your ranges make when playing 100 big blinds (BB) deep versus 30 BB deep. GTO ranges can help you with this and can be found on the internet or on

Knowing your 10-15 BB Push / Fold / Call Ranges: You need to study, memorize and know how to adjust your push / call ranges for sub-15 BB. There is no excuse for a player not to know these. Not knowing is pure laziness. You will have close spots, but not having an idea is not good.

15-30 BB Re-jam / call ranges: Knowing what ranges to go all-in with after a preflop raise is extremely important and one of the more important strategies in tournament poker.

Fundamentals of flat calling and three-betting strategies preflop: Know how to adjust based on stack sizes and what properties in hands you need to look for in flat calling and three-betting. Know what types of hands to value three-bet at specific stack depths. Know what types of hands make the best three-bet bluff candidates.

Learn how to identify board textures for range advantage and nut advantage: These 2 factors, along with identifying the amount of air in each range, leads to basic strategy construction post flop .

Know how to shift to a polarized turn strategy: Know how equity shifts once there has been a bet and a call on the turn.

Playing the River: Know how to identify a bluff catching situation and learn the fundamentals of bluff catching.

Playing Multiway pots: Learn how equities lower and value thresholds increase for multiway pot situations.

While not a comprehensive list, these are some of the basic fundamentals that must be learned to be a profitable cash or tournament player. Notice how a lot of these are preflop situations? You play preflop in every single hand, small mistakes are magnified by large volume. Learning / memorizing preflop strategies sets you up for success post flop.

Becoming A Winning Poker Player

To become a winning poker player, focus on the situations that come up the most. Spend time building a very solid preflop game and understand the in-game adjustments you make to it based on players. Learn to understand the fundamentals of the flop, turn, and river. Do not focus your time on river check-raise strategies or turn check-raise strategies, these are important but just give you a little more ROI or EV in situations. The bulk of your win-rate is going to come from having these solid fundamentals learned and improved through time. Develop a study plan that will allow you to do that in 2022 and see your win-rate and consistency increase.

Best of luck at the tables


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