Study study study

From here, you start your real education, playing as much hold'em as you can. Read this book again, and the books that we recommend in the next chapter. When a hand or a session goes badly, stop and think about what happened. Did you play poorly or did the other players get lucky? Remember, it's very easy to put the blame for bad results on others, but you should review your own play carefully first.

Begin to develop the talents you need to perfect your play at low-limit and to move up to bigger and tougher games. As we said in the introduction, there is no recipe for winning at hold'em. Learn to make the right decision most of the time. When should you raise with that gut shot straight draw and when should you throw it away? Review your mistakes and learn from them. When you got your flush beaten by a bigger one, could you have lost one fewer bet? Watch your opponents constantly. Why are they at the table? Are they happy and gambling, or are they intense, focused players like you? Are they playing on short stacks or do they have a lot of chips? Does the player in seat five know what a free card play is? The player in seat seven is having a snifter of brandy. Is that his first or fourth? How does his play change when he gets some alcohol in him? It's a lot to notice and take in, but you won't be playing many hands — you'll have plenty of time to watch and study your opponents.

Talk to your fellow poker buddies. Discuss hands with them and how you might have played them differently. Learn who the good players are and watch them — you will undoubtedly pick up a few tricks (though it may cost you a few bets).

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