Basic Questions About How to Improve, Time Management, & Exploiting Online Opponents

King3King3 Red Chipper Posts: 4 ✭✭
I was hoping to ask some questions about poker but I'll start with some background: I'm 27, have a BA from UW-Madison in psychology, and intellectually my SAT/ACT scores put me in the top ~3%-5% in terms of intelligence. So I can learn things pretty quickly with good comprehension and have a pretty good memory. While I'm certainly good at math, English and communication are my strong suit. I have been playing/studying for 1.5-2 months.

About Poker, I’ve learned the basics and worked my way about 20% through CORE 2.0 (along with other articles from well-known websites). I have a good understanding of equity/pot-odds, pre-flop play and their charts for a 6 max table, most of the terminology, etc. I've made it to the 2nd module of CORE 2.0, which introduces you to the basic math of the game, betting, ranges, pre/post-flop play, and Cognition.

I currently play at (where no actual money is involved, so I’ve been using it as a proving ground) though you do have to buy chips to start- my bankroll currently stands at around 350M after a month when I started with 700M, which is about average at that site. Anyways, right now, I’d say I’m a below average player. Fair assessment?
My 1st QUESTION IS: what is the best way to spend your time in order to improve? Right now, my time allocation is about: 40% playing at WSOP (which doesn't have hand histories- that sounds like a pretty important feature to have considering I hear it can help immensely), 35% studying on poker websites like along with CORE, etc., and 25% reviewing my Notes, pre-flop charts, 3-bet charts, etc.
2. Online playing at, I generally play 300K/600K blinds or 600K/1.2M blinds. The problem is I play extremely tight compared to them (about 50% fold pre-flop) while my average opponent has a ~20%-25% fold pre-flop, and will frequently call with terrible hands on the flop/turn, so how can I exploit their loose and either passive/aggressive style? Widen my hand ranges? Bluffing rarely works. Or perhaps play just as tight/tighter, which I've tried, and when I have a good hand I can't max value b/c they will fold knowing I'm a tight player (while some still call almost anything). Any advice? A better way to hone my skills playing elsewhere?
3. If I want to become a professional player at 27, about 1.5 months in, how much time per day/week would I need to invest in order to become a competent pro player that could reliably make $75K-100K+ per year? Or what would it take to alternatively keep a day job and make $25K+ per year on the side?
4. Honestly, do you think I have what it takes to be a solid professional poker player if I dedicate myself or am I starting too late in life? I’m currently trying to decide whether to pursue a Master’s Degree in Psychology (where I’d earn on average $60-75K as a therapist), or if I want to possibly go to law school, or a number of options.
5. Lastly, in poker and in life, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given or could give to me?
Thanks so much for reading this message! I really appreciate any advice I can get at this point in my life!


  • KossKoss Red Chipper Posts: 114 ✭✭✭
    1. First off, I would stop playing free money poker. I've played some free money games in the past, and the level of play in them is so outside the boundaries of what any sort of real money poker looks like. If 6-max pots are routinely getting raised and going 3 or 4 ways to the flop, that's not realistic. If 1cent/2cent NL games are available to you, you'll get way more value out of those than you will free money I think. Aside from that, just find a ratio of study to play that works for you. For a beginner probably half and half is about right for a few months. Review hands, study new material, etc.
    2. This is the problem with free money poker. The if they call with almost all hands, then just take hands that favor to be ahead of them and raise big. Mid pairs+ and good Ax and just rip it preflop and watch them call off with K9. It's silly and doesn't represent anything close to what real money poker looks like. Sure you can play a more balanced TAG style and still win, but it's not optimal in these games .
    3. $75 to $100K is a lot for even good pros to make. The biggest question will be what games you have access to. The "easiest" way to achieve this income is likely to play in soft live 2/5 games. Good players have reported winrates in the $50/hr range in these games. LA, Vegas, Florida, and various East coast casinos are likely to have games where this is possible for top players. But most people I've talked to who play those games professionally struggle to put in the hours necessary to earn that kind of money. Online games are going to be significantly tougher for the stakes, but offer the opportunity for much higher volume. Again, where you live can have a big impact on what sites and games you can access. Game selection is probably the most important skill when it comes to earning a high winrate.
    4. It's not too late in life. You can learn a lot of the poker skills in a few months if you're dedicated. Again, game availability and selection is probably the #1 indicator of pro poker viability.
    5. Don't make poker your sole source of income until you have a decent sample size and a winrate that you are good with. From there you can just keep doing what you're doing, but more of it. I get that committing to a career is a big investment, and playing poker is a freewheeling job. I'd get a job that can cover your living expenses, play poker on the side, and if you are winning enough and want to commit full time, go from there.
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,056 -
    edited August 26
    #5: "Poker is a stupid game and nobody should play it" ~ Chris "Fox" Wallace, WSOP bracelet winner.

    He was only half joking.

    As to your other questions, it's not too late to become an excellent player. But your IQ will have very little to do with success. Your psychology background will help here. To succeed at poker requires resilience.

    As Koss notes, if you're in the U.S., playing for a living almost certainly requires you to be in the right market. Those options are expanding. LA, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Florida, probably Texas.

    I've never met anyone who played for a living for more than ten years who wasn't bored sick of playing poker and diversified.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • ChipXtractorChipXtractor Red Chipper Posts: 1,195 ✭✭✭✭
    Live a happy life with poker as a profitable hobby. Easy game.
  • King3King3 Red Chipper Posts: 4 ✭✭
    Hey guys, just wanted to first thank you all for any response provided, especially Koss. I'll list a few main takeaways from what's been said by you guys:

    *Currently, I live near Milwaukee - we do have a decent-sized casino but the poker scene isn't particularly active (actually I don't even know if they allow it) so right now, and for the next few months as I continue to learn/improve, online is where I'll be doing it.

    *Second, thanks Koss for responding about online free money play - I'll be making the transition to micro-stakes real money ASAP and hopefully face more "real poker" and thus be able to better gauge myself. Coincidentally, thanks to my study/play experience starting to show, I won my largest pot ever yesterday ($300M!) on WSOP. I also plan on buying Poker Tracker 4 for the micro-stakes as it should help me a lot in selecting the right games, reading/exploiting my opponents with the HUD, and helping me improve quicker by providing reports/hand reviews/a leak identifier.

    *I think I'll certainly plan on pursuing a career that can pay the bills, play/learn poker intensely as a hobby and once I get a better idea of my win rate along with how passionate I feel in ~6 months, decide if pursuing a pro career sounds good/is feasible.
  • melaniaaachenmelaniaaachen Red Chipper Posts: 2
    Wish you the best in your career and making real money playing poker.
  • 2PurpleCobra2PurpleCobra Red Chipper Posts: 1
    Keep poker as a hobby - you won’t be disappointed

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