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March 29th, 2010
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Poker Lesson: Audit Your Game
Author: Adam Noone
For some, playing poker is an acceptable expense because they simply enjoy playing the game for fun. It's fine to have that approach if you have it reconciled in your own mind that you are prepared to spend money in exchange for entertainment as you might do watching your favorite sports team, visiting the theatre, etc.
However, if your primary concern is showing profit rather than just splashing around in a few pots, then you need to be taking things much more seriously. If you have money continually passing in and out of your hands it pays to treat your whole operation as seriously as you would if you were running your own business. Successful businesses have regular meetings during which they review performance and explore new ideas to help drive the company forward. It helps if you have friends with whom you are able to talk poker; even if you don't, it's still worth taking the time to hold the equivalent of your own one-man board meeting and taking a look at how you're doing.
There are plenty of ways to break down and examine your game. Are you overplaying AJ, or maybe leaking chips by calling out of the small blind too much? These types of questions will help you tighten up on areas that may be costing you money, but it's more than just how you play your cards that you should be looking at. Maybe your stats show that when playing long cash game sessions you tend to blow off money towards the end due to loss of concentration or physical fatigue, in which case you should resolve to play shorter sessions and only return if you feel on top of your game after a break. Perhaps you show better online results when you have the house to yourself, and are only playing a break even game when you have the distraction of others around you. If that's the case, you could either shut yourself away somewhere quiet if you are intent on playing or, alternatively, simply stop and cut those tedious hours of grinding away for no reward out of your day. By taking the time to identify what's going right and what's not going so well, you’ll be in a position to decide how you are going to improve things.
Another important factor to look at is game selection. As well as getting an idea of whether your optimum hourly rate can be achieved playing cash games or tournaments, 6-max or heads up, etc., another aspect which can often be overlooked is which variant of poker you are playing. Even accomplished pros will often be stronger in some variants than in others; if you are only playing Texas Hold 'em, how do you know if that would rank as one of your stronger or weaker games? By getting to grips with a new game you open up extra possibilities for yourself. If you like to have numerous tables on the go at once, you'd best hope it's not Razz that turns out to be your best game; but at least once you are armed with that knowledge you can proceed from an informed position. There are probably large numbers of players who will just never know that they would have been more successful had they branched out a bit, and it's got to be easier to find a profitable situation if you are able to pick from more than one game.
Going through this process of analysis might mean spending a little time away from the tables whilst you are doing it, but it should be considered a valuable investment of your time. Forgoing a couple of hours worth of hands in the short term can make a big difference in long term results once you have established how you want to run your poker business
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