Mobile Poker: Practice Makes Perfect

Practice spelled with magazine clippings

As with everything in life, practice is vital if you are going to become a skilled and successful player. Sure, some people have a natural talent for the game that requires less honing than others – just look at Joe Cada winning the WSOP Main Event in 2009, aged just 21 – but even they will have put in thousands of hours of practice before hitting the big time.

The problem with poker is simple: money. People practicing their football skills can head to the local playing field or kick a ball against a wall; those looking to learn to swim only need enough cash to get into the swimming pool; and if you want to become a great cook, spending a tenner on some ingredients can last you for a couple of days. With poker, however, you’ll need to add money to your account on a regular basis, and be prepared to lose it quickly. Then there’s the problem of not getting disheartened when you lose your bankroll for the tenth time.

If you want to be great though, you’ll have to commit. So, here are our top tips on how to practice your mobile poker skills, without destroying your bank balance at the same time…

Start with Play Money

Play money menu at PokerStarsMost poker sites – including PokerStars – offer the option to use play money in games. Of course, you can’t win anything doing this, however you also can’t lose any money either! When playing on your mobile at PokerStars, you simply have to swipe across on the main screen, and it will change from real money to play money.

When playing with play money, there are a few things you need to remember though:

  • The players will be of an extremely low standard, as the vast majority will be just starting out. This means that you shouldn’t think you can play poker well just because you are smashing the play money tables – the players at even the lowest stakes real money games will be loads better.
  • You should use play money to learn the mechanics of the game – what blinds and antes are, how positions work, when to fold – instead of advanced tactics. After all, the other players probably won’t understand these advanced tactics either, therefore won’t be doing them correctly!
  • Play money games will be much more frenetic and aggressive than normal poker games. This is because there’s no risk, so people have absolutely no problem shoving all their chips when they have a pretty poor hand. Don’t expect people to be so loose in real money games.

Take Advantage of Freerolls

Freerolls are free tournaments and they are offered by nearly every mobile poker site. They aren’t play money games though, as these tournaments offer real prizes, even if they are quite small. What’s more, they usually attract thousands of players, so your chances of winning the top prize are small.

Don’t use these tournaments to boost your bankroll though – as just mentioned, winning is very unlikely – but instead use them to further boost you knowledge of tournament play. Tournaments are where the really big money can be found later on down the line – some large tournaments can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Freerolls can usually be found in the tournament lobby, and when you have fully understood the ins and outs of tournaments, you can move onto micro stakes tournaments – ones that cost just a few cents to enter. Make sure you keep an eye out for freeroll tickets being offered as deposit bonuses, as these can often have huge prizes.

Read Up on Tactics

Man reading red bookPoker is not about luck (of course, there is an element of it though). Instead, the tactics of poker are the real means by which you’ll win money. This means that you need to understand the different nuances of every game. The best way to understand these nuances is to immerse yourself in the game, studying every single aspect of it. There are many good books and websites out there offering beginner and advanced studies, with some of the best being:

  • The Mathematics of Poker – a great book by Bill Chen, analysing poker hands in a mathematical way. As you develop your skills, you’ll realise that maths plays a huge role in mobile poker.
  • The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide – a comprehensive guide to nearly every aspect of the game, written by Michael Craig, who is seen as one of the world’s best writers on everything poker.
  • Kill Phil – a book designed to show players how highly aggressive play can be used to neutralise any player. Written by Blair Rodman and Lee Nelson.
  • Pokerstrategy.com – The world’s biggest site on poker strategy offers free lessons on most aspects of the game. For more serious students, they also offer paid membership, with much more detailed studies.
  • Pokernews.com – although this site is mainly dedicated to poker news, it also has a comprehensive tactics section. These are split into “Beginner”, “Intermediate” and “Advanced”, which is really helpful.
  • Cardplayer.com – The self-professed “Poker Authority”, this website offers a fully-searchable database of different strategic advice. They also offer videos, as well as useful poker tools.

Of course, there is one place above all others offering great poker strategy advice though – that’s us! We produce detailed articles on many different aspects of the game, and we know that they will definitely improve your game by huge amounts.

Watch the Pros

All of the big sites offer players the chance to simply observe games being played, regardless of the level. PokerStars even allows you to search for their PokerStars Pros, meaning that you can head straight to a table containing a poker superstar and watch them work. Pay attention to how much they fold, what they do in different positions, and always take the chance to analyse a hand when you see their cards at the end. You can then try to replicate their tactics in lower stakes games.

Please remember that, when watching a game from the sidelines, you should never try to chat with the players. It is incredibly bad etiquette and, at its worst, could cause you to lose another player a lot of money.

Just Play

If there’s one way above all others to develop your skills though, it is this: get on your mobile and simply play. Take the hits, revel in the highs and learn from every single hand you play! You’ll find that poker is a real rollercoaster, and that it is one of the most amazingly fun things to play, even when you are simply learning the ropes. After all, you’ll always be learning, and even the world’s greatest players are still continually adapting their games to include new, exciting and potentially profitable tactics and strategies.

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