Back to basics

Online poker is becoming tougher every day. Competition is fierce. I've found it helps to re-focus on doing the easy things, the things people don't think about much, making it a good foundations to play our best poker.

First of all, you should try to have zero distractions while you're playing. I know that's not always possible, but if you're 100% focused, you'll make fewer mistakes and the mistakes you do make will cost less money. For me, the biggest distractions are TV, Facebook and Skype. I try to cut them out when I'm making an effort to focus on my game.

Secondly, only play as many tables as you feel comfortable playing. Lots of people try to go from one table to 10 tables overnight. That will not work for sure. If you play one table today, in a week increase it to two tables. If you play two tables today, try three or four next week.


If you play too many tables at once, you'll play all the tables poorly - not just the extra tables above what you're comfortable playing. I remember one Sunday I had about 25 tables going at once. Tables were popping up all over and I was losing control. Even the slightest distraction would cause me to sit out of two tournaments before I knew it. I didn't feel comfortable on that Sunday and I wasn't happy with the way I played.

Try to understand how your best opponents play. If you encounter a player that plays really well and you want to see why he's playing that way, follow him online. Probably he has posts in a forum somewhere; maybe he blogs. Read his stuff to get a feel for how he plays in order to improve your own game and to play better against him. I have some players that I played really well against because I have notes and good reads on them. If someone follows me really hard, they'll understand the way I play. It's not as difficult as it seems.

The notes that PokerStars lets you take inside the game client are really helpful. A lot of times you play against the same players you've played against before, because they're regulars who play lots of tournaments. You can take notes on them and divide players into categories by color. I'm sure that 95% of the best players on PokerStars have notes on other players.

When I started playing six or seven years ago, there wasn't much information available online and what was there wasn't very good. I was kinda of a selfmade poker player, I learned by myself. Nowadays I'd never give that advice because there's so much information available online and your progression will be much faster if you seek this help. If you want to improve your game you can read books from newbie to expert or watch videos from the very best players.

Even if you are winning and beating the field today, you should still try to improve and become a better poker player each day. Don't stop, and don't think you are the best player in the world just because you won a few tournaments and feel you are killing everybody. Next year you might not be as good as you are now, because everyone else is constantly improving. So try to improve your game every day as well. Start by brushing up on the easy things and then take it from there.

Henrique Pinho is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Henrique Pinho
@PokerStars in PokerStars news