How to Be a Better Poker Player
The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the popularity of mixed games and the poker world is finally learning that the best players are those that can play all games well.
If you're looking to become a better all-around player, then break away from the Hold'em crowd and start learning the "other games" of poker.
Below are five tips that will help you transition to mixed games.
1. Start With Stud Games
While Seven Card Stud, Stud Hi-Lo and Razz may be considered the dinosaurs of modern poker they're still the backbone of mixed games.
Regardless of whether you play H.O.R.S.E, 8-Game, 10-Game or whatever, you're going to be exposed heavily to Stud.
Start with Seven Card Stud, transition to Stud 8 or Better and then finally pick up Razz.
Stud variants comprise anywhere from 30 to 60% of most mixed games and once you learn them you will be well on your way to being competitive in them.
2. Learn One Game at a Time
While you may be in a hurry to become an expert at mixed games you will be best suited to work on one new variant at a time until you're comfortable with it.
Each variant of poker in mixed games has its own rules and nuances. You don't want to be trying to pick up Razz while learning Stud 8 or NL Single Draw while learning Limit Triple Draw.
We aren't saying you need to master each game before moving on, but make sure you have the basics down and have a solid strategy in place before trying to move forward to the next variant.
3. Change Your Thinking
When players transition from NL Hold'em to mixed games they tend to try to play them the same way they do NL.
Hand values are different in each variant of poker, odds are different, and the goal for each game is different.
For example where NL Hold'em is all about taking stacks, Limit Hold'em is about winning pots. Contrary to what some believe these are not the same things.
For example, you can win one pot in a two-hour span in NL Hold'em and can leave the game a solid winner depending on circumstances.
In Limit Hold'em if you win one hand in a two-hour span you will consistently finish down in the game.
You must change how you think about each game in order to become competent in mixed games. This comes with experience.
4. Don't Discount Old School Strategies
Unlike NL Hold'em strategies for most mixed games have not dramatically evolved in the last decade.
Your basic strategies for Seven Card Stud, Omaha Hi-Lo and Draw poker will still produce solid results in most games.
As such don't overlook the wealth of old-school training material both online and in print form.
While the old school players like Roy Cooke, Linda Johnson, David Sklansky, Ray Zee and others may not be the best teachers for NL Hold'em, their insight will improve your mixed-game play.
5. Take Advantage of Specialists
If you start playing mixed games regularly you will find some players that claim that they "specialize" in one game or another.
Most often these players will overlook multiple games in mixed games and will only play hands when they have top holdings.
Earlier we mentioned learning Stud variants. Stud and its associated variants are commonly where you see players start to slack off in mixed games.
When you see certain players start to slack off, this is when you should be turning on the aggression and taking pots.
Sometimes you will run into a table where the majority of players shut down during certain games with Razz being the usual culprit.
Specialists think they will use their "superior ability" in other games to do well overall. By being competent in all variants, you will be able to build chips when the specialists start tuning out to wait for their favorite game.