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Tools of the Trade

December 7th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tools of the Trade

What You Can Use to Improve Your Play

by Paul Nirenberg


There was a time when playing poker successfully came down to just two things, the cards, and your skill. You had to rely solely on your wits and whatever you managed to learn under the hard tutelage of experience. But everything changed with the advent of the internet. All of a sudden there were videos, guides, and calculated formulas. Theory was written about and shared for free by like-minded individuals who wanted to pin down the game and secure the best possible chance of winning.

In our day and age, the number of tools available to the professional poker player is greater than it has ever been before. However, in order to keep pace with the competition, a skilled player knows they must use every tool at their disposal. To this end, I’ve decided to put together a guide, using one of my favorite sites, so that you can find everything in one simple and well organized place.



A lot of the strategy and theory information you find may come from non-professional sources in the form of forum posts. DO NOT count these out. I may have been hired to write about poker because I’ve been playing for 10 years, but some of the random faces of the internet have been playing for a lifetime. Of course, it will be up to you to separate the wheat from the chaff, but with a good poker forum you shouldn’t run into much junk, if any. The most important part of the forums comes back to interactivity. While strategy articles are a great read, in a forum, you can converse with a hivemind of avid players. Good points can be put to the test of debate instead of just being stated and left for people to read. I think of forums as the most dynamic place to find new strategies. If you are willing to put in the time, you won’t regret it.


Lessons and Tutorials:

When it comes to learning something new, I’m a show&tell kind of guy. I know that if I really want to understand something, I’m going to have to see it, not just hear or read about it. While I feel I’ve advanced beyond the need for them, one of the most important parts of my poker learning experience was using interactive online poker lessons. Of course I could have just read guides and poker strategy articles, but I found that actually watching someone make the moves while they explained their actions was much more helpful. It gave me a sense of the thought process that goes into playing a hand, and it literally showed me what to do and what not to do. And these lessons aren’t just for beginners. PokerVIP has individual lessons like “River Bluffing” and “Defending vs Steals,” that I could never have even understood as a beginner, much less put to good use.


Strategy and Theory:

While lessons are the best way to learn the most time tested plays in professional poker, once you have learned them, you’ll want to set out to find fresher, more current methods of play. For this you should turn to the latest poker strategy articles. These articles are daily tumble of new ideas, methods, and thoughts about how to best handle specific situations at the card table. Unlike the broader strokes of Poker Lessons, these are specific, focused, and extremely effective. You’ll also occasionally find some more geared toward fun or theory about the game as a whole. While these aren’t too important to helping you win, I’ve always found them interesting just the same.


Coaching Videos:

The final, and perhaps most popular of the learning tools at the modern player’s disposal is the professional coach. Now, I doubt many of us could afford to actually have Phil Ivey sit down and walk us through a few hands, but if we want to watch him talk us through them on video, it’s actually pretty easy. Poker coaching videos, be they free or paid for, are a powerful tool for improving your play. These are players who have proven themselves on the international level and are now sharing their skills and wisdom. You may think, isn’t this the same as or superior to poker lessons? I would disagree. These coaching videos require a solid grasp of both strategy and lingo before they can be put to good use, unlike the lessons which are more fully explanative and geared toward newer players. Regardless, watching or listening to real pros play real games is an undeniable aid to your skills. After all, could these people have made a million dollars on luck alone? Probably not.


Honorable Mentions


  • Poker training sites – There a lot of poker training sites out there for whatever type of game you play. Spend some time researching the options available and find a site worth its salt.
  • Poker blogs – Some players blog, vlog, and write about their experiences which can be great to follow as it gives you insight into their mind and thought process. Use this as another tool to get yourself on the mental level of the top players. Blogging yourself can also be a great tool to share your progress and monitor how your game evolves.



So there you have it, a guide to all the tools at the disposal of the modern poker player. Whether you are a professional or an amateur looking for an edge there is something to be gained from every one of these options. Good luck. I hope you strike it rich but not when you’re sitting across from me.


About the author: Paul Nirenberg is a regular contributor and editor for both PokerVIP and PokerTube.

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  1. December 7th, 2015 at 22:57 | #1

    Good points, nice article.

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