Finding your optimal style

Cards of old style

Poker is a complex topic because there are many different styles that work but the key is to choose a style that suits your personality and not to choose a style simply because it is sold to you or used by somebody else.

My own personal style has been derived from many years of trial and error. I have played heads-up, six max, tight-aggressive, loose-aggressive and many various forms of poker before finally arriving at “my style”. So just what is a “style” and how does it fit in with our personality?

Well your poker game is in a constant state of change and this process can last an awful long time if you are unlucky enough to not get hold of the right education in the meantime. Not getting hold of good coaches is one such way of getting lost in the poker maze. Many players tend to go straight to a professional or winning player and then take coaching from them. This is not a bad way to start because you at least have found someone that knows what they are talking about.

That is the first major hurdle but unfortunately it is one that isn’t anywhere near guaranteed to make you money. I have known very successful six-max players at say the middle limits that could have been very good coaches. However, the key requirement in this area is that these successful players need to be linked with the right pupils. For example there is little point in a top player at say NL600 coaching a tight minded risk averse player when there is a possibility of a 30 buy-in downswing which is $18,000.

If the tight player cannot mentally accept downswings of greater than say 10 buy-ins or only has say a couple of thousand dollars to risk then the successful style that the NL600 player is coaching will never get replicated. At key moments then the tight player will revert to their natural style and their personality takes over. This is why you need to find a style that suits your personality and to stick to it without exception.

When you achieve this then you are no longer trying to cram a square peg into a round hole so to speak. There are so many ways to play poker and most of those ways entail us playing badly. Because of our own limitations on how we think and act and how we study poker then we are actually handicapped by our own failings. This means that our potential earnings as poker players are never anywhere near as high as what they appear or what we think they are.

In my experience if we think that our hourly earnings could be 10bb/100 as an example then our actual hourly earnings are often around half of that figure. We need to allow for the fact that there are unknown variables that can drag our hourly rate down from what we believe will be an optimal level to the level that is in actual fact closer to reality.