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5 Steps to Improve Your Poker Results


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 15, 2022

I’m going to help you improve your poker results with 5 things you can do starting today. Some of these are easier to do than others, but the great thing about all 5 is that you can do them all starting today, with your very next play or study session.

Listen to this episode as you follow along below:

Also, podcast episodes are now on my Smart Poker Study YouTube channel! Here's this episode:

The 5 Steps to Improve Your Poker Results

I’m sure all you tournament players would love to increase your return on investment by 15%, 50% or even 500%, right? And you cash game players would love to have higher winnings per hour or higher BB/100 Hands won as well.

Here are 5 strategies to help you increase your profitability now. They’re listed in order of simplicity; from easy-to-do to hardest-to-do. But, the harder it is to do, the more profit potential there is.

5. Play the Stakes You are Bankrolled For

Bankroll Recommendations:

  • 40x buy-ins cash games
  • 100-200x buy-ins tourneys

It’s critical that you play within your bankroll to avoid having a “scared money” mentality. It’s quite stressful when a quarter of your bankroll is sitting on the table in front of you (e.g. $500 with a $2,000 roll). With so much at risk, making aggressive, chip-committing plays is scary and can be hard to do. Bluff check-raising for $120 is committing 1/4 of your stack, and it’s also committing 1/16 of your entire roll. Talk about a stressful play!

Keep your stress as minimal as possible by playing stakes where you don’t feel the pressure of loss. Drop down to $1/2 as necessary or online play $10 buy-ins. Build that bankroll so you can more comfortably play bigger games.


4. Choose the Lower Rake Option

I have two cardrooms in town. One has a max rake of $6 per hand and the other has a max of $7 per hand. I also play at two different online sites, one with a better rake structure than the other. Guess which cardroom and site I play on? Yeppers, the lower raked ones.

I don’t begrudge the poker rooms taking rake. They have to turn a profit to stay in business, right? But with all things equal (player pools, availability of action, enjoyment of the poker room, etc.), playing with lower rake makes the cost of poker cheaper. And in poker, just as in life, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Dragging 10 pots at the $7 rake cardroom in a 3-hour session will hit my hourly win rate by $3.33/hour. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s the difference between earning $15/hour and $11.67/hour. I choose to earn more with the lower rake option.

And if you play online, look for sites that offer rakeback (like Americas Cardroom – get 27% with code SPSPOD and support the show). Rakeback is an incentive that sites offer to get players “in the door”. In essence, the site returns a portion of the rake to you on a weekly basis. This is basically a discount for playing on their site.


3. Ditch Distractions

Poker time is poker time. It’s time to focus on implementing the skills you’re learning off the felt, to pay attention to the action, to learn about your opponents and devise ways to exploit their tendencies.

It’s NOT time to watch SportsCenter, play Wordle or respond to emails. These things take up valuable mental real estate which should be used for making great decisions.

If boredom leads to distraction, try to force yourself to pay attention to all the information coming your way. Even if you fold, continue watching the action. Take note of who 3bets, who limps and calls, who cbet bluffs a lot and who never folds their draws. Watch every showdown and rerun the action of the hand through your mind to help you understand the logic your opponents use in their decisions. This information is invaluable to making profitable plays and earning their chips.


2. Target the Fish at Your Table

As a winning player, a majority of your profits come from weak, inexperienced players… the Fish. Fish play too many hands preflop, they limp and call with any “pretty” holding, they love flops and are willing to stay in with just about any pair or draw.

Your poker profits come from making better decisions than the fish do. But, in order for your skill edge to win chips, you must play hands against them. Look for every opportunity to see the flop, heads-up, against the fish while holding a hand superior to their range of hands (e.g. holding Ace-Ten when they can hold every Ace-X, King-X and Queen-X hand).

Here are 3 strategies for facing the fish heads-up:

  1. Raise when the fish limps in, and make it a size large enough to get everyone to fold and just the fish to call.
  2. With fish in the blinds, open-raise large enough to get everyone else to fold and just the fish to call.
  3. If the fish raises ahead of you with a wide range of hands, re-raise (3bet) them with hands ahead of their calling range.

It’s critical to remember that fish are your friends.  You want them happy and willing to play with you, so don’t “tap the tank” by berating them.


1. Study to Plug Your Poker Leaks

This final strategy of increasing your profitability is all about decreasing your losses. You do this by finding areas of weakness, or what I call, your poker leaks. Once you find a weakness, you must study profitable strategies and play with purpose to implement them.

Here's a common example: you’ve realized you’re profitable when open-raising but losing money when calling a open-raises. This is a common poker leak. You must find videos, articles, podcasts or books that can teach you strategies around making profitable preflop calls.

Once you find an item to study, do so and take notes in your poker journal. Play your next few sessions with the goal of implementing your newfound strategies whenever it seems like a profitable opportunity. Revisit the notes in your journal daily, or study a new item the next day. Take notes again, work to implement the strategies, rinse and repeat.



Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

Of course, it would be great if you implemented all 5 items here. But, my challenge to you is to start with just one and see how it works for you. If it improves your poker results and enjoyment of poker, do the next one. Work your way through all five, one at a time to skyrocket those results.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.


Support the Show

These wonderful poker peeps picked up my new Flopzilla Pro Course: Randy Noel, Greg Pajak, Ken Halbert, John Cantu, Gary Redwood, Carlos Contreras, Mark Remnant, John Mogusar, Mitch Patton, Simon Erb, Dayne Dice, Anatoliy Valchkov, Craig Scott, Mac, Anthony Marra, Brian Roy, Kenneth Zarifes and Clarence Kincaid. Thank you so much for getting the 3.75 hours of “do as you consume” video instruction and 19-page workbook with answer key.


Sky Matsuhashi

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