Poker strategy: Targets improve your game

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If you’re serious about making money from poker, you should try to think of it as a job, or at least a project.

And any good project manager worth his salt will tell you setting goals – benchmarks by which to measure success – is imperative.

A key part of poker strategy is setting goals. This allows you to formulate a plan that enables you to reach them.

It’s not about the money

Setting goals entirely around profit is not a good idea. Simply to say “I want to make $1,000 playing this month” is not good for the overall development of your game.

Your goals should be set with the intention of improving yourself as a poker player long-term.

Make goals gradual and measurable

A better goal might be to target playing at a higher level. For example, if you currently play small blind games, such as $0.5, you may want to target successfully playing for $50 blinds in a given timeframe.

You can work your way up to that limit at various levels – $2, $5, $10, $25 – and gauge your success. Moving on only when you know you are making a profit.

A good way to measure your success is to play a set number of hands at each level. Continually monitor your hand history (and bankroll) and move on only when you are profitable.

And while you’re playing, remember rule one – which is to make time to study.

Make God laugh

How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

This old adage is relevant to poker players because, for all the preparation and planning you do, there are eventualities that cannot be foreseen. Poker is, after all, a gambler’s game.

What you can do, however, is bear this in mind. Plan for the unplanned. If you have set yourself the target of playing, say 15,000 hands every a month, be aware that this will not always be possible. Things will crop up in your life to get in the way.

It’s important that you’re aware of this before you set out, so that you do not become demotivated or distracted. Just adjust your plan accordingly – accept that you will not progress as quickly in that month or that your profits will take a hit.

Publish your plan

The level of detail in your plan depends on how serious you are and how likely you are to stick to it. There’s no point delving into specifics if you are likely to ignore them when it comes to it on a daily basis.

It is a good idea to make a record of your plan. Print it out, stick it on your wall near your computer. Even better, post it online for others to see. This will encourage you to stick with it.

Try to think of it like preparing for a marathon. You eventually want to be able to run 26.3 miles but to get there you’ll need to start at shorter distances and work your way up.

If you start to struggle when you reach the half-marathon stage, there’s no shame in dropping back to 10k to build yourself back up.

Related: Why you should study poker and which poker books to study
Related: How to cope with bad beats in poker 

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