In following this line of thinkling as an amateur player, I have found that I get the best results by asking myself what I would do if a more experienced and/or professional player were watching and critiquing my every play in the background. I have found by balancing play on this and how I feel about a specific hand in any given situation.
It is a common thought that poker pro's play tightly and aggressively. And although they don’t play many hands, when they do play them, they play as if they had all the nuts. This is a nicely cooked-up saying and all, but it is for those who really don't know how to play and who just want to sound smart, like they've been there and done that. Case in point: It doesn't necessarily apply to no-limit games where a good, loose yet aggressive player can throw you off your game in a heartbeat. Therefore I ought to shed a triune light on what it really means to be a tight and aggressive poker player.
* Think Like A Pro: Do The Math
Generally speaking, you will have about a 1 in 8 chance of holding a set in your pocket pair while you will have roughly a 1 in 3 chance of attaining a flopped flush draw by the river.
Likewise know your "outs" that give a percentage shot at hitting. (Count the outs, multiply them by two, and add one to give you an idea the likelihood of hitting.)
However, knowing your "outs" to calculate hitting percentages are useless unless you match them with the pot odds; your percentage chances of hitting should be no less than the amount you have betted in proportion to the total pot at the river. (Simply divide the size of what you speculate will be the pot at the river flop by the amount you have put in.) Having come up with a 25% chance of hitting/winning by counting your outs, and the bet to you is 25, make sure that the pot at the river will be greater than 100 to call. If it isn't, cut your (potential and likely) losses and fold.
* Feel Like A Pro: Psychological Skills
The latter part of the saying "keep your friends close, hold your enemies closer" is true of any competition. A poker pro is always on the hunt to get a good feel on what his opponent is trying to do.
- What does my opponent have?
- What does my opponent think I have?
- What does my opponent think I think he has? And so on.
Contrary to what you may think, the mindset of poker pro's is not about obliterating their enemies into utter and complete destruction. Often, it is a battle to use your opponents simply to discover your own strengths and weaknesses on equal footing with keeping your ego in check. Developing an understanding that you must empathize with your opponents helps you to answer the previous questions and empowers you to manipulate those answers, putting you at a superior level of game play.
If you have KK and your opponent has AA, and you both know what each other have, why play the game of poker? You have other tools such as bluffing, slowplaying, or fastplaying. Use your acting skills to complement your math skills and tip your opponents off balance.
* Be a Pro: Discipline, Discipline, Discipline
Good poker players are consistent in their demand to seek advantages. A fish looks to get lucky, whereas a poker pro expects to win.
However, discipline is not to be confused with stubbornness. If a particular strategy is no longer working a poker pro will know how and when to change. A high level of alertness will clue him in as to whether he's on tilt or just being too cocky. If a mistake has been made, he will learn from it and move on.
Fundamentally, these three skills can be encapsulated into one word: awareness. Like in school you should be able to learn how to read by knowing your mathematical odds, write by manipulating your opponent's mindset, and finally to think for yourself when new or otherwise unknown situations arise. Once you grasp this triple-threat concept, success should be knocking at your doorstep.