Game selection is key to success in poker

November 22, 2013, Lee Childs  

Most people who play poker lose money. A small percentage of players make money in the long run. If you tell me you’re a winner or break-even player, you’re practicing solid game selection or you’re lying. Maybe you’re lying to yourself. What I know for sure is if you’re a long-term winning player, then you’re practicing proper game selection.

To select the right games, we must be completely honest and objective about our skills and bankroll. The biggest issue is we all think we’re better than we are. Most of us have desires to compete against the best. After all, you have to beat the best to be the best, right?

Culture teaches us that being second is the first loser, and nobody wants to be a loser. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the best poker player in the world isn’t reading this column. He certainly isn’t writing it and whoever he or she is probably is playing poker in Macau or enjoying spending everyone else’s money. And hopefully donating quite a bit to charitable causes as well.

Here’s the deal: You’re not going to be the best poker player in the world. However, you can work toward being the best you can be. This starts, and actually could essentially end, with proper game selection. No matter how good you are or strive to be, if you simply play against players that are not as good as you on a regular basis, you will win. You obviously need to do all of the other things I write about, like solid fundamentals and keeping your mind-set under control, but if you have those things down pat and exercise poor game selection, you will lose. It really is that simple.

I’m just as guilty as everyone else with this. I love to play against solid players. I love to put my skills to the test. But, knowing what I know now, when I do this, I know I’m in a long-term losing situation.
Will it help me to get better playing against better players? Yes. Do I satisfy my need for challenge? Yes. Am I going to make money in the long run vs. these players? No. Not a chance. I only have an edge when I play against weaker players and in games with less stress because they’re not as much of a financial risk.

Get an edge on opponents. Become a long-term winning poker player by practicing solid, intentional game selection. Decide to Win!

— Lee Childs is the founder and lead instructor at Inside the Minds. For information about his group training sessions and personal coaching, visit inside-the-minds.com.