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The Four Easiest Ways To Increase Your Poker Winnings

by Reid Young |  Published: Sep 03, 2014

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Reid YoungPoker winnings are easy to increase. Many players overlook the simplest ways to supplement their bankrolls. To an extent, scaling a bankroll is all about your poker set up. So let’s check out four easy ways to get consistent and winning results that are less tied to being a world class player.

Increase the amount of hands you play

Increasing the amount of hands that you play is a fantastic low effort way to proportionately add to your poker income (assuming you’re a winning player in the game you are playing, obviously). There are many ways to increase hands played per hour! I’ll mention a few, and if you think of one I left out, please Tweet me at @transformpoker to discuss it.

Machines deal quicker — In most live poker games, a skilled and attentive dealer can facilitate the play of as many as 30-to-35 hands in an hour. Online, the same game with the same number of players typically gets at least twice that amount of hands per hour. Keep in mind though, online stakes are about four times as difficult as their live game play counterparts. (Pair with multitabling for best results)

Multitable — On most online poker clients, you have the ability to multitable. So if we compare live poker play to multitabling an online site, let’s say playing four tables, then we have already increased the number of hands we play per hour by eight times. Practice multitabling, because the more hands that you can add to your hands-played-per-hour total without distracting yourself (decreasing your win rate and decision making abilities), the more you will win in the long run. Playing more hands also allows you to decrease your variance over time. A quick example to consider is that by playing eight times as many hands online, you may be able to easily play a quarter of the stakes that you play live, yet make the same amount of money online, while also lowering the variance of the game (125 percent plus increase in winnings).

Software — Mutlitabling software allows the significantly valuable ability to decrease your decision time per poker scenario and increase the number of tables you play. Just a few examples of multitabling software in action are hot key bets (where bets are made with a single keystroke), action notifications (you are warned by a sound when it’s your turn on a particular table) and automatic selection of the time bank option once the standard timing in online poker reaches zero. If the amount of winnings gained is greater than the cost of the software, then buy the software. It’s as simple as that. Tools such as Table Ninja 2 are worth loads when you consider the value of adding even two tables worth of poker hands per month (10 percent plus increase in winnings).

Speed games — Most poker clients offer speed games that deal hands even quicker than a normal online poker game. At these tables, you can expect to get 200-to-250 hands per hour. If you train yourself to play four plus tables in these games, you can approach 1,000 hands per hour and some serious winnings.

The sweet spot — An important idea to keep in mind as you increase your number of hands per hour, you’re very likely going to reach a point where your win rate and decision making suffer. In fact, if they don’t suffer just a bit, then you’re not playing enough hands per hour! There is something to be said for playing your A-game as a teaching tool, but when it’s limiting your winnings, you need to make a decision about why you’re playing poker: to win or to learn; both choices have merit. Figure out the optimal mix of win rate and hands per hour played, and you will be maximizing your winnings over time.

Get a (good) poker coach

Poker coaching has a reputation for controversy. Personally, my experience is that the stigma originates in the “those who can’t do teach” world. Most coaches fail to pull their weight, are spread too thinly, are just bad at poker or lack motivation to teach. Do your research to find an affordable poker coach with a good reputation of helping other players in your position. But, what does affordable mean for poker coaching?
Affordable coaching should consider the opportunity cost for the coach, given his hourly rate, and your expected winnings for the game you play during coaching, if you do play one, versus the price your coach charges.

For example, your coach may have an expected hourly rate of $200/hour in the game he plays. Because coaching has absolutely no variance to the coach, he may charge you $175 per hour. A common way online poker coaching works is that one player has a screen sharing device operating while another player gives suggestions of how to play hands. With the right coach’s suggestions, the hourly rate in a particular game should be fairly close to the cost of coaching. Let’s say that your coach is capable of making $100/hour four-tabling a $400 buy in game online. That means your lessons effectively cost $175 minus the $100 in expected winnings that your coach makes, or $75. Finally, factor in your own hourly rate. If your hourly rate is $50, then a lesson is actually costing you $75 plus $50, assuming that you could have played poker during the time you would have been coached.

The long term value of any one coaching lesson is difficult to quantify. With a solid coach, or team of coaches, who quickly fix major mistakes or ways of thinking in your game, you might add a big blind per 100 hands to win rate fairly quickly. With all those extra hands, that’s a big deal! Weigh the pros and the cons, and make sure you find the right coach. (33 percent increase in winnings)

Use default bet size buttons for common spots

Many poker clients and/or poker softwares now allow you to choose default bet sizings to quickly select. If you’re like me, auto hot keys may be a little tricky to navigate. Slipping on the keyboard and moving all-in accidentally would not be fun!

Find bet sizes you make regularly, like your flop continuation bet (c-bet) size in heads up pots (typically 67-to-75 percent of the pot). After you know the most common sizes that you bet in terms of portion of the pot, you can go to the preferences or settings tab in some poker clients to customize buttons on all of your tables. Customizing buttons isn’t a crazy win, but it will save you some time per decision. When you get 1,000 hands per hour, as absurd as it sounds, every tenth of a second truly matters (5 percent plus increase in winnings)

Sign up and rebuy bonuses

If you play high enough stakes, sign up and rebuy bonuses might feel beneath you. Don’t kid yourself. Many sites offer sign up bonuses for new members that match your deposit up to a particular amount, often $400 to $1000.

Other than the initial sign up bonus that most sites offer to incentivize player sign ups, these bonuses come sparingly, like at holiday times. Get on newsletter lists for poker sites and do whatever you have to do to make absolutely sure that you can make the most of as many poker clients’ bonuses as possible. Still, make sure that you are playing at a trusted site, because a bonus from a sketchy site is still sketchy.

Bonuses are unlocked over time. For example, if you deposit $1,000 to a poker site to receive a $1,000 sign up bonus, it will likely be released in very small increments, around $10 at a time, based on an amount you pay in rake to the site. Be ready to put in some major volume if you have several bonuses going at once because they are also typically time sensitive offers, and always pay for the full bonus to get the max value for it. There is not a lot of pressure if you are used to multitabling. Again, all these ideas feed off of one another, and it starts with properly training yourself to multitable with practice, software and setting the correct preferences in your poker client (increase percentage depends on your winnings, but expect at least $6,000 a year more if you are really keeping an eye out).

Total winnings increase

With all four tips into place, your winnings increase $6,000 plus and around 200 percent more per year. A few of these tips are a bit time consuming to set up or seek out, like a full schedule of sign up and deposit bonuses. In order to win the most from the game, you should bite that bullet. And keep in mind, you are aiming to maximize your winnings, which doesn’t always mean you have to be the best player in the game!

Enjoy all your extra money and I hope to help some of you reach that point. ♠

Reid Young is a successful cash game player and poker coach. He is the founder of TransformPoker.com.