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How I Improved And Moved Up In Stakes

by Ryan Fee |  Published: Apr 26, 2017


Ryan Fee

The Upswing Poker Lab is a poker training course taught by Doug Polk and Ryan Fee. The Lab is updated regularly with in-depth learning modules, theory videos, and a wealth of information to make you a better poker player.

The journey to the highest stakes of poker is one that requires time, hard work, and a properly structured approach. My story isn’t much different from that.

Like a lot of other players, I originally started playing poker in high school because I was tired of school and wanted to make some extra money. I had played for fun with friends a few times, but my first big move online was to deposit $300 onto Bodog (aka Bovada) to play some $25 buy-in, no-limit hold’em.

In my early poker days, I played way more than I studied, but I did find my way to the TwoPlusTwo forums and began pouring through the information there. At that time, the forum was lively, vibrant and an awesome resource to start building the foundation of my poker strategy. I dabbled in reading a few books but the only one that I found useful was Applications of No Limit Hold’em by Matthew Janda (to this day the only poker book I recommend.) At this point in my career, I didn’t understand how to approach studying poker, but I was at least beginning to take steps in the right direction.

It was around this time that another significant piece of my poker journey fell into place. I was playing $1-$2 and stumbled upon a friend in my neighborhood that was a $2-$4 player. We began bouncing hands and strategy off of each other regularly. This friend introduced me to a few more players and we developed a group to talk strategy on a regular basis. Looking back, without this sort of influence, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

At the end of my second year playing poker, I decided to play full time and head west looking for gold. I was playing $10-$20 on Full Tilt and had saved up enough money to support myself and comfortably play every day. It was around this time I began understanding what it meant to study poker and subsequently began taking a much more structured approach to my game. Before this, I would sometimes “do things just to mix it up.” Sound familiar?

I’d find myself three-betting and four-betting random hands just for the heck of it with no plan to proceed after that. I didn’t realize how important it was to always have a plan in mind for future streets, but after some study and thought I put an end to that. I began really diving into studying and began formulating and organizing a strategy that I could not only play, but articulate as well. I continued developing relationships with other players to discuss strategy, continuously playing to practice those strategies, and began structuring my studying to apply to the specific areas and situations I needed it.

There are a couple pieces of advice I would recommend to new players that have been echoed through my story. First, find a good online community and get integrated. There are a ton of online forums out there, but you can get more creative by joining/starting groups on social media or messaging platforms.

Members of Upswing Poker get access to our exclusive Facebook group, which is a very active community and a great place to find players of your same skill level to discuss poker with. The single most influential thing in my poker development was having high-level friends to bounce ideas off, so I believe it is imperative you find some friends that are on or around your skill level to discuss hands and strategy with on a consistent basis. Everyone has “blind spots” in their game and the way they think about strategy, and bringing on a second set of eyes can help you identify and eliminate them.

My second piece of advice is to really focus on putting time and effort into studying the game. Just playing a lot will not get you to the top. But if you take a structured approach, find a good forum, and find friends to progress with, your rise up the stakes will be as smooth as possible. ♠

Philadelphia native Ryan Fee is one of the top poker minds in the game today, with a WSOP bracelet and more than $3 million in live tournament earnings. Fee is also a lead instructor at The Upswing Poker Lab is a poker training course updated regularly with in-depth learning modules, theory videos and a wealth of information to make you a better poker player.

Sign up for the Upswing Poker Lab today for step-by-step instructions and examples to master both the fundamental theories and situational exploits to greatly increase your skill and earnings.