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Ten Reminders For Poker Players In The New Year

by Linda Johnson |  Published: Dec 16, 2020


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Linda JohnsonThis is the last issue of Card Player in the year 2020, and what a year it has been! I am happy to see that the prediction I made this summer that poker would not make a comeback in the last half of the year proved to be wrong. In many states around the country, players are heading back to poker rooms eager to make up for the time lost while many of them were closed due to COVID-19.

Sadly, many cardrooms have fallen victim to the virus and have not or will not reopen. In Las Vegas, we have seen our poker opportunities shrink. In February 2020, there were 34 poker rooms in Clark County housing a total of 430 poker tables. As I write this column in early November, there are currently 21 poker rooms now open containing a total of 285 poker tables. Let’s hope that this downward trend reverses in 2021.

As the year comes to an end, I have some tips for poker players for 2021. Most of you have heard this advice before, but the new year is a good time to review, reflect, and make positive changes to our habits.

1. Keep records, and by that I mean keep accurate records. The start of the year is a good time to resolve to keep track of wins and losses for the year. But alas, as it is with most people who start gym memberships in January and give up by February, poker players often start off the new year keeping records, but quit doing so as soon as they realize they don’t want to know the truth. There is a lot of denial in poker; the only way you can really know if you are a winner or a loser is to look at the numbers.

2. Don’t play when you are tired or emotionally unhappy. It is hard to concentrate and make good decisions when you aren’t feeling 100 percent.

3. Pay attention at the table. Most importantly, stay off your phone! I see players on their phones constantly when they aren’t in a hand. I am also guilty of this, and I know that I miss out on a lot of information about how my opponents play because of it.

4. Always continue to learn. Read poker books and magazines. Find players whose game you respect and take them to lunch so you can talk poker strategy. Perhaps even get a coach or join an online coaching site.

5. Don’t loan money to other players. I was very guilty of this early in my poker career until I learned the hard way that the best you can do is break even.

6. Don’t play too high for your bankroll. Too many players play above their comfort level, which creates stress and makes it harder to win.

7. Be kind at the table (don’t mistake this tip to mean you should soft play or give anyone a break). You are there to win money but you don’t have to be a jerk about it. Besides, players don’t usually mind losing when they are having fun.

8. Help the dealer. Post your blinds or antes without being asked to do so. Act in turn. Discard your cards properly toward the dealer. Know the rules.

9. Play relatively fast. Obviously, there are situations in which you might need a bit more time than usual, but you don’t need to needlessly delay the game every time it is your turn to act.

10. Respect the game!

On a personal note, I would like to thank you all who participated in the online auction to benefit, a charity co-founded by Mike Sexton. There are still copies of Mike’s books Life’s A Gamble and Shuffle Up and Deal available. These books would make a great holiday gift to yourself or to a friend and can be had with a donation of $20 or more to

I hope you have a happy holiday season and that 2021 will be your best year ever! ♠

Linda Johnson is a WSOP bracelet winner and hosts tournaments, seminars, and charity events. In 2011, she was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. She is a partner in Card Player Cruises, and invites you to cruise with her on any of the upcoming Card Player Cruises trips. Please contact her at with questions or comments.