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Back To Basics: A Checklist For Poker Success

by Jonathan Little |  Published: May 03, 2023


Jonathan Little If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out Jonathan Little’s elite training site at it’s good to get back to the basics, especially if you’ve been in the game for a while. Here is a list of 10 tips that I find to be very important for achieving poker success.

1. Do not try to win every hand. I have seen numerous players play well in most spots, only to go crazy because they think they can make their opponent fold by the river. While this is often true, playing in an overly-maniacal manner will usually cause you to be only a slight winner at best, and quite often, a large loser. You have to pick your spots well.

2. Find a group of like-minded friends to study poker with. I met around two-thirds of my poker playing friends through an online poker forum. I suggest you find a group of friends who play similar, or slightly higher, stakes than you and work together to improve your skills. I have been cultivating a poker community in the PokerCoaching discord that hosts regular group study sessions. Check it out!

3. Make sure you are well rested. It is difficult to play your “A” game if you are falling asleep at the table. Make sure you get enough sleep before every session and when you get tired, be disciplined enough to end your session for the day.

4. Avoid gambling on other activities while playing poker. This used to be one of my big leaks. While playing poker, I would bet a little money on whatever sporting event was on TV. If you are paying more attention to a sporting event than you are to your poker game, you should not be playing poker.

5. Play within your bankroll. While taking the occasional shot at a higher limit is not a bad thing when the game is especially soft, consistently playing well over your bankroll will eventually cost you your bankroll. Check out my Bankroll Bible at

6. Do not be afraid to quit a session. I know numerous players who either never quit when they are down or never quit when they are up. I also know some players who always quit when they get up just a tiny bit of money. This will tend to make you have lots of tiny winning days and a few gigantic losing days. Poker is just one long session. The time and date do not matter at all.

7. Do not be too arrogant and stubborn to move down when things are going poorly. I have seen many decent poker players go on a bad run, lose half their bankroll, then continue playing the same games with half the bankroll they actually need. This usually causes the players to go broke. You must be honest enough with yourself to recognize when you should move down and grind your bankroll back up.

8. Keep good records. There are numerous programs available that will keep track of your results, both for live and online poker. Some players (usually the biggest losers) simply keep no results at all. Because of this, they have no clue how much they are actually losing. Make sure you know how you are doing so you can make honest assessments as to how your skills are progressing.

9. Recognize that you aren’t the best poker player. It seems as if people love thinking they are good at something whereas in reality, especially in poker, most people are terrible. I think I am pretty decent at poker but I know I still have a long way to go before being the best I can possibly be. If you have not logged at least 5 million hands or 20,000 hours at the table and you do not study a ton, do not think you are God’s gift to the game.

10. Be patient. This can be applied to every aspect of poker, from hand selection, to bankroll management, to table selection, to life away from the table. If you make hasty, undisciplined decisions, you will cost yourself a lot of money. ♠

Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament earnings, best-selling author of 15 educational poker books, and 2019 GPI Poker Personality of the Year. If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out his training site at