There are many reasons for players to take a poker break occasionally. Most of the time, it’s because the game stops being fun due to one thing or another. A player might feel they’re losing too much money, that the opposition is too tough, or that they’re becoming socially isolated. Maybe the game takes over a player’s life to the detriment of their career. Whatever the specific reason, it’s always okay to quit if needed.
For many players, a break is all they need to resolve the underlying problem until they feel confident enough to get back into online poker. If you’re returning after a long break, it’s best to adopt a cautious approach. It’s like getting back into the saddle after years of not riding a horse. You still have the skills, but you’re out of practice, and throwing caution to the wind could get you hurt. Instead, test the waters and make sure you’re ready to swim. Keep reading for tips on how to get your game back on with the right level
Do a Self Audit
So you haven’t been at a poker table for five years or more and want to get back into the game? Before you create a profile and log in to play in casinos online, take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself why you quit in the first place, and have you resolved those life challenges? Honesty is essential here because whatever issue you had in the first place, you’re practically guaranteed to run into it again. For example, if you quit because of family commitments, you need to be absolutely sure that online poker won’t disrupt your current schedule and responsibilities. If downswings were putting you on tilt, be prepared to do the emotional work to enable you to cope with the variance you’re bound to encounter. If the game simply costs you too much money, you’ll want to sharpen your bankroll management. The good news is that all of these negatives can be turned around with the right approach, provided you’re honest with yourself and have a plan.
Go Back to Basics
Once you’ve done your self-audit and identified any underlying issues you may have to address, it’s time to go back to basics concerning the game itself. The trouble here is that poker has changed a great deal in the past five to 10 years, so the basics aren’t quite the same as they used to be. Don’t be caught off guard.
One of the most significant changes visible online is a trend towards much more aggressive play. Preflop betting wars all the way up, 5-bets are now common, and 3-bet and 4-bet ranges have widened a great deal. The conventional wisdom that “the fourth raise is always aces” no longer applies. Overall, increased levels of aggression are forcing players to make much more challenging decisions more frequently in bigger pots.
The upside of this trend is that it makes for fast, furious, and highly creative poker. But you have to take the time to get used to it. You can’t walk into a mid-stakes game and expect to win with a strategy that’s five years out of date. It can be tremendously discouraging to return to the game, get stacked repeatedly without knowing why, and feel like a total loser.
The best advice here is to level down in the stakes. It’s okay to play the micro-stakes until you’re certain that you know what you’re doing, then slowly level up again. Another way to gain a great deal of experience fast is to sign up for online poker tournaments with low buy-ins or even freerolls.
Go Back to School
Another significant way poker has changed in the last decade is that the skills gap between recreational players and pros is closing. In the past, it was relatively easy to find tables with clueless fish from which you could take money. Today, players are much smarter overall. The reason? Thanks to the internet, there’s an abundance of resources available that all players can use. From e-books, online courses, and YouTube videos to flop charts, poker solvers, and equity calculators, there are plenty of tools that players can use to raise their game. Some poker sites even allow heads-up displays (HUDs), which can provide direct insight into your opponent’s poker stacks and allow you to make calls like minimum defense frequency vs pot odds.
The key word here is dedication. Unless you’re prepared to commit to the work, your post-poker break return will be a flop. The upside is that there’s always something new to learn.
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