Arts & Entertainment

Daniel Negreanu on Poker: Teaching Poker is Like Teaching Golf

I’m terrible at golf but I love the game with a passion.

Some golf instructors get overly technical and teach the mechanics of the ideal swing. That approach didn’t work for me. So, I found a pro that didn’t insist that I learn Tiger’s swing. He accepted my physical limitations and improved my game by focusing on the minimal golf skills that I have.

That same teaching approach applies to poker, too. That’s why the online instructional course that I designed for www.PokerVT.com addresses the learning needs of both beginning and advanced players.

In golf, no one learns to hit a draw, a fade, or a cut shot until they’ve been taught how to hit the ball straight. Similarly, novice poker players need to learn how to “hit it straight” before taking on more difficult concepts.

While sophisticated plays can work in poker, if attempted by an inexperienced player, they’ll usually backfire. Elaborate bluffs and check-raises are best left to experienced players. It’s just like golf; don’t try to hit a tricky flop shot with that 25-handicap of yours!

You see, poker players are not all created equal. Some learn faster than others because they have better people skills, card sense, or maybe they’re just downright smarter. But all players should learn the game from the bottom and work their way up. Don’t skip the valuable lessons that you’ll need to learn in order to improve your game.

A big mistake beginners make is that they jump ahead too quickly, looking for bigger, tougher games where they are simply outclassed. You have to pay your dues in poker. The game is just as much about bankroll management, ego, psychology, and emotional control as it is about learning starting hand requirements and basic probabilities.

In golf, some pros succeed because they can hit the ball a mile while others rely on their deadly putting skills. On the pro poker circuit, some players win because they are super-aggressive while others succeed by playing a more controlled game. There are many paths to success. You just have to pick the one that works best for you.

I’m naturally aggressive so adopting an assertive poker style works best for me. That approach won’t work for everyone, though. That’s okay. But whatever poker style you do adopt, you must learn how to adjust your game in response to different situations. In golf terminology, use all of the clubs in your bag.

Here’s one important distinction between golf and poker.

In golf, it doesn’t really matter what your swing looks like as long as you get the ball in the hole. In poker, your style does matter. How you decide to play a hand greatly impacts the decisions that other players will make against you.

That’s because poker is a cat-and-mouse game. Your objective is to play to your comfort level while injecting enough deception to cause your opponents to make mistakes.

For example, if an opponent thinks I bluff excessively, I’ll make an adjustment and will bluff less. If another player believes that I’d never bluff on the river, well, you’d better watch out when I throw out that last big bet.

Golf and poker can be frustrating. Golfers can struggle because they lack basic physical skills that limit their ability to succeed. Poker players can face similar challenges on the felt.

You may never play poker like Doyle Brunson or golf like Tiger Woods but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to improve your game and have more fun. Just find an instructor who will teach you a style of poker play that accentuates your strengths and de-emphasizes your shortcomings.

 

Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.

 

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