How Fast Can You Learn to Play Poker?


Anyone who wants to learn to play poker has thought of or asked how long it will take them to learn the game. One question I often get asked by people looking to forge a career in poker is the amount of time it will take them to learn to play. If you find yourself asking the same question, read further to find out just how long it takes to learn and master the poker game.

How fast can you learn to play poker? You can learn the basics of the game in less than 2hours, but if you’re aiming to become a good poker, it will take way more than a few hours. It might take months for some people, a year or more for others.

The timeframe depends on factors such as dedication, resources, and individual brilliance. The more time you spend learning poker, the better you become. Also, players who read poker books, watch tutorial videos, or hire poker coaches will naturally learn faster than those who don’t.

How long it takes to be good at poker.
Learn to play poker and learn to be good at poker are two different things. It takes a few hours to learn the rules of poker. This article will focus on how to get good at poker fast.

There will be players who naturally grasp the whole idea of poker a lot faster than others. Yet, with the right attitude and following the right path, anyone can learn eventually.

Learning to Play Poker

There’s no standard timeframe for learning to play poker. It varies from person to person. I learned the game in a few hours, then it took me only a month or two to become a winner at micro stakes, but more than a year to beat the low stakes.

You can accelerate this process by reading this article, and save yourself from wasting precious months being stuck at the same limit. There are certain steps you can take to help accelerate your learning curve.

The Desire To Learn

You can think all you want about poker, but if all that thinking doesn’t translate into a burning desire to learn poker basics, rules, and strategies,  you won’t be able to put in the work you need to learn the game. The desire to learn has driven many to quit their jobs and education.

There will be sacrifices. Although you don’t have to make a drastic choice, you will need to create enough time to learn. If you’re not serious or passionate about learning poker, it’s going to be challenging to make those sacrifices.

Reading Articles and Books on Poker

Yes, you read that right. If you are going to learn in as little time as possible, you have to hit the bookstore. Thankfully, there is a lot of literature on poker, whether you are a beginner or a pro. The amount of literature available on poker might be overwhelming, so I have narrowed the list down to the ones considered to have had the most effect on players and how they play. 

  1. The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky(1994)(Amazon link): This book is considered a must-have for poker players. The book is regarded as the manual of poker strategy and great for beginners and a reference book for seasoned players. David Sklansky is a three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner.
  2. Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen(2008)(Amazon Link): The book takes readers through the hands played by the author that won him his 5th major title, the Aussie Millions Champion. It also explains the reasons behind those hands. The book will help beginners learn how to play hands and what to consider as they do so. It will also help tournament players.
  3. Hold’em Poker by David Sklansky (2003)(Amazon Link): The book explains the basic concept of poker and is an excellent read for beginners and experts. It expertly analyzes the Texas Hold’em variant of poker.

Playing Online Poker

it takes sometimes a year to learn to beat the games.
It took me a month or two to beat micro-stakes online, but my graph was far from this one. This is me playing some micro-stakes after more than a year of experience in poker.

If you have cold feet about going to play poker live because of your level of expertise, then playing online poker is best.

In fact, I recommend playing online poker to get a feel of the game if you are a beginner. Online Poker is a great way to learn to play poker fast.

It usually allows you to play more hands and check your hand history. Thus, players learn to play better hands and minimize losses.

Beginners are often nervous when playing live poker, but with online poker, no one catches your tells and takes advantage of them, so you can learn to be a more confident player faster. Also, there is the advantage of multi-tabling online. Multi-tabling gives you several opportunities to learn and more chances to win big. 

Aside from reading books on the different variants of poker, playing online will help you master different variants of poker. If you do not live in Las Vegas or have access to special live poker rooms, you may find it hard to play other variants as most live poker rooms have limited games running.

Hiring a Coach

One of the most effective ways to become a winning player at poker is to hire a poker coach. A poker coach can help you move from losses to wins. Strategies that may have taken you months to learn can be learned in two to three lessons.

But you need to make sure that a poker coach is an actual winning player and a good coach in order to make hiring one worth it for you.

A coach will point out your mistakes, teach you to manage your bankroll, and offer a fresh perspective on the game. If you are looking to move from merely learning the game to being good at it in the shortest time possible, consider hiring a coach. This doesn’t mean that you can’t become a winning player without a coach, it just means that they help accelerate the learning curve.

Join a poker training site or a poker course

A lot faster way to learn is to spend big bucks and buy a poker course specializing in specific poker format (tournaments, HU cash games, 6max cash games, etc…). They can get quite expensive, but not as expensive as hiring a coach for many hours.

Joining a poker training site probably isn’t the fastest way to master poker, but it is definitely a very affordable one.

Upswing poker has many free resources.
Poker training sites like Upswing Poker have many free resources, which will help you be a great player faster.

Joining a poker training site is an excellent investment for the money. And you should get your small initial investment back in a very short time, from then on it is pure extra profit. Imagine spending $30-$100 once, to make a few hundred or thousand bucks more each month after you put in the work.

You will learn more than you would from a book. I actually think that everyone should join a poker training site at some point. I am a regular member of RunItOnce and was a member of Upswing Poker before. On top of that, I purchased many poker courses just to keep up to date with the latest strategies and to keep learning more in-depth to maximize my profits.

Many training sites have a lot of excellent free material. You can check the top training sites in this article.

Consistency

All the information in the world will do you little good if you won’t commit. Consistently playing the game will help you get better. You need to keep at it. Learning to play poker and be good at it isn’t exactly an easy ride, but it will certainly pay off if you remain consistent. Quitting for some time will slow your development, not to mention losing time, so keep learning and get even better at poker.

Moving From a Beginner To A Winning Player

Like I said earlier, learning to play is different from being good at poker. Being good at poker requires more than knowing basic poker rules because poker is ultimately a game of skill. Becoming a winning player is the dream of every poker player, but you will be stuck at taking down a few pots if you don’t take the right steps to become one.

Here are a few steps to becoming a winning player:

  • Research: You may know the rules of poker, but to be a winning player requires you to invest in studying the game, joining poker forums, training poker sites, buying a course, or hiring a coach to learn how to play better.
  • Play Aggressively: The general belief amongst poker players is that players who show more aggression are likely to win more pots. That said, a good poker player should be able to apply the right strategy in the right situation. Playing aggressively will undoubtedly give you a better chance at winning, but mixing up your game a bit will make you an even better player.
  • Bankroll Management: Managing your bankroll determines to a large extent whether you play or not. Winning players are influenced by their bankroll, not on emotions. Learning to manage your bankroll is crucial to becoming a winning player, maybe even the most important step. Some players lose all their bankroll within a few months and have to start from scratch. If you keep losing all you earn, you’re not going to be a winning player.
  • Improve Your Range: Most beginners stick to playing strong starting hands only. Since they’re still learning the game, that strategy is solid, but if you’re hoping to be a serious winner, you need to play more hands and not be as tight as a rock. The better your range of starting hands, the more hands you play. The more hands you play, the more pots you’re likely to win. But don’t go too crazy, a proper balance is needed, and that way you can keep opponents guessing what your hand is.

Final Thoughts

There is no specific time frame to learn to play poker. How fast you learn poker depends on you. The decisions you make will either slow you down or help you get to the desired level faster. Bear in mind that learning to play poker and being a good poker player are two different things. With the resources and a strong desire to learn, you can learn quickly and become great at poker!

Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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