How Does a Good Poker Player BECOME GREAT? (Ask Alec)

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How to be a good poker player? How to be a better poker player? How to become a professional poker player? How to live a life of professional poker player. Those questions I get every single day from you guys. And the truth is simple – there is one key answer: Try to be better poker player, not only better at playing poker! LINK TO THE BOOK:
Check out this video that opens my new #AskAlec series.

I also want to hear from you! What’s your favorite way to improve at poker?

How much time a week do you spend playing poker? How much time do you spend learning? Are you dreaming of becoming a professional poker player? What is your biggest obstacle?

Write to me in a comment below!

See you next week!


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Try to be better poker player, not better at playing poker!

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29 Responses

  1. MugenTJ says:

    The quick answer is , always look into yourself to and find something you want to learn and improve next. Unless you like being told what to do.

  2. Beanmachine91 says:

    Poker is a cutthroat game, you got to have the killer instinct

  3. Jordan Gibbs says:

    Why wouldnt you want to be the best at your table though?

  4. Scott Thompson says:

    You are my favorite player currently, thank you for the insight.

  5. raymond cancel says:

    What Poker site line to you recommend ?I try carbon poker and I lost $200.00 it seem to me that someone would suck out on me and win?

  6. Jun Park says:

    Hi Alec. I have question about purchasing a car as a cash game player. If I hypothetically buy $40,000 car from a bankroll, how would the tax situation work out?

  7. plenty2say says:

    What online poker sites do you recommend for U.S. players?

  8. iTz ReDz Mo Fo's says:

    Dude …..


    Do you get High while playing poker???? or just before making a YouTube video? Haha… good info tho bro 🙂

  9. T Ramson says:

    i would take any decent coach on on a 80% of profits deal.

  10. colin glen says:

    I have absolutely no one in my life who is remotely interested in poker..I've no idea where all you guys find so many kindred spirits.

  11. colin glen says:

    never mind about his question Alec..sounds like he is doing ok already ..he wants to know how to move up from good into great…all I want is to move up to decent from crap! ..his advancement will take him from small fashionable car to a sexy sports car ..and I want to be able to pay my heating forget him and teach me how to be merely decent. 😮

  12. James Wilson says:

    I also wonder playing on the weekends and even weekend holidays are profitable because you have a more diverse number of players.

  13. James Wilson says:

    I wonder how you can judge your game. I play once a week because I have a full time job. I just started and the last 3 times I went to the casino, I made over 2100.00 playing 1/2 NL. I played about 24 hours in the 3 days I played (average 8 hours a week). Last Sat I played for 10 hours and made over 1000.00 playing 1/2 and I wonder if I will keep it up. Only time will tell.

  14. Shayne Sim says:

    Love you insight advice and appreciate all the knowledge you have shared Alex and I aspire to be at a similar level to you. Respect

  15. Shane Dooley says:

    How many hands per day do you recommend a player who wants to play full time should be playing . and which do you feel is most profitable

  16. McGavel1 says:

    Cool point about having someone to help put the pieces together. Thanks again, great tips.

  17. McGavel1 says:

    I can't wait to be able to get your book. Thanks again and GL 2016!!!

  18. TheSakeSamurai says:

    Thanks again Alec. It's always a confidence booster watching these. Keep up the good work brother. I wish you were closer to San Diego. I'd for sure be willing to pay good money for your live courses.

  19. Sandro Kecalovic says:

    i just need a backer where can u find it

  20. Nicholas Biddle says:

    Before anyone ships you $397.00 for that four step system, maybe you can give us a sample that's worth something so we can see value in your training.

  21. BrilliantBible7 says:

    I think the biggest difference between good and great players is the awareness of details great players have. Good players often are concentrated on their opponents image, but dont take into consideration what their image is at the table. Because of that they dont "play" enough with their image, they dont balance their range good enough. But you dont have to be a great player to make a lot of money in poker. When you play 2-3 tables you can improve your skills a lot if you observe every detail at the table, but you can also play ABC poker and play 12 tables + and may make the same or even more money. In the end whats really important is to have a goal, to know where you wanna get and to keep focus on your goal

  22. Lutz Hu says:

    I would really love some feedback on these couple hands! -I put this on your blog as well

    High-Stakes cash game online, $5-10 blinds, $1000 max buy-in, 6-handed. Position: cut-off
    I ended up losing about $2750 this hand.

    Before this disaster, I’d been doing well, ~3.5x my buy-in of $1000 (3450.77$), (all during biochemistry class, lol). I’d been playing 3-handed for ~45 minutes (with SB position guy), and we both felted the other guy multiple times (who was a calling station). He has since left the table. 3-handed, I 2BB or 3BB bet every connected and any hand with at least 10 high, so I imagine I looked pretty loose to SB. We didn’t play huge pots against each other, which I guess was a tacit agreement that it was more profitable just to take money from the other guy.

    Others at table-
    Button: from what I’ve seen, tight pre-flop, tight post-flop, only played a couple rotations with this guy
    SB: I’ve been playing with this guy a lot, folded a lot of hands to my min bets when it was 3-handed, stack size: $2748.80. Played a little heads up, without much money exchange, before more people showed up.
    BB: Joined 2 hands ago (posted dead then), folded both, $740 stack
    UTG: ~1 rotation ago, called a $40 raise from SB position (from the guy in small blind now), but folded to 2-3-K rainbow flop after c-bet, $945 stack
    UTG+1/MP: Joined after button passed last rotation, folded all since, $500 stack
    Some people have come and gone. The ones that have stayed have been rather quiet.

    Folded to me, I have two red 3s. I bet $32.22, trying to make my bet sizing look funny (which I have been doing), maybe stealing the blinds with a small 3BB bet like I have been. I feel like any other sized bet wouldn't make much of a difference. I would fold to any large reraise. Button calls, SB calls, BB calls. Pot size: ~$115 (after online cut).
    Questions: Is this sound logic? Is bet sizing correct?
    Flop is 3S,6S,6C. SB donk bets $35. BB took almost all of his time to fold (which makes me think he had something, but I didn’t really know what to do with that information). During the hand, villain’s bet from SB really surprised me, because if he has such a big hand I would expect him to check to me and hope that I c-bet, but I ended up reasoning that the flop was all low cards, so the chance of me c-betting was small. He has also seen me float/bluff a lot of pots. I also feel like villain is never bluffing here because of the 4-way flop, which likely could’ve hit someone and me especially because my preflop betting range was so loose (albeit less likely because the board is paired). I put him on some playable, marginal hands like 45s, 56s, 67s, any suited connected spades, Ax spade, two face-card spades, and maybe 77 or 88 (I would’ve expected a 3-bet from him preflop with those, as I've seen them raise my bet out of the SB with middle pocket pairs on previous hands at least twice). Only the 63 beats me, which I figured would only really be happening if he was balancing his range pre-flop, and the 66, which I reasoned was possible with his small sizing but unlikely because there is only one combination (would quads lead out? I feel like they wouldn’t, to try to give me a chance to bluff at the pot). I decide to flat call—I don’t want to chase any draws away, which I feel like are a huge part of their range, and my boat beats those. Button is also after me, and I don’t want to chase him away with a raise, but he folds. Pot size: ~$180.
    Questions: Is the range I put him on correct? Is the call correct, or should I have raised, and if yes, how much? Any other things of importance to state?

    Turn is 7S (Board 3S, 6S, 6C, 7S), which is definitely an action card. It completes straight and flush draws, which I have beat, and now the 67s beats me. Villain almost instantly bets $111.11 (copying the style of my preflop bet). [At this point, I actually exclaimed “wow” loudly in my lecture of 100+ people and everyone sort of just stared at me (and especially my friends near me who didn’t know I played poker and could see my screen, you should’ve seen their faces haha). The professor smiled and asked if I had a question, to which I responded “no, sorry” (just a funny aside).] With their bet and a lot of time thinking, I honestly felt like I was beat. SB is very solid, and I represented a huge draw by calling his donk bet on that wet board. If he is raising me, maybe the purpose is to get me to call with those hands. He wouldn’t raise only trip 6s or even a straight, because he is only being called by better. I feel like raising is out of the question, because I’m only being called by better. The reason I called is because I figured he might have the flush, trying to get a straight to call, or even putting me on 33 and having me think through this and fold to his flush. At this point, I thought maybe I win less than 1 out of 3 times.
    Pot size: ~$400
    Questions: I am sure my logic is wrong and backwards, but could you tell me where, how, and why?

    River is 3C. Board is 3S, 6S, 6C, 7S, 3C, which gives me quads [NO bad beat jackpot] (my neighboring friends who have been watching my screen whispered a collective and simultaneous “Jesus Christ” and “Holy Sh*t”, which I think is hilarious, looking back. At the time I was way too focused on the poker to think about that). Villain shoves his remaining $2500 after maybe 30 seconds of thinking. I seriously considered folding (which I’m sure would’ve amazed my friends who know little to nothing about poker even more than they were already). I beat the full houses (67, 77, 9 combinations), but villain’s hand and my gut has been screaming 66 or 54S (2 combinations). I also feel like villain knows I have 33 at this point too. Could he be turning a made straight/flush into a bluff?
    I ended up calling, because 1. I beat the boats, 2. It’s such a huge hand, and 3. He might be trying to get the 3 to call with the 6 (or even a 6 to call with the 67). But I don’t think he would expect a flush to call for such a huge amount of money.
    Villain ended up showing 45S for the straight flush, and I showed my quad 3s.
    Questions: Is there any way I can escape from straight flush over quads (is this a good call)? Is my reasoning correct (I do not feel like it is)?

    Naturally, after this, the commotion of the table chat (and the spectators), and my friends reacting to this horrible beat, I quit poker for the day, only to return the next day (yesterday) for another bad beat. I want to know if I could’ve gotten away from this one too.

    Same format as previous hand, except 10 handed. Before taking a seat, I studied the table for ~10 minutes on the waiting list, and I gathered that everyone was playing tight-aggressive, and solid play throughout. For the first rotation, I established myself as a maniac (raising >3BB every hand pre-flop), quickly making about 1/5 of my buy-in(~$1200).

    On the button, I have two black As. (UTG+2 posted dead). UTG (~$850 stack) raises to $35 and +1 (~$1350 stack) 3-bets to $75. +2 folds, +3 calls (~850$), +4 folds, HJ calls (~$2000), CO folds. This is a huge pot, and there are too many people, so I 4-bet to $400 (the pot was $285), hoping my maniac image would help me. Only UTG+1 calls, and the pot is over $1000 heads up. I was a little confused as to why UTG, +1, or anyone didn’t ship it with the other AA and KK, which should’ve been a warning sign in retrospect (maybe?). I think I should’ve realized they might try to bluff me off of a premium hand post flop, with something like KQ KJ, or they would put me on a wider range (but more likely the latter because of my maniac image). I feel like I’m representing AA or KK with the huge raise into so many people. I put +1’s range as AA, KK, and maybe 1010, but most likely QQ or JJ.
    Questions: Sound reasoning? Should I have gone all in pre-flop instead of the 4-bet? Range analysis? Bet sizing? Other things of importance to note?

    Flop is QQQ (no Q of diamonds), which means unless there are 5 Qs in the deck, villain can’t have QQ. Because I’m representing AA or KK, if my range analysis was correct pre-flop, I am either splitting the pot or taking it all (granted a K,J, or 10 don't come). If they have KK, I think they would check because there is no point in representing AA because there is only one other combination of KK to bluff at. They might try to represent AA and bet if they have the JJ or 1010 with a pot this huge (but they also might check, I’m not sure with a pot this huge). I feel like my reasoning is off here, but that’s what I went on. He checks, so I put villain on KK and only KK and check back.

    The turn is the A of diamonds (thankfully no royal flush draw on board, after the horrors of the day before), which gives me aces full. Villain checks to me. At this point, I felt pretty confident that villain only has 1 out (the last queen) to split the pot with me, and I feel like there is no point in betting him all in because he would never call (but he would with a queen, which I didn’t think about at the time).

    River is the K of diamonds. I felt almost certain that this hit his KK and maybe he would call a bet with such a huge hand for so much money (which would be a mistake because I have been transparent with my AA or KK. Now, if villain is holding KK, they know I do not have KK and must have AA). With this reasoning, I bet all in. I am quickly called, and after I show aces up, villain shows AQ for 4 queens.
    Comments on these hands would be much appreciated, thanks!

  23. Axel Racoton says:

    Thank you very much for answering my question ! Your answer is very clear and structured and is going to help me a lot.

    Great stuff as usual !

    PS: My name is Axel and not Alex though but I think I can forgive you that mistake. 😉

  24. ChrisC says:

    What's your favorite way to improve at poker? Playing it, seeing what mistakes I've made, what misreads, trying to identify where I genuinely screwed up and where I played OK but just got unlucky. Since, despite some small successes, I'm not a profitable player, my game must be very flawed, but it's hard to figure out what my biggest problem is. (I get the feeling recently that I'm close to a tipping point, but I could just be kidding myself.)

    How much time a week do you spend playing poker? It depends. Maybe 10 hours a week if I'm not too busy with other things. Mostly on ACR, even though I prefer live poker. The nearest cardroom where I can reliably find a live game is nearly an hour away, and I don't often feel like making the drive.

    How much time do you spend learning? Not as much as I should. I have no tools for analyzing the math of particular hands, for instance. Maybe a bit nitty of me; all the good tools cost money and I'm averse to spending lots of money on myself.

    Are you dreaming of becoming a professional poker player? I'd have to say yes. It seems a less dull way of making a living than what I've been doing for the past 30 years; doing something that I enjoy would be nice for a change. And, it must be said, it's potentially more lucrative.

    What's your biggest obstacle? I'm the sole support of a household with two special needs kids, one severely disabled. I therefore don't have a lot of free time to pursue other things, and it would be highly irresponsible for me to put a lot of my money at risk. I've become far more risk-averse than is healthy for me, in fact. I also have many interests and other goals to pursue in the limited spare time I have, so it's hard for me to focus on any one of them single-mindedly.

  25. Rudi Storm says:

    Alec- I would say my biggest problem in poker is that I have no one to discuss hands with. I have lots of friends but none that play poker. I talk casually about sports, music etc to other players at the casino, but I never discuss strategy in fear of giving away my secrets. One of my friends wants to learn how to play but I am hesitant because I think he would be a terrible player. I am a winning (good) player, but I would love to go to the next level. Alec-I agree with comment below you would be a great guest on Chicago Joey;s show!

  26. Cerebral says:

    Alec, I think you should go on the Chicago Joey One Poker Life Podcast. You'd be an extremely entertaining and insightful mind to have on the show.

  27. Baz Irvine says:

    Hey Alec how many years have you been playing? I'm just coming up to my first twelve months learning the game and I have improved slowly it's just difficult to find a decent poker coach here in Liverpool, UK. Where can I get decent online training thanks.

  28. Rockyall says:

    Thanks for the videos Alec, they've been really interesting and a great help.

  29. David Larsen says: seems to be an empty homepage…

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