If you are an experienced poker player and want to take your game a step further, you may want to try entering the world of the World Poker Tour WPT level tournaments or the High Stakes tables.

Many players feel comfortable at the soft tables. Fishes, virtually guaranteed winnings, soft games, fun… the truth is that playing at an amateur table has its advantages. However, for a player with ambition, who wants to challenge himself and keep learning and improving his strategy, after a while it becomes clear that even for the most complacent of players it is necessary to move up a level.

However, you have to take into account a number of aspects so that your passage through the tables with professional players is not a real via crucis. In today’s post we give you some of the guidelines that we believe can help you to stay at a professional table and even get your first winnings.

What are the differences between an amateur and a professional table?

When it comes to detailing the visible differences between an amateur table and a professional poker table, the truth is that we could base it on what distinguishes one type of player from another.  Their way of playing is radically different, as well as their way of managing victories and defeats.

Attitudes also vary… while the regular/professional player dedicates time to study, strategy, hand analysis, control of his life and game cycles, etc. This leads to a superior theoretical and practical knowledge, which often translates into leaving emotions out of the game, and being practical… The recreational player, as his name indicates, is at the tables for the excitement and attractiveness of the game of poker. For the REC, the table represents their moment of freedom and exciting play.

While the REG/PRO is a shaolin monk, a warrior monk, the REC is usually a person looking to kill some time, with some excitement, or simply a hedonist who sometimes may be just passing through.

Below, we explain some of the key traits or points that will help us to more easily differentiate who we are at the poker table.

Tilt vs. emotional control

This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between an amateur table and one with professionals.

Part of the success of a professional poker player is to learn to control his emotions and understand that, in poker, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

It is very common among amateur or recreational players to fall into tilt after suffering a bad beat or a cooler, two moves that leave a bad taste in the mouth of the player who has lost his chips, but it depends on each one to know how to manage them better or worse.

A professional poker player accepts the tilt as part of the game. He accepts the loss of the pot, learns from his mistakes and continues to play his hands without letting emotions dominate his game.

In contrast, a recreational player tends to lose his nerve and begins a path of no return of bad decisions, overestimated bets and meaningless bets, with the consequent plummeting of his stack, until his final expulsion from the game tables or the tournament.

The reason? By falling into tilt and not knowing how to manage or overcome it, good judgment is clouded, emotions give way and the player is driven by ego. He does not act from reason. Then, a player has to know that his only way out will be to his only way out will be to quit the game or, at least, to stop playing the following hands until he is able to calm his emotions.

And this is a trait that distinguishes regular players from recreational players: knowing how to cool down situations, and never being dragged by the ego.

Bad practices vs. poker etiquette

Professional poker players take very seriously the so-called “poker etiquette”, which was created out of respect for both the game and the other players. This etiquette refers to a series of unwritten rules aimed at ensuring education and good manners within the competitive context of poker.

In this sense, not hindering the rhythm of the game, promoting respect among rivals or creating a friendly atmosphere are some of these rules that every professional poker player knows. In addition to them, we could include the exclusion of a series of moves or actions that, although they are not considered cheating, would be against these ethical rules.

Generally, angle shooting, more often referred to at the tables as “Angle”, is a tactic that employs a “point of view” or “angle” from which to gain an advantage, and players as “Angle Shooters” -to put it mildly-.

The term encompasses some of the practices and moves that should have no place but still can be present in practice at any table, although they will happen more often at tables of players who don’t take the rules of poker etiquette so seriously.

A set of malicious actions aimed at gaining some advantage over the opponents. To do this, the player in question makes ambiguous moves or equivocal actions – say for example All-in with the chips and say CALL before, that is simply seeing the opposite bet -, presumably chaotic – getting up a lot from the table, dizzy, hiding his big chips among the small ones to hide his stack -, etc.

Somewhat dubious actions, such as making your opponents believe that you are going to bet by rearranging your chips, or even rude actions, such as touching the opponent’s cards, which induce error in order to extract as much information as possible from the other players, or simply mislead them in a move or bet.

Unstable stacks vs. controlled stacks

The stack of recreational players, that is, their amount of chips, suffers great variations throughout the game. This is very representative of the passive loose and aggressive loose profiles, or in other words, fishes and maniacs, respectively.

Both profiles tend to play many hands, if not all of them. The difference lies in the way they bet. The fishes or passive loose do not usually bet large amounts, but their losses are practically constant, while the aggressive loose bet very heavily. They lose large amounts, but they can also make large profits.

At the professional players’ tables, they play more rationally and calmly, taking into account multiple factors when betting.

As mentioned before, discipline and patience are two of the aspects most present at the professional tables, as opposed to the impulsiveness and eagerness to win of recreational players.

Guidelines to opt for victory at a professional online poker table

Trying your luck at a professional online poker table has little chance of success if you don’t follow a strategy or guidelines to survive the attempt.

First of all, you have to stay away from the way recreational players play, as well as their bipolarity: some of them are too obsessed with the prizes; others are simply there for the thrill or to kill time.

Besides that, keep the following guidelines in mind if you want to have any chance of winning at a professional online poker table.

Don’t play every hand

Rule number 1, we repeat: Do not play every hand.

Always select the hands you play. However, do not base your decision solely on whether or not your hand cards are strong, but also take into account your position at the table.

When you are in a good position for the cards you are holding, play aggressively. When you are in late positions, you should play according to the information you get from your opponents.

Choose your star variant

Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Open-Face Chinese, 6+ Hold’em… Which poker variant do you play best? It is very important to play the most suitable for you and the one in which you feel more comfortable and at ease. In the same way, you have to be clear if you prefer cash game or tournaments.

Bankroll management is crucial

A professional player never plays over his bankroll. Learning how to properly manage your bankroll is key, not to win, but to not go broke.

Playing responsibly is the most important part of the poker game. If you want to move up a level, and try to rub shoulders with the pros, but still enjoy the game, think about the advice we have given you, think very carefully about what you do with your bets and do not get carried away by the emotion of the moment. Set your own limits and do not exceed your budget.