Home » Setting Goals for Poker: What You Should Be Doing To Improve

Setting Goals for Poker: What You Should Be Doing To Improve

Home » Setting Goals for Poker: What You Should Be Doing To Improve

Setting Goals for Poker: What You Should Be Doing To Improve

A straight flush held in front of stacks of poker chips on a poker table. The straight flush is the five to nine of diamonds.

Many poker players are looking for information on how to improve at online poker. Some players are looking for quick and easy tips, and while you may be able to use some advice to better your poker game in the short term, the best players understand that there’s no shortcut to winning in poker. Improvement in the game comes through goal setting and working hard to reach those goals.

Here are some poker goals that you should keep in mind if you want to improve when you play poker online.

1. Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

There’s no doubting the importance of setting goals, but it’s also essential that those goals are achievable. You can set a goal of reaching the final table at the next World Series of Poker Main Event, but if you’ve only been playing poker for a few weeks, it might be more realistic to aim to win a few high-stakes cash games before trying to beat the best in the world. 

Also, realistic goal setting is important to ensure that you stay motivated. If you aim too high and fail to achieve your goal, you may end up becoming disheartened or bored and give up playing. In more extreme situations, setting unachievable poker goals may even cost you money as you may place a large number of wagers or place fewer but larger bets that you shouldn’t be making until you’re skilled enough to do so.

2. Dedicate Time Each Day to Studying the Game

Poker may be an easy game to pick up and play, but it’s also incredibly difficult to master. If you want to compete with the best players in the world, you’re going to need to commit some time each day, or at least every week, to studying the game. 

There are many poker resources available that can help you improve your game, including:


A stack of books on a table. The book on top of the stack is open.

While the way poker is played has evolved over the years, books have remained one of the cornerstones of poker education. Even poker books published in the 1970s are still relevant to the game today. If you’re looking for some places to start, consider titles like “The Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky, “Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2,” and “Essential Poker Math” by Elton Hardin.

Online Discussion Forums

Despite many of the world’s most popular poker variants playing the same way as they did decades ago, there’s still constant debate and shifts in how people play the game. While these discussions were once had in person by poker enthusiasts, today, these discussions take place in online forums or social media channels. You may want to consider joining these spaces to stay on top of the latest trends in the competitive poker world. Look for competitive poker discussions on sites like Reddit or Facebook, or follow some of the best players in the world on X (formerly Twitter) to engage in discussions with them about the state of the game.

Free Educational Videos

Many skilled players enjoy sharing their insights and knowledge about the game on YouTube. Be sure to include this type of content in your study schedule, but as with any other content on the internet, be sure to check the source of the information. Just because a person says they are good at the game, that doesn’t mean they actually are, so you may end up wasting time and learning information that’s just wrong if you study videos from the wrong content creator.

Paid Coaching

While you may be able to get very far on your own, at some point, you may want to consider paying for coaching. A poker coach is someone with the skills and experience to help you identify flaws in your game and who can offer additional advice on how to improve your game. Again, remember to do a background check on any coach before you hand over any payments. Anyone can claim to be a highly skilled poker player and offer coaching, but you’ll need to ensure they have the game history and client references to back it up.

3. Set a Minimum Amount of Daily Practice Time

In an ideal world, you should be able to set aside a certain amount of time every day to put the theory you’re learning into practice. This could be as little as half an hour or as much as six hours every day, depending on your schedule. But remember, there are no shortcuts, and someone who studies hard and puts in the time practicing will often improve at a much quicker pace than someone who spends less time understanding poker theory and implementing it in real games.

4. Review All of Your Games To Help You Recognize Your Mistakes

A person sits in front of their laptop at a coffee shop. They have their fist against their mouth while they concentrate.

Even the best poker players in the world understand that sometimes they’re going to make mistakes. Even when they win, they’ll want to know if they made the most optimal decision in a particular scenario. To get better at the game, these players will go back and review their play. If you want to get better at the game, you must do the same. 

However, your level of skill will determine the mistakes that you’re able to spot when reviewing your games, so you may need to reach out to more skilled players to help you identify and fix the weaker parts of your poker play.

5. Test Your Skills By Playing Higher-Stake Poker Games

The goal of poker is to beat the other players in your game and claim the pot, but the way you do this will change depending on what poker stakes you’re playing. There are five different categories of poker stakes, from the lowest-value to the highest-value games:

  1. Micro-stakes.
  2. Small-stakes.
  3. Mid-stakes.
  4. High-stakes.
  5. Nosebleeds.

Each of these categories will require different skill levels to succeed, with strategies that work in one stake category not necessarily working in another.

If you predominantly play one category of poker game and find yourself winning more often than not, it’s likely time to try your hand at games in a category with higher risk. For example, if you play small-stakes games and are winning regularly, try playing in mid- or high-stakes poker games to see if you can recreate the same level of success. If you struggle in these higher-stakes games, you can always drop back down to lower-stakes games while you work on improving your level of play.

6. Work on Maintaining a Good Attitude To Avoid Tilting

A poker player smoking a cigar looks down at the poker table in front of them, a look of frustration on their face.

Many poker players have let their emotions get the better of them, costing them games that they could have won if they had just kept a cool head. As discussed in the Psychology Today article “4 Ways Emotions Can Screw Up Your Decisions,” it’s important that people aren’t making important decisions based purely on emotions, particularly intense ones, as this can often lead to poor choices. The last point in the article is especially relevant to poker. It discusses how anger and embarrassment can result in people making high-risk choices, even if the odds of it working out are extremely low. 

To avoid falling into this mental trap — more commonly known as “tilt” — there are various actions you can take, for instance:

  • Step away from the game to give yourself time to calm down.
  • Take deep, slow breaths to help recenter yourself.
  • Ignore other players’ comments so they don’t throw you off your game.
  • Reframe bad results as learning experiences and accept that even the best players sometimes have bad luck.
  • Get enough rest, exercise, and good, healthy food to ensure your body and mind are in a good state before an intense game.
  • Meditate to lower your overall stress levels.

Put Your Poker Skills to the Test at BetMGM

While goal setting is important, the only way to know for sure if you’re getting better is by putting your skills to the test at BetMGM. 

BetMGM offers poker players an excellent online poker site where they can compete or simply have fun. Serious gamblers can practice and get better at poker by taking part in daily or weekly poker tournaments to see who is the best. More casual players can also sit back, relax, and have fun playing a few poker cash games. These games are available in a range of variants, including Texas Hold’em, seven-card stud, and Omaha. 

Register at BetMGM to play and improve your poker game, or just have some good old-fashioned poker fun.

If you want to improve your poker skills consistently, you need to set goals. Here are some of the goals you should set to help you improve at the game.