Mastering Poker: Insights from the best players in the US
Poker is not just a famous card game. It’s also one of the most exciting in terms of gameplay. It is less about luck and more about your skill at the casino table, as portrayed in the popular James Bond movies.
Despite the wide variety of poker games available, the ultimate goal remains the same — to get the best hand at the table. Many factors come into play to achieve this, and the pros know best when it comes to poker tips and tricks. Discover coveted insights from some of the best US poker players in this article.
Best poker players in the US
The number one skill game at the casino is poker. It takes more than just an understanding of the basic rules to master the game. In reality, it also requires a little bit of luck and a lot of quick thinking to make the best decisions to achieve a payoff. Below are some of the best US poker players to have reached the height of the game:
Justin Bonomo is not just one of the most popular professional poker players in the country but also worldwide. Bonomo is a successful poker player with three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets. He also has a couple of titles from participating in the European Poker Tour (EPT).
As a high roller, Justin Bonomo has had a truly stellar career. At the 2018 WSOP, he bagged a career best score of $10m from a $1m buy-in. He also has a strong reputation in online poker. For three straight years, he was a part of the Bodog Poker online poker site’s team. During this period, he represented the team in live tournaments worldwide.
Surprisingly, Justin Bonomo started out playing another card game called Magic the Gathering. From there, he discovered he had an exceptional skill for poker and delved into it professionally. He currently has the top live earnings of over $61m.
Currently occupying the second spot in the list of all-time American earnings in poker, Bryn Kenney is one of the richest poker players. His big wins are also a testament to how good a poker player he is. He has 22 notable lifetime wins, including a WSOP Gold bracelet.
Bryn Kenney, like most names on this list, is a high roller and made up to $20.5m at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series London. He also has an impressive record in online poker.
He has been the subject of accusations regarding cheating and collusion in poker games. Martin Zamani, the accuser, claims that Bryn Kenney works with a couple of online players to improve their poker outcomes. Nonetheless, these accusations have not stopped Kenney, who is still achieving great numbers in online poker.
Erik Seidel is a global poker veteran and has been on the scene since 1988 when he achieved his official score on Hendon Mob, which is the most comprehensive database for poker players. In this breakout season, he came second, a position that won him about $280,000. Erik Seidel is a professional poker player born in New York who later moved to Las Vegas. Being in the world’s number one gambling hub provided him with access to high-stake games on a regular basis. He has since amassed a fortune for himself.
Seidel currently has about $42m in live earnings, with his biggest break coming in 2011 at the Aussie Millions. There he won the Super High Roller and raked in about $2.5m. Erik Seidel is also one of the most decorated poker players with nine WSOP Gold Bracelets, plus a win at both the EPT and World Poker Tour (WPT).
Here’s another professional poker player who relocated to Las Vegas to further his gaming career. He recorded his biggest score at the Triton Poker event, which was held together with the WPT in 2016.
Three years later, he landed his most significant win of $1.2m during the US Poker Open. Overall, David Peters boasts 32 wins in his career with four WSOP gold bracelets. Like most top poker players, Peters also has impressive earnings online. According to the Hendon Mob database, he has over $40m in online earnings.
It’s impossible to list the top poker players in the United States without mentioning Phil Ivey. He made a name for himself in cash game poker tables and excellently juggles it with tournament poker. His biggest break came in 2014 at Aussie Millions where he claimed about $3.6m during the $250,000 challenge.
Phil Ivey’s excellent performances at tournaments date back to 1998, when he attracted the country’s attention in a seven-card stud event in Atlantic City. This means he has been at the top of the game for over two decades. A couple of years after this breakout, he received his first gold bracelets in a Pot-Limit Omaha event at the WSOP. He has won 10 bracelets throughout his poker career and is popular thanks to his successes in different game variants.
What advice can they offer to aspiring poker players?
The best poker players win a lot, but it’s essential to realize that they are often high rollers, so they also risk a lot. What truly makes them stand out is not the amounts they put down in bets or receive as payouts. Instead, it’s the strategies they apply to stay at the top of the game consistently.
Here are some insights into how you can go from being a newbie to becoming one of the most decorated poker players:
Know the rules and understand the game
Knowledge is power. It’s also what makes the best poker players stand out. These top players know the game’s ins and outs, enabling them to assess the best move to make at any point. They don’t just stop at the basics but take the knowledge deeper by participating in discussions and poker forums.
If you wish to become a professional poker player, there are many books about the game that you can read for better understanding. Obviously, as a newbie, you can start by learning the hand rankings, then move on to the terminologies of the game, such as the call and flop.
The stories of some of the richest poker players only start from the big breaks and career-high scores. Frequently, they do not include the several years of practice required to get to that level.
These professional poker players spend an outrageous amount of time practicing and perfecting their strategies. You need to do the same in order to hone your poker skills. Thankfully, online sites such as Resorts Casino allow you to play your favorite games for free. They provide demo versions that serve as the perfect mode of practice. When it comes to poker, practice builds confidence, which is very important for professional players.
Choose the right kind of poker
A good amount of practice should provide a good understanding of the nuances that come with poker variations, so you should know the type of poker you can dominate and the ones to avoid. Some will maximize the effectiveness of your gaming strategy, while other variants might not.
The mode of gaming is another factor to consider. Some poker players are extremely good and confident when playing in a land-based poker room. Here, they are able to read the other players better, along with many other factors. The same players might rank poorly in online tournaments and vice versa.
Know how to bluff
Among all card games, poker is the most dynamic and gives players more control over the gameplay. Even though the strength of your hand depends on chance, there are some techniques that can tip the game in your favor. Notable among them is the act of bluffing.
Betting when you have a strong hand and folding when you do not is a standard tip for playing poker. However, the best poker players do not only play the game well. They also know how to play their opponent.
You may have a weak hand, but as your opponent does not know that you can play in a way that makes your opponent believe you have a strong hand. Another form of bluffing is under-betting a strong hand to encourage more staking from your opponents.
Bluffing is a great way to turn the tides in your favor, but you need to carry it out well for the trick to work. If your opponents don’t fall for it, you’ll end up losing. Ensure you do not have ‘tells’ which can give you away, and always wait for the right time to bluff.
Poker is one casino game that requires mental alertness. You should be observant of everything happening on the poker table or the game screen. This is how you can spot your opponents’ tells, patterns and weaknesses. The best poker players are so alert that they can even spot false tells. They can tell when their opponent is misleading them.
In addition, avoid any distractions during the games, whether it is coming from the dealer, players or even from the drinks at the table.
Take a break
This is very important if you are playing poker for a long period. You don’t want to be fatigued and lose your edge during the game, so when necessary, make sure you take a break. This could be getting some water to drink or any activity to get your mind off poker for a few minutes. At major tournaments, you will find many top poker players with headphones and books during breaks. After the break, you’ll be able to get back into the game with a more relaxed and refreshed mind.
Rather than a short rest, you could take an extended one. You could end the session and live to fight some other time. This is a good idea when you’re on a losing streak. Rather than chasing your losses, it’s wiser to take a break and re-evaluate your strategy.
Manage your bankroll correctly
Your bankroll is very important in poker, and how you manage it affects your winning chances. When you hear the huge buy-in amounts of the top poker players, you need to realize that they have not always played at that level.
It’s advisable to start small and let your stakes increase as you grow in confidence and skill. You should also set limits for your gameplay. This could be staking limits, suggesting the amount that you should not surpass when betting. It could also be win or loss limits. When the odds are in your favor, and you are cashing in, you should have a target that signals when to stop. With this in place, your gameplay has structure, and you avoid gaming with emotions. The same applies when you’re losing.
How can you apply their advice to your own game?
Any poker gaming advice is generic. You’ll have to tailor it to suit your own situation, your skill level and the poker variant you choose to play. For instance, when it comes to bluffing, you might be unable to do it as well as professional poker players. You should take this advice sparingly and only bluff after a series of wins. That way, your confidence is high, and you can easily pretend to have a better hand when you do not.
Also, how much you bet per round depends on your bankroll capacity, so bankroll management is another subjective piece of advice. If you’re a low roller, you can manage your staking further by picking specific games that allow very low bets. For instance, at Resorts Casino, you will find games such as Fortune Pai Gow Poker, which allow stakes as low as 0.10.
It’s also up to you to choose which is the right game to play. Beyond choosing the perfect casino offerings, you can also assess the class of opponents that you are comfortable playing against. In effect, you must be very selective regarding which poker rooms you join and the tournaments you participate in.
Looking at the career of the richest poker players can often make it look easy to excel in this game, but it’s not that simple. It takes plenty of practice to get to the pro level. Fortunately, upcoming players can learn from the insights and advice provided in this article. There are several veterans who have passed through the journey to pro poker status, so you can learn from their stories to avoid firing on the wrong cylinders. That said, even the best poker advice is not one-size-fits-all. You often need to tailor the advice to align with your gaming strategy and resources.