Building a Support System
Feb 13, 2006  
2006 Jason Kirk  

Among all the competitive pursuits popular today, poker is one of the most solitary. Every decision made in the game is up to the individual player - nobody ever forces anyone else to call, raise, or fold at the table. That also means that all the consequences of those decisions also fall on the individual. It's no wonder that so many people who begin playing with the best intentions fall apart after a while. Not everyone handles the weight of so many decisions well. Anyone who counts playing poker for a long time among their goals should find a way to build a support system - it's a lonely game without one.

Fellow Players

Thanks to the magic of the internet, it's easier than ever for like-minded individuals in any pursuit to get together and talk. That's just as true for poker as anything else, and for anyone just getting into the game a poker forum can be a great way to meet fellow players - especially if you live in an isolated area where you can only play the game online. Your fellow players are often the best strategy resource available to you, with one caveat: you usually have to wade through a lot of off-topic posting to get to the really good information.

If you're on the creative side, you might consider starting your own poker weblog. Some people might consider this a sign of vanity, but talking yourself through your game through writing can be really helpful. There's a wide-ranging community of poker bloggers on the web these days, which means that leaving your comments open can gain you valuable insight if the right person reads your post. Even if you decide to be a reader/commenter rather than a writer yourself, knowledge tends to disseminate quickly through poker blogs, making them a valuable resource for newer players.


If you have a friend who's been playing poker a lot longer than you have, it's worth picking his brain whenever you get the chance. If you have more than one such friend, count yourself lucky - unless you ignore everything they tell you, chances are you'll be a pretty good player in a short amount of time. Take the time to play your friends in heads-up matches and talk about the game at every opportunity. Nothing helps you to figure out your own strategies for the game more quickly than having to actually put them into words with people who know the game well.

The situation works in reverse too - if you've got some experience and you have a friend who's just beginning to take the game seriously, consider lending him a hand and showing him what you know. You might just find that giving a little basic instruction will crystallize in your own mind some of the concepts you've picked up from all those books you've been reading.


If you're lucky enough to have family members who also play poker, you're in the best possible situation. Having a parent or sibling with experience can accelerate your learning curve vastly, helping you gain insights to the game that you might not have stumbled upon on your own. Even if you can't learn new strategies, just having someone close to discuss the game with can be a great stress-reliever. It's also nice to be able to break out the cards and chips whenever you're around your family.


Whatever your method, if you plan to pursue poker with any seriousness at all you should make sure you surround yourself with other poker players. You'll learn more quickly, you'll find yourself with access to other people's ideas, and you'll enjoy the time you spend with the game more than if you approached everything without seeking any assistance.

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