How Long Does it Take to get Good at Poker?

poker chips on a table

One of the most commonly asked questions from poker enthusiasts with a year or below experience is “how long does it take to get good at poker?”.  The modern world is used to instant results and instant gratification so it’s not a surprise that even in poker, people want to rush to the finish line. But, if poker could be solved that easily, surely everybody would be playing and how could players gain an edge on each other?

The truth is that it can take quite a bit of time to become good at poker, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose for years before you make part-time income from it. In this article, I’m going to answer the question, but also share tips on how to accelerate your learning so you can get “good” efficiently.

You only need to beat your current level

One of the key things to remember is that you don’t actually have to be good at poker to win. If an average poker play with solid fundamentals is playing a cash game with 8 other beginners, he will probably win 8 or 9 times out of 10. Being good is relative to the opponents you are playing against. The flipside of that is that an excellent poker player who wins regularly at NL $100 and decides to sit in NL $5,000 is likely to be the weak link, despite being a good poker player.

Therefore, its critical to note that you only need to beat the players you are facing. That’s why I recommend finding a level that you can beat. Even if you have a bankroll that supports much higher poker stakes, you should play with people inferior to you so you can win regularly, build confidence and get in the habit of winning. This will usually mean playing low stakes games on a poker client that appeals to recreational players. These are the types of opponent that are generally going to be easier to beat.

What does good look like?

When people ask how long it takes to become a good player, they don’t really know what good means. As I’ve said, does winning regularly imply you’re good? I don’t think so. I remember in 2005/2006 when I started poker, I was winning regularly with limited technical knowledge. The opponents were so bad though that just some basic strategy was all that was needed to win. I thought I was amazing, but in truth, I was quite a bad player at the time.

To me, a good poker player is someone that has mastered the key areas of poker. The list below are 11 areas of the game a good poker player will be proficient in. I could have listed another 20 on top but just to give you an idea of the number of areas:

  1. Hand Selection
  2. Bet Sizing
  3. Maths
  4. Hand Reading
  5. Value Betting
  6. Bluffing Techniques
  7. Post Flop Decision Making
  8. Exploitative strategies
  9. Game Selection
  10. Bankroll Management
  11. Tilt Control

Things that accelerate your learning

Don’t be disheartened that there poker is complex and that it can take a lot of work to become an expert. Is there any endeavour in life where you can become an expert in such a short amount of time? Take comfort in the fact that those who put in the work will be rewarded. I appreciate many of you don’t want to invest years and years to master the key poker concepts, but there are things you can do to accelerate your learning and become good quicker.


To improve quickly, there’s no way around it, you need to study poker to come to grips with the different strategy required. Visiting sites like mine is a great start as you can absorb loads of free content to get an understanding of specific areas. Set a designated amount of time each week that you will commit to studying specific areas of poker. Bookmark you favourite poker blogs and spend an hour or two reading.

Review your game

Another way to speed up your progress is to invest time in reviewing previous sessions. By spotting and identifying leaks in your game, you can make changes in future sessions that will improve your win rate. In the early stage of your poker career, you will probably want other, better players to review your sessions. I recommend chatting with better players and asking them to spend time reviewing your previous sessions. If there is nobody to help, feel free to book in a session with me below. The first session is 50% off.

50% off a session review

Take courses

If you’re prepared to invest in your game, taking courses is another way to develop your game efficiently. There are a dozen or so decent poker training platforms that offer courses in different areas so as long you have the time and some money to invest in your learning, it can be a shortcut to mastering a concept that make years to conquer. Visit my poker courses page to see what we have to offer.

Visit forums

Lastly, if you don’t have money to invest in your game, just frequent poker forums like twoplustwo. There are loads of decent players willing to share strategy and advice to players wanting to improve. Make sure you stick to a sub-forum where people are talking your level though! There’s no point visiting advanced strategy areas where everything is above your head.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: