Poker Golf is something that hit me out of nowhere one day. I was thinking about how golfers are always attempting to make the least amount of errors. That’s how they keep themselves in the game. Logically, I applied that to poker.

No Range for You

I can’t reveal my real range because that would be giving away too much information. I need to use that range in cash games and poker tournaments, and if someone knows who I am, then I’m in trouble. If you’re wondering about The Perfect Range, that’s a range I used to apply in low-limit games. I now play in bigger games, and I have tightened up that range. For the record, I will still play in 1-2 No Limit games when waiting for a tournament. I’m just playing to play in those situations. I have no interest in risking $1,000 in a 2-5 game prior to a $365 buy-in tournament.

The Approach

Now that we have that out of the way, the approach is to count how many mistakes you make during a session. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cash game or a tournament. Every time you make an error, you count it as a stroke in your mind. At the end of the session, you see how many strokes you accumulated. Of course, the lower the score the better. The goal should always be to shoot par, which is perfect. It’s impossible to shoot better than par, so don’t bother trying.

For me, every mistake is when I play outside of my range. My range depends on position. For instance, there are some hands I will play in late position and not in early or mid position. Some players will argue that your range should also be based on your opponents. This is true, but only to a certain extent. I don’t care who you’re playing against, if you’re playing J4, then you’re not going to be a long-term winner. Get rid of that garbage and remain disciplined.

The Results

To give you an idea on the effectiveness of Poker Golf, the first time I used it, I shot 8. Yes, 8! That’s terrible. It was a cash game, and I obviously didn’t win. The second time out, I shot 5. Still not good, but I was making progress. I lost a few dollars in that session, but if it wasn’t a soft table, I would have been crushed. The third time I out I shot 1. Now I was playing much better, and I noticed that by following the Poker Golf system I was forcing myself to play well. I won a little that session, but nothing major.

Here’s where the results really get interesting. I applied Poker Golf to my next three tournaments. I shot 1, 1, 0. I cashed in two out of three, which are the last three tournaments I played. None of these were major cashes (no final tables), but I don’t think I would have cashed at all without counting my mistakes in my head. Plus, just by being in the money, you give yourself a chance at the big money. Additionally, those small- to medium-sized cashes save you buy-ins for other tournament buy-ins, which once again equates to more opportunities for bigger cashes.


Apply whatever rules or whatever range you want. The most important point is that you begin to count your strokes (mistakes) in your mind. It’s a lot of fun because you’re always trying to beat your previous score. If you happened to shoot 0 last time, your goal should be to see how many times you can shoot 0 before having a session with a mistake. I absolutely guarantee that you will see better results if you start doing this. It’s a bit strange, but it’s also highly effective.

Tyler Nals

If you love poker, then you're in the right place. My poker strategy books are written for the beginner-intermediate player, and many readers have told me that these strategies have helped them turn a profit. My books are easy to understand and written from a macro perspective on how to win as a poker player. You will also find an entertainment angle. Regardless of what level poker player you are, you might enjoy A Fishy Poker Tournament, The Dark Side of the Felt, and The Poker Office. These are poker adventure books, not poker strategy books.

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