First forum post. Certainly bragging. However, I'm no crusher. I play in soft games. In LA or Vegas I probably would make less than 10bb/hr as opposed to what I do around here. The 5-10 games I play in are either deep uncapped or match the biggest stack games. I log all 2-5. 3-5. and 5-5 games as 3-5. They're all basically the same where I play. Always at least 200bb max buy games with a match biggest stack option. Plus UTG and button straddles.
I was a profitable recreational player for many years. Then my wife and I had a kid (an now another). I left my full time gig to be a stay at home dad and play poker about 3 nights a week while my wife still works full time. These are my results after a little over 2 years. Wish I could play more hours, but it's just not possible between my family schedule and games that are available. I won't divulge where I play but It's not any of the big poker hubs. Smaller cardrooms around me that have a big game run once or twice a week. These types of places really are gold mines. They ability to get to know all the local players well and exploit each one differently is HUGE.
I've been listening to Bart since Cash Plays and I certainly would not be where I am today in poker if not for him. I've done a lot of work on my game myself but Bart/CLP is the backbone of my poker knowledge.
I think 80-90% of what you can win comes from these basic elements:
1. Preflop discipline and setting up good situations: This doesn't mean being a huge nit. I do play pretty tight, but I rely heavily on position. Tight early. Aggressive late. If you have problems controlling yourself, make a rigid preflop strategy and don't allow yourself to deviate. Ranges from each position you will limp/raise/call. It's not fun but I've reverted back to it many times. If I've gotten too loose or feel tilting, I just impose that rule on myself not to deviate. When I'm comfortable again, I'll widen my ranges. I often go back to my basic preflop plan charts and continue to make tweaks.
2. Mental game: Not only controlling yourself but seeing what's going on at the table. Just pay attention and know who may be steaming. Call them lighter and value bet heavier.
3. Basic hand reading: I'm still trying to improve and often fail to see what is obvious once the hand is over, but do your best to slow down and think about the entire hand action.
4. Value betting: Bet-fold, bet-fold, bet-fold.
5. Solid flop play: When to Cbet bluff and when not to. When to slowplay (rarely) and when not to. Really thinking hard about sizing and how your opponent will react with their range.
6. Knowing your opponents: Takes notes on the regulars. Make a plan for exploiting each one.
That's it. Have some self-discipline and listen to the advice you get on this site. Huge bluffs, hero calls, 3-betting ranges, tells.....that's all very interesting but it's the last 10-20%. If you're not super solid with the basics you shouldn't even be thinking about that stuff. It will just cloud your brain. Work on the stuff that comes up ALL the time. My game isn't glamorous, but it pays the bills and has very little variance. Maybe someday I'll be a lag wizard, but I've got a LOT to work on before I get there.