One Until Done with Action! My Favorite Learning Strategy

I help you navigate your poker studies and purposeful play with one of my favorite learning principles: one until done with action.

Listen to this podcast episode as you follow along below:

Last week I helped you learn poker strategy, not merely expose yourself to it.

My Favorite Learning Strategy

I believe that the best approach to poker improvement is something I call:

One Until Done with Action

The idea is that you work on ONE strategy or plug ONE leak at a time, studying only that ONE thing while purposefully take action with the strategies you’re learning.

It’s like studying cbet bluffing. You take notes on a video or article or podcast you consume, then all your play is centered around making great cbet bluffs. And when you’re not involved in the hand? You imagine you’re the cbettor and you consider how successful a bluff cbet would be, given the board and the other player.

So, all of your focus for the time being is on bluff cbetting, whether it’s in your studies or as you play.

 

The Dominoes of Poker – Toppling One at a Time

I talked about the benefits of one until done with action in my two books, Preflop Online Poker and Post-flop Online Poker.

Here’s what I said about it in Preflop Online Poker:

Knocking over one domino at a time will avoid poker study overload and will lead to significant improvement in your poker game.

The “domino effect” states that a domino can knock over another domino that’s 50% bigger than itself.  This has been demonstrated with full scale mock-up dominoes by some ambitious researchers in the past.

Now in the book, I gave a list of dominoes to topple on your way to Poker Excellence:

Figure 1: The Progression of Dominoes in your pursuit of Poker Excellence

This list is just what I feel is most important, in order, for your average player.

However, you, right now, have specific things you want to work on. Whether they’re new skills to put to use, plugging poker leaks, working on your mental game… whatever.

What I want you to do right now, and this is your first action step for this episode, is to list out all the things you want to learn and all the leaks you want to plug.

Write this in your poker journal right now.

Now that you have your list, what’s the most important thing to tackle?

I don’t care if it’s post-flop or preflop, mental game vs technical poker skill… doesn’t matter. Just look at your list and answer this question:

“What’s the ONE thing I can learn right now that would propel me furthest on my journey?”

That’s it. What is that ONE thing? Decide on it right now.

Now circle that item on your list. All of your poker study and play will be focused on this ONE thing for the next week.

 

One Until Done with Action

So, here’s the plan – You focus on only ONE:

  • Strategy or leak at a time.
  • Week at a time.
  • Piece of content at a time.
  • Action step at a time.
  • Study and play session at a time.

 

ONE Strategy or Leak at a Time

I don’t care what you choose to focus on first. It could be cbetting, player types, preflop pot stealing, 3betting, facing river bets, flop and turn board texture… doesn’t matter.

Just pick ONE thing to focus on.

When you try to spread your focus over multiple items, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice and you won’t effectively learn any of it. Don’t spread yourself and your poker attention thin by focusing on more than one thing at a time.

Also, there might be a “perfect order” to the things you need to study. But, maybe you don’t know the best order or you don’t have a coach like me to tell you what to focus on. That doesn’t matter.

Simply choose one thing from your list at a time and work down your list. If you have 10 items, you’ll get to all 10 eventually.

 

ONE Week at a Time

This is a big one. You need to time to learn and practice new strategies.

You also need time to unlearn bad habits.

Maybe over months or years of play you learned to defend your big blind with any pair, anything suited, anything connected and any Ace.

Do you think you can break this bad habit with one study session and one play session? This bad habit was months or years in the making, so realize it’s going to take time to break it.

It might even require that you revisit any new strategies for another week, 3 or 4 weeks down the line. Be prepared to revisit your prior studies, and spend another week focusing on them, especially if they revolve around significant leaks you’re trying to plug or bad habits you’re trying to break.

 

 

ONE Piece of Content at a Time

Any poker training video, podcast episode, book chapter or online article should teach you strategies to use. I can tell you any single chapter of one of my books will teach you a dozen or more plays to use or things to look out for or players to target.

I recommend learning from one piece of content every 3 days at the most, often just 1 piece per week.

Like I discussed in last week’s episode, your goal is to learn from the content you consume, not to merely expose yourself to as much content as possible.

So, take notes on what you learn from the piece of content. Then, you must practice what you learn. Keep practicing and revisit that piece of content and your notes over and over until you feel comfortable and find success using the strategies.

Do this before moving on to your next piece of content or your next strategy to focus on.

 

ONE Action Step at a Time

A single piece of content might give you ideas for 5 things you can practice as you play. It can be difficult to keep all 5 things in mind as you play and to take action with all of them.

These are new ideas after all, so you might need to focus on one aspect at a time.

For example, you might learn these 5 things from me regarding 3bet bluffing:

  • Be more willing to 3bet bluff versus loose and aggressive players when you have position.
  • Make more 3bet bluffs versus smaller open-raise sizes of 2.2-2.5bb.
  • Use suited and connected Aces like A5s and ATs.
  • Have a plan in case they 4bet you.
  • Have a post-flop plan in case they call, how can you steal the pot on the flop or turn?

If you’re uncomfortable with 3bet bluffing right now, how the heck can you keep all this in mind as you play? You might want to break up your action taking with these 5 things over the next few sessions, focusing on just 1 or 2 each session.

Eventually, you’ll wrap your mind around all of this and you’ll be able to consider all of it as you play, but it’ll take some time.

Allow yourself to take time with using all the strategies you’ve learned.

 

ONE Study and Play Session at a Time

I recommend for every play session, you have one study session where you review the relevant hands.

If you’re focused on 3bet bluffing right now, use the strategies as you play tonight. Of course, have your notes open as you play to remind yourself of the strategies you’re trying to learn.

Tomorrow morning, review your session and all the 3bet bluffs you made and all the times you chose to NOT 3bet bluff.

Have your notes open as you study, and add or edit your notes as you gain experience playing and studying with purpose.

Keep repeating this cycle of play >> study >> play >> study until you’re comfortable and successful with the strategy and ready to move to the next item on your list.

 

What’s next?

Now that you feel confident about this particular strategy, what’s next?

Well, look at your list again. Cross off the item you were focused on this past week (or longer).

Now, ask and answer the question again:

“What’s the ONE thing I can learn right now that would propel me furthest on my journey?”

Choose your next thing, and follow the same process again of one until done with action.

Sky Matsuhashi
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