2020 is fast approaching and it’s about time you activated your poker study habit, eh?
Too many of us go willy-nilly from one video to the next, or binge listen to dozens of podcasts without even putting one piece of poker strategy to use. Well, no more!
This is your ultimate poker study guide for turning yourself into the player you want to be in 2020.
Poker Study Technique #1: Just Get Started
The more you do, the more you can do.
This is one of my favorite quotes and it’s applicable to anything in life you want to get better at, poker study included.
Maybe you’ve never studied or don’t feel your poker study time is productive. You don’t know how to review a database now how to find and plug your leaks. You don’t know how to get the most out of every poker book you read and you don’t know how to practice the strategies you read about.
Well, the only way to make your poker study time effective is by actually “hitting the books” and doing it. Every new thing you study and new technique you use adds to your poker study repertoire and you begin building intuition for the best ways to approach poker learning.
Example: Poker Study Progression
Your goal is to improve 3bet bluffing skills, so you watch a video. You take notes on what you learn to help you remember it all. You also know that practice makes perfect so you take action on making better 3bet bluffs in your next session. So far, you’ve used 3 study techniques: watching a video, taking notes and purposeful play.
But, you encountered 3 tough spots where your bluffs failed. You open your PokerTracker 4 database and find those 3 hands. You replay the hands and discover that there’s no way they were folding to your bluff 3bets because you made them too small. So, you record in your journal these 3bet sizing mistakes and you decide to practice more 3bet bluffs. Bam! You just used 3 more techniques of reviewing hands, recording mistakes and going back to the felt for more action.
The next session, you make more bluff and value 3bets. Some are successful and some are not. So, you have the idea to go to your database and filter for 3bets with different hand strengths. You don’t know how to filter for this, so you read an article for help. You do what they do in order to learn from your different 3betting hands. Bam! You used 2 more study techniques of learning via repetition and filtering through your hands.
You just utilized 8 different study techniques for one strategy!
Begin building poker study skills by choosing one strategy to improve.
Find one video or article or podcast to study and take notes.
Put what you learn into practice then let your intuition take over and continue your studies however feels most natural (or, scroll down for more useful poker study techniques).
Now, I challenge you to take action!
Listen to episode #260: A Simple Poker Study Plan
Poker Study Technique #2: The ‘No Time for Study’ Plan
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This plan is designed to be printed out and written on. Treat it like your poker journal and store them for future reference.
1. Choose a Topic to Study
Write your study topic for the week at the top. It could be as broad as “3bets”, or as narrow as “3bet bluffing from the BB versus the BTN”.
The intent of choosing a topic of study is to help you avoid overwhelm by keeping you focused on one strategy at a time for an entire week.
2. Record the Top 12 Stats
You can only improve what you measure.
I’m a firm believer in this, so I’ve listed the top 12 most beneficial stats to keep track of. These give you insight into how your poker study is affecting your game. As you study and improve your skills and knowledge, your statistics will naturally change to reflect this.
For example, if you’re a crazy aggressive 3bettor, a week of 3bet studies might see your 3bet stat go from 12% to 7% because now you’re picking better opportunities to 3bet.
The top 12 statistics are:
- # of hands played
- Total Win Rate
- Raise First In
- Call 2bet
- 3bet Preflop
- Call 3bet
- Cbet Flop
- Cbet Turn
- Fold to Flop Cbet
- Fold to Turn Cbet
Write down the numbers from last week in the first column, then write your end-of-week stats in the second column. Record the variance in column 3 (the difference between the 2 numbers, positive or negative).
3. Choose 2 Items to Study
Take a few minutes to run a Google or YouTube search for 2 items to study. Choose one for the first 3 days of the week (Monday through Wednesday), and the other for Thursday through Saturday. It could be a video, article, podcast or a chapter in a book. Whatever you choose, it’s something that you think will help you become better at the strategy you’re studying.
Write the name of the item down so that you can easily find it again in the future.
The Plan has a small note-taking section, but that’s intentional. The idea is that you record the most important things that you want to take with you into the future.
Within the notes area, there’s a spot to write down the #1 takeaway from the item you studied and just below that, there’s a “Take Action” section to write down the action you’re going to take to practice what you learned.
Action is your greatest teacher, so you must create one of your own action steps. If you don’t step into action and put to use what you learned, you just wasted your time studying it. The action step you create is what you’ll focus on over your next 3 play sessions. This is how you’ll make your off-the-felt studies a part of your on-the-felt game.
4. Daily Checklist for Study and Play
On Monday and Thursday, check the box after you’ve studied your chosen item. Your study time can be done right before your play session as a warm-up if you’d like.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday you’ll spend 10 minutes reviewing hands from the day before (scroll below for instruction on hand history reviews). This is also your session warm-up. Check the box after you do your 10-minute review.
When it comes to playing poker, Monday through Saturday are all considered focused play. You’re going to play with purpose and practice the action you chose from the content you studied. Check the box afterwards.
And Sunday is your grind day. This is the day you can play or study however you want.
Utilize the ‘No Time for Study’ Plan for your studies this week (download and print).
Choose your study topic for the week and record your Top 12 Statistics as they stand right now.
Find 2 items to study, take notes then practice what you learn on the felt!
Now, I challenge you to take action!
The poker study train is still rolling!
Coming soon: Game Tape, Focus Sessions, Hand History Reviews, Learning from Poker Books, Tracking and Plugging Leaks
Support the Podcast
Rishi Srivastava and Chuck Stowe picked up PokerTracker 4, the best poker tracking software. I love it and use it everyday! In appreciation, I sent them each a copy of my Smart HUD for PT4. With a ever-growing database of hands to study and all the helpful features, PT4 is the go-to software for serious poker players.
Trevor Mascos, Josh Balsom, Vilma Rozsa and Alex bought the Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4. It’s the best online poker HUD in the business, and you can get the Smart HUD by clicking here.
Josh Balsom (supporter extraordinaire) is looking to get into the most profitable poker situation possible, so he picked up the Poker’s Bread & Butter Webinar (10% off).
Richard Canelle picked up the Getting the Most From PokerTracker 4 Webinar (10% off) because he knows that I’m going to teach him how to do exactly that in this webinar. He’s learning how to filter for leaks, run reports and dissect opponents (among many other things).