In this episode I give you my own Weekly Poker Study Plan so that you can follow it to stay organized in your studies and to guide you as you work on making your game stronger day by day.
In Episode 121, I gave you my SMART Poker Goals for 2017 and they’re centered on improving my game so I can offer better poker strategy insights to all of you.
The Importance of Planning and Organizing Your Studies (4:10)
Poker is a long-term game and to play at the highest levels, and even just to get beyond the level you’re currently playing at, you need a plan to take you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
Your plan needs to systematically find and improve upon your weaknesses, while building new skills into your game and honing existing skills. It needs to challenge you on a daily basis, but not be too difficult or unrealistic that you lose sight of what you need to accomplish along the way. A solid plan will guide you along your path, and will add to your enjoyment of poker as you improve in a systematic way and you see the positive results of your hard work.
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The 6-part Weekly Poker Study Plan (5:10)
I do my weekly planning Sunday’s and day 1 begins the next day on Monday. It’s up to you how you do it, but I do recommend planning the day before your study week begins.
1. Committing to a Singular Weekly Theme (5:30)
Most of us spend our study time readings/watching/listening to random poker strategy content. So it’s no wonder we don’t make the improvements we want to make. When you’re studying disparate topics day to day, you don’t get a well-rounded view on any one of them. Plus, you don’t get the time to do the necessary reflection and practice on what you’re studying.
We all need to commit to one study topic per week and that’s it. If it’s 3betting, then great! Everything you study and focus on for the week will be 3betting related: bet sizing, opponents to target, ranges, bluffing, value, folding vs 3bets, etc. Immersing yourself in this one theme for an entire week of study and play will help to ingrain all the skills and strategies you learn into your game.
Before you can commit to one theme for the week…
You need to know what that theme should be. Some of you know exactly what you need to study in order to improve your game. Maybe you know that cbetting and bet sizing and 3betting and pre-flop limping are your problems. Great, these 4 items are your next 4 weeks-worth of studies.
For those with no idea where to begin, I recommend following the current Minimum Effective Dose Series of podcasts. Listening to episode 87 which kicked off the series. Go through my list of 10 MED’s starting with #1. As soon as you encounter a topic that you think you need work on, then that’s where you begin.
2. Creating Hypotheses (8:00) ***UPDATE BELOW***
For any theme you are studying, it’s a great idea to create some hypotheses ahead of time about what you think you’ll learn. These are educated guesses about the conclusions you will draw or the findings you will discover from your week of studying.
Hypotheses will guide your study and push you to find the answers to questions raised or to verify your initial thoughts on the matter.
Sample hypotheses for 3bet studies:
- I’m way too tight when it comes to 3betting. I hardly ever 3bet bluff, so I probably have to add that play into my pre-flop game.
- I think it is probably okay to 3bet with any pocket pair in the blinds vs a steal attempt.
- It would be best if I never 4bet bluff vs tight 3bettors
- I think the pros 3bet with every hand under the sun. But, I need to research this to see how the top players construct their 3bet ranges.
- I need to add more 3bet-related stats to my HUD and popups.
So, regarding the idea of creating hypotheses, critical thinking like this will help direct your studies in beneficial ways. It’s kind of like creating questions that you’ll find answers to through your studies. It’s like Voltaire said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” The better questions you ask yourself, the more you’ll get out of your studies.
I used to create Hypotheses, but as I was writing Volume 2 of ‘How to Study Poker’ I realized that a better idea is to create ‘Knowledge Seeking Questions’. Before you begin your week, you must write out 3-5 questions you want to answer through your studies. This makes for more active participation on your part. Actively seeking information is different and more fruitful than passively consuming some pieces of study content (videos, books, podcasts, articles, etc.).
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions.
-Dr. John Demartini
Well put, Dr. Demartini. The same can be said for our poker education. The quality of our poker studies will improve if we’re asking and seeking the answers to better questions.
Some sample KSQ’s for a week of study around the 3bet:
- How can I smartly increase my 3betting ranges by position and not leave myself open to exploitation by those willing to 4bet bluff me?
- What hands are good for 3bet semi-bluffing as opposed to just calling? Are hands like A5s and JTs better calling hands, or 3bet semi-bluffing hands?
- How can I 3bet resteal better from the blinds?
- How can I determine what makes a good bluff or value 3bet squeeze spot vs a profitable overcalling opportunity?
The SPS Weekly Poker Study Plan has been updated with the idea of using KSQ’s.
3. Tracking Quantifiables (9:45)
Your studies should have quantifiable results that you can track. So, what metrics will you keep track of before and after this week’s study? These metrics should help to gauge your progress and your understanding of the theme.
Here are some great metrics that you must track for 3bet studies:
- BB/100 hands win rate
- Pre-flop 3bet % by position
- Fold to Pre-flop 3bet After Raise
- Pre-flop Squeeze %
- 3bet Steal %
- Fold to Pre-flop 3bet after Steal %
Record these #’s before and after your week of study, as well as the number of hands that lead to these #’s. As you study and focus on 3betting during your sessions, you’ll continue keeping track to see how things progress.
We cannot improve what we do not track, so keeping an eye on these stats as we learn more about 3betting will tell us if our studies are affecting our play, and affecting it in a positive way.
4. Choosing Your Study Methods and Content (13:00)
There are plenty of ways to study the theme of your choice each week. Beyond PokerTracker 4 and Flopzilla for hand history reviews, there is almost too much poker strategy content out there just waiting to be consumed.
With so many things to possibly study, it pays to make a list of the items you want to study that week. Do this on Sunday as you plan the week. Spend a little time on Google and within your favorite training sites searching for quality content from different content producers.
Here’s a list of five items that seem to be pretty good study material for a week of 3bet research:
- Article: The 3-Bet | How To 3-Bet Light By Greg Walker on ThePokerBank.com
- Article: Breaking Down the Three-Bet by Daniel Skolovy on PokerListings.com
- Video: How to 3-bet for Value Pre-flop by Poker Quick Plays on YouTube
- Video: How To Build An Un-Exploitable 3-Bet Range IP by Poker Strategy on YouTube
- Pre-flop 3betting and 4betting, Chapter 7 Page 105 in Alex Fitzgerald’s book ‘The Myth of Poker Talent’
With a list like this you’ll hit a different piece of 3betting content each day, and you’ll watch/read/listen to it with a critical ear. And, an important aspect you MUST DO is to take notes on all you learn. You can do it in a physical journal, Word document or Evernote.
5. Planning Day By Day – Combining Daily Studies with a Daily In-game Focus (15:30)
You need to look at your week and decide day by day how you will spend your one hour of study. You will probably find yourself repeating many of the same modalities day after day, especially if you love videos and hate reading books, or if you love going through your database but hate everything else. But, I urge you to switch things up and learn from different sources all the time. This helps to keep your mind nimble and active as you are consuming content in different ways. It also helps to alleviate boredom.
For the five pieces of 3betting content mentioned above, I would recommend studying an article on Monday and Wednesday, the videos on Tuesday and Thursday, and reading the 3betting chapter on Friday. You can mix in some database analysis as well as some game tape reviews or even some forum hand posting on different days as well.
An extremely important concept
Block your study time. Make an appointment with yourself for 1 hour (at least) of study time daily, and stick to your one hour commitment. This is just like a scheduled business meeting, Christmas dinner at 6pm at mom’s house, or a dinner date with a super model. You would not skip any of those, so put this on your daily calendar and do not let yourself miss it.
The second part of this step is having an in-game focus as you play each daily session. This is your chance to actively put into practice the things you are learning each day. In every session of poker play, you will strive to use the tactics and strategies that you worked on off-the-felt, hopefully the same ones you studied earlier that day.
For the theme of 3betting, an in-game FOCUS you may use is to actively search for spots to bluff 3bet. You studied it earlier in the day and devised strategies for pulling them off more frequently and more successfully. Put those strategies into action and see if your off-the-felt conclusions translate into on-the-felt profitable plays. You need to tag all hands with PT4 where you put your strategies into action so you can review them the following day.
6. Taking Notes and Reflection (18:00)
Note taking is extremely important. This is your chance to put your thoughts and findings down on paper to help you remember them and it also allows you to easily go back and familiarize yourself with whatever you studied.
At the end of your week of study and focused play, it is a perfect time to reflect on all you have learned. I recommend trying to condense your notes into a one-sheet summary of all your most important findings. This one-sheet should be like, your biggest lessons learned. It should contain all the things you wish you could’ve told yourself at the start of the week to save yourself a full week of study.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Plan your next week of study. Do all 6 steps here, and plan out your week with one theme in mind. Focus all your study and play around this one topic, and see how my process works for you. I’m sure you’ll be a much stronger player once the week is through.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
The NUTTS (Notably Urgent Things To Study, 21:15)
- There’s a great website called the “Study Hacks Blog” by Cal Newport. He’s an author who’s written some great books on studying and avoiding distraction and succeeding. I love his book called “Deep Work” and I recommend getting it in audio from Audible.com. This blog of his gives great study and focus increasing techniques that we can all use in this totally distracting electronic world we live in.
- Check out MindMeister.com. It’s a site that lets you make mind maps. These are visual ways to take notes or to convey an idea. It’s like a giant picture that relates different topics together and helps you to comprehend or put together different ideas. I’ve used Mind Meister to take notes on books before, and I actual used it to layout a book of my own. I recommend you check it out as it could be a great way for you to take notes to help in your poker studies.
Support the Show
PT4 Purchase and free Smart HUD – Danny H. and Kenny P – Show Your Support Through My PokerTracker 4 Affiliate
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Please leave any CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK, COMMENTS, QUESTIONS or REQUESTS in the comments section below.
If you’d like coaching, please contact me via email and we’ll discuss how I can help you improve your game.
Or… Tweet me @SmartPokerStudy and email to Sky@SmartPokerStudy.com.
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In podcast #123, I’ll begin minimum effective dose #5: Player Types & Tendencies. I’m looking forward to helping you exploit your opponents.
Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.
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