A lot of poker players study without a purpose. They sit and watch a poker video mindlessly while scrolling Twitter and barely paying attention. Today, I want to talk about studying poker with a purpose. I want you to have a clear focus and goal with your study session and transition that information into your next session. Today we will discuss: picking a topic, studying with a purpose, doing work by hand, and having goals for implementation.
Knowing What To Study
Knowing what to study is sometimes the biggest barrier to starting. Poker is in a time where there is infinite amount of information available. I believe the first step to effective studying is to pick one specific topic to focus on. Part of my cooldown after every poker session includes writing areas about where I felt unprepared or had difficult decisions. This is an important part of my process because it leads me to specific areas where I need to enhance my study. I was underprepared for a specific situation and now I know where I should delegate study time. Some examples of topics I will study include: preflop push fold, re-jamming, single raised pots(SRP) in position, SRP out of position and 3-bet pots.
After deciding on a topic, I want to make sure I am studying with a purpose. Let’s say I am struggling playing 3-bet pots out of position. Thru whatever resources I have available, PokerCoaching.com, YouTube, other training sites, or articles, I want to find some material on the topic I am looking to study. PokerCoaching.com is a great place to start this part of the process. Studying 3-bet pots, I will start by looking at old webinars to see if any have covered this topic in the past, if not, I may put in a request for these to be covered. You can also look for specific quizzes on the topic you are looking to study. Use all the resources you have to find information on the specific topic.
Studying Versus Active Studying
The most important part of the process in my opinion is to make sure you actively study and take notes. I have a specific poker study journal that I use for all my poker study. I take diligent notes and use a highlighter to mark the very important material/notes. You want to be as active as possible in the learning process. This is why the quiz feature on PokerCoaching is great in my opinion. It forces you to pause the video, analyze the situation, make your own decision, then learn where you were correct and if you had the right thought processes during the hand. You should be using this format no matter the material you are studying. If you are watching a replay of a live stream, pause the action at every decision and act like you are playing the hand.
The next step in the process is doing work by hand. Hopefully you record your own hands or use software that does it for you online. Pick a couple of hands that you relate to the topic at hand, and do a complete hand analysis by hand. Use tools such as Power Equiblab or PokerCruncher to range yourself at every decision point. Find out where you are possibly making a mistake and work on your range construction. Focus on the situation at hand, not your specific hand in the example. Doing this work by hand will help you learn the ability to learn ranges quickly in real time. If you have access to a solver tool or something similar, you can check your work, but this is a very advanced step.
The final step is to make specific goals for your next few sessions in regards to what you studied. For example, recently I did work on playing 3-bet pots. One of the focal points for me that I wanted to implement was recognizing how tight ranges become in 3-bet pots by the river. For the next couple of sessions, I put an extra focus on 3-bet pots and recognizing how tight ranges were and adjusting my call down ranges. To go along with this, I had a goal of finding spots to check-raise and turn marginal made hands into bluffs in 3-bet pots because these spots are often under-bluffed. These specific goals for my session help me make sure I am implemented what I studied into my game.
Studying poker in 2022 has become difficult not because lack of information, but because of excess information available. It is very easy to become overwhelmed and study poker in general, instead of narrowing down to a specific topic to study. Make sure you have specific goals and stay active in the learning process. Have specific focal points that you want to incorporate into your game over the next few sessions. Don’t get overwhelmed with studying, try to break it down to specific topics to become more manageable. Spend 1-2 weeks on 1 of these topics over several situations.
Good luck at the tables