Lesson #3: Studying Poker

Lesson #3: Studying

Learning poker will take a whole lot of playing it, but what separates the experts from the novices is often the time spent on studying the game away from the table. I’m not just talking about reading books (although that is surely a big part of it) because lots of people read books but never excel at poker. No, you need to study the books, not just read them. There’s a huge difference, and anyone who’s ever gone to school (that presumably includes all of you) will know what I mean. Sure, I can read through the entire book I have on calculus, probably pretty fast, too. I can even feel like I get what the author is saying, and have no real trouble following the lines of reasoning about integrals and derivatives. But if all I do is read it, I’m going to flunk the test for sure. I need to practise what I’ve learned to fully absorb it, and so all math courses (this goes for virtually any subject, but math is a convenient example) supply their students with problems to solve, helping them to absorb the knowledge they’ve just read about.
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Few poker books do this, with a very notable – and commendable – exception of the Harrington on Hold ’em series. Many of the other Two Plus Two publishing books have quizzes at the end to help you test your knowledge, but most of them fall hopelessly short of a standard that would allow the book itself to be enough material for absorbing the concepts it contains. Therefore, we need to work harder than just reading the books. In fact, without a stern teacher and an upcoming test that we may flunk, mustering the motivation to force ourselves to study at all may be hard.

But I realize – as do you, surely – that learning more about the game is the way we come to the point where we can beat it. And so the problem is not that we don’t understand that we’d be better off if we study hard, the problem is that hard work is often not fun. We need to be motivated to pull it off, and making a habit out of studying takes time and discipline. That’s the core of this lesson: Realize that learning takes time and plan accordingly.
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Furthermore, we must realize that studying doesn’t end at some point; we don’t graduate. The money that we make in this game come from the mistakes of others and our job is to make fewer mistakes than our opponents – or more specifically, less costly ones – which is how we show a profit. Competition at its finest. But our opponents aren’t dumb – well, not all of them at least, and the dumb ones become fewer and more far between as we move up in limits – and they learn more about the game for every day that passes, too. In order to keep our win-rate where we want it to be, or even keep winning at all, we need to stay ahead of the curve. We need to know more about the game than they do and we need to work harder than they do so that we can keep outsmarting them. For this reason, there’s no end in sight, no light in the tunnel, no day when our job of studying is done. Learning is a continuous process in poker.
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I can’t stress this enough. It seems very obvious to me that most of my opponents today have read many of the same books I have, even at the low limits. I see them applying concepts that I recognize so well that I could almost pinpoint the page where they read about them. Of course, they misapply a lot of them, and that’s why I’m still profiting. They have read the books, gotten the general idea, but they still fall short of understanding how to apply the concepts. You don’t want to be one of those people, you want to be one of the ones who know how to beat those people. You’ve got to know more than they do.
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I spend at least one third of my “poker time” studying. For every two hours I spend at the table, I try to spend one hour reading books, analyzing hands, posting hands on boards, etc. Sometimes I play a session with the specific purpose of practising something new. Specific tips on how to make good use of the time we spend studying are found in Lesson #7. How much time you are willing to spend on learning more about the game is of course a matter of choice, but I put in about 10 hours a week on poker, and spending on average three of those hours working on improving my game away from the table has worked for me so far.

You would do well to take this – studying – into account when you plan how you will spend your time on poker. How strict you want to be about it is, of course, a matter of preference. Perhaps you want to take a whole week to finish a specific book before you go back to the tables, or perhaps you like to spend only 30 minutes here and there on it; do whatever suits you best. But be prepared to spend a lot of time on it. No, be willing to spend a lot of time on it. You already know that it’s the right thing to do, but it’s up to you – and only you – to actually make it happen.

I believe there’s also a risk of overstudying. The theoretical knowledge of 20 books doesn’t mean much without the experience that tells you how to use it properly, so for the best result, you should balance these two. Although I spend on average one third of my time studying (in “studying” I basically include all the time spent away from the table actively thinking about poker), this is not something that I’ve scheduled rigorously – I don’t set the alarm for Sunday morning so I can go up and review sessions in PokerTracker. I think the best thing that can happen is that you’re excited and curious about the game, so that you freely look up the information, rather than having the “must study”-sign hanging like a weight around your neck. Learning new things is fun for me, and I hope it’s fun for you, too. It makes the whole process so much easier. So if you find that you’re just not interested at the moment to continue reading the book you’re trying to work your way through at the moment, take a break from it. Play poker instead, let the book rest for awhile. While studying is virtually a must to become better, it doesn’t have to be a “must-right-now.” Forcing yourself to learn something is pretty inefficient, and I think you’ll find you have much better results if you spend your time on it when you actually feel like it.

If you have a busy schedule and only a determined number of hours every week to spend on poker, make sure that you don’t set goals that require such a high number of hands played that you leave no room left for learning more about the game. Remember: You must stay ahead of the curve!

 

Lesson #3: Studying Poker

Lesson #3: Studying Poker

Studying PokerLearning poker will require a great deal of playing it, but what separates professionals in the beginners is frequently time allocated to studying the overall game from the table. I am not only speaking about reading through books (although that’s surely a large some of it) because many individuals read books but never stand out at poker. No, you have to read the books, not only read them. There is a massive difference, and anybody who’s ever attended school (that most probably includes everyone) knows what i’m saying. Sure, I’m able to read car book I’ve on calculus, most likely pretty fast, too. I’m able to even seem like I recieve exactly what the author says, and also have no real trouble following a lines of reasoning about integrals and types. But when all I actually do is see clearly, I am likely to flunk the exam without a doubt. I have to practise what I have learned to completely absorb it, and thus all math courses (it goes for virtually every subject, but math is really a convenient example) supply their students with problems to resolve, helping these to absorb the understanding they have just find out about.

Couple of poker books do that, having a very notable – and good – exception from the Harrington on Hold Them series. Most of the other Two Plus Two posting books have quizzes in the finish that will help you test out your understanding, but many of them fall hopelessly lacking a typical that will permit the book itself to become enough material for absorbing the concepts it consists of. Therefore, we have to continue to work harder than simply reading through the books. Actually, with no stern teacher as well as an approaching test that people may flunk, mustering the motivation to pressure ourselves to review whatsoever might be hard.

However I realize – just like you, surely – that being familiar with the overall game is the way you come to the stage where we are able to beat it. So the problem isn’t that we do not realize that we’d be best when we study hard, however , effort is frequently difficult. We have to be motivated to accomplish it, and creating a habit from studying needs time to work and discipline. This is the core of the lesson: Understand that learning needs time to work and plan accordingly.

In addition, we have to understand that studying does not finish sooner or later we do not graduate. The cash that people make within this game range from mistakes of others and our responsibility would be to make less mistakes than our competitors – or even more particularly, less pricey ones – that is the way we show an income. Competition at its finest. But our competitors aren’t dumb – well, not every one of them a minimum of, and also the dumb ones become less and much more far between once we progress in limits – plus they find out more about the overall game for each day that passes, too. To be able to keep our win-rate where we would like it to be, or perhaps keep winning whatsoever, we have to stand above the bend. We have to learn more about the overall game compared to what they do and we have to continue to work harder compared to what they do to ensure that we are able to keep outsmarting them. Because of this, there is no finish around the corner, no light within the tunnel, no day when our responsibility of studying is performed. Learning is really a continuous process in poker.

I can not stress this enough. It appears very apparent in my experience that many of my competitors today read most of the same books I’ve, even in the low limits. I discover their whereabouts using concepts which i recognize very well which i could almost target the page where they find out about them. Obviously, they misapply many of them, which explains why I am still capitalizing. They’ve browse the books, become the overall idea, however they still are unsuccessful of learning how to use the concepts. You won’t want to be among individuals people, you need to be among those who understand how to beat individuals people. You need to learn more compared to what they do.

I spend a minumum of one third of my “poker time” studying. For each two hrs I spend while dining, I attempt to invest 1 hour reading through books, examining hands, posting on the job boards, etc. Sometimes I play a session using the specific reason for involving new things. Specific tips about how to make good utilisation of the time we spend studying are located in Lesson #7. The length of time you are prepared to invest in being familiar with the overall game is obviously an issue of preference, however i place in about 10 hrs per week on poker, and investing normally three of individuals hrs focusing on enhancing my game from the table has labored for me personally to date.

You’d prosper to consider this – studying – into consideration whenever you plan how to spend time on poker. How strict you need to actually cover it’s, obviously, dependent on preference. Possibly you want to capture an entire week to complete a particular book prior to going to the tables, or possibly you love to spend only half an hour in some places onto it do whatever fits into your budget. But be ready to spend considerable time onto it. No, be prepared to invest considerable time onto it. You know that it is the right factor to complete, but the choice is yours – and just you – to really make it.

In my opinion gleam chance of overstudying. The theoretical understanding of 20 books does not mean much with no experience that informs you using it correctly, so to find the best result, you need to balance both of these. Although I spend normally 1 / 3 of time studying (in “studying” I essentially include constantly spent from the table positively considering poker), this isn’t something which I have scheduled carefully – I do not set the alarm for Sunday morning in order to increase and review periods in PokerTracker. I believe the very best factor that may happen is the fact that you are excited and interested in the overall game, to ensure that you freely lookup the data, instead of getting the “must study”-sign hanging just like a weight around your neck. Learning something totally new is fun for me personally, and that i hope it’s fun for you personally, too. It can make the entire process a lot simpler. So in the event that you are simply not interested right now to carry on reading through it you are attempting to come through right now, take a rest from this. Play online poker rather, allow the book relaxation for some time. When studying is actually essential to become better, it does not need to be a “must-right-now.” Forcing you to ultimately learn something is fairly inefficient, and i believe you will find you’ve far better results should you spend time onto it whenever you really seem like it.

For those who have an active schedule and just a determined quantity of hrs each week to invest on poker, make certain you don’t set goals that need this type of large number of hands performed that you simply leave no room left for being familiar with the overall game. Remember: You have to stand above the bend!