Thursday, 9 December 2010

Year 1 as a Pro - Studying

When I started out I planned to do a lot of studying. However, the past has shown me that I prefer to learn by trying things out rather than studying theory, and I haven't done as much this year as I'd hoped away from the tables. As results have gone well I haven't felt the need to apply myself in this area. However, as I move up it will become essential to have a greater understanding so I hope to establish a better routine next year.

Hand History Reviews

Reviewing hand histories is probably one of the best ways to learn, especially with input from others. Understanding what you did wrong and what you should have done can only make you play better in a similar spot another time. Many people advocate reviewing hands at the end of a session, but I haven't done this very often - usually only a quick scan after a really bad session to understand what I lost due to mistakes and what was lost due to general runbad. In the last couple of months I've started marking hands as I play and reviewing them weekly with El Nino and Perfection - with 2 other views to draw upon its really useful. Many post hand histories at 2+2, but I've avoided this as there is so much bad advice out there, and prefer to talk to friends on AIM/Skype instead.

Villain Analysis

Taking some time to examine the players you play regularly against can definitely pay off once you have a reasonable number of hands against them. At the most basic level, I'll review some of their ranges (EP open, MP open ... , 3bet, 3bet calling etc.) and then look at how they play sets and draws. On occasion I've tried to look into some more detail including cbet sizing in an effort to find a really exploitable leak, but with only a limited number of your hand samples going to showdown I'm not sure how much data you need to make this worthwhile. I meant to do this weekly when I first started this year, but it is only recently that it has become a more regular occurence.


Although some of the advice/strategy on 2+2 is a bit suspect, there are also some wonderful pieces of information: from the occasional inspirational post to the generally solid Concepts of the Week in the micro stakes forum, so it is definitely worth taking some time to read.

Watching Videos

I had planned to watch a lot of videos, perhaps 1 a week or more, but I've probably watched less than 10 this year. I'm not sure exactly why this is, but I know there are some great ones out there and I really should take advantage. Again, something for next year.


For someone with a maths degree I really should understand some of the general theory better. I think with experience I have a pretty good feel for what is correct, but on the few occasions I've used pokerstove to check out the details I've found myself quite far off the mark. Pokerstove is a great tool for working with ranges and equity and I need to do this much more next year.


Coaching is obviously a great way to learn in itself, but a coach can often help identify areas of weakness where study can help. Make sure you ask your coach for advice!


Particularly for the mental side of the game, taking time just to think away from the tables can help. I often find myself thinking about a hand while driving (and still concentrating on the road obviously!) or listening to the Eightfold Path to Poker Enlightenment while in the bath.