I help you stop merely exposing yourself to poker strategies and instead, you’re going to effectively LEARN poker strategies.
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Stop Merely Exposing Yourself to Poker Strategy
The other day, a listener named Ted asked me how to study poker. He said he reads books, watches videos and follows poker blogs like this, but he still hasn’t made the progress he wants to.
I responded with a simple question, “Do you practice the strategies you learn in the content you consume?”
See, the problem for most people is they’re used to merely exposing themselves to strategies:
- Watch a video on cbet bluffing
- Listen to a podcast about staying in control mentally as you play
- Read a chapter on preflop hand selection
But, that’s all they do: watch, listen or read.
And what do they do when they finish watching, listening or reading that piece of content? They simply move on to the next piece of content and watch, listen or read again.
So, they’re exposing themselves to tons of strategy, but exposure DOES NOT EQUAL learning.
How to Learn Poker Strategies
Step 1: Thoughtful Exposure
You MUST purposefully choose the item you’re studying. For example, if you’re having problems with cbetting right now, don’t study a 3bet video. Focus your studies on the thing that’s giving you issues right now.
You MUST take notes. This allows you to take your studies with you into the future. You can read your notes before, during and after your play sessions. Take the time to add to and edit your notes as you learn more. You can use your notes during your study sessions and hand history reviews to help you learn from you play.
You MUST limit your exposure. Thoughtful exposure also means you’re not overexposing yourself to strategy. If you try to consume 3 pieces of content today, what are the chances that you’ll retain all of it, even if you take notes? Not a good chance at all.
Limit yourself to at most one piece of content to study each day, and even just 1 per week is good. This gives you the time to digest it, purposefully noodle on it, and even let your subconscious find solutions on its own. Think of the content you consume as food for your mind. If you give it only one item at a time, it’s going to put all its focus on that.
Step 2: Practice What You Learn
Actively practicing the poker strategies you spend time studying is the #1 way to learn.
Action is the greatest teacher!
This means that after learning new strategies, you MUST purposefully practice them in-game.
I can teach you how to build a cabinet in a video, but you’ll be able to build a cabinet by doing the work. You have to:
- Cut the plywood to size
- Build the face frame using pocket holes
- Glue the pieces together using biscuits or dominoes
- Construct the cabinet and the doors
- Install the hardware
- Sand it down and soften the edges
- Apply the finish
Learning to 3bet Bluff
Here’s an example from my own life: learning to 3bet bluff
At the beginning of my poker journey and for many years, I was strictly a tight value 3bettor. Maybe only QQ+ and AK.
Eventually, I learned how to 3bet bluff. One of the things I learned was that suited and connected Aces are great for 3bet bluffing. Why?
- They block your opponent from having AA, AK, AQ.
- Being suited and connected, they play better post-flop in case you get called.
- They flop strong draws, and block strong draws and hands, so you can get aggressive post-flop.
So, I decided to practice this for myself and I looked for suited and connected Aces and started 3bet bluffing.
I probably wasn’t thinking about other important factors like bet sizing, stack sizes, player types, positions, open-raising ranges, etc. I was just looking for hands like A5s and ATs.
So, I just began experimenting with 3bet bluffing with those hands. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
This practice built a working knowledge of 3bet bluffing. I got better at it over time. The successes built confidence, and the failures were great learning opportunities.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:
Find the most recent strategy podcast, video, article or book chapter you consumed and were exposed to some useful strategies.
Re-consume it, but do it with the idea of thoughtful exposure. So, take notes and do not consume anything else until you practice what you learned.
Keep your notes open in front of you as you purposefully practice the strategies you studied.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.