Studying poker is critical to your success. As a poker player, your ability to improve at the stakes you are playing or move up to higher stakes is directly correlated to the quantity and quality of studying you do. Athletes practice their game to not only hone their skills and stay on top of what they can already achieve but to push themselves and become better and even more dominant. You must treat your game with this same attitude.
Your process must be efficient; athletes will spend sessions working on different aspects of their chosen discipline, individual components rather than the whole game at once. This allows them to get as much value from their time as possible. So instead of shot-gunning your way through a bunch of different situations, pick the area of your game you feel as though you need to learn more about and take a deep dive into that specific topic.
How to Pick a Topic
First, be aware and acknowledge situations that you are uncomfortable in or try to find hands where you were unsure about the reasons behind your decision-making. This choice can then be broken down further. For example, say you are unsure about betting in 3-bet situations. You can break this down into specific areas with a plan to tackle them all. So, in this example, you may decide your biggest leak is only when you 3-bet in the Big Blind and are called by the BTN.
If you are unsure of a topic, you can look back over how you thought you played poorly and try and learn more about that situation or similar ones. Like an athlete, going back over the basics or areas you already think you know may open your mind to new ideas or ways of thinking and ultimately will reinforce concepts making them easier to access in a game.
How You Should Study
Once you have decided upon the specific, broken-down topic, such as the aforementioned BB vs. BTN interaction, you should research as much as you can about that situation, finding out as much theory as you can. Do some due diligence, make sure the information is relevant to the situation you are studying, and importantly it is up-to-date. The best resources ultimately are sites like this one, where students have had substantial positive results, and you can trust that the information is accurate and easy to digest.
After stockpiling the theory, you should take the time to filter your hand history on PokerTracker or Hold’em Manager and start combing through hands in the specific area you have studied, asking if you would do anything differently in that situation and make efforts to think about how you would apply the methodology on the tables.
You should use each spot to think about the holding you had in the hand and decide, based on the theory you have investigated, what you need to do with the entire range of hands you could have in that spot on that type of board.
Try and implement the new information slowly, and then constantly review the hands you have played to ensure you stick to the new material and implement it correctly.
If you come across an area of the game where you genuinely have no idea about any of the general theory, let alone the specificities, still approach your study the same way. However, instead of going into a higher level of detail, aim to cover the whole topic, focusing on some general takeaways that you can start applying immediately and later coming back to investigate the more niche areas in which you are not noticing an improvement.
What if I Am Unsure What to Study or I’m Not Good At It?
Now would be the time to bring in some extra resources to help you. Training sites such as MicroGrinder Poker School will provide you with access to the best theory and practices to allow you to learn these areas in more detail by collating the data and research into digestible material for you to go over. This also allows you to go into even more depth than you originally thought possible.
Coaching is another avenue that can provide high-quality assistance. Coaches will pinpoint areas in your game that you are struggling with and help guide you through the problems, filling gaps in your theory and making you feel more comfortable implementing a winning strategy.