Are you approaching getting better at poker in a way that is best for you? This episode of The Losing Stress Podcast looks into this clearly and broadly to get at what’s practical for you.
The Losing Stress Podcast Ep 48 – Getting Better At Poker
[00:00] Hey guys, it’s Chiggs. And in this episode of The Losing Stress Podcast, I want to delve into the topic of improving your poker strategy and studying poker.
And I think this is a really important topic to go into, especially in poker and especially after having spoken to some of you guys on calls through the Instagram account @lChiggsl. It’s clear from speaking to so many of you guys from different parts of the world but also in different stages in your poker careers that people have different attitudes to studying poker.
And also the approaches that people are taking to studying poker is differing. And what we want to get into in this episode is why both of these aspects are important. Also, why it makes sense to have different approaches to studying poker and finding an approach that works for you.
Career Advice in Poker
[01:08] So this episode is going to be slightly different from the other episodes. In that, it’s going to be a little bit more like a career advice episode rather than an episode that delves into the way our minds work.
Even still it’s going to be valuable as we explore this objectively and broadly to cover as many cases as we possibly can.
So let’s begin with looking at different attitudes to studying poker.
Why is Studying Poker Important Really?
Having spoken to quite a few of you guys now it seems that some of you are taking an approach to studying poker that is very professional. One that is very well structured and clear. Whereas, some of you are taking a less than clear approach.
In fact, before we proceed with this, it’s worth clarifying what we mean by studying poker.
What we mean by studying poker is any activity that involves looking to improve your poker strategy.
This covers not only setting aside time to go ahead and strictly study poker in a ‘homework’-based way or watching videos based way but also time spent discussing hands with friends. And also time spent thinking about poker away from the tables.
A little later we’ll cover the broad range of activities and what’s right to do for you and what perhaps isn’t the best thing to do for you.
[02:50] Right now, we want to explore the importance of improving your poker strategy in the first place.
Your Knowledge and Making Decisions in Poker
Very simply, let’s look at what poker is.
Poker is an activity in making decisions.
So poker is a decision-making game and what is the decision making process?
If you look at it very clearly, you find that the decision-making process is a process in thought that relies on your own knowledge. So when you go to play poker, the decisions that you’re making are in the process of thought.
And thought is a product of the knowledge that you’ve built up. So very simply, this is what poker is, this decision-making process.
[03:56] And so because it’s reliant on your knowledge-base if you have a knowledge base that is extensive and accurate, this allows you to make decisions that are best or optimal.
Hence, the simple point being made here is that decision making in poker is reliant on your knowledge. And studying poker is what improves your knowledge.
So that’s hopefully very clear and a good place to start before we’re even going into the different ways that you can go about studying poker.
And that’s where we’re about to get into, how to go about improving your strategy.
How to Go About Improving in Poker
It’s really important to, first of all, understand that the approach that will work best for you may be different from an approach that is being advised by somebody else. Or even an approach that one of your friends is adopting.
And this point can be fully grasped by looking at what are the relevant factors that matter when deciding how to go about spending your time studying poker.
Your Edge in Poker
[05:14] One of the relevant factors is clearly your current skillset in poker. And how that compares to the competition in the games and tournaments that you currently play in.
And this is relevant for all poker players. Because suppose you are a beginner and you’re going to play a game with people that have never looked at poker material before.
Then if you simply go ahead and read one book about poker, then the likelihood of you making better decisions than the other players when you go to play poker is high.
Quite clearly you’re going to make decisions that are better than everybody else’s simply because the competition hasn’t looked at poker strategy at all.
And this can be translated to poker being played at higher levels as well. Because if you improve your strategy in a way that is more in-depth than what the competition is currently using, then that will allow for more accurate decision making.
The Impact of Poker Courses and Training Sites
[06:30] Before we move on from this, it’s worth noting how much of an impact some of these online courses have an impact on the competition, particularly when you play online.
For example, if a high-end MTT course comes out that has valuable information pointing out specifically what the current population is not doing or not doing very accurately, then that information will eventually trickle into the population.
This has a direct impact on the level of competition in tournaments of a certain buy-in.
So what this is, in fact, implies is that if you’re somebody that learns well from taking courses, learning from a video-based format, then being up-to-date in the knowledge that you have of the most recent courses is incredibly important in the specific game type that you are specialised in. Simply because the competition will likely learn the same material too if they haven’t done already.
Paid vs Free Information
[07:43] It’s worth noting how many of us are reluctant to pay for courses. I think this is predominantly down to the fact that we live in an internet-dominated world now. And the internet is full of free information.
And it warrants mentioning the potential issue with relying on the free information on the internet for improving strategy in poker.
What particularly comes to mind here is using certain YouTube channels as your main source of strategic learning.
Learning Poker From YouTube
If you look at YouTube as a platform, in general, you find that the videos are scattered in the topics that they cover. And if you compare them to paid courses, for example, you find that these courses all well structured and go in-depth in situational scenarios.
[08:58] And because of this, this is what leads to real improvement in your strategy and in your knowledge.
For example, in a course, there may be a detailed section with a series of videos covering check-raising in the big blind against a button open. And this may cover a variety of boards, different stack sizes, different types of villains on the button etc.
So this level of depth is going to lead to far more extensive knowledge. And supposing this can be retained in memory and used skillfully then this will lead to better decision making.
So this covers paid courses and the difference between paid courses and free information quite clearly. And we’ve also talked about how your skillset and the skillset of the competition in the games and the tournaments that you play is relevant. And it’s a relevant factor in deciding how to go about improving your strategy.
[10:03] Another quite obvious factor is the size of your bankroll.
What Can You Afford?
The size of your bankroll quite clearly determines well you can afford when it comes to resourcing and improving your strategy.
And when it comes to what you can afford it’s important to not treat this factor in isolation when deciding what to do to improve your strategy.
Because you always have to consider the helpfulness of the resource for improving your knowledge and improving the likelihood of your success in poker.
And knowing what the specific best resources to learn from in the game-type that you directly involved in inherently relies on experience.
It relies on want someone more experienced than you in poker says, so someone that plays higher than you or someone that’s played longer than you. Or it relies on you simply just trying to resource and testing it out.
The Quality of Poker Coaching
[11:08] What we can say is that generally, the cost of the resource correlates to the quality of the information provided by that resource.
And if you look at poker coaching, we can infer that most people that have had poker coaching would say that the quality of the information that they received, is of higher quality than generic information. So worth it was worth it in comparison to the other options that they could have gone to improve strategy.
But it’s important to know that this isn’t always the case.
It isn’t always the case that the price of a resource matches up to the importance in your development as a poker player.
The Most Important Free Resource for Development in Poker
[11:54] Because if you were to look back at your time as a poker player and look back at what actually had the greatest influence over your perspective and the way you approach poker you’d likely find that it’s your poker friends.
When you look at the way that you behave and also the content of your thought about poker, you see that both of these are most directly influenced by the people that you talk poker with.
And so your poker friends are a free resource for improving your strategy. And likely the most important resource as well.
So it’s important to ask yourself whether the people that you are directly spending the most time with in poker are approaching poker in a way that is smart.
And hopefully, it’s clear that it’s important to look at this honestly and past any filter that the mind applies.
[13:07] This is an actual application of looking at the mind.
And there is another useful application for looking at the mind when it comes to looking at these resources that you’re using to improve your strategy.
Because there’s another factor that isn’t commonly discussed in the poker world that is really relevant when it comes to improving your strategy.
How Best Do You Learn Poker Strategy?
If you’re not fully aware of how best your brain learns and retains information, then that can lead to a lot of struggle and a lot of wasted time. Not too much confusion in the mind.
And I think this is best understood through an example.
Poker in 2019 and Solvers
Right now, in 2019, hopefully, it’s quite clear and obvious that doing solver work has a huge impact on your poker ability; whether you’re playing No Limit Holdem or Omaha. And so not ignoring this, you may go ahead and try to force yourself to work with a solver even though you don’t enjoy running simulations.
[14:25] And so find it difficult to put in the necessary time to get out what’s useful for using these solvers. And so if you are one of these people, which I think a lot of poker players actually are, then what can you practically do about this?
Learning The Key Concepts From Poker Solvers Without Doing The Work
Then one of the practical things you can do about this is to pay for a solver output or a subscription training site that goes ahead and lays out information and the key concepts to take away from using the solvers in a way that you find easy to use implement in the games and tournaments that you play.
And if you were in a fortunate position to be at the higher ends of poker, there may be something that you haven’t fully considered and that is to go ahead and potentially hire someone to do solver work for you.
[15:27] And I think very few poker players are in fact doing this at the moment.
However, if you just look at it very simply, it’s quite clearly intelligent. If you don’t enjoy spending your time on solvers and doing solver work, however, you can afford to pay someone to do the work for you, then surely it makes sense to actually do that.
That’s not to say that it’s easy to find someone who is proficient at using solvers and will be the right fit for you and be at a price that works for you. However, the way competition is now in poker, it’s almost certainly worth the effort that it may take to go about finding someone skilled with using solvers.
As it can provide you with the knowledge that others simply haven’t gotten their hands on.
And I think we’ve actually covered quite a lot of ground now about the topic of studying poker and I think it’s good if we just summarise the main points and the main takeaways from this episode.
[16:37] The first main point we uncovered was why it’s important to be improving your strategy in poker. This was for two main reasons. One is the fact that competition in poker is always increasing. And second, the fact that the decision-making process inherently is based on your own knowledge. And if you have a knowledge set that is extensive and accurate for the game type that you play, then that’s going to stand you in great stead in poker.
The point being made here, very simply, is that if you think about your time as an investment, it clearly makes sense to invest your time in studying and improving your strategy in poker.
And from that, we looked at what you specifically spend your time on for studying and getting better at poker relies on several factors.
One is what you can afford. The other being actually learning from a resource that is well structured and in-depth. As well as learning in a way that suits your personality and suits the way that you learn best.
[17:55] And you have several options these days with the activities that you can do to go about improving your strategy. From those that are free like having smart poker friends. To those that are more middle of the road like paid training sites and paid courses. And those that are more high end. So paying for a coach or even paying someone to do or work for you.
And so the main point that this podcast really was to open up the question, am I going about getting better at poker in the best way possible?
So hopefully this article can help you look at this question in a clear and broad way.