Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Studying is an essential part of poker if you want to become a profitable player. From my coaching experience there are 6 key steps to success when using a poker solver. Using and sticking to these steps will aid you in your studying process and today I will be outlining these for you today. These steps can be applied to your studying process if you do not have a solver, but it will be much harder to learn the information. You will have to spend the time researching the subject that you are deficient in and hope the information that you learn is accurate.
To make the best use of your time and study efficiently and correctly, there are 6 steps you must follow to get the most out of your time and your solver tool. Let’s start with step 1...
Step 1: Schedule Your Time
As we have established, you have to be studying poker- it's your key to success. A part of successfully studying is effectively managing your time. You should be allocating time in your schedule that is dedicated to playing poker or studying poker. There are two great methods of doing this: scheduling separate times or playing until you fail.
Let’s say that you have 6 hours a week that you can dedicate to poker. It is my opinion that you should spend half of your time studying, so 3 out of those 6 hours should be spent away from the felt and in the books. You should try your hardest to be regimented, actively booking in the time that you will dedicate to studying. If you don’t proactively set this time aside, you will likely not study as much as you should, and your results will suffer because of this.
Example: You have Wednesday and Thursday’s evening from 7pm till 11pm free to play poker. You decide that you are going to first spend some time studying from 7pm until 9pm, then play poker for the rest of this allotted time. You can then do the same thing on Thursday.
You don’t need to play and study on the same day; however, I would recommend it. Playing after a study session can help you reinforce the areas of your game that you have been learning about- we come on to talk about this in more detail shortly. Some players may find it easier if they schedule a specific day for studying and in a phrase "get it out of the way".
Truth be told it doesn’t matter how you decide to split up your time to study, what's important is that you are studying.
Play Until You Fail
I prefer to use the following method to study, playing until failure. I play poker every day and playing profitably at the higher stakes requires immense concentration and focus. To succeed, you must bring your A-Game and give the session 100%. This is not always possible due to factors both in and out of your control. Any bad-beat or situation that I come across where I’m unsure of my decisions may severely impact my mental game, and subsequently may leave me playing unprofitably for the remainder of a session. Also, there can be other things on my mind outside of the poker world that may be eating away my concentration.
When I stop playing poker and start studying depends on how the session is going. There will be situations that come up where I’m not confident in the decision that I have made, instead of allowing this to weigh on my mind for the potential rest of the session (even subconsciously), I use that natural break to dedicate to studying the spot I was unsure of.
I prefer playing and studying this way as it ensures that I am always playing on the table at the best of my ability. It also means I will spend time studying situations immediately rather than later down the line where it’s easy to overlook them or forget that the situation was a potential issue. When it’s coming to the end of a session having all gone well, I like to go over all the hands I’ve played in GTOTtrainer to check that I was playing them optimally.
For the regular player or the beginner, this method may be too challenging. Some players are likely to encounter situations that they are uncomfortable in regularly. They would therefore stop playing too frequently and not build up their experience with the game quickly enough.