If you’re anything like me, you don’t really like hardcore studying. It’s easier to just play some poker. You learn something while playing, right?
Ok ok, we can do better.
We could watch some training videos. We could run the occasional sim on our favorite solver.
And I suppose you could call that studying.
But it still is LAZY studying. And yes, I’ll admit it: often that’s all I do.
However, it is not how we become to best poker players we can be. We can do more.
It’s good practice to have an objective look at your own poker game from time to time in order to find some leaks.
Or more euphemistically put opportunities for improvement.
You can’t plug all the leaks at once, and that’s perfectly fine. Just write the ones down that you’re ready to tackle.
Seriously, write them down. By hand, on paper. I’m all for going digital, but for some reason, going old school for this works better. Or at least it does for me.
Rank them by importance.
You want to use your study time efficiently, so think about time spent versus potential gain in win rate.
Usually, this means you want to start the most frequent spots.
For instance, these potential leaks can go from
x/f less vs 1/3rd pot cbet as BB OOP vs pfr in SRP
x/f river less after cbet, cbet as SB pfr vs BB
The former is very common and over folding there is definitely a leak that gets exploited. Last year, it quickly jumped to the top of my own list, when everyone started cbetting 1/3rd pot in position in every. single. spot.
The latter is way more specific, might not even be that big a leak from a theory point of view, and even less so in real play (taking into account player pool tendencies). So we shouldn’t lose too much sleep over this one. We have bigger fish to fry.
Use this list to give direction to your study time. Define how you will work on the various leaks. Use a solver to really zoom in on one specific spot over a variety of flops, turns and/or rivers. And keep your list in mind to decide which hands to mark for review.
For example, I don’t analyze every single hand I have some doubts about. That would simply not be an efficient use of my time. But while working on defense versus small cbets, I made it a habit to mark all the borderline hands related to that topic. What could have been a snap fold in the past, became a hand I had to think about in game and have a deeper look at afterwards.
Hammer away at those leaks and they will slowly, but surely, disappear.
Congratulations, you just completed the first iteration!
But you’re not done. Au contraire, mon ami.
Review your list of leaks after a few months. Check which have been studied into oblivion. Enjoy the pleasure of crossing them out on that piece of paper. Take note of the ones that are still work in progress. Add some new leaks you’re ready to crush.
Restart the process and repeat ad nauseam.
If you’re a perfectionist who gets stuck into analysis paralysis: it’s fine to just find a couple of leaks and get at it. You don’t need to have the perfect plan of attack.
Just a decent plan. Or any plan. Or one single leak.
It is an iterative process, so when new leaks pop up, you just add them to the next cycle. No problemo if you missed them in step one.
Talent is overrated. Deliberate practice is what’s up.
This process might not be textbook definition of deliberate practice, but at least it is a practical step in the right direction.
Thanks for reading. I sincerely appreciate all feedback, so don’t be shy and leave a comment below. You can find more of my content on YouTube.