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Old Nov 28, 2006, 5:15pm   #1
IronLen1972
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Default Easy Exercises to Stretch Poker Muscle

I have found myself in the habit of doing some simple poker exercises when I feel the need to get off of a losing track, to remove myself from a negative mindset, or to refocus if I am starting to get a bit tilty. I thought I would share, and see if anyone else out there had some they would like to share as well.

One of my favorite poker exercises, and easiest to do, is to open notepad, then rail at a table at either UB or PokerStars. Reason I rail there is because they have the handiest hand history notes. I then review the history and watch the bets flow. In notepad, I put in what I think the bettors have for hole cards. As the session progresses and I see showdowns, I cut and paste the history if I was right, and why I thought they had what they did. Astonishingly, this exercise not only sharpens my poker skill, it serves multiple purposes beyond that. I make notes on players I might see later, I force myself into a mindset where I know this is what I should be doing in between playable hands and I learn alot about myself. Good for the discipline.

Another favorite exercise for me is to sit at multiple tables, say maybe 5, and without the benefit of hand history, notepad, or any other external devices I try and label players using my own classification system, just like Helmuth and his zoo (lions and eagles and mice oh my!). I then try and very quickly pick who is ahead in hands, and guess what in general they are betting and why. I found it helpful to anchor to the bottom player on the screen and pretend his/her cards were mine so that I had a focal point in each point of each hand at each table. I rarely make notes when I am doing this unless something really stands out. I am after the "fast fast fast" thinking here and want to try and track across as many tables as possible and form impressions of as many players as possible.

The most common exercise for me is to come to this website and just randomly start reading the strategy guides and watching videos. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many times I go through, I never come away empty handed when I come back to read again. The information hasnt changed at all, how I percieve and apply that information has. So as a third exercise - go back and read something you read before, and see how you think about it now!
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Old Nov 28, 2006, 8:23pm   #2
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Now that is a serious player, actually observing other games. Some players are so impatient they can't wait for the blind to get to them so they post when they would be the next big blind (and leave the game with free cards still to see).

Note to self: Don't play against IronLen.
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Old Nov 28, 2006, 10:04pm   #3
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That is a fine post.
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 1:46am   #4
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Wow man, where the hell have you been? This is some good info. nice post. I especially like the watching tables section when your starting to tilt, I'm definitely going to try that next time I'm hurting.
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 2:23am   #5
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Ty for your post IronLen! I went and observed some cash games at Full Tilt and more than anything tonight I have learned a lot about my own game. I learned that my betting patterns were a little predictable at times and it helped me to mix it up a lot better. Plus you get to take a lot of notes on your opponents. That comes in pretty handy!
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 11:49am   #6
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I tried the first exercise at different levels. At 0.25/0.5 limit on Stars it works pretty well, but at 0.05/0.1 limit there are too many players who play random cards both pre- and postflop, and raise/call at random. It's frustrating to put opponents on possible hands, only to find out afterwards that they played like idiots and stayed until the river with horrible odds.

I will do this exercise regulary once I move up to 0.5/1, then it should be really helpful to learn how to put opponents on hands.
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Old Nov 30, 2006, 5:54pm   #7
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I saw myself in the mirror when I read the 3rd part of your post, it was no real purpose, but I read the strategy Articles here on PT several times and everytime I read it, I had different fealings reading it, strange. ;-)
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Old Nov 30, 2006, 6:38pm   #8
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Hey Iron, that's really smart, what you said.

Do you try and guess the hole cards of every player at the table, or just the aggressor? What about all the multi-way limped pots at $10 NL?
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Old Nov 30, 2006, 9:33pm   #9
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Yeh great post, I'm going to try the notepad thing next time i'm tilting, very good idea.
It's alot easier to analyse a game when you're not in it i've heard so it would definately build one's ability to read players.

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Old Nov 30, 2006, 10:43pm   #10
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just the people in the pot typically - I will try and put people on hands then guess actions through the hand partly based on that. Typically it might go something like this.

Player 1 raises 4x the blind - I judge him to be a LAG type who raised 6x bb with KK a few orbits ago so I range him on hands like KJ, QJ, QK. I don't give him credit for an ace-paint because I think he would bet more.

Player 5 flat calls - this player is on 6 other tables and I don't think he has any thoughts about anything other than his own cards. Flat call to me means pocket pairs looking for a set.

Player 8 flat calls - this player is on one table and has only played about 15% of the cards dealt his way. I immediately think he is on premium hands, other than AA or KK which I think he would have raised with.

When the flop comes I try to guess further and refine who has what. This is an actual hand I watched so I can elaborate a bit. The flop came A 9 Q. I forget the suites. When player one bet half the pot, I figured him KQ, and he was scared of the ace. Player 5 immediately folded his hand. I think he had a hand like a low pocket pair. His fold supports this. He might have had suited connectors but from the middle of the table....pocket pair set hunt. Player 8 flat called the bet, didnt make any moves and didnt take any time at all doing it. Turn and river were both low end cards, I forget which. But the turn and river, player one bet half the pot each time, which I interpreted as a card buy to help his hand. On the river, with no straight, no flush, Player 8 pot raised player 1. He called and showed QJ, which was weaker than I had assumed (though it was suited, I made a note!) Player 1 flipped over AT unsuited and took down the pot. I really thought he had a stronger hand than that. I was in the right ball park though. That reminds me, I have a tendency to overestimate the cards they are playing rather than under. Anyone feel free to weigh in on that, I can't figure out why. Maybe I am an optimist at heart.

usually - along with guessing what their hole cards are - I find it just as instructive to guess what they are going to do.

I catch myself verbally saying things like "And now he folds" , "Now he raises" and "He is going to check raise". Sometimes I won't have a clue what they have, but I know exactly what they are going to do, right down to the penny and place. If I could put the two together more effectively I would really up my game. That is currently what exercise one has really done for me.

As for limpers - at 10nl I always assume limpers to be coming in with anything other than the top ten premium cards unless the player has demonstrated the ability to do otherwise. So - I assume a HUGE range of hands then wait to see actions pre-flop to judge. Speaking of that...wow do ALOT of players limp at 25nl and 10nl. Just rediculous.
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