One Simple Trick to Accelerate Your Poker Improvement
Everyone wants to move up the levels and play high stakes as soon as possible, which leads to the obvious realization that you have to improve. While you will get better if you simply play a lot of hands, there is one small change you can make to increase your rate of improvement by a huge amount.
The Problem Behind Improvement
The basic way people try to improve is by playing a lot of hands. They treat poker like they would learning a new language, where immersion is the most effective technique. But learning poker is different from learning a language, and you'll find that after you learn some of the basics, your progress will stall.
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A certain amount of these players realize they have plateaued and aren't improving much, which leads them to seek out a better solution. Soon they start studying the game through famous books like Super System and reading blog posts about strategy. They might even go a step farther and start reviewing sessions and watching training videos. This is an example of a structure improvement plan and in general is a good way to approach learning the game.
This is a great way to learn about different concepts and really solidify some important fundamentals. The problem here is that there is too much information available, and you'll end up learning things that you don't really need to know. If you've picked a specific game to specialize at, you want to learn only the things you need to know to excel at that game. Relating it back to our earlier example, if you were learning Spanish, it wouldn't help learning how to speak Russian at the same time.
There is one final issue that I see almost all players struggle with, even good winning players. When some players are trying to improve, especially initially, they focus on situations that rarely come up. Even if you figure out how to play that one specific situation perfectly, if it only comes around every 10,000 hands, it will make no significant difference in your winrate.
The Secret Behind Growth-Hacking Your Poker Skill Improvement Routine
I've somewhat alluded to the solution already: focus on the most common situations and perfect them. Well, you'll never be perfect, but at least aim for as close as possible.
If you are a losing or break even player, you can quickly study a few major concepts that are used over and over while playing and quickly increase your winrate by multiple big blinds per 100 hands.
Tim Ferriss is a best selling author who has accomplished many amazing feats including learning multiple languages, winning world titles at dancing and is an accomplished chef. His focus in his books is on using the Pareto principle to learn a skill in a short time period. What the Pareto principle states is that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your effort. This amazing principle applies across nearly all fields and activities, and poker is no different. By focusing on the most common and influential 20% of situations of poker, you can reach up to 80% of your improvement in a fifth of the time it would take you with a holistic approach.
Incorporating the Pareto Principle to Improve at Poker
I bet the light bulbs are going off above your head right about now and you are excited to nail down exactly how to apply this principle. We'll go over some general situations, but at the end of this article you are going to get a little bit of homework.
Here are some common situations that you need to learn about until you reach a high level if you want to be a winning player:
1. Reading hand ranges. Even if you knew how to make all the right decisions, it would be useless without being able to place an opponent on an accurate hand range. Use previous hands where you know your opponents cards to evaluate how different types of opponents will play hands in certain situations.
2. Positional play. One of the first major lessons of poker is position is power. Unfortunately, this is where many players leave it. Study how you can use position better when you have it, and how to make smart adjustments when you don't.
3. Table selection. This is an area that you can study for a few days and be a pro. Learn to identify signs of weak players and figure out which seats in relation to other good players work best for you.
4. Continuation betting. 'C-betting' is an extremely common scenario that comes up hundreds of times per session, but rarely is much thought given about it. Even if you improve your C-betting skill by 10%, that could improve your overall results by 1-3%, a huge amount over time. Look at how opponents react to different bet sizes and frequencies in order to optimize your play.
These are just 4 important skills and concepts that come up often during a session. There are however, many more that you should incorporate. Which is where it's time for you to do some thinking. Now it's time for your homework.
Since everyone plays a different way and in different games, your learning strategy should be unique to yourself. It will share elements with other players, but you need to review any sessions you've played recently and identify any situations that come up often that we haven't mentioned yet. Write these down along with the above aspects of the game and then do your regular improvement sessions only focussing on these concepts.
If you apply this one simple tweak in how you approach learning about the game you will experience rapid improvements and find your winrate increase dramatically.