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How to improve your game - objectivity

    • Puschkin81
      Joined: 14.04.2006 Posts: 4,786
      Everyone of you might know at least one of the following expressions:

      I am a good poker player but the fishes are getting lucky.

      I am not earning enough money while playing poker. I have to play more!

      Each of these expressions includes a decisive error in reasoning. I would like to point out that a little bit:

      1.) I am a good poker player but the fishes are getting lucky.
      Everyone of us already experienced a really bad session: no draw completes, every bluff gets caught and our made hands „improve“ to the second best hand on the river which means that we lose a lot of money.

      Of course you can find someone who is responsible for that: variance.

      But: Many of these expressions or thoughts which are hidden behind the variance are wrong: A player is never good enough!
      To learn all the time and to improve your skills should never end. It is our goal as poker strategists to climb up the limits. For this rise we have to improve all the time. Also the implications which are connected with the expression „I am good enough to beat this limit“ are wrong. Most of the time the BB/100 value is gradable although we “beat“ the actual limit.

      Don't look at the fishes how they hit their cards although they didn't get the odds (a nice effect of the variance: the fishes don't realize that they are making mistakes because the variance disguises it). Look at your game. Did you make every move correctly? Can you improve something?

      2.) I am not earning enough money while playing poker. I have to play more!

      Also this point is wrong. Of course it is your goal to play as much as you can to get experience and to climb up the limits. But you don't earn that much money. You earn money if you reach a high limit like NL200 or higher. Improving your skills rather than playing 8 hours a day 12-tabling NL25 will help you to earn money. From my point of view the learning – playing ratio should be at least 1:2. In the long run you will win a lot more.
  • 13 replies
    • Ohmu
      Joined: 28.01.2007 Posts: 231
      Really nice post Puschkin81!

      And so true about the learning process... I've had the ratio of 3:1-5:1 between playing and learning (playing more than learning) and I'm slowly starting to see how many mistakes are hidden in the process of getting lucky. I'm slowly trying to get to improving my game more than playing it, hopefully I'll succeed! :)

      Also, one thing that I've noticed is that in fixed limit players don't realize that they are making so many mistakes usually. At least I didn't (still don't do probably). Playing SSS NL has been an expensive, but a good lesson, that every move counts. The main reason for this is that in NL if you make a mistake you lose BIG. Luckily not that big while playing SSS.

      So, what I'm trying to say is that realizing that discovering & avoiding small mistakes is the hardest part for a poker newcommer. Even if you do acknowlage that you are making those mistakes, it takes quite much willpower to avoid them. I for one have found myself thinking "I know this is bad, but I'm feeling lucky this time." too many times.
      And it's good that PokerStrategy only suggests people to post hands, discuss them, etc, instead of forcing them to do that. That way a player can choose the path that he/she shall take himself/herself, be it right or wrong. But atleast PokerStrategy has given that player a chance to choose!
    • mckechniej
      Joined: 29.05.2005 Posts: 27
      Surely using the many features of Pokertracker is also a good way of finding leaks and ways to improve. I worry that I am not really getting the most out of this software. Perhaps somebody could write a post explaining some of its more useful but less obvious features? this could be very helpful i think.

    • emSig
      Joined: 06.08.2007 Posts: 33
      Spelling mistake:
      " every bluff gets catched "


      " every bluff gets caught "
    • vladnz
      Joined: 17.01.2007 Posts: 1,355
      great article
    • snowylee
      Joined: 26.01.2007 Posts: 701
      Hmm, I dont really get the learning - playing ratio. Ofc I get (at least if thats one point) that its better to play a bit fewer tables to really try to learn as much as you can than go robotic and multitabling like crazy and not have the time to think about anything. But the ratio thing, exactly how do you put it as that?
    • Kknight
      Joined: 30.04.2007 Posts: 374

      In other words (if I'm understanding it correctly,) spend at least half as much time learning as you spend playing. So if you play for 2 hours, make sure you spend 1 hour learning (reading articles, reading books, posting and discussing hands, etc.)


      Good post!

    • Berliner1982
      Joined: 12.07.2006 Posts: 5,644
      Does giving coachings (where I play) and evaluating hands (I do that as well) counts as learning? *g* Because right now I play about 2.000 hands (without giving coaching) every day, thats around 4 hours.

      And besides evaluating hands (1-2 hours a day) and coaching (7-10 hours a week) I do not learn so much besides that. :D Ok I really don´t have more time.

      Oh yeah the fishes are getting lucky lately. But honestly I also learn to lay down a hand. E.g. I raise with QQ from CO and the BB calls. The board is A 6 T. The BB donks $3 in a $10 pot. In my early days I would have pushed as a SSS, now I can lay that down. ;) Polite as my Opponent was he showed me T6. :D ;)

      What I want to say. Even during you play you can learn and improve your skills, if you concentrate on playing at 2-3 tables and watch your opponents closely. Maybe do a game where you try to read the other players hands in a pot where you´re not involved. You will see how much fun that bring and how good your reading skills will become over the time.
    • MisterB73
      Joined: 07.08.2007 Posts: 32
      Maybe do a game where you try to read the other players hands in a pot where you´re not involved. You will see how much fun that bring and how good your reading skills will become over the time.
      Wow! Thanks Berliner1982, that's a really good idea.
    • 555bond
      Joined: 25.08.2007 Posts: 1
      i think that's the right idea. thanks!
    • snowylee
      Joined: 26.01.2007 Posts: 701
      Yeah about the last thing you said Berliner, thats what I had in mind too since I dont think its good to just read read read read so much without playing enough, at least I for one doesnt learn it all that good if I cant get enough time to try it out etc. And Ive learned more from playing, trying to think about my game and post sample hands. But posting sample hands doesnt really take THAT much time, and ofc I read all the sample hands which have helped me greatly too :)
    • Berliner1982
      Joined: 12.07.2006 Posts: 5,644
      It takes more time to evaluate hands. ;) Sometimes I need up to 10 minutes for one evaluation (when it needs a long explaination and there is a lot to write). But I enjoy it, since I also learn something for myself when I think about these hands. :)
    • Freerider
      Joined: 11.07.2005 Posts: 364
      You do not address one important point: To me THE problem with poker is that you never know whether a decision was correct or not. I even read of people who criticise a turn play of stoxtrader as being too weak etc. Many moves can be ascribed to meta game considerations. Example?

      PokerStars 1/2 Hold'em (10 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from (Format: FlopTurnRiver)

      Preflop: Hero is MP3 with 9, 9.
      4 folds, MP2 raises, Hero 3-bets, 4 folds, MP2 calls.

      Flop: (7.50 SB) Q, 2, 3 (2 players)
      MP2 checks, Hero bets, MP2 raises, Hero calls.

      Turn: (5.75 BB) A (2 players)
      MP2 checks, Hero bets, MP2 calls.

      River: (7.75 BB) 4 (2 players)
      MP2 checks, Hero checks.

      Final Pot: 7.75 BB

      He shows KQ

      I am 90% sure at the flop that I am beat. Nevertheless I have to stay in the hand and decide to 3bet planning to fold on a check raise and take a free show down. If I did not even 3bet with 2nd pair, the opponent could exploit my flop weakness in future HU situations and bluff check raise me out of the hand with any two.

      You can always look at a hand the way you want to. This is what I really hate with the game.
    • snowylee
      Joined: 26.01.2007 Posts: 701
      Isnt that whats great? :) . That even after quite some time you even then doesnt have everything set in stone :P