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IntroductionIn this Article
- Gaining knowledge
- Implementing knowledge
- Reflecting on one's game
Learning – an OverviewUnderstanding learning and the learning process is crucial in life, and has many advantages.
Despite the efforts of modern science, the topic of learning is still shrouded in controversy. To find an absolute answer is pretty much impossible -individuals have different strengths, weaknesses, needs, wants, and capabilities. Learning is always an individual process. Conditioning human beings does not work, yet.
Of course, you can make life easier with good didactical preparation. This does not change the need for a positive individual attitude towards learning. There are quite a few weak poker players who use terms like odds and outs without understanding the concept behind the words. They picked up on the terms from good players, or maybe read them in a book. It is possible to read a book without understanding a single word. They fly over it with the hope “something will stick in my mind.” Things just don’t work that way. Most players simply don’t want to deal with that topic. The following two ideas should be kept in mind:
- You're the one who has to learn and you have to love it!
- You're the one who has to have things under control!
The learning methods have to be adjusted for each subject of study. This requires an analysis of the subject matter and its structure. I'll be more precise throughout this article.
Subject Matter: PokerThe question is: “How can I learn poker effectively?” If you compare the process of learning and the process of practice to that found in other games and sports, one thing stands out: many sports have big differences between practicing and playing. This is especially true for poker, because you're not able to learn poker by just playing this game. The only way to really learn poker is to work with long-term statistically-based data.
This leads to a problem: you're not able to use theoretical knowledge instantly - you have to develop and integrate it over time. The strategies are based upon statistical considerations. In practice, this might lead to extreme differences in the average values. You have to learn to play good poker with an intense use of theoretical knowledge, and without being influenced by your short-term results.
Learning Strategic PokerFor better understanding, I'll divide the learning strategy into three different modules: acquiring knowledge, implementation, and reflection. The graphic below shows the interdependence of those modules.
The relationship of these modules will change over time. It is important that you accept the relevance of every single module. The triangle is equilateral. Therefore, you have satisfy all modules equally. If you invest a lot of time in gaining knowledge, you have to equally spend time on the other two modules in order to satisfy the needs (and thus advantages) of this equilateral system.
The learning process (and with it, successful learning) follows the arrow.
In accordance with this graphic I'll introduce different learning methods for every module. Some methods may also be acceptable for more than one module, as the methods and modules are intertwined.
- Reading and re-reading books and articles in the boards. (Daily if possible)
- Discussion of strategies
- Discussion of posted hands in our boards.
- Participation in the coaching program.
- Equity analysis with PokerStove
- Strategy analysis
Please note that postings like: “that’s good,” “ok,” or “raise flop” don’t have any theoretical value. It will help neither you nor anyone else. Explain your comments: Verbalize your knowledge!
Keep in mind one thing: Do not play simultaneously while listening to the coaches. It won’t be beneficial for your bankroll or your mind.
Another way to acquire knowledge is through the analysis of poker strategies. I will make this clear in the following example – the starting hands chart:
The SHC is an excellent synthesis of several strategies and tactics concerning pre-flop play. For a better understanding, you should analyze this chart instead of simply following it.
The SHC combines different concepts in one chart: position, equity, post-flop information advantages, post-flop strategic advantage, blind stealing, blind defense, hand strength and hand characteristics (high-card value, suitedness, connectivity, pairs) etc. If you familiarize yourself with these concepts you'll gain a very deep understanding of pre-flop fundamentals.
Set up a good atmosphere for your learning sessions. You have to ignore your winning rate. Learning sessions aren't for maximizing short term profit. It'll increase your profit in the long run. Possible losses are a perfect investment in your skill.
Like I said above, you have to point out things you want to reflect on. And once again, you have to Verbalize your knowledge!
Besides that, you should repeat your technical skills: pot odds calculation, odds counting and discounting, hidden outs etc.
The two essential learning methods in this module are:
1. Self management
2. Mutual coaching
I know that some of you think that this is silly, especially if your fellow occupants/partners/parents think that you're totally wasted. But verbalization of actions is very effective to learn and optimize complex systems. This is used quite frequently in sports psychology.
I recommend the following approach: In the beginning you'll describe your actions in very unclear and choppy language. With more and more practice you'll be able to use abbreviations that explain the complex strategies that are in your mind.
This should be the final result: to use phrases like “check/raise flop, bet turn,” but to know all the strategical information behind these terms.
If you can achieve that, you're well on your way to becoming a very successful poker player.
Human beings tend to not think enough about complex facts because they put them into patterns. But, if you are forced to give reasons for your actions, it'll help you to self-study these actions correctly and with greater efficiency.
These mutual coaching sessions are very useful, so remember to use this tool as a learning mechanism and not for fun.
1. Formulate a question
2. Look for suitable hands
3. Formulate your own considerations
4. Collect all the available information
5. Answer questions asked by other members
Furthermore, I recommend working on these points as intensively as possible. The more you post, the better the quality of answers and the bigger the learning effect.
Nevertheless, you have to remember that the analysis of the stats is just a quantitative analysis that does not give you any information about the mistakes you have made. Therefore, this tool can only be used for a general analysis. If you found any weaknesses you have to take a look at the individual hands to get any information on the mistakes you have made.
And now the circle starts over again: Knowledge -> Usage -> Reflection.
When I started this article I was just about to create a schedule for you, which you might use. But by now I think you have to be able to motivate yourself and create a learning schedule on your own.
“Tell me and I will forget;
Show me and I will remember;
Let me do it on my own and I will internalize.”
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