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StrategyPoker Basics

Putting theory into practice


In this article
  • What exactly do we offer here at PokerStrategy.com?
  • The opportunities theory opens up
  • Your theory plan

We've recently come across a lot of questions about the optimal way to improve your theory knowledge and how you can organise yourself well to acheive this.

That's why it's probably time to take another look at all the services PokerStrategy.com has to offer, to see just what options you have to improve your game.


PokerStrategy.com provides you with numerous training opportunities:

Ideally, you should make use of all of these tools at some point and then try to find a good combination of resources, so that you can always keep your theory knowledge up to date.


The theory options available are subject to wherever your speciality lies.

Hand evaluations

Hand evaluations are certainly the most specialised. Here, you can post difficult hands so they can be analysed directly by hand evaluators. This way, the problem that was driving you to distraction at the table a little while earlier can be addressed in detail.

However, there's more to it than just letting someone else evaluate your hand, you can also consider other members' spots, give your own opinion and compare it with that of the assigned hand evaluator.

Where hand evaluations are concerned, if you don't like a remark you can always follow it up and mark the thread as unvalued. Don't be shy, after all, you want to profit from this and learn something.

Strategy discussions

Next come the strategy discussions. Not only can you join in discussions about problematic areas here, you can also start your own thread on a topic that you're interested in, at any time. This will furnish you with lots of opinions in a very short amount of time, helping you to assess a situation from many different aspects.

Both of the options just mentioned give you the chance to actively take part in exchanges on potential problems in day to day poker with other members, hand evaluators and moderators. However, they also give you the opportunity to put your own problem spots centre stage.

That's active exchange - it doesn't get much better than this.

Articles, columns and quizzes

As far as the articles, columns and quizzes are concerned, you're more dependant on external input. In most instances, it's the basics and advanced approaches which are too difficult to cover in a hand evaluation or forum discussion.

This theory is important and should be part of your "general knowledge". It forms the basis of your poker knowledge and should be the cornerstone of your poker career, right from the start.

After you've covered the basics, there are lots of columns and articles on specific topics. You are of course, not being forced to read all of them. Here you can search for your specific problem and focus on that topic. You should be able to find content on most topics and you can use your theory practice time to really get to grips with them.

It's important that you really try to understand what's written in an article, rather than just passively reading it, so you can recall the information you've taken in and question it critically. If you don't agree with an approach or an example, you can always question it in the feedback thread for the corresponding topic and actively join in discussions. We always welcome your opinions.

If you've thought of an important problem that you don't think has been addressed up to now, you can enter suggestions in the relevant feedback thread (such as NL Strategy Discussion, Coaching, Video & Hand Evaluation Feedback) as to which topics you would be interested in.


Let's consider the videos now. There are some topic-specific videos you can search for using filters. You can search by author, variant, limit and content to find precisely the video you're interested in.

Besides the topic specific videos, there are also a number of general videos where you can watch a coach playing. Even though specific topics aren't necessarily dealt with here, you'll get a good overview of the video producer's game and will be able to recognise many ideas you can also integrate into your own game.

It goes without saying that you can also give feedback here at any time and discuss spots you may have considered from different angles.

Live coachings

Regarding live coachings, it's difficult to address special topics. You have to take the spots as they come.

The big advantage here is the direct contact with the coach - you can send him questions at any time during the session. If you're unclear on anything, you can press for an answer to your question in the coaching player chat and you'll usually get a direct response. Other members will also give you tips which can result in a really useful discussion. You'll find an overview of the theory put into practice here - just like in the videos.

Practical vs. theory

How should you organise your time? It was once thought that a 70/30 split was ideal, 70% theory, 30% practical. However, this decision should probably not be made so arbitrarily.

Right from the start

Initially, you should spend a lot of time on theory. It would be pretty much fatal to start out with the "it'll probably be ok" attitude and begin by making some basic errors.

You should work through the articles and columns about basic topics, in most instances these are in the Basic to Silver ranked sections. You should be familiar with these topics and be able to apply them at the tables.

Basic coachings and videos for beginners are available to help you improve your game.

After you've taken your first steps

If you've got the basics down to a tee and are playing at the tables, what's particularly important is a good session review.

You'll need an application for this, such as the PokerStrategy.com Elephant, which allows you to look at a summary of your entire session, as well as considering individual hands.

You can mark difficult spots directly on the table, moreover, it's also often useful to look at big winning/losing spots, as well as spots where there was a large EV difference.

You should start here by looking yourself to see if your plays have made sense. If you're unsure about one move or another, just post the relevant hand in the hand evaluation forum.

Post game analysis after a session is always extremely important.

For the advanced player

As an advanced player, you can always search more differentially for topics. Hand evaluations remain a valuable commodity here, however, Gold status and higher articles and columns also help you to consider more specific topics in a more detailed fashion. Strategy discussions can also be valuable here, as you can discuss difficult problems you might share with other players, allowing you to gain new insights.

In addition, there is a always a constant stream of interesting videos and coaching sessions. Videos and coachings are really important tools, especially for approaching the basics from a new angle.

What about the pro?

As a pro, you should know what you're doing, however, you should never put theory learning to bed. Playing approaches can change, so what was good two years ago, may not be so great today. You need information when moving up a limit as well; what's more, it's never a bad thing to keep your knowledge up to date and to question now and then if your game is still as good as it could be.

Further options

Apart from the options mentioned above, there are a lot of other possibilities you can consider. For example, there are learning groups, where players at a given limit can get together and exchange ideas.

A member-to-member coaching session may also make sense, where you and another player take turns looking over each other's shoulders.

You can also create your own videos and publish them in the forum to get feedback.

After you reach a certain limit, you can book a private coaching session with a PokerStrategy.com coach. You can decide whether or not this is necessary, based on your price/bankroll/benefit. It will certainly never harm your skills though.

If you actively participate in the hand evaluation forums for a long period of time, you can apply to become a voluntary hand evaluator, actively advising other member. As they say, practice makes perfect, and you'll also get a lot out of this.

The plan

Now you need a plan. You need to watch out for specific personal preferences. It might be that you find reading too boring, however you love watching videos and take all the information in.

Or maybe you would like to watch coachings but you have something else to do at that time?

As you've seen, there are always alternatives. So plan your sessions and theory and try to stick to your plan. A bit of organisation is important for every poker player. Ultimately, you're operating a small business, based on your ability, money and your training options. Within the timeframe X, your business wants to show a return Y as high as possible.

You shouldn't bang your head against a wall, nor should you forge elaborate plans you can't stick to.

One possible plan

How might such a plan look like?

If you spent three hours a day developing your game, you could divide your time up like this:

1st hour - theory:

  • Read article / column
  • Study hand evaluations / take part in discussions
  • Watch video
  • Attend a coaching

2nd hour - practical:

  • Play a session

3rd hour - theory:

  • Do a session review
  • Analyse any problems you identify from the review
  • Post some hands that gave you trouble on to the hand evaluation forum
  • Search for some content about these problem areas (3-bets, blind defense, draws etc.) and work on them

The following day, start again from the beginning. This will give you an ideal combination of practical, general and specific theory, directly related to your problems.


Everyone learns differently, everyone has a different grasp on things and prefers some learning methods to others. Find the method that suits you and try to stick to it. Keep in mind that theory always has and always will be an important keystone in your poker career.

There are lots of learning tools at PokerStrategy.com, use them to your advanatage as best you can!


Comments (17)

#1 civoparka, 12 Jul 11 12:04

Nice one!

#2 benbeat, 12 Jul 11 23:17

i like it

#3 DYSKO777, 14 Jul 11 03:22

This is a good basic plan towards studying.
How would you go towards deciding which material to study..there is so much stuff..lots of videos for example it sometimes feels insurmountable to try and watch them all.

#4 denetomtom, 27 Sep 11 11:01

DYSKO777 if your question didnt get answered by anyone I would suggest signing upto the basic NL course run by Veriz. I think this is the type of structure you are looking for.

#5 Pascal, 27 Sep 11 12:22


in addition to the course denetomtom already mentioned and which is a great idea btw) we also have a learning path overview for different levels of skill

#6 Strongsl, 27 Sep 11 17:12


#7 standingo, 13 May 12 00:06

so far so good. I like the approach

#8 Sinnology, 23 Aug 12 09:30


#9 ellamcc, 28 Dec 12 21:41

read and working on plan now.

#10 VerseD, 23 Mar 13 18:54

working on it.

#11 TFFFGB, 01 Apr 13 11:48

Love it. I think having a plan and learning with structure is the best and quickest way to learn. I'll start planning my week of learning now :)

#12 vendedor, 12 May 13 10:35

Very nice article. Helpfull for beginers

#13 genia2q, 10 Jul 13 17:33

I have found this information very helpful I will keep on working and studying on my theory, thank you.

#14 lollo1588, 27 Jul 13 11:52

ok nice

#15 kanpoker, 01 Nov 13 04:49


#16 omashiplay, 07 Dec 13 14:59


#17 Marsimillion, 06 Apr 14 21:57

great article - can never underestimate the power of theory