Players don’t just ‘dive’ into poker. Unlike games like blackjack, which are highly mathematical and probability-based, poker always has a new curveball thrown in. There’s bluffing, large playing pools, rule changes with new games, and, of course, the possibility of tilting… hard.
Still, players wouldn’t invest so much time and energy if the game wasn’t rewarding—even if the going is tough at first. But it’s also more than a pastime. Aside from delivering a meaningful win, poker is also a game that boosts the mind’s ability to concentrate, and for longer periods of time.
This is what attracts players to poker, in particular. Naturally, all types of casino games challenge and engage the mind—from jackpot slots to roulette to craps. But poker challenges players to keep developing new tactics and skills. Their long-term success depends on steady improvements.
Aside from analyzing opponents and scrutinizing their own hands and bets, players should be able to make decisions quickly and efficiently. These skills can be some of the most difficult to acquire whether playing in-person or via browser or even on a mobile device. So, how can poker beginners and intermediate players focus on improving their decision-making at the table?
Download a Training App
There’s an app for just about everything today and poker is no exception. The range of available poker training apps is extensive, which lets a player choose which hosts and topics they’d most like to explore.
To make smarter and quicker decisions, players have to stop overthinking and overanalyzing. This requires quite a bit of intuition—and very few will have an eye like Daniel Negreanu. To get quicker, look for apps that offer timed quizzes, as well as those headed by pros, such as Max Silver’s SnapShove.
Take a Lesson from a Pro
Once upon a time, poker players had to turn on the TV to catch live play. Today, there are countless options for viewing the world’s top pros. The most accessible is Twitch, where top pros from Lex Veldhuis to Jonathan Little regularly live stream their latest games.
Another quality option is to take a paid class from a pro, whether a MasterClass from Daniel Negreanu or another educational course. This lets a player learn specific tactical approaches from individuals, rather than general suggestions—and they can even learn from a streamer’s mistakes (assuming they make one).
Look Into Poker Podcasts
Similar to downloading a training app, finding a poker podcast will let a player get granular with their content. When it comes to developing intuition and making snappier decisions, podcasts can introduce players to new topics. As with watching Twitch, it may not be a catch-all for developing their skills—but it will present them with critical insights.
For example, Smart Poker Study Podcast, from Sky Matsuhashi, covers beginner strategies in poker, then also brings on pros to interview for added insight. Meanwhile, non-poker podcasts like Creative Processing with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, may offer an unexpected perspective.
One episode from Gordon-Levitt features an interview with pro Liv Boeree, titled ‘Analytics & Intuition’. The episode includes Boeree’s advice on learning to play with emotions to develop intuition without sliding into a tilt.
Keep a Poker Journal
Learning from training apps, qualified professionals, and podcasts are great ways to start making quicker and more confident decisions—but none of that practice matters if a player forgets what they’ve learned. Keeping a poker journal is a great way to keep track of smaller lessons and insights.
These might come while taking a class or while playing a live game. For example, analyzing and recording poker hands and how they were played is one way to look over past games and glean a new understanding of the game. Some programs, such as Flopzilla, even let users input their hands and hand history to output their playing stats. This can help correct recurring mistakes.
The most important factor of a poker journal is to stick with it and set aside time to review notes. The previous suggestions won’t amount to much if a player doesn’t incorporate what they’ve learned into their games—slowly but surely.
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