Believe it or not, a lot of poker players never study the game.
These players either don’t see the value in studying or simply don’t know how to get started. For those players in the latter group, it’s best to start with the easiest and possibly most efficient way to study poker: session reviews.
An efficient review process means quicker improvement, which leads to higher win-rates and eventually higher stakes.
In this article, I’ll outline a simple 6-step process for reviewing past sessions using tracking and database software.
6-Step Poker Study Method
Having an effective review process can be the catalyst that propels your game forward. Here’s the first step of a 6-step process I recommend for players of all levels:
Step #1: Open up your database of choice (whether it is Hold’em Manager, PokerTracker or DriveHUD) and open up a sessions report. A sessions report provides a breakdown of the selected players frequencies and stats sorted and categorized by… you guessed it, session.
Step #2: Analyze your own stats from the session. Try not to get caught up analyzing very situational stats in a sessions report, such as fold to turn check/raise or river c-bet. Less common stats like those are highly unreliable with small sample sizes.
Instead, focus on common stats with larger sample sizes, such as VPIP, PFR%, 3-bet%, WTSD%, and Agg and/or Agg%. Now, answer a few questions:
- Are there any stats that are way outside your typical range?
- How did your session go?
- Were you adjusting to the table dynamics correctly?
If you need help finding the answers or with specific hands, post in a poker forum or discuss it with your friends. There’s no excuse for not finding answers in the information era.
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Step #3: In the individual hand column of your database, sort the session’s hands with the biggest losing hands at the top.
You can do this by clicking on the “Won Amount” or “Net Won” column until the biggest losing hands are displayed first, as demonstrated in the image above.
Step #4: Re-play each losing pot one-by-one and look for questionable spots that you’re unsure about. Also, be sure to turn off the option to show your opponents hole cards for review as to not be influenced by what they had (if the hand was shown down).
Remember that questionable spots don’t only arise in hands you lose. Once you finish reviewing the losing pots from the session, you would be wise to glance at some of the pots you won as well.
Step #5: Export the hands with questionable spots into an equity calculator. If you’re using DriveHUD, you can do this by simply right clicking on the hand and selecting “Calculate Equity” from the pop-up menu. In Hold’em Manager 2, right click and select “view”.
For other databases, you will have to open up your favorite equity calculator and manually re-create the hand. Plug in the cards for your hand, the board and what your opponent’s perceived range is in the questionable spot. Then, run some equity calculations.
Step #6: Export your hand to match the format of your forum of choice (right click on the hand and select export). Post your hand online and be sure to include all of the thoughtful observations you noticed from steps #2 and #4 from above.
Rinse and repeat steps 4-6 as often as you need per session review.
Taking a methodical approach through your database will make you a more mindful poker player, which will have long term implications on the growth of your poker game.
Get your process down as efficiently as possible by having the necessary poker apps and tools installed and in place for review.
Remember that every session you review effectively is a step forward in your poker development. Make session review a habit and your bankroll will thank you.
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