At BBZ, we’re constantly updating our range of Charts so you have access to everything you need to become a consistently winning player.
We know that studying charts can be daunting, but nobody expects you to simply memorize countless charts at once. Studying poker effectively is about taking things one spot at a time.
Here are five proven techniques that will help you bolster your memory and improve your poker playing.
Prioritise your sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult for poker players. You can never be sure how long a tournament will run for and that can often mean sessions run well into the early morning hours. But it remains essential–particularly when it comes to studying.
Sleep resets our brains and recharges our ability to learn and store new information. You could study BBZ’s Charts for two hours a day, but if you’re sleep-deprived, it’s going to be difficult for that information to be retained in your memory.
Some poker players choose to study after their sessions, which means staying up even later, and while it works for some, it can be detrimental to others, as the New York Times explains:
“Studies have found that the first half of the night contains the richest dose of so-called deep sleep — the knocked-out-cold variety — and this is when the brain consolidates facts and figures and new words. This is retention territory, and without it (if we stay up too late), we’re foggier the next day on those basic facts.”
So how can you ensure you switch off after a late poker session? Your best bet is to take a warm–not hot–shower (this will help your body reach an ideal temperature for sleep), get away from all screens (that means no watching TV or flicking through your phone), and instead read a book or listen to a podcast (according to NHS.uk, this “relaxes the mind by distracting it”).
To improve your poker study you could also try taking naps immediately after studying. Researchers found that by taking a short power nap of 45-60 minutes immediately after learning something new, you could boost your memory by 500%. Imagine all the ranges you’d have memorised!
Get your body moving
You don’t need yet another lecture about why regular exercise is good for you. But when it comes to studying poker effectively and retaining what you’ve learned, exercise really is crucial.
Our brains demand a healthy flow of oxygen-rich blood in order to function and there’s no better way of supplying it than with exercise. It’s also massively beneficial to memory; researchers at the National Institute on Ageing found strong links between aerobic exercise like running and improved memory.
“Exercise such as this triggers high levels of a protein called cathepsin B, which travels to the brain to trigger neuron growth and new connections in the hippocampus, an area in the brain believed to be critical for memory,” writes Zapier.com.
But when’s the best time for poker players to exercise? According to the studies, that would be around four hours after you’ve studied. So ideally you could attend a BBZ seminar and study some charts, go about your daily business, then do some exercise before firing up a session.
There’s a reason elite poker players like Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond and Jason Koon always seem to know the correct plays. They exercise regularly and study hard, and therefore have range charts and bet sizes stored in their brains.
Take written notes
The next time you settle in for a charts study session or a BBZ seminar, have a notepad and pen handy. It might seem old school considering you’re already sitting at your computer, but studies show that we’re more likely to remember things we write down by hand as opposed to typing out.
But why is this? There are several reasons, as Zapier.com explains.
“First, the physical act of writing stimulates cells at the base of your brain, called the reticular activating system (RAS). When the RAS is triggered, your brain pays more attention to what you’re doing at the moment. When you’re writing by hand, your brain is more active in forming each letter, compared to typing on a keyboard where each letter is represented by identical keys.
“Also, research has shown that when people take notes on their laptops, they tend to transcribe lectures verbatim. Conversely, when taking notes by hand, we tend to reframe the information in our own words–a more active kind of learning.”
Have you ever studied a particular spot or chart for an hour or two, then the next day realise you’ve forgotten the info you need mid-session? It’s frustrating and shows that poker players have to actively work on retaining what they’ve learned.
One way experts say we can improve our memories is through spaced repetition. The Spaced Repetition System (SRS) is “a to-do list that changes according to your performance,” according to Gabriel Wyner, an expert in learning languages. In terms of poker study, that means taking short intervals between studying particular ranges or spots.
NOTE: BBZ’s Charts subscriptions are completely flexible. If you’re thinking of taking a month away from poker, that’s absolutely fine. You can cancel your subscription at any time.
Let’s say you watched a video from the BBZ Bundle on big blind play and then studied big blind ranges for an hour. Then the next day you play a session and find yourself more comfortable playing in the big blind. Every time you successfully remember what you’ve learned you can increase the interval until you study big blind play again.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study poker as much as you can. It just means you should switch up the topics you’re studying.
“This pattern keeps you working on your weakest memories while maintaining and deepening your strongest memories,” Wyner writes in his book Fluent Forever. “Regular practise creates an equilibrium between old and new.”
Share what you’ve learned
“A lot of my studying is done when I’m coaching, especially when I’m coaching higher-level guys,” says BBZ. “There are a lot of sims involved. “While I’m coaching I’m learning, even if I’m preparing the session. A lot of times I’ll be running a sim for someone else and I’ll notice something new and explore it.”
BBZ isn’t alone in this. They say the best way to learn something is by teaching others, and that’s particularly true in poker.
Obviously, we’re not saying you should all become poker coaches. But what you could do after a fruitful study session is to share what you’ve learned in the BBZ Discord. That way you can discuss spots with other members of the community and you’ll be more likely to remember it yourself.
It’s called The Protégé Effect: “they organize their knowledge, improving their own understanding and recall. And as they explain the information to [others], they identify knots and gaps in their own thinking. A 2009 study found that students engaged in instructing spent more time going over the material and learned it more thoroughly.”
So make sure you’re signed up to the BBZ Discord. You won’t find a more supportive poker community anywhere else.