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How to create habits that help us win at poker

How to create habits that help us win at poker

Here’s a question for you:

Do you think you could develop a habit if you only repeated the behavior once or twice a week?

Whether it’s physical activity, meditation, or studying poker, it’s always better to do something rather than nothing, right?

But it can be hard to see the benefits of a behavior if you only do it sporadically. One 5K run a week, while good for you, isn’t going to change your body dramatically. Likewise, one 15-minute poker study session a week isn’t going to have a big impact on your skill level or win rate.

So when it comes to making a habit of studying poker, what steps can we take to ensure we not only do it more often but enjoy it and look forward to it when we do?

This a topic that BBZ Poker’s performance coach Frank Hamel recently covered in a Daily Seminar session.

“When you do something every day, it eventually becomes automatic,” he says. “We don’t have to think about it as much. Automaticity is one of the key elements in creating behavioral habits.”

Hamel admits that, for him, if he only does something once a week, he finds it easier to skip it or find any excuse not to do it. Whereas if it’s something he does every day he doesn’t even question whether he’s going to do it or not. He just does it.

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When we exercise or study poker we expect certain benefits in the future.

But if we do it sporadically, we might feel like we don’t make much progress. We might not feel the short-term benefits of our efforts.

“In poker, you could play one more session this week and get direct dollar EV,” says Hamel. “Or you could skip a session and study to increase your future EV.

“But if you only do one study session a week, you might decide that instead of studying on that day you’re going to play instead because you don’t see the benefit of studying in the short term.”

How many times have you blown off studying in favor of playing?

And what is it about studying the game that put you off?

Whatever your answer, you might find some of the advice below helpful.

Hamel asked the Daily Seminar students how they turn poker study into a habit. Here are some of the answers.

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If you only have one hour a week to study, do you dread that hour?

Sometimes it’s more challenging to do something when you don’t do it every day, or every other day. It can feel daunting.

Scheduling daily study sessions – even for just 15 minutes – has really helped BBZ members improve.

“It’s there, always present,” says Hamel. “A reminder to repeat the activity. This makes it easier.”


One BBZ student says they try hard to make studying poker a pleasant experience.

“This is one of the most fundamental aspects of creating habits and taking action,” Hamel confirms. “Make it enjoyable, interesting, satisfying.”

But how?

Well, you can not only switch up what you study, but how.

Perhaps you have a deep run saved that you’re excited to look back through. Or your favorite BBZ coach has released a new seminar. Or you’ve had a spot stuck in your head that you can’t wait to solve.

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“The more interest I have in an activity is directly proportional to it becoming a habit,” another BBZ student added.

Enjoyment and pleasure are things we want to rely on as much as possible when studying poker.

“Going through a period of pure obsession,” was another student’s answer.

A good indicator of sustainability and longevity in poker is the obsession, interest and curiosity you have for the game, according to Hamel.


Mixing up the content and methods you use to study can keep things interesting and exciting, ensuring you want to keep doing it on the regular.

“If you feel you have to study in a certain way, you might feel handcuffed and stuck in a box,” says Hamel. “That’s far less enjoyable.”

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