If you end a poker session feeling like you played every hand perfectly, you’re simply deluded.
That might sound harsh, but it’s true. It’s not an insult to your poker game to say you almost certainly did not play every hand perfectly. Even your poker idols–the very best players in the world–face spots in which they’re not sure what they should do. These spots only increase as you rise up through the stakes and square off against tough opponents day in and day out.
So how do great poker players attempt to minimise these confusing situations? First, instead of lying to themselves after the fact, they tag the hand in their HUD (Heads-Up Display) and ensure they go back and study the spot. This way, when they face the same spot again, they have a greater understanding of what they should do.
But what about those of you who don’t have solvers at your disposal? When you mark hands during a session, how should you then go about studying the spot?
That’s what we’re going to go over in this article.
CHECK THE CHARTS
The majority of tricky situations which arise in both tournaments and cash games, when boiled down, start with your pre-flop play.
Should you have defended the big blind with that hand in the first place? Is that really a hand you should have three-bet from the cutoff versus an under-the-gun open? Could you have played the hand differently pre-flop and avoided the headache you now face?
The first port of call should always be to check the charts.
No one at BBZ expects you to memorize the countless charts we offer (in monthly and annual subscriptions) all in one sitting. The way you build up your knowledge of hand selection and ranges is spot by spot, one hand at a time. Your familiarity with these spots will expand over time, giving you the confidence and know-how to tackle it better next time.
So when you’ve tagged a hand to review, first check whether it was a good hand to have played in the manner you did, based on stack sizes and positions at the table. BBZ’s charts are custom, solver-approved pre-flop ranges that will give you instant feedback on how to improve your strategy and your win rate in both heads-up and multi-way pots.
Once you’ve established a take on your pre-flop play, you must then analyse how you handled the hand post-flop and on later streets.
DISCUSS WITH OTHERS
Without a solver, the best way to break down a tricky poker hand is to seek out the opinions of others, particularly from players who you feel are more skilled than you at the moment.
If you’ve ever watched BBZ’s training videos in which great players–be it Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond and Parker “Tonkaaaa” Talbot or Jargo “bungakat” Alaväli and Jon “luckyfish89” Clark–review a session, you’ll know that before they check what the solver says, they’ll discuss the spot and offer informed opinions on how they’d approach it. The solver then either confirms or disagrees with their assessments.
But discussing the hand offers so much more than simply trying to state what the solver would do. It allows you to hear and consider different approaches to a spot you may never have considered, perhaps from players who have detailed knowledge on population tendencies at certain stakes.
If you don’t have a poker study group with other players, you do now.
When you sign-up for the free BBZ Discord, you become part of the most supportive poker community out there. You’ll have access to a hand reviews section, a BBZ ICM section, and a cash games section, in which community members share their hands and get feedback from not only other BBZ students but BBZ coaches and streamers too.
As BBZ cash game coach Bertie “bigstealer” Bayley told us recently in an interview: “The value of a community is so much greater than going it alone. You can get trapped within your own thoughts. Others can question your play far easier because they don’t have your biases. If somebody came up to me today and said ‘what’s the best starting point?’ I would say find yourself a community of people who are at least as good as you, if not better, so you can discuss strategy.”
We know that private poker coaching is a luxury that’s not available to every aspiring poker player who’s out there battling and building up their bankroll. That’s exactly why we produce our poker coaching videos at a $9.99 price point, so you can at least observe what a one-on-one coaching session is like and soak in the information at an affordable one-off price.
But if you do enjoy a bankroll-boosting score and are looking to take your game to the next level, there’s no better way than by taking some of that profit and investing in yourself.
You’ll not only get to go over all of the hands you tagged during a tournament run with a BBZ coach, but you’ll also cover every single important hand. Even those hands you deemed standard and insignificant may surprise you when analysed by an experienced coach.