POKER TIPS & STRATEGY

Game Tape: The #1 Play & Study Strategy You Don’t Do… Yet

By Sky Matsuhashi
July 13, 2022

I’ve been raving about game tape for years as the best combination strategy for playing and studying better poker.

First, you might be asking, “What is game tape?”

Game tape is recording your online play as you speak the logic behind all of your decisions. I like to imagine my coach is there with me, looking over my shoulder, and I have to justify each of my plays to him.

It’s like before every call I make, my coach is asking me, “Why are you calling?” Before every continuation bet, he’s asking me, “Why are you c-betting here?”

I love game tape because it forces me to think about each play I make and verbalize the reason for each. You can’t play robotic poker when properly recording game tape.

Game Tape Benefit #1: Stay focused on great in-game decision making

If you’ve played sports in high school or university, you’re probably well aware of game tape. I first learned about it while playing football in high school.

In preparation for the next game, the coaches would watch game tape of the other team that was recorded the week before. The goal in watching the recording was to learn the other team’s patterns (tendencies) and create plays and plans to exploit them.

Seeing the other team in action like this can give some great insights.

In poker, we use game tape to gain insights into our own play by watching the recording later to find our leaps in logic and mistakes made. Sometimes, we’ll see ourselves not using any logic at all and just clicking buttons.

I love it when I’m watching game tape and I notice something that I failed to catch in the moment, like my opponent’s stack size or their HUD stats or how their range doesn’t interact well with the board. These mistakes are great game tape learning moments.

The other day, I caught myself missing a great value bet on the turn when the board paired, and I didn’t think, just clicked CHECK instead of considering the many worse hands he could still call with.

Game Tape Benefit #2: Learn where you’re making mistakes so you know what to work on

How do you record game tape?

Well, you’ve got to play online poker first. And make sure you have a good microphone to record clear audio.

Next, get a screen capture software like Camtasia or OBS. I use OBS because it’s free and pretty darn simple to set up and get going with. Learn how to set it up with this quick 4-minute video:

Once the software is set up and microphone plugged in, simply play a 1-table session and hit record on the software. As you get more comfortable recording game tape and speaking through your decisions, you can play multiple tables, but start with just one.

One table gives you plenty of time and brain space to consider all your decisions and voice the logic behind them.

And do like I do: Imagine your coach is there questioning every play, and it’s your job to justify your actions.

Make your first game tape 15-30 minutes in length.

Study the Game Tape

Play the game tape for your next study session. I always find it helpful to do it the next day when I’ve been away from the session I played for a bit.

Pay attention to what’s going on kind of from an outsider’s perspective. Try to divorce yourself from the results of any single hand, and just be an impartial observer of the person playing.

Look for mistakes made, leaps in logic, critical bits of information missed, silent spells where you were making plays but not speaking, and any signs of anger or tilt.

Basically, figure out what you did wrong in the session. Make sure you take notes in your poker journal so that you can work to NOT repeat the same mistakes in your next session.

Watch me review and learn from some game tape:

It’s going to take some practice before you feel comfortable and see a great benefit from game tape. Just know that this is the BEST play and study strategy combo that you can do starting today that will improve your skills and results.

Enjoy!

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Sky Matsuhashi poker author
Written By.

Sky Matsuhashi

Sky Matsuhashi is the creator of the Smart Poker Study Podcast. He has authored 4 poker books including ‘How to Study Poker Volumes 1 & 2’, ‘Preflop Online Poker’ and ‘Post-flop Online Poker’. As a poker coach, Sky is dedicated to helping his students play more effectively, earn more money and be 1% better every […]

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