While the basics of poker are quite straightforward, and easily learned in a short time, mastering its key skills often takes a good amount of playing, reading, and thinking. As the old saying about Texas Hold’em goes, ‘it takes five minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master.” It goes without saying that the best players in the game have devoted tremendous effort and time to “sitting in the lab” and working hard to become extremely proficient at their craft.

While recreational poker players can of course approach the game however they’d like, if you’re trying to become a poker pro, you’ve got to study hard. You can even start out by reading articles like these or ones you’ll find at leanbackplayer.com. Regardless of whether you want to remain a recreational player or alternatively become a professional, there’s no reason not to try and make the poker learning process easier. It’s with that in mind that I decided to pen this article.

Learning at Poker

Recently I attended a UCLA Memory Class presented at our Freda Mohr Senior Center. It soon occurred to me that this could be applied to the game of poker. Here’s what we were taught:

There are three primary ways to learn something of value – such as the poker skills that can help us to become winners, or win even more at the poker table – or avoid losses. Being able to effectively use poker skills gives you an edge over your opponents who may still be living in the dark age of poker. So, let’s focus on the three learning styles.

learning styles

1. Visual – Learn by observing and writing

  • Take notes. Just the act of writing down the key information will help you to learn.
  • Think things through by reading and rereading your notes.
  • Pay attention to what works for your opponents. Observe and note so you can learn these skills.

2. Auditory – Learn by listening

  • Listen to what your opponents say. (It’s like a tell.)
  • Think things through by talking to yourself (silently) or to someone you respect – a poker buddy.
  • Speak it aloud to yourself – away from the poker table.

3. Tactile – Learn by doing

  • Most people prefer the “hands-on” approach.
  • Many can “shut out the world” and concentrate.
  • “Doodle” with pen and paper to help you remember. (What works for others at the poker table can help you, too.)

Rosie’s Rules

On a somewhat related topic, I recently had occasion to chat with one of my favorite poker “opponents” at the Hustler Casino in Gardena, California. Rose N. is not only an excellent poker player, but also a delight to chat with while we wait to be seated at a $4-$8 limit hold’em table.

Recently Rosie shared with me her Three Basic Rules of the Game – her “Words of Wisdom for Poker Players.” I will add my comments:

1. Respect the dealers

It takes skill and patience to deal out hand after hand, avoiding errors along the way. Each dealer deserves our respect. Show them that you have high regard for them, and they will be all the more pleasant to us players, making the game even more enjoyable. On the other hand, some dealers (hopefully very few) fail to show respect for the players. Some pay little attention to the players. Someone should remind such dealers where their salaries come from, but I digress…

2. Respect the other players

Be pleasant as you try to move your opponents’ chips in your direction. A smile helps them accept their loss – all the better for you. Generally speaking, assuming it doesn’t affect your own play negatively, you should also try to be chatty and engaging with other players. Poker is a social game after all.

3. Respect – and OBSERVE – the Rules of the Game

The game is always more pleasant and enjoyable when everyone plays by the rules. Some are posted in the casino; others are just a matter of common courtesy. For example, players are aggravated when an opponent takes much too long to make a decision – unduly holding up the game. Likewise, some players are slow to show their hands on the showdown. I wonder why.

In any event, I’m positive that if you keep Rosie’s Rules in mind, as well as hone your poker learning skills, the game will come much more easily to you and it will also likely be far more enjoyable a pastime.

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