How to Get the Most Out of Every Poker Book

By Sky Matsuhashi
April 11, 2023

Poker books are great sources of useful and profitable strategies.

But people don’t get the most they can out of the poker books they read.

This is probably due to:

  • Reading for entertainment and not really trying to use books as a tool for learning.
  • Reading in hopes the information is absorbed into our mind so we can use it all in-game.
  • Reading about strategies, but not getting concrete ideas on how to use them in-game.

I want to help you get more from the poker books you read with this 4-step process.

poker books

Step 1: Poker Books are Tools for Improvement

There’s an idea I heard a long time ago, and it’s that people read a book… just to read a book. It’s an activity that helps to pass the time or to allow one to say, “I read that book!”

They don’t necessarily read books in order to improve their life, learn something new or be exposed to fresh ideas.

With the next poker book you choose, I want you to commit learning from it. Say out loud, “I’m going to use this tool to improve my game.”

You’re not just going to read the book, you’re going to use it as a tool for poker improvement.

Step 2: Take Notes in Your Poker Journal

Yep, you’re going back to your high school and college days and you’ll actually take notes on the important things you learn as you read.

The physical act of writing things down increases the chance of remembering and using them. You probably do this already with a simple daily task list, right? You already know you’re more likely to get stuff done if you right it down.

Well, you’re more likely to remember and use the strategies from the book if you write them down.

Plus, your notes are a great pre-session warm-up to help you focus on the strategies as you play.

And of course, feel free to underline, highlight and write notes in the margin of the book you’re holding. You bought it after all, and it’s your book. It’s okay to tag it up with anything that will help you revisit the important lessons in the future.

To help you take notes, get my free Poker Journal in Word format by clicking here.

*Pro Tip* – Keep your journal open as you play and reference them frequently. If you’re playing online at home, this is easy. If LIVE in a cardroom, put your notes in Evernote, take a picture with your smart phone, or use the Poker Notes Live app. Nobody will know what you’re looking at between hands.

Step 3: Create Action Steps

If you’ve read any of my books or heard my Smart Poker Study Podcast, you know I give challenges and Play with Purpose and Study with Purpose tasks that help you to practice the strategies I teach. We learn best through action, not by reading, so practicing what you’re reading is the best way to learn from books.

“Action is the greatest teacher.”

This means you’ll have to create your own action steps based on the strategies you read. This gets easy with practice. Let’s test you out.

Imagine you read in a book that great hands to 3-bet bluff are suited and connected Aces, hands like A5s and ATs (straight and nut flush potential, plus they block your opponent from holding AA, AK and AQ). So, how can you use this information in-game to make better 3-bet bluffing decisions?

Well, when you play tonight and are dealt one of these hands, and you have the opportunity to 3-bet, you’ll consider making the play before you click CALL or FOLD. If it seems like a great opportunity to 3-bet bluff, you’ll do it. If it seems like folding or calling is better, you’ll do that.

It’s a simple way to practice a strategy you learned in a book, right?

*Pro Tip* – Take it one chapter (or even one section within a chapter) at a time. As soon as you learn something important and useful, like the suited Aces idea above, practice it before you continue forward in the book. Sometimes, in a single chapter, an author can give ideas for 20+ strategies to practice. It’s easier to implement these 20 ideas one-at-a-time instead of trying to focus on all 20 at once.

Step 4: Take Action!

So, you read and took notes and created some action steps. It’s time to take action!

Dedicate at least one play session to doing each action step and using the strategies. Find every opportunity to use them when it seems like it’s profitable to do so.

Make sure to note the hands where you made the plays and the ones where you chose not to. These are great hands to study in your upcoming study sessions.

And if you fold and exit the hand? Continue paying attention and look for opportunities that other players have to use the strategy you’re focused on this session. If you were Bob, who remained in the hand after you folded, and you had his opportunity bluff-raise here, would you do it? Is his opponent likely to fold? What size raise would get his opponent to fold?

It’s not the books that you read, nor the order that you read them in. It’s what you do with the information that counts. So, use this 4-step process with the next poker book you read, and treat the book as a tool you can use to improve your game.



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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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