In the first article in the Studying in 2022 series, I helped you build dedicated blocks of poker study and play time into your schedule.
So, what do you fill these blocks with? I recommend you fill them with purposeful study and play around your areas of weakness (also called poker leaks).
Do you know your areas of weakness?
It doesn’t matter how good you are at poker, there’s always something that you can improve upon.
Maybe you call too often preflop, only 3-bet for value, fail to continuation bet often enough and make inconsistent bet sizing choices.
There are two ways that I recommend for the “lone studier” (without a coach) to find their weaknesses, which I detail below.
1. Pay attention to “unsure” spots
Both online and live poker players must do this.
Maybe this past week, you experienced this “unsure” spot four different times:
- Your opponent bet on the flop and you called.
- An overcard hit on the turn and your opponent checked to you.
- You sensed weakness so maybe you should bet, but you were unsure of your chance of success. So, you checked back instead of bluffing.
This “unsure” situation happening in four different hands this week means that you MUST study this situation to get more comfortable with these frequent-yet-unsure bluffing opportunities.
2. Use PokerTracker 4
For online players, PokerTracker 4 is the #1 tool for spotting your weaknesses. It shows your tendencies in every situation and calculates your win rates when making different plays.
Maybe you think your game is spot on and you 3-bet bluff plenty, double-barrel c-bet all the time and you’re a winner when calling rivers.
But sometimes what we think about ourselves isn’t the truth. PokerTracker 4, however, shows us exactly the results of our time on-the-felt. There’s no hiding from this info.
Perhaps in your last 10,000 hands, PT4 shows you that:
- You 3-bet only 2.8% of the time >>> this means you’re mainly a value 3-bettor.
- You make the flop c-bet 74% of the time, but barrel the turn only 42% of the time >>> you’re an honest turn c-bettor.
- You called the river 83 times and have lost a whopping 18BBs on average each time >>> you’re actually a huge loser when calling rivers.
Record Your Weaknesses
When you find your weaknesses through paying attention to your play or via PT4, write them down.
You can do this however you want: in your poker journal, on your weekly calendar or even on sticky notes attached to your monitor.
This is the list of weaknesses you’ll target on a weekly basis, one weakness per week.
Spend the next 15-20 minutes to find your weaknesses.
If you’re a live player, noodle on the tough spots you constantly find yourself in. Where are you unsure? What spots make you say to yourself, “Dagnabbit! What do I do here?!”
If you’re an online player, analyze your PokerTracker 4 database. Look for statistics that are easily exploitable (like Flop C-bet 74% and Turn C-bet 42%). Also, filter for common situations like calling preflop, calling a c-bet or calling on the river and look for ugly, losing win rates.
Record your weaknesses in your poker journal. You might have as many as 10! But that’s okay, because weaknesses give you an opportunity to study and play with purpose to improve your skills in an area you KNOW you’re deficient in.
To improve most efficiently, you need to prioritize your weaknesses. I’ll discuss this in part 3 of this miniseries.