Importance of Poker Education

People have different reasons and different motivations as far as what they are looking to get out of their poker playing experiences. For instance, those who are just seeking the entertainment of playing and don’t really care about either doing better or getting better will probably not want to even bother paying too much attention to improving their game.

It’s unusual that players have no concern about improving though, although players do differ quite a bit in the importance of getting better versus just enjoying the game by playing.

So there are different levels of commitment here and this ranges from becoming a good player being the primary goal to not minding getting a little better but not wanting to put all that much work into it.

So what we need to ask ourselves is how much work we are wanting to commit to our poker education, and this more than anything will determine the approach that we need to take.

Along the way, as frustration tends to rear its ugly head, we may have to reassess our needs here, as our preferences may change along the way. Rather than just carry on in an atmosphere of unhappiness, it is wise at this point to devote more time to overcoming the degree of challenge that you are facing.

So this is an ongoing process really, and we always want to be making sure that we are getting the most out of playing this game by ensuring that we are spending our time and efforts according to what will bring us the most pleasure out of the game.

Quantity Versus Quality Of Poker

One of the first and most important decisions we will be making in determining the level of education that we will be pursuing at the poker table is deciding how much volume we will be playing at one time. The more tables and hands we play at once, the less we are able to learn, and the less we play at the same time, the more opportunity there is to learn and improve.

This is something that isn’t mentioned very much by poker teachers and generally they want to encourage you to play as many as you can and assume that this is the best way to learn, since playing a lot of tables is seen as the ultimate goal.

However, this is definitely not the best way to learn to play good poker. What you really want to do when learning the game is to improve the quality of your poker thinking, which requires a lot more observation and reflection than is even possible playing lots of tables.

I always advise players learning the game and especially those who aren’t profitable yet to play only one table at a time. Once you master that, and make money at it, then and only then should you consider adding even one more. If you can’t beat one table, you can’t beat more, nor should you be trying to.

Learning Poker Away From The Table

Spending enough time learning the game away from the table is something that few budding poker players focus on enough. There is a wealth of instructional material out there these days, from reading poker books, to articles such as this, to poker video instruction, to participating on forums, and so on.

Newer players often wonder what percentage of your time should you spend away from the table learning versus playing? I always recommend that a fair bit of your time should be spent at the tables playing actual hands, but most players end up playing way too much for their own good and studying way too little.

So what happens is that they tend to progress at a much slower rate than they should, and may even fall behind their typical opponents if they don’t worry enough about working on their game.

How much off table time that is right for you will depend a lot on where your game is at though. In the earlier stages of development, more time should be spent studying than playing, if you are truly interested in becoming a good player that is, as most of us are. As a rule of thumb, two thirds of the time studying isn’t a bad place to start.

Then, as you get better, you can increase how much you play as things progress. Even when you become an excellent player though, you should still spend a quarter to a third of your time with off table study, especially since many of your highly skilled opponents will be doing the same, and if you don’t move ahead enough in this game, you fall behind.

It’s pretty hard to argue against spending whatever time you feel necessary to learn to become a better player though. While practical experience playing is certainly very beneficial, and necessary in fact, most players spend too much time getting experience without spending enough time developing their understanding of the game enough, and you really need lots of both.