When I decided to take poker seriously I started out with a book designed for begginers, that was very new (I think it was in its first year), and written by a proven winner, I think at this point it is no secret to anyone that the book was Crushing The Micro Stakes. That book doesnt pledge to turn you into a professional poker player, or to be really good at it, the author just says that taken his adviceyou will be a winner at the lowest stakes on internet. I think it is also no news that I put a lot of efford to learn everything that author was teaching.
What I think maybe be new to some is how much efford I have put to understand every single word the autor have written. First off I tried to put as much ranges and game plans in excel tabes as I could, made lots of extracts on word and posted hand on foruns nearly every day. Coupled with all that study I was playing as many hands as I could, experience just does matter too much on this game.
Oh posting hands in foruns, that is a subject that you probably do wrong. I have never ever posted a hand on a free open forum, like many out there, and I'm really happy I dident, any time someone showns me a hand that they posted on a very popular free forum I get surprised by the really bad quality responses. If you are posting hands at a free foruns where any breakeven or losing poker player can post a replay, please do yourself a favor and stop doing that. You need to subscribe to a serious poker school, like blue fire poker and then post your hands. I garantee to you that all the answers you will get will be valid, those web sites only take proven winners, over large samples (I send a 300k hands graph to BPF) to their teams.
There is another very important step that I believe not many of you guys take, it is to THINK. You have read all books, made all kinds of schemes, put down a lot of hand ranges, not it is time to put it all together and think about it, how everything works. In order to made it a lot easier, not to mean feaseble, you need to start making things simple and a good way to do that is follow only ONE coach at a time. Poker trainning sites tend to have multiples coachs teaching the same game format for a reason, there are multiple ways to think about this game. You need to think a coach that you can relate to, and at least in the beggining study pretty much only his material or the ones he indicates, in poker it is very easy to lost yourself when listenning to too many voices, even today, when taking advice I take those from pretty much only two players/coachs.
Still on the coach subject, when choosing one you need to be sure the guy is really a big winner in the games he is teaching. Really sucessfull poker players tend to have a really high $/h, if the guy is charging a very low price, suspect that he really crush those games you are trying to learn.
Something that blows my mind is the way the regular folk watchs instructional videos. They watch tv while watching/listenning to the video, drink a beer, watch tv, talk at the phone and somehow expect to kind of passively absorve the knowledge. Man you need to listen carefully to every single word those coachs are saying! You need to make notes, the more the better, and ask questions to the coach who made the video. Trainning videos can be, and actually are, free coachig sessions, people can post their doubts right in the same page they are watching the videos and the coachs almost always answer all the questions, go ahead and make it a conversation, the more the guy talk about the subject you are havving dificults on, the better for you.
The next time you go watch a training video do yourself a favor and do following:
1) Get yourself confortable, but not too mcuh, it is not like you are resting watching tv, it is more like u are watching a presentation at the university. Focus is the key word here, listen to every word;
2) Take notes of everything that draws your attention;
3) Post those notes on the forum and ask for the coach thoughts, they usually will answer in very short time;
4) Do your home work, i.e., the coach says "most poker players are at best marginal winners with their small pocket pairs", go to your tracker and see how you are doing with this kind of hands in different spots/positions.
5) Think about how the coach advices fit in your play style and how you can incorporate some of that in your on play, at the games you pat at.
Last as someone who has read very large sum of poker books (30+ easily) I would like to recomend some books that in my opinion stand out:
Poker Math that Matters and Hole Card Confession - Both by Owen Gaines, those two give all the fundementals to star crushing it, one about the math aspects of the game and the other about hand reading.
Playing the Player - This one got me! I just had a lot of those "wtf!" momments when reading this one. If you do all the work Ed sugests on this book you will be read to play a very flexible exploitive play.
Let There be Range - For some kind of "short play book" this book is really amazing. Most important aspect is that you will start to look for so many more spots to be profibably bluffing, specially the river, after reading this one you will get the idea of how hard it is to make a strong hand in NLHE.
Exploitive NLHE - Quite new book of Paul Ratchford, it is kind of a mix of plays and what I would call "non betting" strategies, such as table selection, bankroll management. If you are more of a intermediate or even advanced player it is a no brainer buy.
Good Luck At the tables,
Willian "KhalDragon" Mates