Learn how to discuss poker hands in the right way

One of the most valuable learning tools you will ever have available to you, is the opportunity to discuss hands with like minded players who have spent years studying the game. It isn't enough to just vent about a bad beat and hope to be enlightened by a talented player – you have to discuss interesting situations and understand which information is important to give context to what you are saying.


Talking about poker : The Sopranos

Why is it important?

By exposing your hand clearly you increase the chances of solving the problem. Talking about a poker hand properly ensures that any problems in your play are exposed, and can be learned from. The correct definition of a problem should always be the focal point of your efforts. As such, it makes sense to devote as much attention and dedication as possible to speaking with clarity, and in detail, when exchanging thoughts about a poker hand.

– Not all players will be patient enough to discuss other people's hands, or even have the inclination to help other players improve, but if they do wish to offer meaningful advice, they will hope to at least have an interesting discussion. If you talk about a poker situation with a good player, without revealing all the key details of the hand, they won't be able to give you a meaningful response even if they wanted to. Try to be forthcoming about your own views, even if you don't feel you are good enough to offer a wise insight. Discussion should be a two way sharing process. 

How you should describe poker hands and situations

1: Avoid coolers or bad beats when talking about hands. They aren't interesting, no matter how annoying they were at the time. There is also rarely anything to be learned from these situations.

2:  Mention the precise context of the hand, and whether it was in a live or online game, and whether tournament or cash. The buy in is relevant too.

3: The position of you and your opponent in the hand is a very important factor.

4:  Stack sizes are also an integral part of any given hand.

5:  Mention any board cards that are already visible when you are faced with your difficult decision.

6: Describe your thoughts, and assign a range to your opponent, explaining your justification for that range.

7: Talk about any history you have with this player, and where your table image is in the eyes of your opponents.

8: Mention the range that your opponent could be assigning you, and how that may have affected your decision.

Do not worry if your depth of thinking during the hand didn't quite cover all those aspects though. If you feel like there are too many different pieces of information to remember, try to take notes either during, or immediately after the game. All of this information will go through the minds of top players when they have a decision to make, so it makes sense for you to cover the same areas when examining a situation you have experienced at the table. If you are thinking about these points when you are learning, you will soon find it easy to think about them all when you are making decisions.

Article by Craig B.


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