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: Learn the proper poker terms.
First of all, you need to learn the language so that you can go into the details and be understood by poker aficionado. Like any sports or expertise, Poker has its own set of vocabulary that you should be familiar with. Visit our Poker Glossary to learn everything about it.
#2: Avoid coolers or bad beats when talking about hands.
They aren’t interesting, no matter how annoying they were at the time. There is rarely anything to be learned from these situations.
#3: Mention the precise context of the hand.
Whether it was in a live or online game, and whether tournament or cash. The buy in is relevant too.
#4: The position of you and your opponent in the hand is a very important factor.
Were you at the button, UTG? How about them? Were they speaking before or after you?
#5: Stack sizes are also an integral part of any given hand.
Were you short stack, left with 10 big blinds or so, or were you chip leader or an advantage over them?
#6: Mention any board cards that are already visible when you are faced with your difficult decision.
Try to remember in the main lines what were the 3 cards of the flop, the turn and the river.
#7: Describe your thoughts, and assign a range to your opponent, explaining your justification for that range.
Did you have the feeling to play against a fish or a shark? What made you think that?
#8: Talk about any history you have with this player, and where your table image is in the eyes of your opponents.
Was he someone you are used to play with, or was he a stranger? How long have you been playing with him? Did he show his cards before? Used a lot of bluff?
#9: Mention the range that your opponent could be assigning you, and how that may have affected your decision.
On the opposite, try to visualize how he could have perceived you? Were you coming as strong or weak to him? Were you playing loose or tight?
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.