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How to Learn From Poker Strategy Books | Poker Podcast #21


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 2, 2016

Poker strategy books have so much to teach you, and this is the first of 11 podcasts that will show you how to get the most from the books you read.

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


How to Learn From Poker Strategy Books | Podcast #21

Podcast Mission

My mission for today: At the end of this podcast you’ll know how to get the most from every poker strategy book you read, and no longer will you finish a book, shelve it and promptly forget all you read.

7-Step Process for getting the most from poker books

The first time I read Jared Tendler’s epic book ‘The Mental Game of Poker’ I got nothing out of it.  Zilch.  Years later when tilt was still a factor, I decided to read it again.  But instead of just jumping back into it, I went online to research how we learn from books.  I took what I learned there, adapted it to learning from poker strategy books, and put it to use in my second reading of TMGP.  It took quite a bit longer (2 weeks as opposed to 3 days), but I got an unbelievable wealth of useful information from it and still use that knowledge daily.

I want to give you the strategy I developed from my own research.  It’s a 7 Step Process that pulls the most beneficial information from each chapter and helps you utilize it in your game on a daily basis.

1. Skim

Skimming means you’re only looking for the main ideas of a text; for key words and important details that stick out to you.  The goal isn’t to read everything, but to internalize the major concepts we are about to apply to our game.

2. Set a Goal

Now that you have a basic understanding of the chapter, the most productive and effective way to read is to know the questions you want answered beforehand.  Learning more about the answers to the following 3 questions is your goal:

  • What skills can I learn from this chapter?
  • Why are they important or relevant to my game?
  • How can I implement them in my game?

3. Read

Now that you know your goal (what you want to gain from the chapter) it’s time to read.  Read with a pen and take notes in the margins of the book as necessary.  If something is important, mark it so you can find it easier in the future.  Quiz yourself on any chapter summaries present.

4. Summarize and Analyze

After reading, it’s time to summarize as necessary all of the important points that you want to take with you.  You can do this in a notebook, a Word document, a mind map or Evernote as well.

Next analyze the info learned.  Use your poker tracking software, Flopzilla, Equilab or any other software necessary to test the effectiveness of the strategies presented.

5. Take Action

Now for the most important part – taking action on what you’ve learned.  Use FOCUS Sessions where you play only 1-2 tables and work on adding one skill to your arsenal.

6. Assessment

This is a hand history review of the entire Focus Session played the night before, with particular emphasis on the hands that you marked.  Use the proper tools (tracking software, analysis software, calculator, pencil/paper) to determine if you made good plays and killer decisions.

7. Rinse, Repeat, Review

Now that you’ve made an initial assessment, it’s time to take action again in a focus session with your new findings, and then assess again afterwards.  Do this as many times as necessary until you feel you’ve got a great grasp on the skill, then move on to the next chapter in the book.


Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  download the How to Learn from Poker Books one-sheet from the show notes and use it for one chapter of the current poker book you’re reading.  Commit to doing each step for the one chapter and see how effective this learning strategy is.

11 Episode ‘The Course' Series

This is the first in an 11 episode series all about Ed Miller's incredible cash game book, ‘The Course'.  Over the next 10 episodes I'll break down one small part of each chapter in the book using the 7 steps above.  You're going to get so much from the upcoming episodes and I can't wait for you to hear them.

Head directly there:

  1. How to Learn from Poker Strategy Books
  2. Play a Simple and Effective Preflop Strategy | Skill #1
  3. Don't Pay People Off | Skill #2
  4. Assess Your Hand Value | Skill #3
  5. Barreling | Skill #4
  6. Evaluating Board Texture | Skill #5
  7. Making LIVE Reads | Skill #6
  8. Emotional Numbing | Skill #7
  9. Exploiting Aggression | Skill #8
  10. Playing Deep | Skill #9
  11. Taking on the Pros | Skill #10


Sky Matsuhashi

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