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Q&A: Poker Study Apathy, Playing JTo and Learning from Showdowns #206


Sky Matsuhashi

on October 11, 2018

In this episode, I answer 4 questions about poker study apathy, listening to old SPS episodes, playing JTo and learning from LIVE showdown hands.

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


Q1: Poker Study Apathy (3:00)

From: Max

Q: At the moment I have a personal poker coach to teach me and things are starting to go well. But the thing is, it's hard for me to study independently.  I treat studying like a necessary second job that I have no passion for. It's easier for me to grab my smartphone and play a shooting game for an hour instead of studying poker.  I wish it was the other way around.  Also, I bought a lot of poker books (How to Study Poker Volume 1 is one of them) but never read them all the way through.  But with all this, I still want to play and advance in poker.

Thanks for your advice.


Poker study apathy is a real thing and my guess is that 95% of poker players suffer from it.  That's why most players are losing players I think.

It's also why talent isn't a prerequisite for poker greatness.  Just work hard and study something every day, put it to use in your games and you'll be better than 95% of your competitors.



Hopefully these 3 things will help you study more (even if the apathy remains):

1. Commit to just 10 minutes with one full hand reading practice hand every day.

By doing just this :10 every day, sometimes your studies will extend beyond the 10 minutes because you find something interesting or a Q pops in your mind and you look for the answer.  Maybe you do 5 hands in a row over 5 days for just 10 minutes.  That's better than doing nothing.  Maybe on the 6th day, you read a hand involving 76s and it makes you think, “How profitable am I with suited-connectors?”  So, you spend the next :30 minutes going through your database and you find the only profitable sc's are AKs and KQs.  You botch all the rest and lose massive amounts of money.  Just know this problem exists will help you.  But, you decide on day 7 that you'll look for an article/video/podcast about suited-connectors so you can learn more.

BAM!  Your 10 minutes per day yielded some valuable information and turned into something you're eager to pursue and study apathy has been pushed to the side (for now, until you find another thing that captures your interest).

2. Listen/Read/Watch one interesting piece of content and put ONE thing from it into practice.

If you subscribe to poker site newsletters or podcasts or YouTube channels, you'll be sent word of new content daily.  Choose one daily, study it, then put ONE thing from it into practice.  I tell people the best way to study is to choose one topic per week and pursue only that.  But that doesn't work for everyone.  So, one thing per day with practice will help you more than not studying at all.

3. Pick the most relevant book to you and study one chapter per week.

This is something I recommend in HTSP volume 1 and it's very easy to do.  I give a detailed way to practice and study one chapter at a time in volume 1, but all you really have to do is read the chapter on day one of the week, take notes, and purposefully practice one thing from the chapter each session you play that week.  Bam!  You're on your way to putting the lessons you learned in the book into your skillset one chapter per week.  This is much better than reading a book in 5 days and putting almost nothing into your skillset.

Q2: Listening to the back catalog of SPS podcasts (8:25)

From: JP Lebeuf

Q: I am presently listening your podcast. I have listened to the first 12 so far. Should I skip the rest and go to the last one and work my way backwards?  Thanks, JP


I recommend you listen to each new episode as it comes out, but still listen to the old episodes in order from #13 on.  But, for each episode you listen to, force yourself to do the challenge before you listen to the next one.

So, for episode #13, the challenge was to do the six SAVERS for yourself (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing – they are 6 things that Hal Elrod recommends you do in his book The Miracle Morning) .  Do this each day for a week and see how you like it.  Then, listen to #14 then do that challenge.  But, I don't think I offered a challenge in episode #14 (Interview with Al Spath).  So, listen to that episode, then listen to episode #15 (and download the free Poker Journal) and do that challenge about using a poker journal.

Start your audiobook learning by picking up ‘Preflop Online Poker' through Click the pic above to begin your free 30-day trial or to purchase the audiobook version if you're already a member.

Q3: Learning from LIVE Poker Showdown Hands (12:15)

From: Tony Bianco

Q: Playing live $1-2 at a local casino that just opened up and I just want to show a profit in the long run. In 10 visits, I’m up around $300 but have been basically a break-even player over the last 3 years. The difference has come from being more aggressive pre-flop and on later streets. I still have problems when people donk into me. And, I think I fold too much when I should stay in with a call or raise.


When it comes to over-folding post-flop and not knowing what to do when facing a donk bet, those are very common issues.

Your goal over the next few weeks should be to take note of 3-5 hands each session that went to showdown and study them.  Try to pay attention to hands that saw a bet or raise on the turn or river, and also look out for hands that have somebody donk betting on any street.  They don't have to be hands that you play, so pay attention to every showdown.

Take notes in your phone using Evernote or your favorite app so people don’t know you’re recording hands.  Just pretend you’re texting.

You want to figure out what your opponents are betting or raising with post-flop and also what they're donk betting with.  My guess is that most big bets and raises are with 2p+ post-flop (unless they're an aggressive player with good draws like nut-fd or good open-ended sd's).  Also, the donk bets are often going to be blocking bets with draws or weaker pairs hoping you fold or check on the next street.

For each hand you observe, write the names and player types of those involved.  Try to figure out what the different player types in the games you play make their chosen plays with.

Pay attention to bet sizing.  You might find that Bob always donks 1/2 pot with his draws but bets 2/3+ pot with solid made hands.

With each of these hands you record, you’re going to do a hand reading practice by assigning a preflop range then narrowing it through the streets.

Make a spreadsheet detailing what your opponents had when they made different plays and the sizings they used.  Try to find patterns to exploit in the future.

Q4: Playing JTo (16:15)

From: Anish Welde

Q: How should I play JTo preflop, and then if the flop comes with all undercards, what should I do?


JTo isn't in any of my ranges preflop.  I don't open raise nor call raises nor 3bet bluff with it.  It's the kind of hand that can get you in more trouble than it's worth.

But, if you choose to play it, hopefully you're doing it as the preflop raiser from the CO or the BTN or the SB with the goal of stealing the pot.  Don't call a raise nor defend your blinds with that hand.  And if you open-raise then face a 3bet resteal, just fold.

As the preflop raiser on an under-card board like 762r, I would make a cbet when in position just as a one-time bluff.  762 or 862 or 932 are all hard to hit boards and if you bet enough to get overcards and random Ace-x and King-x hands to fold, you're making the right play.  If you’re out of position, the best play is likely to just check/fold, unless your opponent folds a lot to cbet.

Challenge (17:40)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:   Get over your poker study apathy.  Re-listen to my answer to question one and try those 3 steps I gave to Max: 1) commit to 10 minutes of study per day, 2) consume one piece of content then put one thing into action and 3) pick the book you most want to study from and do one chapter per week.

Now it’s your turn to pull the trigger and do something positive for your poker game.

Support the Show

Vic purchased my PokerTracker 4 Smart HUD.  He's using it to exploit his opponents and “soul read” them.  Click here to get the Smart HUD for yourself.

Up Next…

In episode 207, I’m going to give you a new list of 5 areas that aspiring poker profit makers must focus on.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.


Sky Matsuhashi

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