You see it all the time on forums and group chats across the internet. Someone makes a post asking where they can get the best poker strategy, lessons, secrets for the most economical price. The thing is that not everyone wants to pay for premium content to learn how to play or to start learning advanced concepts of poker. When a player who is just starting out realizes that they should learn more about the game they naturally turn to the internet for advice about where to go. Sometimes they get good advice about where to go and other times they receive snarky response making them feel unwanted. The amazing thing about today is that there is a lot of information out there, some good stuff for free (and some bad). Compared to when I learned how to play poker, the wealth of knowledge that is shared is abundant!
When I started out playing poker, the internet was around but it was not readily available like it is today. The information that I had access to was limited to television and the library. I took advantage of the latter. The library was free, and I honestly did not watch much television. It was great because I did not have to spend money to buy a bunch of books to learn something that I was interested in. I remember the first book that I read was Super System, a book that I think is still highly regarded by numerous poker players. Some of the concepts in the book may be dated but there is lot to learn from that book.
If you ask about books these days, most poker players will tell you that you are better off going to a place like YouTube or something like that. It is not bad advice. Personally, I still enjoy reading books and not everything can be presented in a chart or made into a video. The important thing to remember about books is the nature of the media, it can become outdated, but this can also apply to videos. If you are learning to play poker from a book, just keep in mind that things have changed in the game and not everything will necessarily apply to the game in today’s context. In my humble opinion the thing that books offer is experiences from a unique perspective. They are an intimate view into a person’s thoughts and specific concepts that can not be taught by studying game theory.
Overtime the internet has become more readily accessible. For poker, this just meant that it became easier for people to learn how to play and get into poker. Communities have grown and it is relatively easy to find information about the game. Depending on your style there are forums, chat groups, email lists, podcasts and more. A lot of this content is still free, and it will help you with becoming better at poker, but it will only take you so far. I keep transitioning to different media content. I started finding that a lot of the books I read felt like I was going over the same things that I already knew, I started looking to videos and articles. Not all videos are the same and honestly if you really want to learn something, watching pros or tournaments are not going to teach you fundamentals and vlogs are not always intended to be educational. I have found a few different YouTube channels that I have been following for years that all offer something a little different. The biggest thing that I have learned from them all collectively is to think about what I am doing when I play poker.
If you are a hobbyist in poker, at some point you might want to start investing money into your poker education. This stage of poker is not for everyone and can sometimes feel overwhelming. I did not subscribe to any premium content until recently. I knew that if I wanted to play poker full time that I would need to make that effort to make sure that I was being studious about the game to increase my edge. Just like the free content, there are numerous sites that offer premium content. In addition to that, there is also coaching. When I made the decision to play full time, I started out by purchasing books. Then I started to look at premium content and eventually I tried out coaching. The premium content is great because it gives me a more focused subject to concentrate on while quizzing me on my knowledge. Coaching is not for everyone, but I have been satisfied with my coach, its like having a little conscious that taps me on the shoulder and asks, “Was that the best option?” Like any hobby that takes skill, it is a never-ending journey to improve.
Poker forums are a different animal. Your miles may vary, and you may not get what you are looking for from a forum site. I am always hearing from players about the toxicity or elitism that they observe. I want to let you know that type of behavior is not what should represent the poker community. Forums offer a unique perspective in that you can almost always get some immediate feedback about questions that you might have. The thing to always remember is that you are not always going to get correct information or advice. What I enjoy the most is the opportunity to have a conversation with other poker enthusiasts. It can be helpful to get a different perspective about a hand or hear about someone else who has had a similar experience. When it comes to working on different aspects of your game, it can also be helpful to discuss it with other people that know about the game. When you are on a forum discussing concepts of poker you might catch yourself about something and question if you are right. You might recognize that you something that you need to study more or find an interesting topic that you never really considered. No matter how much studying you do, it is always helpful to surround yourself with people who are knowledgeable about the game.
I purposely have not mentioned any specific sites because I want to know what my readers think. Leave a comment about what you have used to learn about the game of poker, free or premium. If you want to know more about sites that I frequent feel free to contact me on twitter or send me an email found on the contact page of my blog site.
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4 thoughts on “Searching for answers in a void”
I suggest finding content that fits with your game. If you are beginning, high level solver analysis probably won’t work as well without someone explaining the concepts.
Youtube – avoid bloggers. Hands are cherry picked etc. if you want to watch just enjoy the entertainment value. There are straight strategy channels that I would consider but none are going to be 100% right.
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There are a lot of poker strategy books out there. Some of them are even good. Most are not.
I have read dozens of them, and there are only a handful that I would recommend, and all of those are for players who are new to the game and serious about becoming a “winning” player at low stakes.
One problem with poker strategy books is that the medium is static, No-Limit Hold’em poker strategies evolve rapidly. Even if a well-written book presents a strategy that is “ground-breaking” when it is published, it quickly becomes outdated due to the dynamic nature of the game.
I personally enjoy the books that focus more on your poker mental health. I feel those books are the ones that can stand the test of time and stay relevant.