Improving Your Poker Game - How To Find Your Own Leaks

Finding Your Own Leaks Can Be A Great Way To Improve Your Poker Game – And Thus Profits

Improving your poker game - finding your leaks

Every poker player has areas of their game which could be improved, certain situations which they handle better than others and characteristics which lead them to choose lower profit lines than would be optimal. In fact, poker is a game where you will go backwards by standing still, continual improvement is not just profitable – it is mandatory.

This article introduces the ideas of looking for weaker areas in your game, referred to as leaks. We break poker down into three main levels – the meta-game, the strategy and the betting lines. For each level we then look at common leaks and make suggestions as to how you might go about searching for your personal areas for improvement.

Finding Your Leaks In Poker – The Meta-Game

When most players consider improving their game the detail level is the first place considered. While this is important, there are often huge gains to be made – in terms of hourly rates and overall profits – by simply taking a step back and examining your poker-world from 30,000 feet!

Some examples include:

  • The Poker Site(s) You Play At: Certain sites attract pro grinders at the lower to mid-levels, if you play at these sites you are sharing your profit with the other winners. Simply moving to a site where there are 2 less winners per table (or per SNG) can improve your hourly rate by 10% to 20%... yet most people are reluctant to move – why? Check our patented Fish-o-Meter Widget for ideas on the most profitable site tailored to your preferences.
  • Which Game(s) And Levels Focus On: There are many examples of otherwise profitable players who have ‘itchy feet’, jumping around games and levels many times – even within a single session. Finding a game you enjoy and then working at your game until you have a positive expectation before moving up levels is a far more profitable alternative. Re-tooling, for example moving from poker tournaments to cash games, can involve a short-term drop in profits – but is usually balanced by the higher expectation in the longer term.
  • Bankroll Management: The fact is that the biggest natural talent around would go broke if they put too large a proportion of their bankroll on the table at any one time. Making sure you understand how and why bankroll management is important for you is a vitally important leak to plug.
  • Table Selection: Are you sitting in the first table with 1 or 2 spare seats? Are you registering for the next 8 SNGs regardless of how many regulars are already sat down? In both cases you are costing yourself money in the long-run. Taking time to find the weakest cash tables (and even changing site to do so) or waiting for 2 SNG regulars to start their next set simply makes the games more profitable for you – yet the majority of people fail to do this.
  • Tools / Books And Training: For some players tools, books, articles and training videos are a natural part of their improvement as a player. For others these are not even considered – the ‘I’m only interested in forum posts that analyze hands’ is a common refrain. Imagine this: That each book gave you 1 small idea that netted you an extra 20c per hour of play, each of the poker software tools costing $89 lead to improvements that made you $5 more a day… membership of a training site lead to a big win that enabled you to move up levels 3 months earlier than was otherwise possible. Does this sound far-fetched? Of course not! 

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Finding Your Leaks In Poker – Game Play Factors

I have separated ‘Game Play Factors’ as an intermediate step between the real detail of playing (hand-histories for example) and the meta-game considerations. This area concerns how you approach the games you are profiting from.

Examples of common leaks you can identify in terms of game play:

  • Multi-Tabling: Are you playing an optimal amount of tables which balance the need to concentrate with the profits available from a more mechanical approach. Adding tables generally reduces the profit per table – yet increases your hourly profits as you fit in more games / hands.
  • Use Of Tools: Separate from the meta-game consideration of tools is whether you are getting the maximum use out of them. A good example would be asking a professional cash game player what (at an average table) is the weakest starting hand they can play profitably from 4th position at a full table. If you do not know this then you probably have a leak in your starting hand selection. Likewise, buying a calculator or analysis tool such as SNG Wizard if great – but only if you are disciplined enough to use them regularly enough to benefit your game.

    Mark's Rec: When it comes to poker tools, my strong recommendation is to check out the cutting-edge products at the Pro Poker Labs. Their tools include calculators, opponent information displays, profitable game locators and more. Check out the Pro Poker Labs website now!

  • ICM / NASH / SAGE etc: There are many theories concerning poker strategy, yet many players refuse to learn them – considering this aspect of the game to be unimportant. Our approach has always been that you had better understand these poker strategy ideas even if you are not intending to use them. Why? Because your opponents will be – and identifying an opponent who thinks in a certain pre-determined way will help you to play against them. After all, poker is a game of playing the players and not the cards.
  • Striving For LAG / TAG: When you play to reach certain statistical goals you are often doing the poker equivalent of putting the cart before the horse! While a loose- aggressive winning player on your favorite forum is the idol of many – striving to emulate this style may not suit your temperament or post-flop skills at all. Remember that, while aggression is good, you need to find your own profitable style and not make plays because they are considered somehow ‘cool’.

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Finding Your Leaks In Poker – The Cards, Bets And Poker Situations

Once you have straightened out your thinking about the wider aspects of your game it is time to get down to the detailed level. To start analyzing your hands and betting lines to ensure that you are getting the most from each situation.

Here are some areas in which this can be profitably achieved.

  • Know Your Opponents: Your smart poker moves will only work if your opponent is able to understand them and react accordingly. Next time you make a clever string of moves over multiple streets and were called by a small pair anyway – look back at previous hands and see if there was clear evidence that your opponent was not advanced enough to see what you represented. Next time you see that same evidence you can save yourself some chips later down the line.
  • Review Your Hands: How much effort you put into analyzing your own hand histories will ultimately reflect massively on your profits. There are various ways of doing this including keeping a wordpad window open on your desktop to quickly paste any hand histories that you were unsure of when playing. Losing big pots often triggers this, however any situation where you have a close decision can become a candidate. Going through entire hand histories is even better, there may be multiple situations which you could have folded earlier or bet more – continually improve your game by tracking these.
  • Keeping A Database: Several software programs are available that will keep a database of all of your hands – and the hands of opponents which you play against. These can then show you which buy-in levels, hands and positions combine to give you the biggest profits (and losses!). This is probably the most accurate method around for identifying and removing unprofitable plays from your game. Poker Office includes a built-in display of your opponent’s statistics on the screen to help you even further.
  • Peer Reviews Of Hands: Many poker forums have boards which members use to analyze each others hands. While this can appear intimidating at first glance, getting honest feedback on how you play can really help. Reading through, and commenting on, situations posted by others can also be helpful.
  • Coaching / Training: The number of training sites and individual coaches is multiplying daily – while this can be a great shortcut to increasing your poker profits, we recommend that you work on your own game privately first. This will allow you to grab all of the ‘quick wins’ in terms of better profits and then allow the coach to fine-tune the rest.

    Mark's Rec: When it comes to poker tools, my strong recommendation is to check out the cutting-edge products at the Pro Poker Labs. Their tools include calculators, opponent information displays, profitable game locators and more. Check out the Pro Poker Labs website now!

Finding Your Poker Leaks – Summary And Final Thoughts

The road to maximizing your poker profits is open to any player who makes the effort to travel along it – the best thing is that you can increase your bankroll a little bit at a time as you go. Acts as simple as finding the fishiest poker sites, selecting the right table and buying a couple of poker books all contributing there is only one potential obstacle – you!

More Strategy for Improving Players:

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