Reviewing Your Own Poker Hands
I mentioned in the introductory chapter to this section that despite the wealth of literature available, you also need to play to learn. At the table, decisions need to be made within a few seconds, and you will often make the wrong one. Making a conscious effort to play your best game whenever you sit down at the table is important, to actively think about what you're doing - but you still get only a few precious moments to consider before you need to decide what to do.
But after the session, you can go back and review how you played your hands, and this is when you can really get the most out of your experience. You can sit down, with no time constraint, and think about a situation. Maybe you decided to flat call on the river. Should you have raised? Should you have folded? What are the arguments for either action, and how should you reason?
Developing the discipline to criticize yourself is hard - very hard. Most of us have somewhat sensitive egos, and we're simply bad at being harsh with ourselves. Not to mention the fact that when it's just you looking at what may arguably have been a very marginal decision, you will often fall in the trap of letting the outcome of the hand influence your thinking. Maybe you didn't have the odds to make that call on the turn, but you got lucky and hit your flush - it's not easy to tell yourself that you made the wrong move.
And very few of us have the luxury of hiring our own poker tutor (many professionals provide this service, though) who can critically review our hands. All of us, however, do have the option of checking the ego at the door and posting a hand in the CardsChat
Hand Analysis Forum. Here, you will have other people review your decisions and give you input on how you played. There are a couple of things that will make this process a lot more valuable, however:
The Dos and Don'ts of Posting Hands
DO run your hand (presuming it's an online hand) through a hand converter. There are a couple of them available online, and they will transform your hard-to-read summary into a neatly formatted and colorful summary. Try this Poker Hand Converter. It doesn't take much effort to run your hand through one of these, and it's simply good manners not to make it harder for the people you ask for help to help you.
DO include reads on your opponents. These reads can be poker tracker stats (how often they see flops, etc.) or simply things you've noticed about your opponent, like how he likes to semibluff or will call with ace-high on the river.
DO list the type of game it is, if it's an SnG, MTT or a cash game, if it's limit or no-limit, etc, and also what the stakes are. The hand converter will often do this for you, but check to make sure.
DON'T - and this is the biggest don't of them all - include the results. If you're wondering whether or not to call on the turn, we don't need to know that what actually happened was that you got your flush. It's not important, it takes the focus off what matters, and it's generally frowned upon. By including results, you're essentially turning what could have been a good strategy discussion into a simple bad-beat post (or brag-post, which is just as bad). While we're on that topic,
DON'T post bad beat or brag hands in the hand analysis forum. No one really cares. Take my word for it. We've all had so many bad beats, one-out losses and miracle rivers that we're just not interested. I don't mean to sound mean, but it's the truth. Post them here, if you really must.
DON'T take the input you get for god's given truth. There are many posters on the site, some are beginners, some are experienced, but none of us are infallible. Even the more respected posters will give bad advice now and again (although not intentionally), and you should welcome the discussion, not the answer, because the answer doesn't teach you anything - the discussion will.
DO include your own reasoning. What do you feel you should do in the situation you ask for? Why? This is all critical in order to truly learn, because making the right decision for the wrong reason is a disaster, and the only way to plug those leaks is to find them. Tell us why you chose the specific action you did.
DO post your thoughts on others' hands. You don't have to be an expert to say what you think, and don't be afraid to get it wrong. If you get it wrong, someone will point it out, and your ego will take a little beating, but brush it off and learn. Having others criticize your line of thought is the best way to learn, and when you post in others' threads, you don't even need to seek out the interesting situations yourself.
DON'T engage in flame wars. If someone calls a move you made "donkish," then that poster was probably a little more harsh than he had to be, but don't take it to the next level. Argue and discuss, but don't flame. And don't get personal.
An example of a post:
"Button seemed very loose pre-flop, but not very aggressive. He had only played a few hands when this happened, however, so no solid reads on him.
I want to re-raise here, first of all because there's a good chance that I still have the best hand, and if he just picked up a straight draw along with his pair, I want to charge him the maximum. Secondly, because I have plenty of outs even if I don't currently have the best hand; I can pick up two pair, trips and a flush on the river. If he has two pair already, he also runs the risk of being counterfeited, at which point I have the best kicker.
Another line I might take is call here and raise any safe river (or river that improves me). Scare cards for me would be a 6, 7, J or Q that isn't a club, and any 8, 9 or 10. I will go to showdown, though, no matter what.
Full Tilt Poker
Limit Holdem Ring game
Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG with
Hero raises, 2 folds, Button calls, SB
folds, BB calls.
Flop: T♣ A♥
9♠ (6.5SB, 3 players)
BB checks, Hero bets, Button calls, BB calls.
Turn: 8♣ (4.75BB, 3 players)
Button raises, BB folds, Hero...
Start today, post hands. Follow the guidelines above, and you will get the best response.
Learn more about Poker Hands on other CardsChat guides: Starting Hands Guide, Odds For Dummies, Starting Hands Percentage
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