Poker Training lesson No1 listen to Poker Stories

I have found there are definitely options for poker training whilst listening and learning from opponents, especially when they’re sharing their poker stories. I know it often gets monotonous listening to the same old voices bragging about their talents or degrading other opponents play. How often do you come across a poker player that wants to tell you how close they got to winning, but just got lost to a bad beat? Or even poor play from another opponent.

You should not simply consider this idle chatter… this is poker training.

These poker stories are an extremely valuable opportunity for you to learn about your opponents. Whoever is telling the story is actually divulging information that you can use against them. They are providing information such as:

  • what hands they like to play
  • the value they think certain hands are worth
  • what they might consider a good fold or a poor fold
  • what they consider is an acceptable raise
  • what may put them on tilt
  • what they believe is bad play
  • how they react to other players actions
  • and much much more….

Can you see this information is gold, it’s a read, these are poker tells on your opponents. They may be friends or strangers, and regardless whether you get the opportunity to use this information on that particular opponent, you should store these poker stories in your ‘poker vault’. Your poker training is to develop this vault to gather a vast range of knowledge of poker personalities and perspectives. You can and will start to see patterns develop amongst players and this is often formed through conformity, players reading similar books and players swapping methods and telling each other what they believe is correct.

BUT do not start to believe everyone will act the same. This is the beauty of Poker, no one player can define the correct or right way to play.

Every hand is like a fingerprint, they are all different. WHY? Because human emotion is involved. Any poker hand may and will be influenced by so many different reasons, such as past hands, reactions to opponents, chip stacks, limiting beliefs or even something unforeseen like a fight with a girlfriend at home the night before. You can never play the same hand the same way twice.

How can you tell? How do you know? What sort of poker training can help you learn these things? Well the answer isn’t in the cards, it’s in listening to your opponents and the poker stories they so often want to openly share with you. All you have to do is ask the whole table, “what’s the worst beat anyone has ever seen?” I guarantee, someone will pipe up and open the flood gates of knowledge.Then sit back, listen and enjoy and remember to take mental notes of what is said. And if you want to take it to the next level, watch if the other players are listening too. Ask yourself if anyone else is listening the way you are, are they that ‘switched on’, are they learning as much as you, are they someone to look out for too. You will always learn more from listening than talking, which reminds me of another one of my favorite quotes from  the past US president, Richard Nixon:

Presidents at poker table
Image by beratus via Flickr

“I learned that the people who have the cards are usually the ones who talk the least and the softest; those who are bluffing tend to talk loudly and give themselves away”

I have found this to be oh so true. The loudest are often the worse talented players (provided their volume is not deliberately to annoy or intimidate).

Can you imagine there is more to learning about poker than just reading books. Poker training and information can be gained from a whole range of sources. Listening to poker stories is just one of these techniques, but they don’t just have to be poker stories, they can be any type of stories. A story told by an individual has a personal spin to the story, therefore that person will give you insight into how they want to tell the story.  How they recall the story, thus you learn more about them and how they think. Live poker is about knowing people and how they act and react in different situations. The day you stop learning about people is the day you will stop improving your poker game.

Take it from me, any poker player at any level can always learn from this type of poker training, go forth and listen and you might just learn something. Good luck.

Why not sure your poker story with us? Leave a comment in the box below, a success story, a bad beat or simply an amusing poker anecdote. Either way, we’d love to hear from you.

Remember, it’s not just all about the cards your dealt, the power is in your hands…

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