Cracking the Code: How Pro Poker Players Study the Game

Professional poker spend countless hours honing their skills through dedicated study to gain an advantage over their competition. But how do they approach this process? What separates a casual weekend gambler from a true poker professional? Let’s delve into the world of pro poker study, uncovering their secrets and strategies.


A Mindset Shift: Beyond the Felt

Forget quick fixes and overnight success stories. Pro players view studying as an ongoing commitment, not a sprint.  A good starting point would be dedicating around 20% of your time to learning, even when winning hands might seem more appealing.

CLC’s Alex Foxen on his approach to studying: “It’s important to use solvers (learn more about solvers in this article here: Poker Solvers: A Powerful Tool for Serious Players) and other tools to understand baselines and theory but not to look at them with the intent of memorizing, it’s important to look at them with the intent of understanding.”

“Watching other players, final tables and other interesting spots is also extremely valuable. This gives you a more real world view of how things actually happen in certain spots rather than the theoretical expectation of how things should happen.”

Time Well Spent: Tailoring Your Approach

The amount of time spent studying varies based on factors like experience and game format. New players might invest 5-10 hours weekly, while seasoned pros may devote more time depending on their playing schedule.


Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity. Focused sessions with active learning are far more effective than passive consumption.

Alex Foxen on his study schedule: “The amount of study that I put in each week varies greatly. On average, I study about 10 hours per week if you include discussing hands with other good players and about 1 hour working with a solver.”

Finding other players that you can review hands with can really accelerate your poker study!

The biggest mistakes that players make when they start studying poker:


Passive Learning: Don’t just watch or read passively. Actively engage with the material, take notes, and test your understanding.

Neglecting Specific Areas: Don’t try to do it all at once. Focus on one aspect, like pre-flop ranges, and master it before moving on.

Ignoring the Mental Game: Studying strategy is crucial, but so is managing tilt, focus, and emotional control. Dedicate time to mental game development.

Ignoring Variance: Poker is inherently unpredictable. Don’t let losses discourage you. Focus on making good decisions, and long-term results will follow.

Alex Foxen on the biggest mistakes that players make while studying: “The most common mistake that I see players make is trying to replicate and memorize what solvers are doing without understanding why they do what they do and how you can apply the concept in certain scenarios.” 

Starting Your Journey: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re new to poker study, start with the basics:


  • Learn the rules and fundamental strategies thoroughly.

  • Focus on pre-flop fundamentals: hand selection, pot odds, position.

  • Choose reliable, beginner-friendly resources.

  • Practice consistently, starting with low-stakes games.

  • Watch great players play and examine their play

  • Focus on the WHY of what you’re doing and the mechanics of each hand

  • Seek out a community of supportive players and mentors.


Remember, patience and dedication are key. Embrace the learning process, enjoy the journey, and soon you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the secrets of successful poker study.


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