Any player who’s serious about live or online poker will come to the stage where they want to review their own hands. This is more complicated than simply making decisions on the basis of the odds, as you would with video poker hands. It’s more about honing your skills by evaluating your plays in specific spots against ideal calculations produced by poker analyzer software. Imagine having poker hands explained by a super-intelligent tutor with infinite patience. Take a look at how to get started with hand reviews in poker.
What Are Hand Reviews in Poker?
Doing a hand review in poker means analyzing a hand history, investigating all the decision points in the hand and trying to identify any spots where you could have made a better choice. This will help you to find your leaks and realize how to plug them. As a result, you’ll gradually improve your game and become a stronger player.
You’ll progress too slowly if you grind away at the tables without the insights that a hand review can provide. Reading poker theory on its own won’t get you far unless you can implement it correctly in the right spots. Hand reviews are the best way to integrate theory and practice, so you can learn how to play poker better.
Getting Set Up
The first thing you need to do if you want to conduct hand reviews is to schedule time for regular sessions. You might prefer to spend 15 minutes reviewing a session you’ve just completed. Alternatively, you might take 15 minutes before you begin a session to review hands from your previous session. Think of it as a way of warming up your mind. A weekly in-depth session is also a good idea.
Next, you want to select hands to review. An indispensable tool for this is poker analyzer software, such as HoldemManager 3 or PokerTracker 4. All tracking software comes with a function that allows you to mark hands during online play in order to filter and review them later.
Another way to select hands is to find your leaks, which you can do by running a database review. Open a hand in your poker tracker replayer and look at the HUD overlay for stats, such as VPIP (Voluntarily Put Money In the Pot,) PFR (Preflop Raise,) WTSD (Went To Show Down,) WWSF (Won When Saw Flop,) 3-Bet, Fold to 3-Bet After Raising, 4-Bet Ratio and Flop/Turn/River Aggression Frequency, to mention only some of the most important ones.
Each of these stats has an ideal number for you to benchmark your performance. For example, your WTSD should be 25, so if it’s 28, it’s a leak that suggests you should be less aggressive and fold more frequently postflop.
Alternatively, you can use the leak-tracking feature or create a Player Report that spits out leaks for whatever stats you pick.
Once you’ve got your leaky stats, create a Hand Report based on the spots you want to focus on. If your WTSD is too high, you can search for spots where you folded to aggression on the turn or river.
The Analysis of Poker Hands Explained
Now that you’ve found leaks, what are you going to do with them? Say you’ve filtered your hands for high WTSD and you’re analyzing a specific hand where you have to decide whether or not to call a big raise on the river — say, 28BB to potentially win 56BB, so the pot odds are 33%. The question to ask here is whether or not you have enough equity to call and win 33% of the time against your opponent’s river betting range.
First, ask yourself what your intuitive response is. Does it seem like calling in this situation is too loose? Or is it a snap call? Make a note of your gut reaction. Then input the hand details into an equity calculator such as Poker Stove or Flopzilla and put your opponent on a range (the hands they are likely to bet and bluff with in the specific situation.) This will yield a hand equity percentage for the situation. For example, you might have a hand equity of 31, 35 or 40%, depending on whether you put your opponent on a tight, loose or balanced range. In each case, it’s enough to call. Now compare this result with your initial reaction. If you had folded instead of calling, you’d have had an insight to work with. That’s the purpose of a hand review. Applied with discipline, this approach can yield great results.
Live Poker Hand Reviews
There’s no essential difference between reviewing live and online poker hands. Live players can use apps like ShareMyPair, jot down hands in Live Poker Player’s Journal or simply write them down. There is one key situational difference, though, in that live players are under considerable time pressure. As a result, they can take notes of details that aren’t particularly relevant. That’s because it’s tough to think like a poker analyzer at the best of times, let alone at the table. It’s not a case of intuitive poker tells; it’s hard mathematical information. So even live players would be best advised to sign up at one of the best online poker sites, if only to generate enough stats to enable useful hand review material.
Play Poker Online Better at BetMGM
The best way to analyze your leaks is to run up plenty of stats by getting in as many hands as possible. A great way to do that is to play poker online at BetMGM. Register to enter cash games, join sit-and-goes and take part in daily, weekly and monthly poker tournaments, from free rolls to events with substantial buy-ins and prizes to match. Get your best poker hand in at BetMGM.