I am a tourney player exclusively and I want to improve my poker significantly in 2015. I'm also a person that likes to put a plan/goals into place in order to measure myself against that progress.

So what are some ideas for putting together a comprehensive plan to improve my poker?

Yesterday I came up with a list of all the items/methods I have at my disposal:

  1. Discussion groups - I run one and I'm a member of one
  2. Books - Mostly Harrington stuff, Super System, etc
  3. Online training sites - I have subscriptions to Advanced Poker Training, Deuces Cracked
  4. Players that I know and trust - a core group of friends that I talk hands with
  5. Live coaching - I have been coached in the past before with various degrees of success
  6. Poker forums - sites like this, 2p2, etc
  7. Live play - I have a bankroll, I have the games, I could play every day if I wanted to
  8. Software tools - I use PokerCruncher for the Mac but it's just like Flopzilla (which is Windows only)

How would you put all of this into a cohesive plan for improving your poker? Is it more hours at the tables? Is it more about watching videos? Is it running more simulations on hands with software?

Obviously, the answer is probably a combination of all of these. Let's assume you want to put 3-4 hours every day into improving your poker. How would you use these tools (and any others that I might not have yet!) into a good plan for poker?

  • 1
    Soooo interested in what answers you'll get. I wanna do the same thing in 2015 as well :) . Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 17:45
  • 1
    I guess nr. 1 ... actually no, it should be nr. 0 is: practice, practice and practice. Oh, and did I mention that you should practice ? Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 17:46
  • 1
    I am no poker pro (yet), but I believe the simple fact that you have made this decision will make it happen. Just don't give up if it turns out to be harder than you expected. Maybe one day I'll see you at a final table.
    – jacknad
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 14:07
  • 1
    @RaduMurzea thank you. I'm certainly willing to practice. I just want to make sure its more "focused practice". Thats what brings up the question - how is that practice best structured? That's really a seemingly easy question thats quite difficult. Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 19:34

4 Answers 4


I do not have experience in structured, measurable improvement of my poker game, but I do have some experience in self-improvement in other fields. I can therefore offer some general guidelines I follow.

  • First of all, it is important to think very critically about yourself (self reflection) and indicate all the strengths and weaknesses of your play. You could perform a 'SWOT analysis' to indicate these. SWOT also concerns opportunities and threats. The opportunities will probably only boil down to 'making profit', but it is important to indicate possible threats to your learning process. and make plans to prevent them.
  • Take the weaknesses from your SWOT analysis and put them into goals. using the STARR method you can list down specific (real) situations. Indicate how you solved and how you should have solved the problem.
  • Make deadlines for your goals and keep to them.
  • Gather as much reliable sources as you can find for each specific weaknesses. Analyze the information and make a rapport of your findings.
  • Make sure you understand and master the found principles by practicing it over and over again. make sure you keep track of the results
  • Reflect yourself again critically. Do the results indicate the weaknesses are improved? How can you improve them even more? Are there more or new weaknesses which needs improvement?

I hope this helps. I am sure there will be differences specific to poker improvement which means the method will need some adaptations. I wish you luck with your training!

  • 1
    Ah, the problem is that you can't define your tourney weaknesses with ease 8) I personally felt more confortable trying to improve my cash game but on MTT it goes beyond and even touches the luck element. Many times i made that right call that would get me into ITM but meh, i got out. I think the large sample size (of tournaments) is what really matters. More chances to overcome the killing variance.
    – user1165
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 12:57
  • 1
    @vlzvl good points. And what I'm really looking for is help with "focused practice". Sure, I could play, play, play but that can also be an expensive way to learn! There has to be a balance between all the books, videos, play, etc etc and how that comes into a plan for improvement. Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 19:36

I consider myself a MTT trainee (note: i'm only playing online) and as @jim try to push my game. Here's what i do.

As with everything practice helps. But i'm always try to find a balance between buy-in vs quality of play to withstand lots of tourneys where i min-cashed or not at all. I don't really care about the results at this moment. I just use a fixed bankroll able to withstand lots of quality games. I get ITM% around 10+ and that's fine but i'm mostly interesting on problematically played hands after the tourney. As i always try to find reasons to fold, i always try to find reasons to evaluate problematic hands. I'm always trying to fix my worst plays and never really look at my wins or won hands. Not now.

In addition, i would have also a bigger sample of awkwardly played hands so i can evalute better after the tourneys. Also my plan balances between playing + reading + evaluating. I never, for example, try to read 150 book pages because i want to carve book stuff into my head while playing this stuff. Also playing too much isn't good either. Quality play requires lots of energy and time.

I think sharing your day between playing, reading and evaluating in equal will improve one's arsenal overtime and that's logical. I like to think myself as a trainee which needs training and games rather results. That also solves the tilt issue, making you a more focusing player.

Also, when i read books i try to focus or enter the pro's mind for playing a hand. I push myself hard to not fall into that tendency of snap-reading and say ok, next. Trying to grasp the plays, especially from pros close to your own style, really helps your game overtime since the play gets sticked on brain. For example Super System is a book not going to read, ever, regardless it's cult status. I consider myself more of a TAG rather a LAG to read that book so i'm more close to books like anything of Harrington, Winning tournaments one hand at a time and such. Kill Phil, no. In short, getting more selective of books and internet articles will make you better player as well. Also be very careful of advices given by players that play a different style from you. Internet's full of this.

Recently i started reading the Mental game of poker (thanx @Brent Morrow). The book capitalizes on trying to fix your errors, both mentally and hand errors, in order to play better poker overtime, thus improving technically and mentally. Most people try to read technical books (me too!) but i found some errors of mine were due to my mental mindset being fishy. I called here and there several times, knowing that's wrong. I was a TAG on tables but a mental fish sometimes and sadly that costed me more. Re-evaluating that mental state again might save your $$ next time.

Finally, as said on my comment, play tons of games. Eliminate the brutal MTT variance. I got busted a number of times with AJs vs loose 42/7 playerthat called me with 55 and hit a set on turn. I'm not panicking, i still made a good play against that player. I'm ok because my play was justified on flop and feel ok.

I hope i helped @jim , although i'm exclusively playing online.


i would do most of that but concentrate on

1. play *lots* of online tournaments at 1 table.
2. review each play afterwards.
3. measure progress by win rate.
4. goal is to increase win rate

It's statistically impossible for you to reach the long run for tournaments in your lifetime. The #1 thing you should be doing is playing cash games and refining your game through other games. I tell my students all the time to learn a new game, it opens up your mind to new lines and betting strategies you hadn't thought of before.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.