Building Good Poker Study Habits

In my last column I identified 16 good poker habits to adopt. Here is a list of 13 bad habits to avoid in order to help improve your game.

1. Prematurely getting ready to fold

Many players get into the habit of lifting up their cards in anticipation of folding before it is their turn to act. While you do not want to unnecessarily delay action, since the act of folding takes all of a micro-second there is no need for preparation. Showing early that you are readying to fold signals that you are weak to players who have not yet acted.

Passive review of your notes is not only time-consuming, it’s also been shown to be completely ineffective. And yet, this is what most teachers recommend. It’s what “good students” do. But as with habit #1, this robotic type of study is not suited to the way the human memory system stores new information. Name of Unit: Readers Build Good Habits Length of Unit: 4 weeks Overview of Unit: This unit will prepare students for Reader’s Workshop by teaching behaviors and strategies they will need to read independently, as part as a class, and with a partner. They will learn to set goals and build stamina. Luckily, old habits and new distractions don't have to stand in the way of your college degree. Incorporate these top ten effective study habits for college students into your daily routine, and watch yourself blossom into a capable, disciplined college student. In order to keep yourself from becoming a statistic, you need some study hacks. That’s why we’ve compiled the 5 best and most productive study habits you can develop before it’s too late. Remember, having a worry-free semester of straight A’s is much more fun than failing out and missing your calling as a Jedi Poker Master.

While that may not matter to you in that particular hand — after all, you're folding — it could come back to bite you in future hands when your failure to act in this manner may prevent players with borderline hands from entering the pot. Seeing you aren't about to fold, they may figure you are strong and fold themselves, thereby depriving you of their money.

2. Looking to the right when you know you're going to fold

You do not want to reveal what you are going to do by showing any physical reaction to your cards, not until everyone who has yet to act before you has done so.

Looking to the right so you can immediately find out when it is your turn to fold is just giving your opponents free information — not just about your weak hand, but about future strong hands when you fail to look.

3. Counting chips in anticipation of betting

This is truly a 'newbie' mistake — getting ready to put in a bet when you have a good hand by getting the chips ready early. There's no need to do this. You can and should delay the quick action of the game by waiting until it is your turn to act before you count out any chips you're going to use to call or raise a bet.

4. Slow playing strong flops

Beginning and intermediate players often do this automatically. They try to get 'clever' by habitually playing their very strong hands slowly. When they hit a set on the flop, for example, they automatically refuse to betray the strength of their hand, only checking or calling a bet.

This is a very bad habit to get into, as many times, if not most of the time, the better action is to be aggressive. Your aggression or passivity should be determined by the situation you are in, not your habit of play. You need to turn off the auto-pilot, and think through the most profitable line of play for each situation.

5. Talking when you hit your hand

There is often a strong internal release of energy when you hit strong hands. One behavior that frequently results as a manifestation of that energy release is to start talking. Many players — new, intermediate, and veterans alike — just can't seem to refrain from playful banter when they are feeling particularly good about their chances of winning.

Plug up this leak by stifling the urge to talk when you're very strong.

6. Glancing at chips on a strong flop

Many players instinctively look down at their chips when they hit a good hand on the flop. It's a classic tell that has made observant players millions.

Avoid this tell by consciously refraining from this eye movement after you look at the flop, no matter how it helps or hurts your hand.

7. Staring at the board on the flop

Much like the last tell, many players can't resist the temptation to continue to look at the flop when it misses their cards. Don't do that. Adopt the same practice of briefly looking at the flop and then looking somewhere else — again, no matter how it helps or hurts your hand.

8. Resting on elbows and slouching

These and other habits of movement and posture at the poker table can be extremely draining and can even be injurious over time. At the very least, the habit of leaning down on your elbows and collapsing your head and neck into your shoulders will drain energy and prematurely end what might be an otherwise long and profitable session.

Replace this bad habit by consciously allowing your head and torso to be more erect and your shoulders more relaxed.

9. Drinking alcohol

Alcohol diminishes your ability to think. Habitually drinking is absolutely detrimental to your game. Sure, having a beer or glass of wine from time to time might be fine, but know that drinking too much necessarily undermines your ability to win.

10. Playing interactive games at the table

I see many players focused not on the action at the table but on interactive games on their tablet (or phone). They do this constantly. While poker does get boring — especially when bad or inexperienced players take forever to act — having an engaging distraction that keeps your head out of the game can only hurt you.

Need something else to do? Have a static activity like a crossword puzzle or a book (on your tablet or phone if you want) that doesn't continue without you when you are attending to the poker game. Any other, ongoing game that will constantly draw you away from the poker game — because you can't resist the urge to continue with the other game's action — is anathema to solid play.

11. Smoking

Yes, I know it's really an addiction, not just a habit. Even so, I include it here because it has much the same effect as a habit. Players who would otherwise be engaged in the hand are frequently distracted when at the tables by their need to smoke, and (of course) often driven to leave the poker game, poker room, and building that houses the poker game in order to satisfy that need.

While regular, intentional breaks from the action do make sense, doing so out of a compulsion or addiction to smoking doesn't.

12. Sitting in the first seat you see

Get out of the habit of automatically and quickly getting into the first seat in the first game you see upon entering a poker room. You want the best seat in the best game. And if there are no good games, you may want to pass on a session entirely.

The difference between a seat in a good game and a seat in the first seat available could well be the difference between a winning and losing session. If you're in the habit of taking the first seat you see without scoping out the games, you're depriving yourself of one of the best opportunities to engage in profitable play.

13. Gambling

Ironic though it sounds, gambling is a terrible habit for many poker players that sucks from their pockets money that might otherwise be the profitable product of good poker play. By gambling I mean playing those casino games that are always negative EV for the player — like dice, roulette, Keno, blackjack, sports betting and horse racing for most players. (If you're a skilled blackjack player or a successful sports or horse handicapper, well, maybe that's an exception.)

Even so, if your head is in the latest horse race or sporting contest, you're probably not giving the requisite attention to the poker game you're in, costing you money in the process.

Ashley Adams has been playing poker for 50 years and writing about it since 2000. He is the author of hundreds of articles and two books, Winning 7-Card Stud (Kensington 2003) and Winning No-Limit Hold'em (Lighthouse 2012). He is also the host of poker radio show House of Cards. See for broadcast times, stations, and podcasts.

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Study skills, academic skill, or study strategies are approaches applied to learning. They are generally critical to success in school,[1] considered essential for acquiring good grades, and useful for learning throughout one's life.

Study skills are an array of skills which tackle the process of organizing and taking in new information, retaining information, or dealing with assessments. They include mnemonics, which aid the retention of lists of information; effective reading; concentration techniques;[2] and efficient note taking.[3]

While often left up to the student and their support network, study skills are increasingly taught in high school and at the university level.

More broadly, any skill which boosts a person's ability to study, retain and recall information which assists in and passing exams can be termed a study skill, and this could include time management and motivational techniques.

Study skills are discrete techniques that can be learned, usually in a short time, and applied to all or most fields of study. They must therefore be distinguished from strategies that are specific to a particular field of study (e.g. music or technology), and from abilities inherent in the student, such as aspects of intelligence or learning styles.

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  • 2Types

Historical context[edit]

The term study skills is used for general approaches to learning, skills for specific courses of study. There are many theoretical works on the subject, including a vast number of popular books and websites. Manuals for students have been published since the 1940s[citation needed].

In the 1950s and 1960s, college instructors in the fields of psychology and the study of education used research, theory, and experience with their own students in writing manuals.[4][5] Marvin Cohn based the advice for parents in his 1978 book Helping Your Teen-Age Student on his experience as a researcher and head of a university reading clinic that tutored teenagers and young adults.[6] In 1986, when Dr. Gary Gruber’s Essential Guide to Test Taking for Kids was first published, the author had written 22 books on taking standardized tests. A work in two volumes, one for upper elementary grades and the other for middle school, the Guide has methods for taking tests and completing schoolwork.[7][8]


Rehearsal and rote learning[edit]

Memorization is the process of committing something to memory. The act of memorization is often a deliberate mental process undertaken in order to store in memory for later recall items such as experiences, names, appointments, addresses, telephone numbers, lists, stories, poems, pictures, maps, diagrams, facts, music or other visual, auditory, or tactical information. Memorization may also refer to the process of storing particular data into the memory of a device. One of the most basic approaches to learning any information is simply to repeat it by rote. Typically this will include reading over notes or a textbook, and re-writing notes.

Reading and listening[edit]

The weakness with rote learning is that it implies a passive reading and listening style. Educators such as John Dewey have argued that students need to learn critical thinking – questioning and weighing up evidence as they learn. This can be done during lectures or when reading books.

A method that is useful during the first interaction with the subject of study is REAP method. This method helps students to improve their understanding of the text and bridge the idea with that of the author's. REAP is an acronym for Read, Encode, Annotate and Ponder.[9]

  1. Read: Reading a section to discern the idea.
  2. Encode: Paraphrasing the idea from the author's perspective to the student's own words.
  3. Annotate: Annotating the section with critical understanding and other relevant notes.
  4. Ponder: To ponder about what they read through thinking, discussing with others and reading related materials. Thus it allows possibility of elaboration and fulfillment of zone of proximal development.

Annotating and Encoding helps the student reprocess the content into concise and coherent knowledge which adds a meaningful symbolic fund of knowledge. Precise annotation, Organizing question annotation, Intentional annotation and Probe annotation are some of the annotation methods used.

A student of the University of British Columbia studies for his final exams using the PQRST method.

A method used to focus on key information when studying from books uncritically is the PQRST method.[10] This method prioritizes the information in a way that relates directly to how they will be asked to use that information in an exam. PQRST is an acronym for Preview, Question, Read, Summary, Test.[11]

  1. Preview: The student looks at the topic to be learned by glancing over the major headings or the points in the syllabus.
  2. Question: The student formulates questions to be answered following a thorough examination of the topic(s).
  3. Read: The student reads through the related material, focusing on the information that best relates to the questions formulated earlier.
  4. Summary: The student summarizes the topic, bringing his or her own understanding into the process. This may include written notes, spider diagrams, flow diagrams, labeled diagrams, mnemonics, or even voice recordings.
  5. Test: The student answers the questions drafted earlier, avoiding adding any questions that might distract or change the subject.

There are a variety of studies from different colleges nationwide that show peer-communication can help increase better study habits tremendously. One study shows that an average of 73% score increase was recorded by those who were enrolled in the classes surveyed.[citation needed]

Importance Of Good Study Habits

Speed reading, while trainable, results in lower accuracy, comprehension, and understanding[12].

Flashcard training[edit]

Good Study Habits For Kids

Flashcards are visual cues on cards. These have numerous uses in teaching and learning, but can be used for revision. Students often make their own flashcards, or more detailed index cards – cards designed for filing, often A5 size, on which short summaries are written. Being discrete and separate, they have the advantage of allowing students to re-order them, pick a selection to read over, or choose randomly for self-testing. Software equivalents can be used.


Summary methods vary depending on the topic, but most involve condensing the large amount of information from a course or book into shorter notes. Often, these notes are then condensed further into key facts.

Organized summaries: Such as outlines showing keywords and definitions and relations, usually in a tree structure.

Building good poker study habits chart

Spider diagrams: Using spider diagrams or mind maps can be an effective way of linking concepts together. They can be useful for planning essays and essay responses in exams. These tools can give a visual summary of a topic that preserves its logical structure, with lines used to show how different parts link together.

Visual imagery[edit]

Some learners are thought to have a visual learning style, and will benefit greatly from taking information from their studies which are often heavily verbal, and using visual techniques to help encode and retain it in memory.

Some memory techniques make use of visual memory, for example the method of loci, a system of visualising key information in real physical locations e.g. around a room.

Diagrams are often underrated tools.[citation needed] They can be used to bring all the information together and provide practice reorganizing what has been learned in order to produce something practical and useful. They can also aid the recall of information learned very quickly, particularly if the student made the diagram while studying the information. Pictures can then be transferred to flashcards that are very effective last-minute revision tools rather than rereading any written material.

Acronyms and mnemonics[edit]

A mnemonic is a method of organizing and memorizing information. Some use a simple phrase or fact as a trigger for a longer list of information. For example, the cardinal points of the compass can be recalled in the correct order with the phrase 'Never Eat Shredded Wheat'. Starting with North, the first letter of each word relates to a compass point in clockwise order round a compass.

Exam strategies[edit]

The Black-Red-Green method (developed through the Royal Literary Fund) helps the student to ensure that every aspect of the question posed has been considered, both in exams and essays.[13] The student underlines relevant parts of the question using three separate colors (or some equivalent). BLAck denotes 'BLAtant instructions', i.e. something that clearly must be done; a directive or obvious instruction. REd is a REference Point or REquired input of some kind, usually to do with definitions, terms, cited authors, theory, etc. (either explicitly referred to or strongly implied). GREen denotes GREmlins, which are subtle signals one might easily miss, or a ‘GREEN Light’ that gives a hint on how to proceed, or where to place the emphasis in answers [1]. Another popular method whilst studying is to P.E.E; Point, evidence and explain, reason being, this helps the student break down exam questions allowing them to maximize their marks/grade during the exam. Many Schools will encourage practicing the P.E. BEing method prior to an exam.


Spacing, also called distributed learning by some; helps individuals remember at least as much if not more information for a longer period of time than using only one study skill. Using spacing in addition to other study methods can improve retention and performance on tests.[14] Spacing is especially useful for retaining and recalling new material.[14] The theory of spacing is that instead of cramming all studying into one long study session an individual would split that single session to a few shorter sessions that are hours, if not days apart. Studying will not last longer than it would have originally and one is not working harder but this tool gives the user the ability to remember and recall things for a longer time period. The science behind this; according to Jost’s Law from 1897 “If two associations are of equal strength but of different age, a new repetition has a greater value for the older one”.[15] This means that if a person were to study two things once, at different times, the one studied most recently will be easier to recall.

Time management, organization and lifestyle changes[16][edit]

Often, improvements to the effectiveness of study may be achieved through changes to things unrelated to the study material itself, such as time-management, boosting motivation and avoiding procrastination, and in improvements to sleep and diet.

Time management in study sessions aims to ensure that activities that achieve the greatest benefit are given the greatest focus. A traffic lights system is a simple way of identifying the importance of information, highlighting or underlining information in colours:

Building Good Poker Study Habits
  • Green: topics to be studied first; important and also simple
  • Amber: topics to be studied next; important but time-consuming
  • Red: lowest priority; complex and not vital.

This reminds students to start with the things which will provide the quickest benefit, while 'red' topics are only dealt with if time allows. The concept is similar to the ABC analysis, commonly used by workers to help prioritize. Also, some websites (such as FlashNotes) can be used for additional study materials and may help improve time management and increase motivation.

In addition to time management, sleep is important; getting adequate rest improves memorisation.[17] Students are generally more productive in the morning than the afternoon. [18]


In addition to time management and sleep, emotional state of mind can matter when a student is studying. If an individual is calm or nervous in class; replicating that emotion can assist in studying. With replicating the emotion an individual is more likely to recall more information if they are in the same state of mind when in class. This also goes the other direction; if one is upset but normally calm in class it’s much better to wait until they are feeling calmer to study. At the time of the test or class they will remember more. [19]

Study environment[edit]

Studying can also be more effective if one changes their environment while studying. For example: the first time studying the material, one can study in a bedroom, the second time one can study outside, and the final time one can study in a coffee shop. The thinking behind this is that as when an individual changes their environment the brain associates different aspects of the learning and gives a stronger hold and additional brain pathways with which to access the information. In this context environment can mean many things; from location, to sounds, to smells, to other stimuli including foods. When discussing environment in regards to its effect on studying and retention Carey says “a simple change in venue improved retrieval strength (memory) by 40 percent.”[20] Another change in the environment can be background music; if people study with music playing and they are able to play the same music during test time they will recall more of the information they studied.[21] According to Carey “background music weaves itself subconsciously into the fabric of stored memory.”[22] This “distraction” in the background helps to create more vivid memories with the studied material.[22]

Homework completion is typically irrelevant to academic performance. [23]


Analogies can create misleading or superficial mental models in learners.[24]

Concept mapping[edit]

There is some support for the efficacy of concept mapping as a learning tool.[25]

Good Habits For Life

See also[edit]


  1. ^'Contributions of Study Skills to Academic Competence'. Educational Resources Information Center. ISSN0279-6015. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  2. ^Bremer, Rod. The Manual: A Guide to the Ultimate Study Method (Second ed.). Fons Sapientiae Publishing. ISBN978-0993496424.
  3. ^ March 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^Preston, Rah (1959). Teaching Study Habits and Skills, Rinehart. Original from the University of Maryland digitized August 7, 2006.
  5. ^Kranyik, Robert and Shankman, Florence V. (1963). How to Teach Study Skills, Teacher’s Practical Press.
  6. ^Cohn, Marvin (1979). Helping Your Teen-age Student: What Parents Can Do to Improve Reading and Study Skills, Dutton, ISBN978-0-525-93065-5.
  7. ^Gruber, Gary (1986). Dr. Gary Gruber’s Essential Guide to Test Taking for Kids, Grades 3, 4, 5, Quill, ISBN978-0-688-06350-4.
  8. ^Gruber, Gary (1986). Dr. Gary Gruber’s Essential Guide to Test Taking for Kids, Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, Quill, ISBN978-0-688-06351-1.
  9. ^Sheryn Spencer-Waterman (9 January 2014). Handbook on Differentiated Instruction for Middle & High Schools. Routledge. p. 61. ISBN978-1-317-93008-2.
  10. ^Gopalakrishnan, Karthika (2009-01-08). 'Students tackle stress as board exams draw'. The Times Of India.
  11. ^Stangl, Werner. 'The PQRST Method of Studying'., Francis Pleasant (1970). Effective study. New York: Harper & Row.
  12. ^
  13. ^Royal Literary Fund: Mission Possible: the Study Skills Pack
  14. ^ abCarey, Benedict (2015). The Surprising Truth About How We Learn And Why It Happens. New York: Random House. pp. 65–66. ISBN978-0-8129-8429-3.
  15. ^Carey, Benedict (2015). The Surprising Truth About How We Learn And Why It Happens. New York: Random House. p. 68. ISBN978-0-8129-8429-3.
  16. ^College Success: Study Strategies and Skills, Jean A. Reynolds, ©1996 by Allyn & Bacon, Boston
  17. ^Study Efficiently TeenLife Media, January, 2015
  18. ^
  19. ^Carey, Benedict (2015). The Surprising Truth About How We Learn And Why It Happens. New York: Random House. p. 47. ISBN978-0-8129-8429-3.
  20. ^Carey, Benedict (2015). The Surprising Truth About How We Learn And Why It Happens. New York: Random House. p. 62. ISBN978-0-8129-8429-3.
  21. ^Carey, Benedict (2015). The Surprising Truth About How We Learn And Why It Happens. New York: Random House. p. 50. ISBN978-0-8129-8429-3.
  22. ^ abCarey, Benedict (2015). The Surprising Truth About How We Learn And Why It Happens. New York: Random House. p. 51. ISBN978-0-8129-8429-3.
  23. ^
  24. ^Malamed, Connie (2013). 'How To Write Better Analogies For Learning'. The eLearning Coach. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  25. ^Boucquey, Noelle Christiane (1 April 2015). 'The concept map: a learning tool for any subject'. Stanford University. Retrieved 5 July 2019.

Building Good Poker Study Habits 2017

External links[edit]

Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Study Skills
  • Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology from Association for Psychological Science
  • Academic learning strategy videos from Dartmouth College provide skills training
  • Think You Know How To Study? Think Again - audio report by NPR

Good Habits To Have

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