Is Poker Theory Important?

Poker theory is great, but poker is not about theory, diagrams, flowcharts, or checklists. Poker is all about what happens at the table: a good read, a tough lay-down, a mathematically correct call, a big bluff, a timely all-in. For me poker is about making difficult, winning decisions at the table. When you get home from poker night, your significant other doesn’t ask, “Hey, did you learn any poker theory tonight?” He or she asks if you won. If they’re really great partners, they’ll even ask, and listen to you talk, about specific hands – even bad-beat stories.

And while there is no one “correct” way to play poker, there is one universal truth on the felt: Winning at poker is much more fun than losing. With that in mind, instead of focusing on poker theory, focus on strategies that make you win more.

The benefit of poker theory is to help understand poker academically and at a level capable of beating the extremely high stakes. It’s only when hundreds or thousands of dollars are on the line and your opponents are thinking of the same poker theories that you can use what you know to get inside their heads. At lower stakes games, simply playing good poker is enough to make lots of money, since your opponents will be so terrible.

You will learn poker theory as you read more about poker. But you will learn to play poker only by playing. Intuition and experience only come from playing lots of poker hands. By the time you have played a million hands, you will likely understand more about poker theory than a player who has sat and read poker books for the same amount of time.

Many players have elected to focus on coaching sites like DeucesCracked to learn practical applications of poker theory. This can be an extremely good way to learn both theory and improve its application. This is an excellent way to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

But by far, the best way to improve at poker is to explore critical hands that will help you take your game to the next level. Reviewing hands with friends or even a coach often leads to the fastest development as a player. In short, focus on real changes to your poker game, not learning more and more poker theory, to see the best results.

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