I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine a few days ago that has been studying and learning poker for nearly a year. I asked them how much playing time they had logged and was shocked to find that they had only played less than twenty hours of online poker in that year. The times when they had played had either resulted on losses or they hadn’t made money despite the stake levels being low. I asked them why they had spent so little time actually playing the game and the answer that they gave me back was that they felt that they didn’t know enough.
The fact of the matter is that no matter how much studying you do on poker, you will always feel like you don’t know enough. This is a natural process because making money at poker requires that you have a combination of skill and knowledge and skill can only be acquired by actually doing something. So the bottom line is that you simply have to play poker because it will be the very act of playing poker that propels you into making good money. I believe that this process applies to any skilled based activity.
There is a name for unskilled poker players who know an awful lot about the game and that is “book smarts”. These are players that “know” the game and can talk the talk. However, this is about all they can do because when it comes to comparing results then this is where many of them fall short and they cannot explain what the reasons are. There has to be a perfect balance between studying and learning and playing. To ask the question of which is the most important is a bit like asking which engine is the most important on a twin-engine airplane… they both have equal importance.
It is very difficult to make money playing online poker simply by playing and doing nothing else. How can you possibly be sure that you are doing the right things? Also it is a mistake to assume that you “know” the game simply because you have read loads of poker books and joined a coaching site. Much of what really makes you a poker player is derived from actually playing the game. The process of finding out your strengths and weaknesses can only be done after playing and not before.
The fact of the matter is that the best poker book in the world (whatever that is) cannot make you a great poker player. If it was that simple then the world would be full of millions of great poker players. The fact that it isn’t and the fact that many of the best players in the world haven’t read a poker book in their entire lives means that poker is a skill-based activity where the real teacher is the game itself. So remember that studying is important but so is putting in the hours.