Most players treat improving their poker skills as a solo affair. The average player dedicates a few hours each week towards learning new strategic concepts and reviewing their own poker sessions.
A dedicated individual can boost their skills greatly through these efforts. However, many will find it difficult to stay consistent when working alone.
Poker study groups can remedy this problem. By discussing strategy with other players, you can accelerate your improvement.
The only problem is that you may have no idea where to begin in this matter. That said, we’ll cover more on poker study groups along with how you can form your own.
What Is a Poker Study Group?
A poker study group is a collection of players who work together to improve their games. Members can exchange ideas, discuss hands, and try to motivate each other.
Such groups aren’t generic in nature.
Instead, study groups are typically focused on niche. Here’s an example on possible parameters for membership requirements:
- Multi-table tournament player
- Medium stakes
- 2+ years of experience
- Fair level of strategy knowledge
Once a group comes together, they’ll usually decide what areas they want to collectively focus on. Here are some possibilities:
- Analyzing hands
- Book discussions
- Hand analysis
- Mental side/tilt
- Sweating each other’s sessions
These are just some generic examples of what a study group may concentrate on. But you can see that most of these groups are focused and determined on getting better.
Benefits of Study Groups
The most obvious benefit to joining a study group is that you can improve your game. When discussing different matters with other players, you can quickly accelerate your learning curve by gaining access to new ideas.
For example, you may be reviewing one of your previous hands and still aren’t sure about what to do in this specific situation. But one of the players in your study group may have a better perspective on how to handle it.
Likewise, you can play the instructor role yourself by giving advice to others in your group. You’ll improve just by thinking about different hands/situations and offering tips to other players.
Accountability is another advantage to joining/starting one of these circles. As a member, you’re expected to contribute your knowledge to others.
You’re more likely to keep up with studying strategy so that you can bring something to the table. After all, you don’t want to be the person who’s just leeching off everybody else’s ideas.
Finally, you can also look forward to making poker friends through these groups. The key goal of this game is to make money, but having a few friends who share your interests on the side isn’t a bad thing.
Should You Join or Create a Group?
You don’t actually have to create a poker study group from scratch. Instead, you can find plenty of existing groups already.
The easiest way to get started is by presenting your qualifications to a group and asking to join. Assuming they approve, you can get started with learning or discussing strategy right away without the need to find members.
However, joining a poker study circle is easier said than done. Certain groups have really specific qualifications that you may fail to meet, even if you believe otherwise.
One more matter to consider is how dedicated you’ll be if you merely jump into somebody else’s group. Given that you have no responsibility to run the study sessions, then you may be more tempted to drop out at a later date.
The key challenge, though, is finding enough motivated players to join you on your strategy journey.
Assuming you already have some poker friends who are adept at the game, then forming the foundation will be a lot easier. However, odds are that you’re one of the many people who need to recruit like-minded players online.
Ways to Create a Poker Study Group
As mentioned above, you may have some difficulty in putting a study group together. But you can use the following tips to band together some good poker minds.
Make an Announcement on a Forum
The most common way to kick off your study group is by making a forum thread. You can visit a site like Two Plus Two or CardsChat and post in the relevant section.
When creating your post, you want to be very specific about exactly what you’re looking for. Mention the stakes, poker format, and topics that you’ll be discussing.
With any luck, several players will be interested in joining. You’ll then be tasked with deciding if every interested candidate can bring value to the group.
You may also want to provide the link to a discord where you’ll be meeting. You can simply paste this link underneath your group requirements.
Create an Open Study Group on a Forum
You don’t have to go off-forum in order to discuss poker strategy with a group. Instead, you can make the discussion open and publicly available to anybody who wants to contribute.
With this process, you simply need to follow the steps covered in the above tip. The only difference is that you won’t create a discord just for your study group.
The benefit to this route is that you don’t have to work as hard to find specific members. However, the downside is that you might not get as motivated or talented of individuals with an open discussion.
Meet With Poker Buddies in Person
The ideal scenario is that you already know a few players who enjoy playing poker in the US you can study with. Assuming you’ve been around the game for a long time, you might have developed relationships with other players who compete in roughly the same format and stakes.
In this case, you can actually meet with your buddies in person. As long as you’re all from the same city, this situation will be even easier.
Of course, you may decide to discuss strategy online instead. This option will especially be attractive if one or more members live in a different city.
Create a Facebook Group
One more route for setting up your poker study group involves creating a Facebook group. Most people today have Facebook, so finding relevant group members shouldn’t be overly difficult.
You can again make a forum post that discusses your group and goals. Or, you can always post on a poker-related Facebook page.
Whatever the case may be, you simply need to get the word out about your Facebook group. The more eyes that see your post, the more likely you are to find quality contributors.
How Should a Poker Study Group Be Run?
No perfect blueprint exists for how you should run a poker study group. However, you at least need some plan in mind for how the studying will go.
The first matter involves deciding how everybody will communicate. Forums, Facebook messenger, Skype, and Discord can all work.
The only problem with these options is that they rely on everybody to be present to get the full effect. Given that you’re all likely to have different schedules, you must agree upon times to (virtually) meet.
Consistent scheduling is key to preventing this from happening and keeping everybody engaged.
You also need to ensure that your study sessions don’t devolve into one specific type of studying. For example, some groups don’t focus enough on discussing other strategy concepts.
You want to be upfront that your group will be covering a number of topics. If you want to also discuss poker strategy books and goals, then make sure that this is apparent right away.
Keep Your Study Group Going
Poker study groups don’t last forever. They typically dissipate after several months, if that.
You shouldn’t expect your group to be immortal, but you can at least keep it going for years with the proper effort.
The biggest thing you can do is to continue making sure that your group is active. As long as you remain motivated and continue pushing others, then the collective is more likely to keep learning.
You should push other players to make it to the discussions on time and contribute. Hopefully, you won’t need to push too hard.
Assuming one or more members continually miss sessions, you may decide to kick them out. Doing so ensures that only committed members remain part of the circle.
Will a Poker Study Group Help You Become Far Better?
A poker study group isn’t a foolproof method of becoming a highly successful poker pro. However, you can definitely improve your chances of being good if you stick to solo sessions.
The members can push each other to remain committed and become stronger players. As the group leader, you especially play a huge role in making this happen.
Again, you can always join somebody else’s group. If you’re highly motivated, you’ll get more out of a collective that you lead.
Of course, poker study groups are only as good as the people involved. Without proper scheduling or guidelines, your chances of learning meaningful strategy are slimmer.
Don’t allow your study group to become a free-for-all with no structure. You should instead make sure that your group has relevant members, a consistent schedule, and strict guidelines.
You’ll indeed become a really good poker player if you keep your group running for years and contributing quality advice to each other.
The biggest decision that you’ll have with regard to poker study groups involves whether you’ll join or create one. I suggest the latter if you truly want to maximize your time from the experience.
By creating a group, you can dictate the studying topics and direction. You’ll also have authority to boot a member who isn’t contributing.
Of course, the point of forming these study circles isn’t to gain power. Instead, your goal should be to maximize the value that everybody gets from the strategy discussions.
As for forming the group, you can make an announcement through a forum post or meet with people that you know in person. The latter doesn’t happen very often, so you’ll most likely be recruiting members online.
From here, you can decide on a schedule and how to communicate. Facebook messenger, forums, Discords, and Skype will all do. You also want to push everybody to keep the group going. After all, you’ll get more long-term benefits if everybody remains engaged.