How to Properly Review Your Poker Sessions

Man Sitting Playing Poker, Poker Chips in Front of Him
For most online poker players, a session ends when they exit the tables. But those who want to better their games may go the extra mile by reviewing their sessions after the fact.

Post-session analysis may not be the most exciting aspect of poker. However, it can pay big dividends and help fix your leaks.

That said, I’m going to discuss more on reviewing your sessions along with the finer points on how it can be done.

What Is Post-Session Analysis in Poker?

Post-session analysis is simply the matter of reviewing your poker session after the fact. You can either review a few hands or a larger sample, depending on your preferences.

Of course, studying your own play is easier said than done. You need a good idea on exactly what to look over.

Some people recommend that you study your top hands to see what you do right. Others suggest focusing on your worst hands, so that you can improve upon mistakes for the next time you gamble with real money.

As long as you’re doing any type of analysis at all, you’re ahead of most players. But the goal is to get more out of these post-sessions by knowing exactly what to look for.

Assuming you’re totally new to studying your sessions, you may feel like every hand and street is worth examining. However, this isn’t really the case. Given that there are only 24 hours in a day, you need to narrow your focus.

How to Pick Which Poker Hands to Study

Some players make the mistake of thinking that post-session analysis is all about looking over their biggest hands. This crowd thinks that big pots equate to the most important moments in poker.

However, the point of studying your sessions is to make the best decisions every time, not just win big hands. You need to eliminate leaks from your game, no matter how big or small.

Hand Holding Poker Cards Over Table

Rather than focusing on pot sizes, you should review hands that give you the most trouble. You may have no clue what to do in a certain spot and need help.

Assuming you run into a confusing situation, then you need to make a note of it immediately. One way to do so is by saving your hand history, then going back to this same spot and reviewing it later.

Another method involves using a third-party program like PokerTracker. You can use these programs to return to certain hands and look them over.

You should also consider reviewing hands where an opponent did something that you haven’t seen before. Perhaps you’re playing at stakes where three-betting with suited connectors isn’t common.

Such moves aren’t necessarily right in every instance. But you can still gain valuable insight on what to do and what not to do by examining opponents’ strategy moves.

When you do pick hands to review, be sure to wait until after your session to study them. The last thing you want to do is divide your focus between playing and looking over hands.

Get a Second Opinion From Another Poker Player

You can learn plenty just by reviewing your own hands. But you may not fully pick up on everything that’s going on or be too close to the situation.

This is where having somebody else watch your session is helpful. They can offer some objective pointers, especially if they’re a good player.

Two People Sitting Playing Poker

You can invite the player over if they live close. Or you can use screen-sharing software if they’re in a remote location. One more way to do this is to send them some choice hand histories.

You might even consider starting a poker study group with fellow players. Group members can take turns sweating sessions for each other and offering helpful suggestions.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll find that getting a second opinion is ideal. But what exactly should you expect from a poker friend or study group?

A good place to begin is by first reviewing a hand(s) yourself. From here, you can tell the other person what you think is the best play in this particular hand or spot.

They can then look it over and give their assessment. Assuming they’re more experienced than you, they may have a better opinion on the matter.

A more ideal scenario is if you can get multiple people to look at the situation. Several opinions on playing a certain spot are better than one outside voice.

Of course, the key thing to consider here is that you’re merely getting opinions. Outsiders don’t always have the best advice on your game.

Even still, it’s always good to have others’ perspectives. You’ll especially benefit if three to four people are saying the same thing about a hand. You can use this consensus as an answer to whatever hand or spot you’re struggling with.

Use Poker Software to Help With the Matter

Earlier, I mentioned using PokerTracker to help document your hands so that you can go back and review them. But such software can be more than just a glorified way to save hand histories.

These programs have filters that allow you to narrow down what type of hands or situations you are and aren’t doing well with. You may be a master at pre-flop betting, but your loss rate skyrockets after the flop.

You’ll need some serious hand volume before the data means anything. A database of 200 to 300 hands isn’t going to offer you much info on your tendencies.

Here are some different aspects you can filter through with third-party software:

  • Win rate in certain positions – As explained before, you may play better during specific streets or in certain seats.
  • How you fare in specific situations – You can check to see if your continuation bets, four-bets, etc. are successful the majority of the time.
  • Your performance against certain types of opponents – Poker software can compile stats on opponents. It also shows how you fare against each type of opponent (e.g. LAG, TAG, etc).
  • How well you play different hands – Are you squeezing proper value out of pocket aces? Do you struggle with pocket 10s? These are the types of questions that software can help answer.

One problem with third-party programs is that they can be overwhelming at first. Many recreational players don’t get past the trial phase because they don’t want to deal with processing all of the information.

If you find yourself in this situation, then you can just start with the basics (e.g. certain hands, positions), then gradually work towards the in-depth aspects. An example of the latter would be figuring out how you play K-J off suit on the button.

What Will You Ultimately Gain From Post Session Analysis?

Reviewing your sessions is highly important at any level. But this analysis is especially important to beginners.

Beginners have more leaks on average than experienced players. Therefore, they need to look over their play the most.

Colored Chips and Poker Cards on Table

If you’re starting out with poker, you may find that you make certain mistakes over and over. Analyzing sessions is a good way to identify these leaks and eliminate them from your game.

Eventually, you may notice patterns in certain situations. At this point, you’ll be able to make decisions automatically and potentially be profitable at your chosen stakes.

Of course, opponents become tougher as you move up the ladder. The same ABC strategies you use in $0.05/$0.10 NL hold’em won’t work as well in $1/$2 games.

That said, you can still benefit from post-session analysis when moving up the limits. Through study, you may notice that adjustments are needed against stronger opponents.

I can’t think of a common situation where analyzing your sessions isn’t valuable. Everybody from beginners to experienced grinders can improve their games through this method.

The only possible situation where post-session analysis isn’t entirely important is when you’re first learning the game. At this juncture, you’ll want to spend the most time on basic concepts (e.g. table position, playable hands).

But other than complete beginners, everybody should consider putting the effort into studying their own game and improving poker results.

Conclusion

Post-session analysis isn’t a difficult concept to figure out. You’re merely reviewing specific hands and spots to see how you can play them better, if at all.

But this process does involve some intricacies that can speed up your improvement. First off, you need to know what type of hands to review.

You may be tempted to look at every hand in the beginning. However, this is a waste of time once you thoroughly know the basics of poker.

Instead, you want to focus on hands that leave you confused or involve something that you haven’t seen before.

With the former, you should figure out how to play certain spots so you can handle them in the future. Regarding the latter, you want to study unique plays by opponents no matter if they turn out good or bad.

Another way that you can improve is to have another person review your sessions. Preferably, you’ll find somebody who knows the game well and can give you solid opinions.

You may even opt to form a study group of players who can take turns sweating your play. This method gives you multiple opinions on how to handle certain spots.

Also, don’t forget to incorporate software into either solo or group poker session analysis. These programs not only document your hands, but they also provide filters that allow you to focus on specific situations.

Poker is definitely a game where you get out what you put in. Assuming you put the time into post-session analysis, then you’ll definitely benefit in the long run.