Realistic 'Hands Played' goals

EVLGEVLG Red Chipper Posts: 16 ✭✭
Hi everyone,

I'm looking to start the new year right and get a study plan together with realistic weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I keep seeing that hands played is a good goal to set yourself so I want to start here. I play micro cash and MTT (need to be stricter about sticking to cash games though!) but have never really thought about the amount of hands I play.

I understand that everyone is different and it all depends on how much time you dedicate to playing so if we stick to cash examples, to give you an idea, I play 2 tables at a time currently and looking to dedicate 12-15 hours a week (can adjust though) at the tables.

I want to push myself and get the most out of my time playing so if anyone has examples of initial goals they set or where they are now that would be great, thanks.


  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,440 -
    edited January 2021
    As most of you know, I'm the company heretic and contrarian. And I think nearly all goals are garbage.

    Ironically, what nobody ever seems to address is "what is the goal of this goal?"

    I can get behind the idea that, with a boat load of caveats, the more hands of poker we play, the better we get at poker. And I can see that getting better at poker is a sensible, if somewhat nebulous, goal.

    So how do you arrive at a magic number of hands? No idea. You may be able to find an optimal session length, and figuring out the number of tables you can play efficiently is important. Within that framework, play the number of hands that dovetails with the rest of your life and that keeps poker fun.

    One other point. If another one of your goals is to be profitable, why do you think it's necessary/desirable to focus on cash games?
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  • EVLGEVLG Red Chipper Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Thank you for the reply, very good points presented. For me the point of a 'Hands Played' goal can be explained in a few parts, I'll try to keep it short while still explaining my logic. I agree that goals can be garbage but for me they keep me focused and on track.

    First of all I am very new to the game with a lot to learn and experience to gain, definitely at a conscious incompetence level of understanding. Having played sports my whole life and putting myself out of my comfort zone I've found that 'reps' are a very important part of growth in whatever area you choose. Then you have concepts such as the 10,000 hour rule (which I don't fully agree with but it definitely has merit) that I like to use as a base for improvement and hands played is an easy transfer of this.

    Also, with being at a conscious imcompetance level of understanding I'm looking at what others have suggested and hands played comes up all the time; the problem being no one really suggests what this number should be. I completely agree that pushing yourself too much will lead to burn out but I also believe you need to push yourself to improve and finding that balance is delicate.

    The main reason (and I hadn't really thought about this so thank you for making me think along these lines) is that I love a goal that I can achieve regardless of how varience is affecting me and keep me level headed. I would love to - and have had - profit related goals but I found this very demotivating when you're not getting close to where you want to be and even worse when on a downswing. I think this 'goal' isn't as black and white as I first thought and will take some weeks of regular playing to figure out myself.

    With your last question it comes down to personally finding I am in more control in cash games. When playing at micro MTTs (again just my experience - and lack thereof) you are at the whim of wild plays every few hands and crazy beats that the villain shouldn't be playing in a million years but do out of boredom or trying their luck because it only cost them a couple $ to enter. With cash it is much easier to step away from any hand you don't feel comfortable with.

    Don't get me wrong, I love MTTs, this is where I would love to improve and spend all my time playing but with profit being the ultimate goal of this game I've realised this is more likely to occur (as of now at least) in cash games.
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,440 -
    Okay, good. You've clearly thought about this a lot and have a healthy attitude towards this whole goal thing.

    To get back to your original question, yes volume is useful. I'm a firm believer in the idea of building towards unconscious competence through reps. I think the important balance early on in your training is that reviewing hands needs to be incorporated in playing a lot of them. And as @Red frequently reminds us, a single hand review may take several hours.

    For this reason, I think playing a set number of hours/month may be a better approach, partly because it also allows you to dedicate a similar goal for study and review.
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  • Chris_VChris_V BoiseRed Chipper Posts: 181 ✭✭
    I'm currently thinking about hands played vs. off table study also. When it comes to "reps" I remember in my golf game I could go out and hit bucket after bucket and still not see any improvement with my slice. Once I got a "good coach" (plenty of bad ones out there) to show me some of the basics I was doing wrong I was able to correct the slice and start to improve.

    I find the same with poker. I have played thousands of hands but I've found doing the "reps" isn't all that productive when I still have major flaws in my game that I keep repeating.

    My approach to hands played now is making sure I use poker tracking software so I can gather statistics, review my play, and look for the possible weaknesses in my player pool. I'm really getting a lot from Adam Jones' videos on using a database to find weak spots.

    In the online games I play I can get around 60 hands per hour per game. I've read that a good database should have at least 50K hands to get relevant data. So sitting at one table would take 800hrs to get to 50K. A goal for me may be to get 800hrs in a year. I will probably have to work on my multi-tabling skills for volume. Thanks for posting this question got me to think realistically about how much I should play per week as practice.
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,440 -
    Slightly off topic, but one of the irritations I found when LHE died and NLHE took over online was how damn slow the games were. Multitabling 6-max LHE I could get 4k hands/day without going completely bug-eyed. Even if others were playing with a reasonable cadence, the added complexity of NLHE even with preset action buttons just reduced my volume.
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  • EVLGEVLG Red Chipper Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Thanks both for your input on this topic, especially agree with finding the right coaching and working on correcting mistakes. You don't want to build on bad foundations.

    I think the hours played is a great alternative that will force me to focus on hand reviews more while still looking to achieve unconscious competence. I have saved countless hands that I haven't spent enough time looking over and critically evaluated to see where my leaks truely are. It will also make me adjust to my current workload rather than force something that might not be there.

    Thanks again, you'll see plenty of me in the hand review page!

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