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Finding Leaks

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Jan 17, 2018


When working to improve their poker strategies, online players have a huge advantage over live players. They can have their poker site save their hand histories, import them to programs such as Hold’em Manager, and then see their entire strategy broken into various statistics. They can then compare their stats to the stats of the best players in the world. If the numbers line up, it is tough to be making too many significant blunders. If they are far off, they can adjust their strategy to get them closer in line.

Live players have it much tougher because their hands are not recorded and they cannot easily compare them to the best players. To make matters worse, many amateurs watch the professionals play on TV and then think to themselves either “yeah, I would have made that play” or “that play is terrible, that pro is a fish.” However, in reality, when the amateur agrees with the pro, the amateur would have actually made a slightly (or completely) different play. When they assume the pro is playing poorly, they are often failing to grasp the nuances of the game.

When working to improve your strategies, I strongly suggest you write down your hands. Make sure you keep track of your hand, the effective stack size in terms of big blinds, your position, your opponents’ positions, and all of the action on each street, including the bet sizes. Check out the short video at to see exactly how I record my hands while playing in casinos.

Once you have your hands recorded, share them with poker players you respect and ask for their opinions on your play. While getting the opinions of your non-winning buddies may be useful, it will likely not help you become a better player. Even if you do not have any friends who are excellent players, you can post the hands on various hand sharing apps like ShareMyPair and then share them with pros on Twitter. Personally, I reply to every hand that is tweeted to me @JonathanLittle.

Once you start receiving feedback from strong players, if they would play as you played, it likely means you are on the right track. If they would have played differently, you should consider their play and also try to figure out why they did not agree with your play. Many players foolishly think their strategy must be correct, which is a significant error in thinking that, if unchecked, will likely result in them going broke.

If the strong players would have played as you played in all or most of the hands you shared, if you are still not winning, perhaps you are not putting in enough volume or, more likely, you are not sharing the hands that are actually relevant. For example, if you blind out until you get A-A – J-J and A-K, you will probably play your premium hand pretty close to optimally. Your premium hands are not the problem; it is the other 97 percent of hands that you are folding (many of which you are obviously playing incorrectly). You may instead have a leak where you see lots of flops by calling with all sorts of marginal hands and then only play large pots when you make two-pair or better. You may play your premium hands fine after the flop, but the problem is that you are consistently seeing the flop with all sorts of junk and then folding too often with your marginal hands.

On top of getting the opinions of strong players, I also suggest you confirm you have the same thought process of top pros by watching their training videos. I recently launched (be sure to sign up for your free seven-day trial), a poker quiz site that forces you to tell me the action you would take, and then I let you know how I feel about your play. It is like playing with me standing over your shoulder and giving you immediate feedback. Learning in this method will put you on the fast track to success.

Many players trick themselves into thinking they are playing well whereas, in reality, they are playing horribly. Do not be one of those. Stay open-minded and consciously work hard on your game. If you fail to work on your game away from the table, you simply will not go far in poker. ♠

Jonathan LittleJonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings. Each week, he posts an educational blog and podcast at, where you can get a FREE poker training video that details five things you must master if you want to win at tournament poker. You can also sign up for his FREE Excelling at No Limit Hold’em webinars at