In November 2023, we published an article called HANDLING CRITICISM AND FEEDBACK IN THE POKER COMMUNITY. In it, we discussed the psychological aspects of handling feedback in the form of negative comments and criticism from other players.

Negative feedback can be hard to take, but feedback can play a positive role in your development as a poker player. This topic is what we want to talk about in this 888poker article.

Seeking out and using feedback is one of the fastest ways to learn and get better. To improve your poker game, you must consider each session more than just a collection of winning and losing hands.

Instead, see each hand as an opportunity to learn and improve your game with feedback.

Using feedback correctly can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses while making the appropriate adjustments.

The Concept of Feedback Loops

In performance psychology, we use the concept of feedback loops to explain the process of learning from experience and making iterative improvements.

Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: Feedback Loops
Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: Feedback Loops

A feedback loop has four key steps:

1. Take Action:

A feedback loop starts when you decide to take some action while playing. Importantly, it can also begin when someone else takes an action (e.g., you see an opponent play a hand differently than you).

That action kicks off the feedback loop, whether you're doing the doing or someone else.

2. Get Feedback:

Once the action is taken, you get some information (aka feedback) about your action (or another player's). You might get this information immediately in the results of the hand, or it might come later when you review your poker hand.

3. Spend Time Reflecting:

Once you have some data, use critical thinking skills to make sense of it. Poker is intriguing because sometimes we win a hand we misplayed, and sometimes we lose even though we played well.

So, we must be cautious in our interpretation of the feedback.

  • We cannot assume that because we won, we played great.
  • Or, because we lost, we played poorly.

It’s crucial to view results with a critical eye. Also, it’s essential not to fixate only on what you did well. The key to improving with feedback is to look for areas for improvement.

We always want to do more of what works while correcting our mistakes.

Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: Time Reflecting
Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: Time Reflecting

4. Make Adjustments:

Once you’ve taken the time to evaluate critically, it’s time to make some changes/improvements based on the data. This step closes the loop but starts again once you act on your new ideas.

As you can see, activating feedback loops can help you learn from your mistakes and improve your decision-making.

While poker combo hand reviews are excellent at getting feedback, there are several other ways to get feedback to improve your game.

GETTING Feedback to Improve Your Game

The following methods can help get feedback to improve your game:

Talking to other players.

Discussing hands with other players helps with getting different perspectives on how to play your hands. This type of feedback, also known as vicarious learning, allows you to learn from the experiences of more experienced players.

Just be careful about whose wisdom you’re tapping into, though! Make sure it comes from a solid player whose poker board game skill and advice you trust.

Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: GETTING
Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: GETTING Feedback

Watching videos of more advanced players.

Again, you can learn from players who are more advanced than you are by seeing the lines they take with particular hands. Whenever you watch a video – perhaps of a WPT Poker Tour event - think about how you would play a specific spot.

  • Would you do anything different?
  • Can you figure out the creator’s thought process?
  • Does it make sense for the games you play?

Thinking in this way can help you learn new strategies and techniques to try for yourself.

Using a poker tracker.

Trackers offer detailed, unbiased information about your play, which you can then use to decipher areas of improvement. They also make it easier to see patterns across large swathes of data – overriding any other Hold’em cheat sheet. Mistakes become much more evident once you get a big enough sample size.

Getting coaching.

Coaching sessions with a talented poker teacher can fast-track your progress. A good coach will review your hands and give personalised feedback on areas for improvement. They can also provide unbiased feedback. It can be challenging to assess our own play honestly, so having an outside observer is beyond helpful.

As you can see, you can gather feedback to improve your play in many ways. But you have to do more than just collect feedback. Feedback is only helpful if you are willing to act on it.

Once you’ve identified an area for improvement, making the necessary changes/adjustments is crucial.

USING Feedback to Improve Your Game

Let’s say a thorough review of your tracker shows a 20% RFI from the button when you’re 50bbs deep. After thinking about this and seeking guidance from a trusted coach, you decide you are playing far too tight. You need to raise your RFI to about 50%.

Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: USING
Role of Feedback in Poker Improvement: USING Feedback

You must work to increase your RFI percentage to close this feedback loop, which will likely take some time. You’ll have to put in many sessions to get your RFI percentage where it needs to be.

Of course, you’ll monitor your progress over time. You’ll look for any potential mistakes to correct as quickly as possible.

Using feedback diligently will correct this leak and improve your win rate.

As you can see, seeking feedback and acting on it can accelerate your learning and improve your poker game more quickly. Using feedback has several other advantages, too.

  1. Firstly, it helps you keep a growth mindset because you stop focusing on mistakes and look for ways to improve.
  2. Secondly, players with a growth mindset can better regulate their emotions at the table.

When you view mistakes as opportunities to learn and adapt, it is far less likely that you will blow your top and go on tilt. It helps you remain hopeful about your progression, motivating you to put more time into playing and studying.

Finally, using feedback enables you to develop a more strategic approach to the game. You’ll adapt your strategies based on a comprehensive analysis of past performances.

For all these reasons, start looking for ways to use feedback to improve your game.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly it can make a difference!

Dr. Tricia Cardner is the author of Positive Poker, Peak Poker Performance and co-author of Purposeful Practice for Poker. She podcasts at Poker on The Mind with her co-host Gareth James. You can find her at where she teaches poker players the most effective psychological strategies for optimal poker performance.