I share 11 problems that are costing you money and 1 simple profit boosting solution for each. Let’s get to work, people!
The original podcast episode #240 went out on June 6th, 2019:
On September 16th, 2021, I posted an addendum episode #358 called “Your INSANITY is Causing Your Losses”.
You've heard the famous line, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” In this episode, I outlined the potential bad habits (the insanity that you keep repeating!) that are causing you to NOT use the profit boosting solutions presented below. And because sometimes punishments can be more effective than incentives, I gave ideas for ways to punish yourself for continued insanity.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Choose 1 of the 11 profit boosting solutions below and implement it today. Start with the one that you have a natural, gut-reaction to. That’s the one that you know you need to work on most, so trust your gut and get to work.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
Why am I losing?
Most of my students come to me as losing players, but they don't know why. We go through their database and we find different leaks to plug and various skills to develop.
Even if my student does not ask me this question verbatim, “Why am I losing?”, this is the question I answer over and over again throughout our one-on-one sessions.
Today, I'm going to answer this question 11 times over and share with you one simple profit boosting solution for each.
With each of these items, I'll go into a little explanation of the problem and then I'll give you my simple solution.
A “simple” solution doesn't mean “easy”.
It might be a solution that contradicts your natural on-the-felt tendencies, or it might be a solution that takes a long time and a lot of practice to implement.
But I call them “simple” solutions because it is the one thing that is going to make the biggest impact to your poker profits.
11 Profit Boosting Solutions to Major Problems
Problem #1. You’re playing too many hands.
The more hands you play, the weaker you are on the flop. I know, folding a lot preflop can be boring, but embrace the fold!
The loosest players are the losingest players.
Simple Solution: Fold more often preflop. If you need more justification for this, listen again to episode #230 where I discussed ‘Waiting for Straighters’ by Tommy Angelo.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You just love seeing flops, so you limp with abandon and call loads of preflop raises because, “I just might hit something!”
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: For the next week, add up every limp and every call with a hand you know you shouldn't play that way (video demonstrating this below). Donate that many big blinds x 5 to a local charity or your church.
Problem #2. You undervalue the power of position.
You've heard me go on and on about having position in the podcast. And the reason for this is position is the most important advantage to have at the table. If there was one magical thing that you could implement that would lead to winning poker, it would be having the BTN for every hand dealt.
Simple Solution: Strive to play IP as much as possible. Call less frequently out of the blinds, 3bet more often from the CO and BTN, and raise it to a size in the earlier positions to get everyone else to fold and only the blinds to call. Strive for Bread & Butter!
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: Entering hands just based on your hole cards and NOT considering the post-flop situation you're putting yourself in.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: If you see the flop IP this week only 33% of the time, wash and detail your mother-in-law's car.
Problem #3. You don't play enough.
This is tough for LIVE players, but not for online players. You need to put in enough volume to get beyond the variance that’s inherent in poker. The more you play, the more the math will favor your +EV decisions and you’re more likely to end the week or month a winner.
Simple Solution: Put in more volume. Strive for 5,000 hands or more per month and listen to this episode on putting in more poker volume.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: Watching Netflix or any streaming service for hours each night.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: If you watch Netflix any night this week for longer than you played poker that day/night… no Netflix for 3 days!
Problem #4. You don't do the work.
Most of your time is spent playing poker and this is your opportunity to practice the strategies you're learning. But if you're not working off-the-felt to improve your strategic understanding of the game, where are your new strategies coming from? I know you want to become a better 3bet bluffer, you want to cbet more effectively and you want to use better bet sizing.
Simple Solution: Spend time off-the-felt studying. Watch videos, read articles and listen to podcasts about the strategies you want to use. Take notes and purposefully practice what you're learning. Check out this epic post on studying poker.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: 100% of your poker time is devoted to play, never to study.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: If you don't spend at least 20% of your poker time studying this week (about 15 minutes of study for every hour of play), you must donate $5 for my Anonymous Poker Exploits Course.
Problem #5. You call too much.
We know that aggressive poker is profitable poker, and passive poker is basically like playing bingo. You look down at your 2 hole cards, call preflop and you're relying on hitting a hand on the flop, the turn or the river. When you throw out the bet or raise instead, you’ve now given yourself fold equity and an additional way to win the pot.
Simple Solution: Get more aggressive with bets and raises in order to get your opponents to fold and stop relying on hitting your hand.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You call in hopes you'll win because, “What if I hit or what if he's bluffing?” You give no thought to his range or his tendencies or the price of calling.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: When you click CALL then suddenly realize that was a stupid play, you must do 10 pushups. If it happens again, do 11 pushups and so on for this week. If you get up to 25 pushups, you must buy one of my books in PDF or Audiobook format.
Problem #6. You 3bet way too small.
Your preflop 3bet is intended to do one of 3 things; either take the pot down by making everyone fold, gain value from your strongest hand or isolating a weak open-raiser. 3betting to only 6bb's, or even worse 3bb's, over a min-raise preflop doesn't accomplish any of these things. When was the last time you saw somebody fold to a 3bet of less than 6bb's? And when somebody called that 6bb's with JJ versus your AA, don't you think they still would've called 9 or even 10bb's?
Simple Solution: Make every 3bet at least 9bb's. This gives your wide open-raising opponents (and those yet to act) less of a reason to call and less of a reason to 4bet you. And when they do call and you have AA, you are getting loads of more value out of them before the flop hits.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You just hate risking any more than 6-7bb's for a 3bet bluff. And, you want to “suck them in” with your best hands to avoid them folding.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: If you 3bet to less than 9bb's even once this week, you must go out and pick weeds in the yard for 20 minutes.
Problem #7. You aren’t capable of folding even when you know you're beat.
Why can't you get it through your head that when your opponent bets big or raises on the turn or river, they only do this with a very strong hand? Think about how you play. How frequently do you bluff the turn or river with large bets and raises? For most of us, it's not often at all. I know you want to confirm your read while at the same time you hope your top pair hand is good on the 3-flush or the 4-straight board. Stop hoping and stop calling to confirm your read.
Simple Solution: Trust your gut and fold when you believe you are beat. You have confirmed your read hundreds if not thousands of times in the past. Let those prior confirmations help you see the truth that your reads are good and be content that your fold in this situation right now is the best play. Check out this episode on finding the fold.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You don't consider your opponent's range, you just call in hopes your 1 pair is good.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: Review each turn and river call that resulted in a loss this week. Add up the $ you wasted with your bad turn and river calls and donate that to a local charity or your church.
Problem #8. You don't cbet enough.
Cbetting allows you to take down a lot of small flopped pots, and these pad your win rate. You were the preflop raiser, so they know you can be holding a monster. Represent a big hand by throwing out a cbet on hard to hit boards more often.
Simple Solution: Cbet more often when you're in position, on hard to hit boards and when your opponent has a folding tendency.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You hate making failed bluffs so your fit-or-fold nature takes over and you check instead.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: When you know you should cbet bluff but you fail to pull the trigger, pause your session and go scrub down the toilet. Return to playing and it happens again? Clean the dust off the bathroom baseboards. Happens again? Mop the bathroom. Happens again? Scrub the tub. Happens again? Donate $15 to me through one of my free courses.
Problem #9. You always bet half pot.
Players don't think twice about calling 1/2 pot bets nowadays. Everyone has been trained to see half pot bets as cheap bluffs, so they don’t work as often.
Simple Solution: Start using a larger 2/3 pot or greater bet sizing. This will gain you more value when you have that really strong hand and it will gain you more frequent folds when you're bluffing. And if they fold versus your nutted hand? So be it…
Never frown when you take it down.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You don't think about what bet size will maximize your value or maximize your fold equity. Everyone bets 1/2 pot, you've trained yourself to bet 1/2 pot, so you just auto-bet 1/2 pot.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: This week, use a tick sheet to track the number of 1/2 pot bets you make. Count them up and multiply by 10 minutes. This is the number of minutes you must study bet sizing strategies this week before you play another poker session.
Problem #10. You chase poor draws.
Of course you know you shouldn't be calling with the under-gutter on the turn versus a tight player. You know you shouldn't be set mining in a 3bet pot with only a 30bb stack. You know you shouldn't call a 1.5x pot-sized raise with an open-ended straight draw.
These things are evident to you, yet you still chase poor draws and often pay too much in the process.
Simple Solution: Use outs and odds math to determine whether or not to chase your draw.
Listen to episode 325 for more on using outs and odds math. But it all boils down to this: if you’re drawing to a hand, in order to make a profitable call, the bet has to be small enough so that your chance of hitting the hand is greater than the odds you’re paying to see the next card.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You just love hitting big hands and can't help but see the magic in every flopped draw, so you call all your chips away. You're the calling station fish that you target for profits.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: When you don't consider the outs and odds math on any post-flop call before you click CALL, pause your session. Replay the hand. Count your outs, calculate the odds being offered to you, then decide if your call was justified. Resume your session and repeat if you do it again.
Problem #11. You blame others for your losses.
It's always somebody else's fault:
- The dealer
- The cards
- Your idiot opponents
- The poker site is against you
There are so many things to blame for your losses. But, the #1 perpetrator is yourself:
- You are the one who got frustrated because you were card dead and you spewed your stack with J8s.
- You are the one who tightened up too much on the bubble in hopes the shorties will bust, then you bubbled when you got down to 3bb’s with A8o.
- Played until 2am? Yep, you made that choice.
- You are the one who played with game 5 of the World Series on television.
- You are the one who chose to play T8s from UTG and barrel 3 streets with your busted flush draw and lost to a 2nd pair hand.
Simple Solution: Take responsibility for your losses and work to figure out what you can do to correct your issues. No more playing the victim.
Insane Habit Getting in the Way: You just can't accept that you're your own biggest enemy.
Punishment to Stop the Insanity: When you catch yourself saying, “Frickin' dealer!” or “Stupid river, I never hit my flush!”, you are not allowed dessert for 1 full week!
Support the Show
A ton of incredible poker peeps supported the show by purchasing my latest webinar, Finding and Plugging Leaks with PokerTracker 4. I want to thank John Walsh, Johan Cedarlund, Al Mathews, Mark Remnant, Gabriel Samson, Frank Tanner, Halfday, Kevin Summers, Tim Polumbo, David Ridge, Vidar Sorenson and Michael Kansier. There's no better webinar available for plugging 7 costly and common leaks including Small 3bets, Double-barrel Madness, Poor 2bet Calling, Playing Too Loose, RFI-Call 3bets Poorly, Unprofitable BB Calls and for tournaments Limping at 10-15bb's.
Michael Cook and Craig Boyle picked up the #1 poker software available, PokerTracker 4. Thanks for your support, Michael and Craig. In appreciation, I sent them my Smart HUD for PT4. Along with the growing database of hands to study, the Smart HUD is a powerful tool in anyone's poker toolbox.
Alex Panda purchased the PDF version of How to Study Poker Volume 1. This is the best book to get you started on your poker studying journey.