4-Part Mother’s Day Q&A

In celebration of Mother’s Day, here’s a 4-part Q&A series. In this series, I answer 4 listener questions and also give my recommendation for a related Poker Forge video that will help you beyond my answer here.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day Q&A #1: “What skills should I drill into my game?”

Listen to Mother’s Day Q&A #1:

Today’s question comes to us from Lars:

“What skills should I drill into my game?”

First, the reason to drill skills is so that they become a beneficial habit. You drill skills by playing or studying with focus and repeating something at every opportunity.

Too many players just fire up some tables because it’s time to play, but they don’t actively work on their skills. And for studying, maybe they’ll review some big losing hands without any real sense of purpose.

Here are 4 great skills to drill into your game:

Skill #1: Asking and answering, “What are they doing this with?” before every button click

This question is what I call Poker’s Ultimate Question because it forces you to think about your opponent’s range, how it interacts with the board, their tendencies and all other information at the time. Your answer to the question “What are they doing this with?” will guide your button click.

This is #1 on the list here because it’s the most impactful habit you can develop.

To drill this into a habit, force yourself to ask and answer this question before every decision every day for the next 30 days. Trust me, you’re going to love having this habit.

Write Poker’s Ultimate Question down on a sticky note and attach it to your monitor to help you remember to ask and answer it.

Skill #2: Playing tight and aggressive preflop

What does tight and aggressive mean? It means you play less hands than your opponents and you raise or bet more than you call.

That means you’re not limping, you’re not calling that often, you 3bet more, you don’t defend weak hands from the blinds, you cbet and double-barrel, you think twice and answer Poker’s Ultimate Question before calling and you have a great reason to call on the river.

To help you play tight and aggressive, you can use my KISS Cash Game Ranges which you can find in my book, Preflop Online Poker or within the Poker Forge. Use them for at least 30 days to help you build a solid TAG play style.

Skill #3: Folding when you know you’re beat

NOT folding when you know you’re beat is the #1 bankroll killer.  You drill the skill of folding by drilling the first two skills I just mentioned and you make a commitment to yourself that when you know you’re beat, no matter what you have, you click FOLD.

You train this off-the-felt by reviewing losing hands where you called the flop, turn or river and trying to figure out why you didn’t fold.

You’re going to find more folds, save more money and your bankroll will begin growing (a bb saved is a bb earned).

Skill #4: Hand reading off and on-the-felt.

This is such an important skill that it MUST be learned as soon as possible.  Most players wait too long or just never build this skill.  You need to train yourself starting NOW doing at least one full hand reading every day off-the-felt.  I have a full course in the Poker Forge that teaches you how to do hand reading.

Then as you play, you need to force yourself to visualize your opponent’s preflop range, gauge how it interacts with the board and narrow it through the streets based on their actions. In the Hand Reading Course in the Forge, I give you tools to help you do this as you play.

Poker Forge Video Recommendation:

Finding the Fold Course – Strategy: Listen to What They’re Telling You

This video relates specifically to Skill #3: Folding when you know you’re beat. It’s 18 minutes long and I tell you how to pay attention to your opponent’s actions to clue you in to the fact that they’ve got you beat and folding is the best play. I also give 3 valuable action steps at the end to get you practicing what you just learned.

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

#1: Choose one of the skills I discussed today and drill it over the next 30 days.

#2 If you’re not a Poker Forge Member, join today with the special Mother’s Day 10 Days for $10 deal and let me be your poker mom and help you get the most out your 10 days. Just go to www.thepokerforge.com.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

 

Mother’s Day Q&A #2: “Why should I record my stats and win rates?”

Listen to Mother’s Day Q&A #2:

Today’s question comes to us from a YouTube commenter called baalbaki1986:

“Why should I record my stats and win rates?” And he thinks that recording your stats isn’t useful if you don’t already know what you’re looking for.

Presumably, you want to improve your skills. The only way to know that you’re improving is to measure your results.

You don’t need to know what “good” or “bad” numbers are when you begin measuring your stats. This is the kind of thing you learn as you get more exposure to your stats and win rates and the numbers of others.

3 Example Measurements:

  • VPIP = 70%
  • Preflop Limp = 20%
  • Fold to Flop Cbet = 15%

You don’t need a coach explaining to you that VPIP’ing at 70% means you play 7/10 hands. Doesn’t that seem a bit fishy, like you play too many hands?

A Preflop Limp at 20% is another fishy sign. You know that limping isn’t as good as raising, so limping 20% = 1/5 hands. Again, a sign of a fishy player.

And Folding on the Flop only 15% after playing 70% of hands means you’re a mega fishy calling station. It’s easy to never bluff you but go for max value instead at every opportunity.

So, knowing these stats, what should you do? VPIP less, so be more selective in the hands you play. Limp less as well. And, fold to more cbets when you don’t have a pair nor a good draw. After the next 5,000 hands, measure these stats again to see if you’ve improved.

The big idea here is that, “You can only improve what you measure.” So, if you never took the time to measure these stats, you may’ve never realized you had these leaks.

LeakTracker within PokerTracker 4

A great resource to learn about statistical %’s is the LeakTracker tab in PokerTracker 4. There are loads of videos on stats that tell you what the “average winner’s stats” are and they give you strategies to increase or decrease them.

And, let me tell you, measuring your stats is a valuable practice and it’s as useful as you want it to be.

If you’re working on one specific area of your game, you want to see the stats related to that area change over time.

Let’s get back to that large VPIP of 70%. Let’s say you’ve been paying attention as you play and you notice that the big stacks at the table are often around 20% VPIP. So you say to yourself, “Self, maybe it’s time I played less hands to see if I can win more.”

So, you do some studying and find some preflop ranges to play, like maybe my KISS Cash Game Ranges from my Poker Forge training site.

After using the ranges for 5,000 hands, your VPIP drops from 70% to 30%. Also, your win rate improves from -22bb/100 hands to -7bb/100 hands. Seeing this decrease in VPIP leading to an increase in win rate is going to propel you to study more and tighten up even more.

These improved #’s are evidence your work is paying off. Of course, you gotta keep doing the work and measuring as you go.

Poker Forge Video Recommendation:

Preflop Hand Selection Course – Take Action: Calculate Preflop Win Rates

This action step is the perfect kick off point for anyone who wants to improve their preflop game. I show you which statistics and win rates to measure that will highlight your areas of opportunity so you know exactly where you need to improve your skills. I show you how to measure these #’s using PokerTracker 4 filters, so you get some good PT4 practice at the same time.

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

#1: Start measuring your stats and win rates. You can begin my measuring these items:

  • Preflop Limp
  • Preflop 2bet
  • Call Preflop 2bet
  • Preflop 3bet
  • 2bet then Call 3bet
  • Cbet Flop/Turn/River
  • Call Flop/Turn/River Cbet

Give the measurements some thought and anything too close to 0 or 100% could be an area of focus. And any negative win rate could also be an area of focus.

#2 If you’re not a Poker Forge Member, join today with the special Mother’s Day 10 Days for $10 deal and let me be your poker mom and help you get the most out your 10 days. Just go to www.thepokerforge.com.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

 

Mother’s Day Q&A #3: “How do I play against all these non-folding limpers in my games?”

Listen to Mother’s Day Q&A #3:

Today’s question comes to us from Massimo:

“How do I play against all these non-folding limpers in my games?”

I’m going to give you 4 pieces of strategy for exploiting limpers. But first, let’s dive into the limper’s mind.

What kind of player are they? They love seeing flops and they think that the 1bb limp is the best and cheapest way to see as many flops as possible.

They’re generally not an aggressive person, unless they hold a very strong hand preflop or post-flop.

Because they love seeing flops, they don’t fold if they hit any pair or draw. But, if they miss, they’re quick to fold.

4 Pieces of Limper Exploiting Strategy

1. Expect a call versus your raise. Remember, they want to see the flop, so they’re less likely to fold versus your iso-raise. Choose hands that you’re happy seeing the flop with against this limper, because again, you’re expecting a call. Don’t bluff them with 85s if they’re not going to fold. So, the hands you play with need to be ahead of their limp/calling range.

2. Iso-raise big for max value. If they’re calling when you hold AA, they make a bigger mistake calling 8bb’s versus calling 4bb’s. Go for max value with your best hands.

3. Cbet most flops. Enter in a 31% limp/calling range in Flopzilla and you’ll see that they hit 3rd pair or better and all draws 52% of the time:

If you cbet just ½ pot, it needs to work 33% of the time to break even, but they’re folding 48% of the time. It’s a profitable cbet bluff.

Your cbet bluff is even more profitable on dry boards. On the 963r board, the limp/calling range only hits 3rd pair or better and all draws 31% of the time. They’re folding 69%. What a great cbet bluff!

4. Iso-raise more often IP than OOP in the blinds. Because you expect a call, going post-flop with 3 streets of positional advantage will make it easier for you to exploit your limp/calling foes. And with your stronger range and ability to continue the post-flop aggression, it’s going to be hard for limpers to remain in the pot for long and you’ll win a lot of easy post-flop pots.

Take Action: Start isolating limpers and cbet plenty! DO NOT LIMP BEHIND. New mentality: if a hand is worth playing, it’s worth raising. Learn it, live it, love it.

Poker Forge Video Recommendation:

Leak Plugging Course – Leak Exploit #3: Fishy Limpers

This video will teach you all the ins and outs of exploiting the weakest players at the table. If you want to increase your preflop aggression, decrease your passivity and start earning more chips and pots, this is the video for you. Especially if you play on a site like Ignition Poker that’s full of limpers.

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

#1: Start isolating the limpers more often and expect a call. Basically, take action on the 4 strategies I discussed.

#2 If you’re not a Poker Forge Member, join today with the special Mother’s Day 10 Days for $10 deal and let me be your poker mom and help you get the most out your 10 days. Just go to www.thepokerforge.com.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

 

Mother’s Day Q&A #4: ” What’s the best thing I can do to improve my post-flop game?”

Listen to Mother’s Day Q&A #4:

Today’s question comes to us from Rodney:

“What’s the best thing I can do to improve my post-flop game?”

This really depends on your current stats and win rates. If I saw your numbers, I could help you out more and give you specific direction, like being your poker mom, right? But, for most of my students, there are two major areas of post-flop weakness that most players have: calling too often and NOT considering range/board interaction.

Here are the two things you need to do to get beyond these weaknesses:

1. Have a Great Reason to Call

There are only 3 reasons to call any bet on the flop or the turn:

  1. Value Call – your hand is ahead of their betting range and you don’t feel like raising.
  2. Bluff Later – you see a potential way to bluff on a future street and earn the pot then.
  3. Good Drawing Price – you can mathematically make a profitable call to try and hit your draw on the next street.

If your call doesn’t fit any of these reasons, then bluff raising or folding is better than calling.

On the river, there’s only 1 reason to call, and that is if your hand is ahead of their betting range. You must be able to name worse hands they’re betting on the river. Don’t just call because you hope your hand is ahead. If you can name a few reasonable betting hands that you beat, calling is often fine on the river.

Before every call, decide which reason you’re calling for. A great habit to develop, and I talked about it in the first Mother’s Day Q&A episode #337, is to ask and answer Poker’s Ultimate Question before you call. Your answer to that question will guide you to the best decision, whether that’s to fold or call or even raise.

2. Learn to Gauge Range/Board Interaction

This is tough and it takes a lot of hand reading practice. But, it’s your job to play the player and a part of that is putting them on a preflop range of hands and gauging how well it interacts with the board.

There are some boards, like the KK5 board that are hard to hit and almost no range interacts well with this board.

On the other hand, there are wet boards like QJ9 with two hearts or 876 with two spades that interact well with many ranges.

By “interacting well” I mean that the range hits lots of pairs and draws and pair+draw hands. For example, you open-raised and your opponent 3bets you. You call his 3bet with a broadway heavy range like AK, AQ, AJ, AT, KQ, KJ, KT, QJ and JT. With that broadway heavy range, you interact very well on the QJ9 board. You hit lots of pairs, 2 pairs, pairs + draws and even some made straights. Your range loves this board.

But, on the 876 board with 2 spades, you didn’t hit any pairs nor good draws other than a few flush draws. You’re more likely to continue on the QJ9 board and not on the 876 board.

So, I recommend you work on your understanding of range/board interaction. To help you with this, I recommend you listen to and take action with podcast episode 134 called “Cbetting Board Texture”. In this episode, I discuss the ins and outs of putting your opponents on ranges and using Flopzilla to gauge how they interact with various boards. I even give you a handy spreadsheet to fill out with your research and you can use it in-game to help you exploit your opponents.

Poker Forge Video Recommendation:

Profitable Cbets Course – Strategy: Bread & Butter Cbetting

This video will teach you how to cbet profitably in the situation you MUST strive to be in all the time; the preflop raiser, IP versus 1 or 2 players. That’s right, the Bread & Butter spot. You try to be here as much as possible, so you need to learn the cbetting strategies that will maximize your profits here, and this video will help you do just that.

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

#1: Have a better reason to call post-flop. Write down the 3 reasons to call on a sticky note and refer to it for every post-flop bet you think about calling. Only call if the reason is one of the 3, or a combination of the 3. If not, fold or bluff-raise instead.

#2 If you’re not a Poker Forge Member, join today with the special Mother’s Day 10 Days for $10 deal and let me be your poker mom and help you get the most out your 10 days. Just go to www.thepokerforge.com.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sky Matsuhashi