Finding Leaky Hands to Study with PokerTracker 4

I get lots of emails from listeners and Poker Forge members about plugging their leaky spots. These leaky spots cause them to lose money and potentially stay at their current buy-in level for a really long time.

One of the study techniques I like to guide people towards is studying their database of hands in PokerTracker 4. All it takes is a little insight into your weaknesses and some PT4 know-how to filtering through your database of hands to learn from your play and to explore new strategies.

I’m going to help you find hands related to 3 common leaky spots.

Listen to this podcast episode #284: Finding Leaky Hands to Study with PokerTracker 4

Leaky Play #1: Calling Too Frequently Pre-flop

You might be a leaky preflop caller if… the gap between your VPIP and PFR is greater than your PFR. 

I’m channeling my inner Foxworthy: “You might be a redneck if…”

The gap between VPIP and PFR shows how passive you are.  This percentage is made up of all the calling and limping you do pre-flop.  A large gap means you’re too passive with weak hands, and this means you’re probably giving your opponents a mathematical advantage.

Let’s say the worst King your opponent open-raises is KTs.  If you’re calling with KQs, great, you dominate him. But, if you call with K2s-KJs and Q2s-QJs and other weaker non-pair hands, he’s dominating you. So, when you both hit a top pair, you’re crushed and losing a large pot. The best calling ranges are small and the hands are towards the top of your opponent’s range.  So, if they open-raise K2s+, your call with KQs and KJs is crushing their King-high range.

 

Use PokerTracker 4 to see if this is a leaky spot for you

First, what’s the gap between your total VPIP and PFR? If it’s greater than your PFR? Then you just might be a leaky preflop caller.

Next, run the Holdem Hand Range Visualizer in PT4. First, look at the visualizer with the “VPIP” heat map statistic selected. All of the green highlighted hands are ones you’ve VPIP’d with. Check out all the “questionable” VPIP’ing hands you’ve played.

Now, change the heat map statistic to Call Preflop 2bet (I show you how in the video below). These are all the hands you’ve called with. Review any “questionable” hands like J4o, K4o and 32s. Also, find and review big losing hands.

Figure out why you made the calls you did. Were they +EV calls, or probably -EV? Were they calls out of spite, hopeful calls to hit a flush?  Maybe you were in the BB and no matter how weak your hand is, you just can’t fold vs a min-raise. Figure out what mistakes you made so you can work to NOT repeat them in the future

Let’s say you think you have a particular issue with defending your BB and you call way too much in this particular position. Here’s a filter you can run in PT4 to see the profitability of your BB calls:

What’s your win rate with this filter? If it’s better than -100bb/100 hands, then you’re making +EV calling choices. But if it’s worse, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me yours was -300bb/100 hands, then you’re making some crappy BB calling decisions. You gotta work to fix this ASAP.

Leaky Play #2: Inability to Fold TP Post-flop

You might be a profit giving fish if… you can never fold a TP hand.

This leak often comes from the two different sources:

  1. You HATE getting bluffed. Maybe you’re a frequent bluffer, so you see this same capability in your opponents.  You need to realize that when players are betting multiple streets, they often have better than a TP hand.
  2. You want to win this pot SOOOOOOO bad. You’ve put money in the pot preflop, on the flop and the turn. There’s no way you’re giving up on YOUR money and YOUR pot. Here’s the thing: You must realize that once the chips leave your stack, they’re not yours any more. Sure, it’s still worth fighting for, but don’t chase the money. The strength of your hand is just one factor. You want to make plays that take into account your opponent, the board, their range and their actions.

Use PokerTracker 4 to see if this is a leaky spot for you

First, is folding TP a problem for you? If so, my guess is you’ve been stuck at your stakes for a really long time.

Second, run this filter in PT4:

If your win rate is less than 100bb/100 hands, and if it’s negative, you have an issue here. Start going through the losing hands to understand why you’re calling and losing so much with just TP.

It’s critical that you spend time reviewing hands where you called a turn bet or called a river bet. Find your mistakes and learn from them.

Leaky Play #3: Playing OOP Too Often

You might be a leaky OOP player if… you’re IP on the flop less than 40% of the time.

This leak goes along with the first one above.  If you’re OOP too often, it’s probably because you’re calling in the blinds too much. One way to make more profits in poker is to strive for Bread & Butter. This is when you see the flop IP as the preflop raiser versus one or two callers. When you call in the blinds, you’re giving them B&B. This means you’re giving your opponents theoretical money when you call from the blinds.

Do you remember what I said above about the chips that leave your stack? Yep, they’re no longer yours. So, don’t think of the blind you put out as your money. Instead, think of it as a discount to play only if you have a hand worthy of playing. Don’t defend your blinds with unworthy hands like J4o and 92s.

Use PokerTracker 4 to see if this is a leaky spot for you

First, be honest and admit if you call too often from the blinds.

Second, as mentioned above, you can use the Holdem Hand Range Visualizer or simply filter for SB and BB 2bet calls.

Third, run these filters to see how often you see the flop IP versus OOP and pay attention to the different win rates.

Hopefully this first filter shows a + win rate. Write down the number of hands and the win rate.

Next, run this filter:

The NOT IP filter will probably show a smaller win rate, but hopefully, it’s not negative. Write down the number of hands.

Now, you know how many hands were IP and how many were NOT IP. So, what’s the % of IP hands? If it’s less than 40%, you have to make better blind calling decisions so you give less B&B to your opponents.

Take a look again at how more profitable it is to see the flop IP. Yep, let this help to spur you to play IP more often.

Take Action: Get to work!

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  You know what you must do now. I told you 3 leaky spots and many different ways to analyze your hands. Get to work.

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


Q&A: Don’t Get Married to Hands, PokerTracker 4 Episodes, Accept the Setbacks

Listen to this podcast episode #285: Don’t Get Married to Hands, PokerTracker 4 Episodes, Accept the Setbacks

Question 1: Avoid Getting Married to Hands

From: Matt Hubbard

I’d say the number one thing I need to get better at is not getting “married” to bad or marginal or just obviously loosing hands.

Answer:

This is a super common problem.  Lots of players see a nice hand (either preflop or on any street) and suddenly get the idea that they’re going to win a huge pot.  You’ve got to realize it’s not the strength of the hand you hold that matters, it’s the way you play the hand that can lead to a win or a loss (or minimizing loss).

Your problem might also stem from an attitude of entitlement with the strongest hands.  We put hands like AA, KK or QQ on a pedestal and we expect to win with them every time.

Here are 3 things you could do to help not get married to hands:

1. Train yourself to NOT get married to hands.

You’ve developed a habit of over-valuing 1 pair hands or non-nut hands, so it’s going to take work to break this habit. Focus on it during your warm-ups. Write down all you can about this “marriage” problem you have and read your notes before you begin your session. Commit to NOT getting married to hands based on strength. Instead, force yourself to have this attitude with every hand regardless of its strength:

“What’s the best way for me to play this hand right now?”

Write that down on a sticky note and ask then answer it every time you choose to play a hand.

2. Remove your hand from your mouse when “marriage” is likely.

You know what hands and situations come up that make it hard to fold. Hands like big pocket pairs, flopping 2 pair or sets or hitting straights on 2-heart boards.

Removing your hand from your mouse helps to prevent “finger tilt” which is when you make a button click you know you shouldn’t make, but your emotions are running wild and your finger can’t help it. This gives your brain extra time to think through the situation and all the information present before your body makes its play.

3. Review your biggest losing 1 pair showdown hands.

When you get married to a hand, it’s often just 1 pair like an overpair or TP hand. You can get so enamored by its strength that you forget to think about all the other important factors. By reviewing these big losing hands, you’ll pickup on mistakes you’ve made. The idea is to catch your mistakes, record them in your poker journal then work to NOT repeat them on the felt.

Often times in these big losing pots, your opponents show they’re interested in the hand three times or more.  When somebody opens the pot pre-flop then calls, that’s twice they’ve put money in.  When they call your cbet, that’s a third time they’ve shown you they like their hand.  Alarm bells should be ringing at this point.  When they donk bet on the turn, that’s #4. The more times they’re willing to put money in the pot and the more money they put in, the more they like their hand and it’s a real possibility your non-nut hand is beat.

Question 2: PokerTracker 4 Podcast Episodes

From: Charles Ogle

I’d like to find all of your podcasts that discuss PokerTracker 4.

Answer:

I’ve done many podcast episodes that feature PokerTracker 4 and tons that mention it here and there. Here are 8 of my favorite PT4-related episodes:

  1. #51: 5 Ways to Improve with PokerTracker 4
  2. #54, #56, #58 and #60: Maximizing Your HUD (series)
  3. #97: Steal Popup and Purposeful Practice
  4. #225: Finally Learn to Use a Poker HUD
  5. #284: Finding Leaky Hands to Study with PokerTracker 4

Check out my YouTube Playlist of PokerTracker 4 videos.

Make the PT4 statistics report more useful:

Question 3: Accept the Setbacks

From: Adam Broskow

Boils down to this: I was ready to play a tourney and was pumped in the days leading up to it.  I cleared my schedule for the morning tourney, but it didn’t meet the player requirement so it was cancelled.  This bummed me out, but I decided to play in the same tourney scheduled for later in the day.  When it started, I wasn’t pumped anymore and couldn’t get in the right mindset because of the disappointment of the earlier tourney not running.  How can I deal with setbacks like this?

Answer:

I think you can benefit from 2 things:

  1. Accepting when things don’t go as planned

Most human misery comes from non-acceptance. Something goes wrong, whether you caused it or not, and fighting the truth of this causes us mental anguish.

We all have to work on accepting what life hands us.

Don’t allow your mood to sour like this just due to a small setback. It was like the words you said to yourself in the morning were, “Everything’s perfect, I’m going to rock this tournament”. And in the afternoon it changed to, “Dammit, now my whole day is shot and I have to play later than I want and this sucks!”

Try to keep things like this in perspective and accept the changes.  You’re going to go through small setbacks like this thousands of time in your life.  Are you going to let each of those throw you off your game like you did here?  For your sake, I hope not.  Roll with the punches in life.

  1. Warm-up to help get your head in the game

Everybody warms-up before a big event, like people playing sports or before they go up on stage. We must do the same as poker players. Warming-up by looking at your notes or doing a hand reading exercise or watching a training video or meditating can help you get into the right mind space for poker. The goal is to begin your session in a positive frame of mind so you can play you’re a-game.

Take action to plug poker leaks

Improve Your PokerTracker 4 Use

Check out some of my PokerTracker 4 videos on YouTube. Watch and repeat what I do to learn a new way to use PT4 to improve your studies and skills.

Support the Show

Adri Van Kan picked up PokerTracker 4 (get it here to support the show), the best poker tracking software.  I love it and use it everyday!  In appreciation, I sent Adri a copy of my Smart HUD for PT4.  With an ever-growing database of hands to study and all the helpful features, PT4 is the go-to software for serious poker players.

Ruud Averdijk and Toth Banderas bought the Smart HUD with a 1.5 hour webinar for PokerTracker 4.  It’s the best online poker HUD in the business with every critical stat in the HUD and the 7 custom popups. This is what every online player needs to maximally exploit opponents.

Sky Matsuhashi