On the Hunt for Bread & Butter Profits

I discuss strategies for hunting more profits with Bread & Butter Poker.  It boils down to more aggression, less passivity.

Listen to episode #243: On the Hunt for Bread & Butter Profits

My Poker Strategies Work in Every Holdem Format

I’ve received a few emails recently from people asking if the strategies I teach work for LIVE games as well as online games. I’ve also been asked if they work for tournaments just like they do in cash games.

For the most part, the strategies I teach are good for any form of Holdem. The reason for this is because most everything I teach is exploit-based.

When I talk about cbetting, I talk about in relation to the type of opponent you’re up against, the hand you hold and the board at the time. I also talk about the bet sizes you can use to extract maximum value or get somebody to fold.

When I talk about 3betting: Holding an Ace blocker will increase the chances your opponent will fold against your bluff in any form of Holdem because they have less Aces in their range.

When I talk about position: Position is the ultimate advantage you have in any hand. That holds true with any form of Holdem.

Most of the things I discuss are applicable across the board, and that includes Bread and Butter situations: This is the most profitable spot to put yourself in regardless of it being a tournament or cash game you’re playing, a home game with your buddies or an online cash game.

Bread & Butter Poker

Bread & Butter Poker is one of the best things I learned from Tommy Angelo’s book, Elements of Poker. If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend you picking it up right now. Tons of good strategy and lots of good poker mindset information within.

As Tommy Angelo explains it, there are 3 parts to Bread & Butter Poker:

  1. You were the preflop raiser. This means you have the flop initiative and can make a cbet. You also have the best starting hands in your range, and the players who called don’t.
  2. In position on the flop. Position gives you more information to base your decisions on through the streets. Plus, you can pot control by checking behind or you can make sure money goes into the pot.
  3. Facing 1 or 2 opponents. The less opponents there are, the easier it is to get value or bluff them off their hand. Many weak players who like to call see multi-way pots, and that makes them harder to win.

Bread and butter poker applies to any form of Holdem poker. SNG’s, MTT’s, cash, home games, LIVE or online.

On the Hunt for Bread & Butter

The most profitable poker players hunt for Bread & Butter situations. And let me tell you one super important thing about this, you can’t hunt for (nor can you even stumble into) a Bread & Butter situation if you’re calling.

You have to leave your calling ways behind and become more of an open-raiser, in isolation raiser and the 3bettor preflop.

And when I say “leave your calling ways behind”, that includes limping and over limping. One critical aspect of hunting for B&B is that you are not creating multi-way pots by passively building the pots giving players yet to act better odds on making the call.

Just think about that for a second: your call builds the pot and gives better pot odds to everybody remaining in the hand. Sometimes the LAG players will take this opportunity to make 3bet squeezes. But most other players are going to take the opportunity to call in order to see the flop in a larger pot. This makes for multi-way hands where often the only way to win it is to hit the flop with the strong hand or draw.

Let’s equip you to head out into the field and hunt some bread-and-butter.

There are 3 things that you need to incorporate into your game and into your mindset to become a more profitable poker player.

#1: Play with a Bread & Butter Mindset

I talk about playing focus sessions where you might be working on one specific strategy at a time. This week all your sessions are devoted to making good cbets, or continuing more often vs cbets or bluff 3betting your opponents as often as possible.

You want to focus on one strategy at a time because that’s what’s really going to ingrain it within your skill set.

But, it would not be a mistake if you spent every session you play from now on with sole focus of putting yourself into as many B&B situations as possible.

It would be like a car salesman knowing the type of walk-up customer that’s most likely to buy a car and always being on the lookout for them. Let’s just assume it’s a man with a nice polo shirt and slacks, wearing an expensive pair of sunglasses and neatly trimmed hair. If the car salesman looks out of the lot and sees a man that looks like this and 3 cars down from this person, this is shabby dressed teenager, it would be a mistake to approach this shabby dressed teenager before the put together man.

This exact same thing holds true for you on the felt. It would be a mistake for you to do more calling than raising. It’s a mistake for you to defend your blinds more often than you open raise from the cut off and the button. It would be a mistake for you to over-call or over-limp into a pot instead of 3betting or iso-raising.

With a bread-and-butter mindset, you are constantly searching for and putting yourself in the most profitable of situation which once again is being IP on the flop, as the preflop raiser and against 1 or 2 players.

#2: Be an Aggressive Raiser, NOT a Passive Caller

Have the attitude of:

“If it’s not worth raising, it’s not worth playing.”

That doesn’t mean a hand is never worth calling preflop, but it does mean you’re always on the lookout for opportunities to raise.

Utilizing ranges that limit your calls and call for lots of open-raising, isolating and 3betting is a great way to do this.

You can use my KISS Cash Game Ranges from my book Preflop Online Poker, or you can find others or develop your own.

You want to open-raise and isolate more from the CO and BTN, so your ranges should be the widest in these spots. From the MP and earlier, stay nice and tight. Because the more you open from those positions, you open yourself up to lots of IP callers as well as 3bets.

You also want to 3bet more frequently in the CO and BTN, especially against aggressive open-raisers. If somebody open-raises 25% of the time in the EP, their range is too wide to be profitable when facing 3bets.

3bet them and put yourself in a B&B spot.

If they fold a ton, that’s great! You’re often going to pickup a quick and easy 4bb+ with your 3bets.

If they don’t fold a lot versus 3bets, look for a high Fold to Cbet stat, preferably at 60% or more.

The other thing important idea to getting more B&B is to limit the calls, especially out of the blinds. Keep your calling ranges very tight and if you choose to call, do it with hands that are ahead of the majority of their raising range. It’s okay to call with AT versus an opponent who open-raises every Ace. But it’s not okay to call with A8o if they only raise with AT or better.

Keep in mind that when you call in the blinds, you’re giving your opponent a B&B situation. If you always remember this, you’ll find yourself folding more often in the blinds, and that’s a good thing. Giving your opponent B&B is the same as handing them your chips.

#3: Bet Sizing

You can’t control your opponent’s actions, but you can influence their decisions with good bet sizing that pushes them toward the action you want them to take.

Aggressive 3bettors make more 3bets versus 2bb open-raises than against 4bb open-raises. So, if you want to dissuade them from 3betting, size your open-raise closer to 4bb’s.

Most of the time with open-raises, you want to either get everyone to fold or one of the OOP blinds to call.

Even if you have AA, if everyone folds, you win the pot. If only one or both blinds call, you’ve found B&B. The problem comes when a LP player calls, taking away your position and making it more likely the pot goes multi-way to the flop. Sure, you’ve got AA, but against 3+ players, you’ve got tons of landmines to dodge.

Make your open-raises large enough to get only the blinds to call.

This same rationale holds true when you’re isolating limpers. They limped, which makes them a weak player. If you’ve got a hand you want to play HU against them, iso-raise to a size that will dissuade the rest of the players from calling and from 3betting. I recommend 6bb+1 per limper to accomplish this.

It’s fun iso-raising to 9bb’s against 2 limpers with a hand like ATs. I know that the person who calls this large size after limping is one of the weakest players at the table, and my ATs has great equity against their limp/calling range.

When it comes to 3bet sizing, always go 9bb+ at a minimum when IP and 10-12bb+ when OOP. You need to make it enough to get everyone to fold or just one player to call. If you make it 6bb’s over a min-open-raise, you’ve just made it very tempting for flop-loving Fish to call. Your 3betting hand just built a huge multi-way pot, and that’s not B&B especially if somebody called you with position.

Start your audiobook learning by picking up ‘Preflop Online Poker’ through Audible.com. Click the pic above to begin your free 30-day trial (your first book is free) or to purchase the audiobook version if you’re already a member.

What’s your “Saw Flop” profitability?

Here’s a screenshot of an Excel spreadsheet for my database of 18,000 hands this year:

The two spots where I’m losing money are when calling preflop. This includes the blinds, but it’s indicative of the money-losing situations I put myself in when calling preflop.

Contrast that with every other filter I ran, especially the preflop raising filters. I’m profitable in all of them, and especially profitable in the Bread & Butter spots.

Here are the B&B filters for PokerTracker 4:

I recommend you run all these filters for yourself and record the results. This will open your eyes to the profitability of being the preflop raiser.

Hopefully, all you calling stations listening right now will be gob smacked by seeing how much you’re losing when calling, and this will get you to change your ways.

You must ditch the passive calling in favor of aggressive raising. That’s how you’re going to make money playing poker.

Support the Show

Jason McCabe and Andrew Mugo picked up my favorite poker software, PokerTracker 4.  I’ve been in love with this software since 2006 because it’s incredible!  Thanks for your support, Jason and Andrew.  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.

These 5 poker peeps already had PT4, so they purchased the Smart HUD directly from me: Leigh, Oliver Bayer, Chester McNaughton, Brian Reilly and Christopher Wasson. They now have the best HUD in the game. Get the Smart HUD by clicking here.

Some great poker peeps supported me by purchasing webinars with my 30% off summer sale:

Sky Matsuhashi