Q&A: Playing More Online Poker Tables, Working Off-the-felt and Color Coded HUD Stats | Episode 164

I answer three of your questions about how to add more tables to your online poker sessions, actually doing work off-the-felt and color coded HUD stats.

In episode 163, I began the 10th MED with a discussion about the things I do pre-session to mentally prepare myself to have a killer session full of +EV decisions.

Q1: Playing More Online Tables (2:50)

Willie from the Facebook group:

I have a question. My game & win rate have improved lately as I’m getting more out of my study time, especially playing one table online. However, when I multi table it seems my quality of play decreases proportionally with the number of tables I play. What tips or advice would you have on this? The math would seem to say calculate the # of tables where the overall EV peaks before overall quality of play begins to diminish.  But how would I be able to increase that number?

My Answer

I think you should forget the math or any kind of calculations and go with your feelings and comfort-ability.

To mathematically see how much worse your win rate is, you’d have to play a ton of hands at 1 table, the same amount at 2 tables, then 3, 4, 5 and 6 tables and on. If you did this for 100,000 hands each, you’re looking at 600,000 hands minimum just to get a good idea of how extra tables effects your win rate.

What I recommend is record how you feel among a 6 metrics while playing just one table over 5 sessions. Treat this as a baseline. Use a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best, and record how you feel among these metrics:

  1. The strength of decisions made (5 = great decisions)
  2. If you felt rushed in your decisions (5 = plenty of time to decide and not pressured by the clock)
  3. Your ability to analyze and understand your opponents at each table (5 = a great grasp of the opponents at each of your tables and you know who to target, who to steal from, who to avoid, etc.)
  4. If you can stand playing this many tables over a normal length session for you (5 = you have no issues playing this many tables and you can do it for 1 hour or 5 hours, however long your normal session is and you don’t feel like your brain is mush at the end)
  5. The level of comfortability with this # of tables (5 = totally comfortable and feel there’s no need to play less tables to improve decisions)
  6. Rate the overall strength of your session and play at the end (5 = very happy with your play and decision-making process and you’d play this many tables over and over again no problem)

Repeat for each set of tables

Next, do this for 5 sessions at 2 tables, repeat for 3 tables and so on.  Compare your ratings with the prior number of tables.  Stop when you feel your decisions are poor, you just don’t have enough time to make decisions or you’re not comfortable playing with this many tables.  Keep your play at the level where you feel you play the best and you’re most comfortable.

To increase the number of tables you’re comfortable with, gradually try to acclimate yourself to it.  If you’re most comfortable at 3 tables, start a normal 3-table session.  If you’re feeling good, add a 4th table for :30.  Assess your play at the end of that time and decide whether or not to continue with 4 or drop back down to 3 tables.  As you try this over and over, you’ll start to get used to it and 4 tables will become your new norm.

Q2: Doing Work Off-the-felt (6:50)

Victor:

The one thing I know I need to work on is studying off the tables! I have the poker knowledge (or I think I do) but it’s really hard for me study poker off the tables. I’m very sure that if I improve this major leak in my game, my results are going to improve as well!!!

My Answer

Playing is the fun and easy part, studying not so much.

I think that many of us consider studying to be a chore or punishment, and we developed this attitude through being forced to study boring subjects back in school.  But, studying is the best way to improve your game, so you’ve got to do it.  Here are three things that I recommend:

1. Turn studying into a positive activity

I think you need to try and change your attitude towards study from a negative thing to a positive one.  Say things to yourself like:

  • Studying is something I get to do
  • I love studying because this is how I will earn more at the tables
  • My opponents aren’t studying, so this is giving me a humongo advantage over them

2. Commit to studying just 5 minutes, 5 days per week

We have this idea that we’ve got to study for an hour or even a half hour, and that feels like a big commitment.  I suggest you just commit to 5 minutes.  Starting small is always easier when you’re adding something new into your routine.  What you’ll find when you study for just 5 minutes is that you get into it, and that 5 minutes will easily turn into :15 or :30 or even :60.  Do this 5 days this coming week and track how much time you actually spent studying.

3. Study uncomfortable spots

You’re more likely to study when you know what you want to study.  Some people won’t want to follow my MED’s or some other list of things to study.  But, I know we all want to fix leaks in our games, and the easiest way to do this is by keeping track of the spots where we feel uncomfortable.

So, start tracking this with your journal or a simple Evernote file.  With this list of uncomfortable spots in hand, you now know what to study.

Q3: Color Coding HUD Stats (11:25)

Charles:

Boiled down question: could you please explain your HUD stat color coding scheme?

My Answer

I use a color coding system that makes intuitive sense for me, so it’s easy to use.  It’s a stoplight red-yellow-green color scheme.

The color red refers to tight ranges.  Green is wide ranges.  Yellow is middle of the road ranges.

I’ll go through my color scheme while looking at the most common stat: VPIP (voluntarily put $ in the pot)

Red: 0-12

Yellow: 12-20

Green: 20-35

Blue: 35-100

Red: 0-12

I color code 0-12 in red because these %’s equate to tight ranges.  When I see somebody put money in the pot and their VPIP is red, I know they’re on a tight range.  I need to stop and think about it before I put my own money in the pot and play against them.

Yellow: 12-20

Yellow some caution is required when they put money in the pot.  Somebody who VPIP’s in this range is often a tight player.  Maybe TP or TAG, but in total they play a decently wide range that contains plenty of strong hands as well as weaker hands like 97s and JTo.  So, if they come in the pot I need to put some thought into calling or raising them.

Green: 20-35

Green colored stats indicate wider ranges.  If someone is putting money into the pot 35% of the time, they’ve got anything from AA to K9o to 22 to 54s.  Just like at an intersection, green means go, so I’m good to go for exploitative plays.  I can more easily 3bet these opponents both for value and as bluffs, and I can call with hands that play well against wide ranges.  Hands like KTs or 77 or A9s can easily be called vs these loose green colored openers pre-flop.

Blue: 35-100

I know this doesn’t follow the red/yellow/green scheme, but I needed a color to differentiate the loose from the super-loose players.  If I see a stat in blue, it means they have extremely wide and very unprofitable ranges.  They can’t adequately defend vs 3bets and when they get called, they hit the flop less often than the tighter calling range.

Challenge (14:30)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  You know that studying will improve your game, so get to it.  Most of us don’t study enough, so if you put in 2+ hours per week, I bet you’re doing 95% more than most of your opponents.  Start by committing to just 5 minutes per day, and I’m sure most of your 5 minute sessions will turn into :30 or more.

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

Support the Show

Josh Banks took the leap and purchased the best poker software every, PokerTracker 4.  Get your own copy of PT4 here.

Varun already had a copy of PT4, so he purchased my Smart HUD so he could gain a deeper understanding of his opponents and find more ways to exploit them.  Get your own Smart HUD here.

Sky Matsuhashi