‘Splitsuit’ James Sweeney, a professional poker player, coach, video maker and podcaster joins us for an interview. He discusses the art and science of hand reading, and he shares some details of his incredible program, ‘The Hand Reading Lab.’
In episode #61, I answered questions about Tilt, Playing LIVE Cash, Facing Check-raises and the Colossus II.
‘Splitsuit’ James Sweeney | #62
James has been very busy creating lots of video content for his training site Red Chip Poker and his Poker Bank YouTube channel. He puts out a lot of strategy videos as well as answers to hand histories submitted to him, and with the looming WSOP, he’s been getting ahead with video making now so he can focus on the series when it come in June.
Playing and Coaching History
James got his start like most players back in college with his buddies. He started off in a brick and mortar card room, but found online poker and honed his skills there. After college he moved out to Vegas and spent a lot of his time in the card rooms there.
Being a great poker player led him to coaching. He says that one of the most common leaks that players have nowadays is that they’re too nitty and showdown focused, which is the complete opposite of the “can’t fold” nature of poker players from a few years ago. A lot of today’s players corrected that prior leak, but have taken it a step too far and fold too readily to aggression, leaving them open to exploitation from LAGgy players.
This nitty, showdown focused play causes us to lose lots of small pots which the occasional big pot doesn’t really make up for. He discussed much of this in his recent podcast ‘Being a Nit is Bad for Your Health.’ The first step to breaking from your nitty-ness is to realize that it’s a problem. Knowing you’re too nitty will lead you to look for spots where you can open up your ranges. James has created tons of content that helps you do this by stealing more or finding more spots to 3bet and more times when you can call 3bets with wider ranges.
The Hand Reading Lab
James recently released the best poker course I’ve ever taken called ‘The Hand Reading Lab.’ He created the course because hand reading is used in every hand played and helps with every poker decision you make.
Hand reading is something we all can improve on, but you’ve got to have some basic poker skill sets first like poker math and pot odds, value betting and bluffing, cbetting and 3betting and so on. Once you’re at the stage where you say to yourself, “What should I study next?” then you’re ready for hand reading.
Hand reading starts pre-flop and takes a logical progression through the streets. Knowing what people are opening with, calling with or 3betting with pre-flop gives you a great basis for understanding their range. If you just start your hand reading on the flop or turn you’re in for a world of hurt because we think worst case scenario and put him on hands he prolly wouldn’t have in his range given his pre-flop actions. Can a guy who limp/called likely have AA? Can a 3bettor from the blinds have 85o for a rivered straight? But when we start hand reading after the flop we often do these things.
The Hand Reading Lab works for all types of players, from online to LIVE and cash to MTT’s and SNG’s. This course is great for those experienced players who have been studying and playing for a while. They are trying to hand read but just get it wrong too often, or often say to themselves mid-hand, “I have no idea where he’s at.” The only players that SplitSuit recommends to not take the course are absolute beginners. There are so many skills that need to be learned first that allow for better and more logical hand reading.
The process for becoming a better hand reader is pretty straight-forward:
- Learn the skill sets and framework for hand reading.
- Practice it in hand history review sessions, responding to forum posts, watching poker tv, etc.
- Once you start to feel comfortable with hand reading, you just begin trying to do so in-game. Do the best you can with the limited time you have, and as you practice you’ll get better at it.
New Podcast Series on ‘The Hand Reading Lab’
This interview today is the first in a series of 9 episodes all about hand reading and specifically some of the skills that James teaches in ‘The Hand Reading Lab.’ It’ll be like the series of podcasts I did on Ed Miller’s book, ‘The Course.’ So I won’t be giving away all of James’ hand reading secrets, it’ll be more like taking one thing that he says in one of the 27 videos or in the bonus material, and expanding upon it.
And as a special offer to podcast listeners, James is giving away his ‘Playing 3bet Pots’ video series to anyone who purchases the Hand Reading Lab with offer code “smart”. Just visit the site, enter the code at checkout, and you’ll be on your way to hand reading and 3betting brilliance! On top of this bonus, the course comes with over $150 in additional bonuses:
- A Flopzilla License!!!
- Custom Flopzilla Ranges
- A Hand Reading Webinar
- Hand Reading Live Tags Video
‘The Hand Reading Lab’: Website (don’t forget offer code “smart” at checkout)
In podcast #63, I’ll answer three listener questions about playing overpairs out of position, donk betting, playing against tough opponents and the importance of learning from showdowns.
Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.