I answer 3 questions about frustrations in the micros and avoiding Zoom poker, taking LIVE poker notes and learning to use popup stats.
In episode 195, I gave you strategies to employ to help you pull the trigger on +EV aggressive plays and ditch the fear surrounding them.
Q1: Improving Many Areas of Play (1:50)
Q: Longer email, just the important details:
I still can’t even beat 5nl zoom after 4 years.
I can’t afford expensive products like poker tracker or subscriptions to advanced training software or coaches
I’m a very formulaic thinker and try to develop optimal lines given specific situations
Post-flop play is still incredibly frustrating, even when I know advanced poker concepts, they just don’t seem to be helping even when I’m supposedly applying them correctly.
I will stack off with what many sites consider reasonable hands for stacking, only to have my opponent show up consistently with a better hand.
Stop playing Zoom.
It’s antithetical to profitable poker. You MUST employ table and seat select, and Zoom doesn’t allow for that. The number of hands you play doesn’t matter. What matters is making good decisions and putting yourself in money-making situations.
Study and Play with Purpose.
You say you study a lot, but do you focus on one topic each week and play with intent of practicing that topic? Here are a couple examples:
- For an entire week, study being the aggressor in 2bet pots. Use the ranges you’ve already formulated/found. Before every button click, say aloud why you’re raising. “It’s in my range” isn’t good enough. “The BTN folds a lot, so I’ll have post-flop position. The SB is tight so he’ll likely fold and that will leave me HU with the fishy BB, and that’s a good money-making spot.”
- Example for facing cbet study. You called preflop so your opponent has the opportunity to cbet. Assume your call was +EV (you’ll have to spend a different week studying 2bet calls preflop), so you have to study board texture and how they interact with different 2bet ranges and your own calling ranges. Study cbet stats and double-barrel stats. Find opponents in your database (more on this below) who are “flop honest” and only fire with pair+ and the best draws. Study their cbet hands that went to SD. Find other opponents who are double-barrelers and study their SD hands. As you’re playing, when you face a cbet ask yourself, “What’s he cbetting here?” If there are plenty of bluffs in their range, then you can continue wider. Try using cbet raises and check-raises occasionally for value and as bluffs. Before you decide to continue on the flop, make a plan for turn and river play. What future cards help or hurt you? What helps or hurt Villain’s range? Which bet sizing will you call on the next street and what will you fold to?
Work on your mental game.
Tilty things happen all the time (players catching gut shots, constantly facing 3bets). Figure out what sends you on tilt and work to overcome it. You said you read a lot of books, so I imagine you’ve read ‘The Mental Game of Poker’. Re-read it and dedicate one month to getting the most from this book. Fill out Jared Tendler’s questionnaire fully to help you understand your issues. Create your own logic statements and use his. Work on keeping your cool in every play session.
Buy PokerTracker 4 and Flopzilla.
These are tools in your arsenal that will give you a database of hands to study as well as help you become a hand reader. The HUD is incredibly important because it gives an advantage over the opposition. Give up lunches and coffee, or eat Top Ramen for a month if $ is an issue. Do what you have to do to pay for these, they’ll change you game.
Bet for value when you believe your opponent can call with worse and be able to name the hands. Bet as a bluff when you think they can fold hands and be able to name those hands. When you face big bets or raises, or even just double-barrels, ask yourself, “Do I beat the worst hands they’re making this play with?” If the answer is no, then definitely fold. For example, they double-barrel on an AKT8 board and you called preflop with A9 (your kicker plays but it’s pretty weak). If they can double-barrel with A7 or worse, or a King or a Q or J with a gs, then call. But, if they’re only barreling with AQ, AJ and better than 1p hands, you’ve got to fold.
Do daily hand reading practice every day.
Watch my 66 Days of Hand Reading videos and do exactly that for 66 days. Choose a hand that’s related to the topic you’re studying that week. This practice will do more for your game than anything else.
Stop thinking of “optimal lines”.
If you think you’ve got the best hand and your opponent can pay you off with worse, bet for value. If they show strength, especially on the turn or river, they’ve got 2p+ and you can easily fold. Start believing your opponents more often when they tell you they’ve got the goods with their bet sizing and actions. Also, when you flop a value hand, ask yourself how many streets of value can I get? If it’s a TP hand, that’s often worth one or two streets of value. A set? 3 streets. A 2nd pair? Maybe one or two streets but often as the caller while you let an aggressive player bet at you.
Q2: Taking LIVE Poker Notes (12:40)
Q: When you play live sessions, how do you record hands? Is there an app where you enter in stats as you go, or do you use the old-fashioned notepad? I realize I have leaks in this area, but because I only play live and not online, it can be hard to track and know my stats. Thanks ?
- Evernote – the best way, they’ll think you’re texting. Do it under or away from the table.
- Notepad – quick and natural for an old guy like me. Downside is everyone sees what you’re doing. Don’t let them know you take the game that seriously.
- Share My Pair – too much time taken to input a hand. Do this later to share important hands.
- Bankroll management: Poker Manager and Poker Income Tracker
Hand details to record:
- positions, stack sizes, hole cards, street by street actions with sizing in terms of pot % or $
- Don’t calculate stats as you play, just record # of instances and do the math in a spreadsheet later
- #’s to record: hands dealt into, VPIP, PFR, call 2bet, 3bet, call 3bet, 4bet. # of flops seen, Cbet or call cbet, also raise cbet and fold to cbet. Same #’s for the turn.
- At home you can use Excel to calculate your session stats
Play online poker for cheap and easy ways to practice strategies. Play as if you’re at a LIVE table.
Q3: Popup Stats (18:50)
Q: Need help with popup stats
When it comes to understanding popup stats, there are 3 things I’d recommend:
1. Focus on one stat per week and study it.
For example: 3bet. Learn everything you can about this stat and how players use it to make optimal decisions. Look for videos on YT or your favorite training site that discuss the concept in detail. Know the formula and how it’s calculated. Look at your own stat by position and analyze what hands you’re 3betting with from each position. Pull up some of your loosest opponent’s stats and review their 3bet stats by position. Also look at the 3bet hands they’ve shown down to get an idea of the hands they’re 3betting with and compare them to the %’s they’ve developed in that position.
Make sure you know exactly where the stat is in your HUD and your popups. Color code the stat or enlarge the font or something to make it more noticeable as you play and refer to it.
2. Focus on this one stat in each session you play this week.
Pay attention to this stat in everyone’s HUD at the table so you can pick out the frequent 3bettors and start to develop a plan against them. You will also notice those who rarely 3bet, and you can plan how to react to their 3bets as well. When anyone 3bets, open up the popup to look at their stat by position and quickly try to determine what likely hands fall within that %. Make the most appropriate fold, call or 4bet once you’ve done this.
3. Off the felt, run range and equity calculations using %’s of your opponents.
For example, again with 3bet, let’s say your opponent over 2K hands has a 3bet of 11% on the BTN, 9% in the CO and 5% in EP. Ask yourself questions like, “What ranges fit each percentage? What hands can you 4bet with and how often will he fold? How often will he call or 5bet?”
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: I know there was something I said in one of my answers that struck a chord with you. Maybe it was about utilizing Evernote to record LIVE hands, maybe it was about focusing on one stat at a time in your HUD and popups, or maybe it was about never playing Zoom style games again. Choose the ONE thing that you think will make the biggest impact to your game and get to work. Today is a new day and you’ve got the opportunity to improve your game for the better.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
Support the Show
Kaarel Lieb supported the show by purchasing my PokerTracker 4 Smart HUD. I hope CK is utilizing the HUD to crush their opponent’s faces into the felt.
Michael Matteo left a lovely 5 star Amazon Review for my latest book Preflop Online Poker. I totally appreciate it, Michael! If you buy a copy for yourself, please leave an honest review afterwards. You can also buy and leave reviews for How to Study Poker Volume 1 and Volume 2!
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In episode 197, I’ll help you plug the leak of willy-nilly poker studying.
Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.