Tilt, Playing LIVE Cash, Facing Check-raises and the Colossus II | Q&A | #61

In today’s podcast Q&A, I answer 3 listener Q’s about handling surprise tilt, LIVE cash, facing check-raises and will I go to the Colossus II this summer?

In episode 60 I concluded my 4-part series on using a HUD in PokerTracker 4 by discussing percentage form and how to color code your HUD stats for quick and easy reference and to find frequency issues in your opponent’s games.

Tilt, Playing LIVE Cash, Facing Check-raises and the Colossus II | Q&A | #061

Question 1 from Firaga (3:40)

Greetings Sky,
I am currently building a bankroll on ACR, starting at 2NL. I have made great improvements and have plans in place for fixing many of my leaks, but I’m struggling with a plan of attack for this one.
I find that when a villain does something completely unexpected (i.e. 3-bet shoving 200bb or showing down a hand I hadn’t thought of in their range) I think about it for the rest of the session, and even for days afterwards.
I try to take the GTD approach and mark the hand for review, but that doesn’t stop this compulsive obsessing. I plan on reading the mental game over poker next month, is there anything else you think I could do?
Thank you very much for doing what you do.
– Firaga

Knowing you have this problem is a very good thing.  You need a plan for how to deal with this when it happens in order to stop the post-hand obsessing.

Here are the steps that I’d recommend for dealing with this post-surprise tilt.  Steps 1-3 are a must.  Steps 4-6 are if you can’t get beyond the issue with the first 3 steps.

  1. Use affirmations and logic statements – I want you to create an affirmation or logic statement card that you can attach to your computer or keep in front of you that has one phrase on it that you refer to pre-session and when something like this happens.  Here are some suggested phrases:
  • I’m in control of my emotions and I’m choosing to be _(happy, relaxed, calm, peaceful)_ right now.
  • Neither Ivey nor Negreanu wouldn’t beat themselves up over this, so I won’t either.
  • There’s no explaining some crazy players. Just mark it for review, make a note on the player, and move on.
  • Fish = Profit. I’m thankful they play the way they do.

2. Mark the hand for later review – Do this with some intentionality.  When you do something with a real purpose in mind, it makes it more likely to aid with the issue you’re facing.  So, when you mark the hand, say to yourself something like, “I’m marking now for later review so I can continue in the session like it never happened.”  In PT4 you can create your own hand tags.  I would make a special tag for these situations, something like, “Tilt Inducer” or “Keepin Calm”.

3. Make a note – Someone just surprised you with their actions or what they showed down, so take a note on it for future situations.

4. Focus elsewhere – Throw all your focus on another hand at another table, whether you’re involved in it or not.  Observe all the action, range the players and try to figure out what they’re doing.  Putting your focus elsewhere will help to take your mind off of the thing that just happened.  After this hand, move right on to the next on a different table with different opponents.

5. Take a quick break – If the emotions start to overwhelm you, just sit out of all tables and step completely away for 5 minutes.  Do some pushups, read an article, listen to your favorite songs, whatever, to take your mind away from poker.  Return to the tables when you’re ready.

6. Get away from the villain – Leave the table where the beat happened and all other tables where that same player is at.

And if these 6 steps don’t help, then step 7 is just ending the session.

Question 2 from Sen (8:10)

Hi Sky,
Do you provide any material on playing poker live?
Also, can you provide some feedback regarding the beginning of your session? Would you recommend playing tight like 10% of starting hands or LAG like 45% or play your traditional TAG approach? I play LIVE 1-2 only and have been effected by variance and I think that I get into a lot of marginal spots at the start and lose a flip and play terribly afterwards.
I find that I’m getting check raised a lot after being the pre-flop raiser, even though I have top pair top kicker. I raised with AQo, flopped Q53 rainbow, gets checked to me, I bet and get check-raised. What do I do in these spots? Call and validate the turn or fold on the flop b/c my opponents are raising w/2p+? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

I don’t teach anything specific to LIVE poker, but in my experience everything I learn and use online is applicable to LIVE.  One of the great things about playing online is that you can practice plays and put yourself into spots much more cheaply and frequently than LIVE.  If your 3bet game is terrible for example, you can play some 5NL or 10NL tables, 3bet every playable hand and test out your post-flop skills in 3bet pots.  You can put yourself into 30-40 3bet pots every hour, which is much better practice than trying to do this LIVE.

I like the idea of playing a little snug when you know absolutely nobody at the table, at least for the first few rounds.  Don’t think of this as playing nitty, it’s more like recon; it gives you a chance to accumulate some stats and focus on learning what you can from your opp’s plays and showdowns.  You can do this same thing when playing LIVE.  They don’t know you either, so starting off snug allows you to capitalize on the players that pay attention to you and will fold to your increased aggression a few rounds in.  But if you know a lot of the players there, you can just dive right into your normal game.

Regarding getting c/r, here are some questions to ask yourself:

What type of player are you up against?

  • Passive players prolly c/r only strong hands
  • Aggressive players can c/r anything

What hands can he be calling pre-flop that are c/r for value?

  • If he’s capable of calling Q5, Q3 or 53, sure they have you beat and he’s c/r for value
  • If he’s capable of calling 55,33 or QQ, then he’s going for value, but on this dry board he might be c/c more often to give you rope to hang yourself with
  • If he’s capable of calling KQ, QJ, QT and can raise with these expecting that you could cbet w/ worse than a Q, then you can 3bet and get lots of value from him
  • If he’s capable of c/r w/ an underpair above the 5 like 66-JJ, then you’ll want to 3bet here to get extra value, or just call his c/r to let him donk the next street and then you can decide based on sizing whether to call, raise or fold.

The big thing to do in these kinds of spots is put him on a pre-flop range that fits his actions.  He just called your raise, so you can take QQ+ out of his range b/c he likely would’ve 3bet w/those.  The only hands that beat you are 55 and 33, everything else from TP to underpairs to A high hands you’re beating.  If he’s capable of bluffing, then there’s no way you’re folding on the flop to his c/r.  If he’s only doing this for value, like he’s a super fit-or-fold nit, then folding could be in order but it’s prolly too nitty.  You can’t automatically put someone on a set just b/c they c/r you unless you have 1,000’s of hands on him and you’ve seen him c/r 20 times, and each time was a set.  That’s just super unlikely.  You need to assess the player type, his range, the board and what he’d realistically make the play with.

Question 3 from Sam (14:30)

Hi Sky,
Thanks for the podcast!
You said before you went to the WSOP. Are you going again this year? If so, what events will you play?
Keep it up!
-Sam

I’ll be there for the Colossus II!  This year it’s a 4-day, $565 bi bracelet event.  There’s a $7M guarantee on it this year with 6 starting flights.  I’ll be playing in the 10am flight on Saturday the 4th, and I’ve already pre-registered and paid.

Last year had an incredible 22,374 entrants.  It was the biggest LIVE event ever, and I think this year it will be even bigger.  First place prize is a guaranteed million $ as well.  One really cool thing that they’re doing is each flight will play into the money.  So if you make it to day 2, you’ve already cashed.

I’m totally looking forward to it, and I hope to see some of you there.  I’m actually thinking about offering some listener free-rolls to any winnings I may make, maybe offering like 1% of my winnings to a few lucky newsletter subscribers.  I’ll keep you posted.

Challenge (16:25)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Send your questions my way. I’m only able to do these Q&A’s if you’re sending some Q’s to me, so keep ‘em flowing.

Sky Matsuhashi