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Moving up through µNL in 2010 Verneer

Introduction Moving Up Through Verneer's Quick Bio

!NL

in 20102010- Verneer describes his focus of the project

4, 5 6, 7

HUD Information Your HUD and Reads- Verneer shows how stats can be misleading over small sample sizes.

8, 9, 10

My HUD (Heads Up Display) + Ranges and Playing The Player- Verneer goes over what hud numbers he uses, why he uses them and how the numbers correlate to our opponents ranges.

11, 12

Positional Play Under the Gun Middle Position Cutoff Part 1&2 Button Part 1,2&3 Small Blind Part 1

13, 14 15 16, 17, 18 19 to 25 26, 27

Verneer Articles and Thread Primum Non Nocere, Part 1- Preflop compounds compounds post-flop article.

28

A Balanced Range- What is it, and should should we worry about it at the micros?

29

Common

30, 31, 32

!NL

Leaks, Part 1

Turning off Auto Pilot Pilot with JTs and QJs

33

Quick Article about A9s v lower lo wer suites aces

34

Red Line Graph Article

35

Verneer Asks DOGISHEAD to define ABC Poker

36

Verneer posts posts a picture of a table and asks Should I stay or should I go?table selection discussion follows.

37

Assume the Position...- Verneer starts a discussion about IP v OOP

38, 39

Show Me The Money! (Part 1)- Verneer describes the reasons to build pots Calling Preflop to Make Moves Post-flop- Includes a link to so me old videos with MDoranD

40, 41

Verneer describes how how to deal with losing sessions

42, to 45

A Postflop Line Exercise Part 1

46, 47

A Short Note about Tilt

48

Why Durrrr plays 86s UTG but you shouldn't- Verneer describes opening and calling ranges, and why we aren’t ready to be playing like durrrr.

49

Bluffing and Equity- Verneer walks us through different types of bluffs.

50

2

Introduction Moving Up Through Verneer's Quick Bio

!NL

in 20102010- Verneer describes his focus of the project

4, 5 6, 7

HUD Information Your HUD and Reads- Verneer shows how stats can be misleading over small sample sizes.

8, 9, 10

My HUD (Heads Up Display) + Ranges and Playing The Player- Verneer goes over what hud numbers he uses, why he uses them and how the numbers correlate to our opponents ranges.

11, 12

Positional Play Under the Gun Middle Position Cutoff Part 1&2 Button Part 1,2&3 Small Blind Part 1

13, 14 15 16, 17, 18 19 to 25 26, 27

Verneer Articles and Thread Primum Non Nocere, Part 1- Preflop compounds compounds post-flop article.

28

A Balanced Range- What is it, and should should we worry about it at the micros?

29

Common

30, 31, 32

!NL

Leaks, Part 1

Turning off Auto Pilot Pilot with JTs and QJs

33

Quick Article about A9s v lower lo wer suites aces

34

Red Line Graph Article

35

Verneer Asks DOGISHEAD to define ABC Poker

36

Verneer posts posts a picture of a table and asks Should I stay or should I go?table selection discussion follows.

37

Assume the Position...- Verneer starts a discussion about IP v OOP

38, 39

Show Me The Money! (Part 1)- Verneer describes the reasons to build pots Calling Preflop to Make Moves Post-flop- Includes a link to so me old videos with MDoranD

40, 41

Verneer describes how how to deal with losing sessions

42, to 45

A Postflop Line Exercise Part 1

46, 47

A Short Note about Tilt

48

Why Durrrr plays 86s UTG but you shouldn't- Verneer describes opening and calling ranges, and why we aren’t ready to be playing like durrrr.

49

Bluffing and Equity- Verneer walks us through different types of bluffs.

50

2

Reflection - Verneer reflects some on his first attempt to move to 50nl.

51

Reflections Part 2- More reflections from Verneer, this time about his 2nd, and successful, shot at 50nl.

52

Thoughts on Moving up in Limits, The Monster and The Nute - Taming the monster and becoming the nute

53, 54

The Monster and The Nute (Part 2) - More about these two creatures inside us.

55, 56, 57

A Great Spot to Raise - Exploiting people with a clear range looking for thin value.

58

Leak Finder Part 1 - Verneer compares his stats to gisiciliano’s, to find leaks in gis’s game.

59, 60

Leak Finder Part 2 - Verneer looks for leaks in gisiciliano’s stats.

61, 62

Leak Finder Part 3- Verneer reviews some of gisiciliano’s g isiciliano’s c-bets in order to plug some leaks.

62

Leak Finder Part 4- Verneer looks looks at how gisiciliano plays against steals.

63, 64

Have A Plan - Verneer Verneer tells us why we should have a plan plan before before doing anything in a hand.

65

Hand History Reviews Hand #1 of Sweat Session # 1 with MagisterLudi.. followed by other interesting interesti ng hands from the session

66, 67, 68

A Nutted Hand Part 1- River decision after we get there and villain overbets pot.

69

A Nutted Hand Part 2- How do we proceed on the turn with top set.

70

A Nutted Hand Part 3- Turn decision while holding the second nuts.. how to get value out of the hand.

71

Miscellaneous Verneer interviews ViniVici Verneer Review Tommy Angelo's "Elements of Poker Po ker Information about how to do a sweat session. $/hr vs # of tables comparison

72, 73 74 75 76

Milestones Verneer Doubles his bankroll to $200! Verneer breaks the the $500 mark! Verneer 10x’s his starting bankroll! Verneer’s ascent continues continues as he hits $1,500! Verneer hits $2,000! - He weebles and wobbles... but he hits $2,000! Verneer announces that he has completed his rise through the micros... but he plans to continue teaching uNL'ers how to win money at the micros.

77 77 78 79 80 81

Links Thanks

82 82

3

Verneer - Moving through µNL in 2010 Online poker is evolving. What might have been true in 2006 at 200NL could be obsolete in 2010. The games are getting tougher because the average person is much more knowledgeable about the game. This means that !NL games are evolving as well. So that's the title of the thread: "Moving Up Through !NL in 2010". This is where I plan to write about and discuss some of the bigger issues that I see with these games today from a few perspectives: 1. Reading and discussing tons of posts from the !NL forums 2. Sweating other regulars who play these stakes 3. Playing these stakes myself  I feel that all three of these categories are critical for developing a good macro view of the and each of them provides a unique insight into it. To elaborate:

!NL

landscape

1. Reading the HH's that are posted on the forums shows what thinking players think are tough spots for them. It also shows how thinking players think about the game at the different levels. 2. While a HH's is usually a frozen moment in time, a sweat session gives an insight into how a player handles the little things. Subtle leaks are exposed and situations which never get posted to the forums happen again and again. As again. As a side note, if you've n ever done a sweat session with another person  playing around the same limits as you (or higher), these are some of the best things you can do to grow  as a player. 3. Should seem self-explanatory: It's easy to play Monday morning quarterback. I plan on playing the limits from 5NL to wherever I end up this December. As I mentioned, this thread will contain general articles I plan to write about strategy and theory at the micros. I hope that the discussion that comes out of these will help you grow as a player. There is a caveat of course: Don't take everything written at face value - you have to think for yourself, and if you disagree with something, voice your disagreements. Debate is healthy and constructive.

I think that is enough to get going. As the king from Alice in Wonderland said, "Let's begin at the beginning, continue until the end, and then stop." I'll start my next post with a discussion of using your HUD to develop a basic read on a player. From Verneer's blog entry on why he's doing this: What does it take to beat the micros and move up in stakes? I often hear players say such blanket statements as “play tight and value bet – that’s all you need to do to beat the micro donks”. A lot of people that talk about how easy it is to beat the micros haven’t played there in a while and they don’t have a good grasp about the changing nature of the games. There is more to beating the micros and moving beyond them than just that. One of my good friends who used to crush 2/4 and 3/6 two-and-a-half years ago (has it been that long? Wow … ) just recently came back to poker. He started playing 10NL and 25NL just to get some rust out and remarked how much tougher and more competent both the donks and the regs are at the micros. There are so many more resources out there for those that want to improve. Yet people still play really badly. As a frequent poster in the 2+2 and CardRunners micro stakes forums, I notice so many of the same mistakes on the forums – both in terms of HH’s played and advice given. As I play hands myself I notice leaks here and there in my own game – both in subtle analysis and overall play. In the fall of 2009, I talked quite a bit with Taylor, and we both thought it would be cool to develop the ultimate resource for micro stakes players – a collection of videos, articles, and personal advice that takes a player from $100 to a five-figure bankroll. The best way to do it is to take the long-term approach, and I think that I’m in a unique position to do that.

4

For one, I love writing about poker and teaching. I have gotten countless e-mails and comments from people whose games I’ve helped and this makes me happy. As I mentioned above – I want to develop the ultimate resource for someone who wants to deposit $100 and run it up the right way – moving up within your bankroll and with limited risk of ruin. I know that this is much less sexy than taking the $100 and buying in for 50 BB’s at a 200PLO table and then going on a insane heater, but oh well. The teacher in me also love developing learning materials and resources. I have two advanced degrees in education and it is still my love, even if teaching in a secondary or post-secondary setting isn’t for me right now. Secondly, I have an amazing poker support network comprised of winning players at all limits with who I talk poker with daily. They are a mixture of 25NL players all the way through 25/50 players and higher. I think that my years of working for CardRunners have given me access to unbelievable poker minds and this is something I can bring back to the micro and low stakes community. I plan to write about a lot of  these discussions as they relate to not only playing at the micros but beyond. Finally, I am sure a lot of people will say that I’m burning so much financial EV by trying to build a bankroll from $100 this year. This is true, but so what? My wife and I live a very frugal lifestyle and this gives us tons of freedom to do pretty much what we want. If we had $1,000,000, I don’t feel like our lifestyle wouldn’t be much different (we might eat out more … maybe). Thus, we are in a position to do what we love. For me, taking on this project is much more satisfying than grinding the low and midstakes all year. At the end of the year, I will have something much more concrete to show for it than just money. This is already in the tl;dr category, but I don’t think I could have made it any shorter without explaining my motivation. I will discuss my overall plan and structure later in a follow-up post. Oh ... and a picture of my bankroll as of 1/1/2010:

5

Verneer’s quick bio I was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1979. At that time, Poland was under communist rule and life was very tough for my family. My dad is a nuclear physics and got a position working in Lund, Sweden. Along with my mom, we moved there in 1982. We lived in Sweden for three years, and moved back to poland in 1985. The next six years I went to elementary school in Warsaw, Poland. When I was 11, an opportunity opened up for my dad to go work at the University of Tennessee for a two years and he took it. Two years turned to three years, which in turn because five years. It started becoming more and more clear that we wouldn't be going back. I went through middle and high school in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and then applied to the University of Tennessee for college. I got in with full scholarships and ended up essentially getting paid to go to school for four years. I got a degree in Math and a minor in psychology (two good things for poker, right?). As a sophomore, I applied to be a Resident Assistant but didn't get any job offers. I applied again the next year and got a position at Gibbs Hall - the athletic Residence Hall. We had a small staff an d life pretty much rocked for the next two years. My senior year I won multiple RA awards including being one of the seven RA's getting inducted into UT's RA Hall of Fame. This was completely unexpected and probably the biggest honor that I've had bestowed on me to date. I share this to illustrate how important a sense of community is to me. After graduating from college, I applied to a bunch of Math Education departments to get my Masters. UGA in Athens, GA has a great Math Ed department, and Georgia teachers are paid fairly well given the costs of living here. As a state, I think they were # 3 at the time that I was applying to graduate school. I came down to visit, liked what I saw, and moved to Athens. I spent the next two years getting my Masters and enjoying life. After that, I got a job at a local inter-city high school. I would work there for four years teaching Math to mostly Latino ESL students as well as coaching Cross Country. About two years into teaching, I found started playing poker online. I managed to find CardRunners and it helped me become a winning player. I started with 50NL and worked up, but I don't think I was ever a winner at 400NL at the time that I played it. Around th is time, Katy came to grad school in Athens and we started hanging out with a mutual group of friends. We got married two and a half years later and  just recently celebrated our two-year anniversary. One of my best friends at the time was Brian " hookem148" Rue - a player I met online an d would talk poker with for hours. I asked him to be one of my groomsmen and he agreed. Two days before my wedding was the first time I met him in person, but we've known each other for two years leading up to that. Brian was instrumental in any success I've had in poker and was there during some really tough times in my life. The other groomsmen came for the different parts of my life - one from High School, one from College, and one from graduate school. All have been there for me in those respective eras. During my fourth year of teaching high school, I got progressively more frustrated with public education as well and decided that I need a break. I talked with Katy about doing poker for a living and showed her large sample sizes of my results. She thought it would be a good idea, mostly because she knew how rough teaching high school was on my physical, mental, and emotional well being. Her father is a Methodist minister so he was less excited about the decision, but mostly because he had a lot of  misconceptions about what being a poker player is like. At this point, I was already a guest pro at CardRunners. I started out there very much the way I started on 2+2 - immersing myself in the community. I would answer tons of questions and soon people started asking Taylor if I could make a video. He in turn offered me a guest pro position. As you can imagine, getting a PM from Taylor was a pretty surreal experience at the time. I guess it would be the equivalent of having Mat Sklansky PM you on 2+2 and ask you to do some work for him. Well - by the time I was about to leave my job at the high school, I asked Taylor if I could do more than  just videos for CR. He gave me some administrative duties on the webpage, and asked me to do little projects as they came up. To this day, working for CardRunners has proved to be one of the most rewarding jobs in my life. So that brings us to this day. In late December, I had a conversation with Taylor about wanting to spend 2010 building my bankroll up at the micro and low stakes and documenting that whole experience. He thought it would be a good idea, and here we are. As far as non-poker stuff, I still coach cross country and track at a local high school as a volunteer, although not at the one which I quit.

6

Katy and I in Warsaw, Poland. We've been there twice together - once before the wedding when we were engaged, and once after we were married. The second time, she went for 4 weeks to learn Polish language in Krakow and then we spent one week traveling around and vising family.

7

Your HUD and Reads We often use our HUD to gain some insight into our opponents. We use that information to develop an idea of their ranges. With the player pool at the micros so large, your HUD is like your recon team giving you early glimpses of an unknown opponent. But what exactly does it tell you? Let's examine a player with a made of screen name "PkrPlayer" by adding more and more to what we know about him and observe how this information converges. Let's also make some generalizations at each stage. The stages will grow exponentially. After Two Orbits:

So after two orbits, the PkrPlayer h as only played one hand. We can guess that he's not one-tabling because most one-tabling players at the micros don't like folding 11 out of 12 times. Could this guy possibly be one of the multi-tabling nits? We'll need more info. After 25 Hands:

Hmmm ... all signs seem to point to a multi-tabling nit at this point. He is folding a lot. 25 hands is still a small sample, so let's see what happens in the next 25. After 50 Hands:

Still no change ... let's give him the light-blue tag for "nit". After 50 hands, we've yet to see PkrPlayer go to showdown. After 100 Hands:

Given that his VPIP and PFR are fairly close and that he's 3-bet a few times, we can infer that he's at least has a general idea about opening ranges. We shouldn't expect this player to open K2o UTG or do much limping. When he enters pots, he is probably going to be doing so aggressively. After 250 Hands:

Now these numbers seem to be more of the standard TAG player. He is still going into pots aggressively by open raising and 3-betting his fair share. Doesn't seem to be getting out of line. We've observed him play three hands to the river and two of them went to showdown.

8

In Hand 1, 1, he opened QQ BvB and bet/3-bet a J84r board vs. a 45BB stack who min-raised him on that board. He then shoved the turn and won the stack. In Hand 2, 2, he flat flattted a reg' reg's s UTG UTG rais raise e from from MP wit with h AQ AQo. On a flo flop p of of 5 when checke checked d to. to. He checked checked the the turn when the the T came and won the pot.

4

8

he chec hecked ked bac back k

came and then then checke checked d the river when the the 5

So he seems to play straight-forward so far. Nothing that jumps out. After 500 Hands:

It seems like this guy is going to be 3-betting more than just QQ+, AK (which comprises of 2.6% of  hands). We get our first indication of this when the following hand occurs: Hand 3: UTG is playing very loosely (51/31/6 over 130 hands) and is the mark at the table ATM. He is sitting on 200 BB's. He opens and PkrPlayer 3-bets him standard. He has UTG covered. CO, a regular with 100 BB's, flats. UTG flats as well. The fl flop comes 5

2

K

and gets ch checked th through. Th The tu turn is is the 7

and UTG ch checks ag again.

Now Now PkrP PkrPla laye yerr bet bets s abo about ut 70% 70% and and BTN BTN sho shove ves. s. Pkr PkrPl Play ayer er cal calll and and fli flips ps over over 6 draw draw whil while e CO flip flips s over over a slo sloww-pl play ayed ed A the pot.

A

. All All draw draws s miss miss as the the 7

8

for for a mon monst ster er

hits hits the the rive riverr and and CO wins wins

This hand tells us a lot about PkrPlayer. First of all, he is not afraid to isolate the fish in position with marginal holdings. Secondly, he doesn't fire blindly postflop with weak draws multi-way. Lastly, he plays his equity for what it's worth. After 1,000 Hands:

He is definitely a player that mixes up it up both preflop and postflop. Competent and aggressive. We observe the following Hand: Hand: TAG opens on the button with effective 100 BB stacks. PkrPlayer calls from the BB and c/c a 3 8

3

flop. The tu turn wh which br brings the A

also check through. PkrPlayer has 9

Hand 5: We also also see see him him flat flat A 9 2

J

A

6

9

and BTN shows down T

goes ch check/chec heck. Th The ri river, the J

.

BvB BvB vs. vs. a reg regul ular ar who who ope opens ns for for 4x. 4x. PkrP PkrPla laye yerr che check cks s bac back k the the 9

flop, checks ag again wh when th the 9

turns, an and ca calls a river be bet on on th the 2

to chop it vs vs. A

.

So after about a 1000 hands we seem to have a player who is aggressive but not spewey post-flop. He mixes up his play and is definitely thinking about ranges. He c-bets most of the time and barrels often. He definitely 3-bets light, but seems to do it in position and wtih a polarized range. Let's hit "Fast Forward": After 2,500 Hands:

9

After 5,000 Hands:

After 10,000 Hands:

After 25,000 Hands:

What does this show us? It simply shows that our HUD doesn't tell us all that much about a player even after 100 hands. What it DOES show us is if someone is completely out of line. In this case, PkrPlayer is far from a nit, but in fact a competent multi-tabling sLAG. It also shows how crucial showdown histories are for us to get a sense of how the player plays and how critical those are to playing vs. this player in the long run. For the purposes of our discussions, we are going to not make too many assumptions about a player's preflop range until we have a few hundred hands on them or postflop tendencies until we see multiple showdowns from them. Final Thoughts: I'm going to leave close this with a hand I played at 5NL vs. a player whom I h ad playing 14/13/1 over 100 hands at the time: Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.05 BB (6 handed) - Full-Tilt Hand Converter from HandHistoryConverter.com SB ($4.64) BB ($6.56) UTG ($5.21) MP ($7.82) CO ($5.97) Hero (Button) ($5.30) Preflop: Preflop: He Hero is Button wi with Q , Q 2 folds, folds, CO bets $0.17, $0.17, Hero raises to $0.58 $0.58,, 2 folds, folds, CO raises to $1.30, $1.30 , Hero raises to $5.30 (All-In), (All-In) , CO calls $4 Flop: Flop: ($10.67) 3 Turn: Turn: ($10.67) 8 River: River: ($10.67) 3

,K

,4

(2 players, 1 all-in)

(2 players, 1 all-in) (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $10.67 | Rake: $0.71 Results: Hero had had Q

,Q

(two pair, Queens and thre hrees).

CO had A ,Q (one pair, threes). Outcome: Hero won $9.96 Moral: 14/11's don't always 4-bet KK+ nor are they truly 14/11's after just 100 hands ...

10

My HUD (Heads Up Display) + Ranges and Playing The Player As we move towards starting to talk about playing the button and the blinds, I want to discuss my current HUD, so to begin with, here is my setup, along with a picture of the HUD in action:

I'll also talk about how I use the different sections. Line 1: Name and # of hands. Not much to discuss there. Line 2: VPIP/PFR/3-bet%/Agg. After that it's Fold to 3-bet/4-bet/fold to 4-bet. The 4-bet stats become more useful once you start having a bigger sample on someone. Someone who is 3-betting more than 7% is definitely 3-betting light a lot. Keep in mind that the range of  {QQ+, AK} is 2.6% of hands. If we add TT, JJ, and AQ, we still only have 4.7% of hands. That's why if  someone is 3-betting 5% hands, we don't consider them to be out of line. In the example above, Jeff, whom we h ave 872 hands on, is 3-betting 8% of hands. I would definitely look for spots to be 4-betting him as a bluff. I'll talk a lot more about this dynamic later on when I discuss playing from the BTN. People ask "When should I 4-bet light?" Well ... if they 3-bet a lot but fold to 4-bets, you should do it! Line 3: This is where it starts getting more interesting. These are the positional openings. Basically, how often do they open from a certain position when it's folded around to them? This gives me a quick snapshot of their opening ranges as well as an idea how positionally aware they are. Key Point: If you have a good sense of someone's range and tendencies, you can play perfectly against them. Obviously it takes time to develop this, but the idea is still fundamental in poker. I'll illustrate with this example from a session I played yesterday. The hand is a full-ring hand, but the exercise of thinking about someone's range and making the right play still applies. YouTube Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IF3y3CPrdM Line 4: Combine this with line 3 and you get an idea of what % of the range the players are folding once they open. In the example above, Jeff is opening 12% of hands UTG (this is reasonable), and folding to 67% of 3-bets (probably a small sample size, but when you look at how often he is folding his MP opens to 3-bets, you get a sense that he folds to a lot of 3-bets).

11

Thus, you can start pegging him for a candidate to 3-bet light. Line 5: Basically ... how often do they defend their blinds and how do they do it? Using this will become a basis for a whole new article, because the 3-handed BTN/SB/BB dynamic is a whole game-within-agame when it comes to poker. There is no way I could do this topic justice in this post. Line 4: Flop c-bet, turn c-bet. If the first one is high and the second one is low, you can guess how to exploit them. Spoiler: Float, LDO

The second sequence is how often they fold to a c-bet on the flop and on the turn. If the first one is low but the second is high, you can probably figure out what you need to do there ... Spoiler: Double Barrel, LDO

Also, if their first one is low and the second one is low, you should again make the right adjustment in playing them.

12

Under The Gun (UTG) This position should be fairly easy to play since you are almost always guaranteed to play out of position postflop. I’ll present the general opening range there and discuss when to deviate from it. Default UTG raising range: 22+, ATs+, AJ+, KJs+, KQo (11.3% of hands)

You'll notice two major omissions from this: Suited connectors and suited aces. You see those being raise quite a bit in the mid stakes and high stakes games, but a lot of that is for the sake of having a more balanced game. Balance is something we are not at all concern with at 25NL and below simply because regulars won't play with you long enough (you move up or they move up) to exploit your lack of balance. But specifically ... Why omit suited aces lower than ATs? You’ll often find yourself where you are dominated since a lot of people will call preflop in position with A8 – AJ type hands. You won't flop a flush draw often enough to make this profitable, and most often you'll find yourself with a really weak pair or a top pair with no kicker and those are tough to play. What about suited connectors? They look sexy, but you will be OOP almost always and flop weak, one-pair type hands, or a pair + draw which will cause you to bleed money. You might also find yourself in a multi-way pot with a dominated draw, and those are very tough to play OOP. Exception to the Rule # 1: If you have a good read on the table to where: A) MP, CO, and BTN don’t 3-bet much, fold a lot to your UTG raises. B) SB and/or BB are playing too many hands and pay off light. C) You are 170+ BB's deep with the SB and/or BB. In this case, you can add some suited connectors (78s -QJs) and suited aces. Dealing with 3-bets: What to do if you are facing a standard sized 3-bet from MP - BTN?  If you have no read on the player or less than 20 hands on them (and VPIP < 30% and a PFR reasonably close):

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• KK+: 4-bet for value • QQ, AK: 4-bet (to start developing an aggressive image). If they fold, they will feel bad because people don’t like folding. Even if you get it in and you were behind, you start getting information which you can then use for the future. • Fold everything else to a standard 3-bet size. Once you develop a read (over 500 hands) and see that someone is 3-betting less than 3% of hands: • KK+: 4-bet for value • QQ, AK: These don’t fare that well vs. their 3-betting range of your UTG open, so just give it up and fold it. What to do if you are facing a standard sized 3-bet from the SB or BB?  If you have no read on the player or less than 20 hands on them (and VPIP < 30% and a PFR reasonably close) • KK+: 4-bet for value • QQ, AK: Flat, play Positionally Once you develop a read (over 500 hands) and see that someone is 3-betting less than 3% of hands. • KK+: 4-bet for value • 22 - QQ, AK: We should expect them to play pretty face up and we can often get to showdown vs. AK and be able to fold vs. KK+. Exception to the Rule # 2: If you are 200 BB’s deep vs. someone, call any pocket pair to a 3-bet other than KK+ (this is in position OOP, still fold to a normal sized 3-bet - you are just not likely to get paid off often enough when you hit your set). What if you have someone at your table who is getting out of line with 3-bets (10%+)?  Simply tighten up your UTG range and evaluate whether the table will be profitable. A recommended tighter UTG range of 88+, AJs+, AQ+, KQs (6.2% of hands):

Note: As you can see, this is a fairly exploitable approach to UTG play, but who cares? The number of  players who will exploit you at 25NL and below is minuscule.

14

Middle Position (MP) Disclaimer: What follows is a general discussion of why a certain range is profitable in a setting where you don't have great reads and  will be +EV until you develop those reads. Your adjustments that you make due to y our reads are what will make you money in the long run, not some hand chart. With that said, MP should still play fairly straightforward.

This position should play pretty much like UTG with two small differences: 1. Sometimes a player enters the pot ahead of you. 2. You are 10% less likely to be OOP postflop. Default MP raising range: 22+, AT+, JTs+, KJ+ (13.7% of hands)

Two additions that you might notice are JTs and QJs. Those play well enough postflop to open at this point. Limpers This is the first position where you start dealing with limpers. Assuming that the limper has a reasonable stack (65BB's+) you can isolate them with your whole open range. No need to pot it - just make it 4x with whatever you would have opened - even 22 - and go from there. Treat them almost like if they folded. If a limper is a short stack, just open whatever you feel comfortable playing all-in preflop vs. him. Facing an UTG open By default, you can 3-bet JJ+, AK for value. If you get shoved on, you should fold the jacks. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't have 3-bet them at this level - tons of people will call you with worse, but when you get 4-bet, you will often look at QQ+, AK. As you develop reads and realize that someone's 4-betting range from UTG is KK+ and they either 4-bet or fold, you can start flatting QQ and AK. Also, by default, you should call 22 - TT, AQ, AJs, and KQs. Those should be pretty easy to play postflop. What about suited connectors?  Meh ... how often do you win a big 4-way pot being OOP with 78s? You remember the times where you've flopped a straight and forget all the times you've bled money. Often you will flop a weak flush draw or pair + draw. Now - HU, those do really well in position, but multi-way OOP not so well. Facing a 3-bet Treat this just like if you opened from UTG. As I mentioned - they play almost identically. So that's it. The really interesting stuff starts happening at the CO.

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The Cutoff, Part 1 The cutoff is an exponentially tougher position to navigate preflop than both UTG and MP. The ranges become much more dynamic due to the potential preflop action as well as our reads on the button and blinds. Ideally, we want a tight player directly to our left whose button we can steal liberally and thus play ~1/3 of our hands in position. As a general rule, you don't want to be at a table with an aggressive player on your left. It really shrinks your CO opening range. Refer to my article on Common !NL Mistakes, Part 1 for more on this. In fact, even a player two seats to your left, if aggressive, can make your life tough by 3-betting your CO opens and squeezing if the BTN calls. If you have one of those at your table, as with the case above, evaluate the totality of the situation and see if it's still +EV. Opening Readless from the CO: It's important to get a sense of how much the button is going to let us r aise. For the first 3-4 orbits, open most playable hands and see how he reacts:

Once you get a sense for how loose/tight the button is when you are in the CO, you'll have to adjust your range to target the blinds. I'll discuss what type of ranges will be +EV for opening vs. different type of  players in the blinds. Range vs. Loose/Passives If one or more players in the blinds is loose/passive and the BTN is tight (VPIP < 15, 3-bet less than 3%), you'll want to open a range which is very TPGK heavy. Vs. these guys you will get paid by making a pair and having them out-kicked.

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So it's possible and profitable to open a hand like Q7o in the CO if the BTN is a nit and folds a lot, but the blinds are calling with hands like T7, J7, 78, 57, 67, etc. This is also why we don't open hands like 57 vs. these guys ourselves - they are calling with hands like J7. The thing to keep in mind is that pretty hands like 56s can win big pots, but in reality their power comes from potential fold equity. A lot of loose/passive players like to go to showdown, and a hand like Q7o is much more likely to be good at showdown than 56s. This is also why we want to isolate these players with a range similar to the one shown above when they limp instead of popping up hands like 68s (something I used to be guilty of doing). On the other hand, if the BTN is loose/passive himself, we'll need to remove a big part of our range since we are likely to be OOP. We'll need to be much stronger:

Cutoff, Part 2 If UTG, MP Opens: Most players cold-call too much to UTG and MP opens. You are much better of 3-betting or folding in a lot of situations. Hands like 89s looks really pretty to cold-call a UTG open because "I can hit big in so many ways and I have position", but once again - how often do you really hit big with 89s? There are good hands to call an open with - mostly pocket pairs 22-99 (sometimes TT-JJ), and AJs, KQs, and AQ. All of them play much better IP. If the opener opens a lot and then folds to 3-bets, 3-bet them wide. Do it with hands that have post-flop IP playability (mid SC or OG like 78s, QTs, J9s, etc) or card removal + bluffcatchers (A4s, KJo, etc). Make sure that you don't have a 60/50 type player yet to act who just must see a flop. If that's the case,  just 3-bet for value. Typical value 3-betting range for a UTG open will be JJ+, AK. Vs. some players who only 4-bet or fold, and when they 4-bet, they have KK+, AK, 3-betting JJ-QQ, AK won't be profitable. There are not many of  those though. On the other hands, many players will call your 3-bet with a wide range. Thus, by default, JJ will be good enough to 3-bet. Limpers: We want to isolate with a range which plays well postflop and is TP heavy:

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Of course if someone limp-calls pre-flop and then c/f a lot of flops, you will show a profit isolating ATC, but you should be ok sticking to the range listed above. Suited aces are included because you can cooler people and they have a lot of showdown value unimproved. Small pocket pairs are included because: 1. You don't want the button or blinds to isolate both of you - something you are asking them to do when you limp behind. 2. You want to play big pots if you hit a set. Can't win a big pot if you don't build a big pot. Facing a 3-bet: The BTN/CO dynamics are something which will require a whole new article of discussion. You are often best 4-betting a range which adjusts to the frequency of the BTN 3-bettor or folding. At the beginning, start with QQ+, AK. Add a few bluffs to this once you have a feeling that the BTN is a regular. Suited aces work great there! Without a read, don't 4-bet light! Once you learn more and more, adjust this range. If they are 3-betting you too much, leave - you won't get the better of them !NLess they spew like crazy. On the other hand, if you get 3-bet from the blinds and you are both 100BB's deep, 4-bet KK and flat with AA, QQ, and AK. Once you learn more about the blinds frequencies and tendencies, you can start changing your own range. You should be 100% fine at !NL if you simply fold to 3-bets and play your value range. !NL

Superstar: Fold 99 in position to a 3-bet??? Me: Sure. !NL Superstar: Isn't that too weak tight and exploitable? Me: Sigh. Now - with very specific reads, you can change this (they will fire 1-barrel with AK if they miss and then give up. If they have an overpair they will barrel), but this is overall a good rule to live by. If you are 170 BB's deep, you can call any pocket pair to set mine.

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Playing the Button, Part 1 In this part, we'll talk about playing the button when the action folds around to you. When that happens, our main concern is who the players in the blinds are. We'll address different opening ranges and play based on that. Nits:  Anyone with a VPIP of under 16. If you have two of these guys in the blinds, you can open any two cards for 2.5x and show a profit. If  they 3-bet you, you can 4-bet KK+ and flat AK, QQ to see a flop. Fold the rest !NLess you are 170+ BB's deep, then you can call and set-mine. Loose/Passives: Plays a lot of hands even out of the blinds. If you have a LP in the blinds, you'll want to play a range of hands which is more top-pair/good-kicker heavy. This is a modified range that we used to isolate them with from the CO:

3-bet Monkey Plays a VPIP of 28+, 3-bets 20%+ hands from the blinds. Tighten up preflop and be willing to get it in much lighter. Start 4-bet/jamming hands like 66 - 99, and 4bet/calling hands TT - QQ, AK. Flatting KK+ will often allow you to make money postflop if he's bluffing a lot. If you tighten up enough preflop, 4-betting pretty much ATC will show a profit vs. these guys. But ... why are you sitting to the right of this guy in the first place? TAG, Part 1 VPIP of between 18-24%, 3-bets 5% total, but mostly calls instead of 3-bets from the blinds (hands like KQo and AJs he'll call). You can open a really wide range vs. these guys for 2.5x and show a profit because of them folding preflop. Postflop you'll be in position.

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When facing a 3-bet: Someone who is only 3-betting 5% of hands should get our respect, but we can still profitably 4-bet JJ-QQ, AK vs. them and call in position with AQ, KQs, KK-AA. No reason to 4-bet bluff  these guys - as we said - their range is mostly value. TAG, Part 2 Similar VPIP, but has a 3-bet/fold style from the blinds. Thus, they will play a tighter range, but play it  more aggressively. Their range: These players will still call with pocket pairs 22-99 from the SB, but then 3-bet a huge part of their range to take initiative and because "they are ahead of your BTN opening range." So their range for 3-betting of around 10-14% of hands will look something like this:

Obv it's specific to the villain, but it will consist of: A) Value hands which they are willing to get it in preflop (TT+, AK+). This represents only 3.5% of their total range. They might or might not 5-bet jam AQ - it all depends on your dynamic. If they do, their total range for getting it in jumps to around 5%. B) Broadways which they raise because they are "ahead of your range" and flop a good top pair. These will constitute around 4% of that 10-14% range.

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C) Suited Connectors/Random Ax-hands - that will be the rest. So as you can see, we should still open very wide on the button vs. these guys since they mostly 3betting or folding from the blinds. When they 3-bet, their range is mostly weak, so we'll want to call with our strong range of KQ+, AJs+, AQ+, QQ+ and playing them in position. We'll want to 4-bet/call 99-JJ and 4-bet/jam 55-88. Finally, we can 4-bet random air hands like Axs or QJo since we expect to get a fold often enough to show a profit. Some Math behind 4-bet bluffing: You raise 3 BB's on the button and villains 3-bets you to 10 BB's. There are 13 BB's in the pot. You 4-bet to 26 BBs'. When you do that, you are risking 23 BB's to win the 13 BB's that are in the pot. This will show a profit if villain folds (23)/(13 + 23) = 68% of the time. If villain is only getting it in with TT+, AK, a 4-bet bluff will be very borderline, but there are great meta-game implications for 4-bet bluffing: A) Villains is much less likely to 3-bet you light if he knows that you are going to be 4-bet bluffing him. B) Villain is willing to stack off much lighter. Thus, since they tighten up their range, we can go back to stealing their blinds with a greater frequency and not let them get out of line. More Math, behind 4-bet jamming medium pockets: We said that if the villain is 3-betting us with a range of ~12%, that range will include a lot of hands that he's going to be folding. Roughly around 2/3 of the hands he is 3-betting he's going to be folding. Vs. a range of TT+, AQ+, a hand like 66 has 38% equity when called. So, assuming 100 BB stacks: - 66% of the time villain 3-bet/folds. We win 13 BB's (our 3 that we opened with and their 10 which they 3-bet with). - 33% of the time they call and we have 38% equity vs. their range. Our share of equity in a 200 BB pot is 76 BBs. Since we risk 97 BB's to do it, the play will cost us 21 BB's in the long run. So: 66% (+13 BBs) + 33% (-21 BB's) = +1.65 BB's. This might not seem like a lot, but again - consider the potential long term implications of making such plays as listed above in the 4-bet/bluffing discussion. Plays like this could potentially increase your winrate by a few BB/100 (as illustrated above) in the short term, and massively more so in the long term when you tilt people. Key Idea: Base your opening range on the most active player in the blinds. So if you have a nit and a TAG, open according to the TAG's range. If you have a TAG and a loose/passive, open with a range that targets the loose/passive, etc.

Playing the Button (Part 2) Note: The Button is probably the most complex position to play, and thus, if played well, should be your  most profitable one. Thus the multiple posts about it. This post will focus on developing your calling/3-betting ranges based on our perception of the villain's positional range. Thus, we look at what % of hands they open from a certain position, figure out how they continue with that range (fold, call, 4-bet), and then come up with a range which maximizes EV on that. As we develop reads, we change our initial assumptions and then change our own range/play based on the new assumptions. In essence, this is the crux of poker. Note: Our range of the button should be extremely dynamic and not static. The posts that will follow will attempt to highlight some thought processes that you should start implementing instead of telling you "play these hands from the button." Some general examples will follow.

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UTG/EP TAG opens, folded to you. Until we have more reads, we are going to assume that TAGs in EP/MP will play a pretty tight range. It's impossible to figure out EXACTLY what they play un til you get to know the player better, but for the sake of a starting point, let's give th em a range of 14%. This range looks like this:

As you can see, they play pocket pairs and some suited connectors + some Broadways. Certainly a reasonable range to play from MP (I wouldn't play this range, but we can assume the avg !NL player will think this is a good range). So ... how do we play vs. this range? Calling Preflop vs. This Range: You should really consider who is in the blinds before making your decision. If the blinds are loose passives then you'll want to call wider. If the blinds are squeeze happy, you'll want to call tighter (and trap sometimes with hands like AK with the intention of back-raising). But, for now, let's assume you don't have a great read on the blinds or that they won't be a big factor in the hand (i.e. - mostly calling or folding but overall you expect to be HU vs. the UTG/MP player more often than not). We'll also assume that the EP/MP player is going to fold to most of your 3-bets. So ... let's discuss the following calling range:

Small and medium pocket pairs are obvious. They have tons of value in position and if the blinds come along often enough, we are in poker heaven. AQ/AJ: We figure that these have plenty of high-card value and will often dominate random queens and  jacks that the EP/MP player opens with. AJo is the most marginal of these, but shouldn't be a big leak as long as you don't go nuts if you flop one pair and face tons of aggression. If you find out that the villain doesn't open JTs, JQs, or KJo from UTG, then you should start folding AJo. This forces you to get to showdowns and pay attention. KQ: Same argument as above. Flops enough good one-pair type hands, especially if the blinds come along. Can flop a good draw as well.

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QJs, KJs: You'll be able to get one or two streets of value vs. their medium pockets on J or Q-high boards (with QJs), but more importantly, if you both flop a draw, you often flop a dominating draw if they open these medium suited connectors. Overall, these just play well in position. JTs: Didn't list it above as it's pretty marginal. If the blinds come along often and are loose/passive, this should be a call 100% of the time as they will call with all sorts of garbage hands and JTs plays well in position by flopping tons of more nutted draws. Overall, suited connectors and one gappers will not be profitable calls for you even in position vs. this type of opening range simply because you'll often find your draw dominated (and then you whine about being coolered if you flop an under-straight or under-flush, but nah - you really weren't). Calling hands like 89s to this type of EP/MP raiser will be a leak. The one place to do it is if one or both of the blinds are HUGE whales and massively overplay their onepair type hands. 3-betting Preflop vs. This Range: We'll assume that the UTG/EP player will fold most of their range to a 3-bet. We'll want to 3-bet them with a polarized range which makes our postflop decisions fairly easy. QQ+, AK: Obviously for value (this is 2.6% of hands) Bluffs: Hands like 87s, 9Ts, T8s, and A5s all are pretty good hands to 3-bet bluff with. Now ... they key to all this is developing reads of the player's tendencies. If they are folding to the majority of your 3-bets, then 3-betting with any two cards will show a profit (Note: Try to at least stay in line a bit. Be very aware of game-flow and understand that 3-betting their opens every orbit will piss them off and they will adjust). If they are calling with a big range, then we start opening our value 3-betting range up. For example, if  they raise/call hands like QJs to your BTN 3-bet, then you can start 3-betting hands like AJo for value since we can assume they will call with many more weaker jacks (like KJs and probably JTs as well). AQo is another one of those hands - if someone is flatting AJ to your 3-bets then AQo becomes an easy 3-bet. Some monkeys raise/call any ace. If they are folding too much, then calling with it becomes more +EV than 3-betting (cause then you are not really 3-betting it for value anymore since they are folding KQ and AJ, right?). The next post in the series of discussions about BTN play will deal with someone opening a wider range (like from the CO for example) of around 25-30%. Playing the Button (Part 3) This time we will examine how to deal with a player that opens between 26-30% of hands. This is right around the range that most TAGs will open from the CO. While it's impossible to figure out exactly what the player's range is, we can assume it's going to include suited aces, Broadway cards, pairs, as well as some connected and suited mid-cards. This range will look something like this:

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3-betting vs. This Range: Since the range above represents 28% of hands, and he is likely to continue with a small portion of this range (88+, AJs+, KQs, AQ+ is only 6.2% of hands and 22% of the ran ge above), 3-betting pretty much any two cards should show a profit. Note: Just because 3-betting any two cards should show a profit in a vacuum, doesn't mean you SHOULD be 3-betting any two cards all the time. Game flow should be taken into consideration because we should assume that he is going to tighten up his opening range if we start 3-betting him h abitually. As far as our value range of 3-betting, you should stick to JJ+, AK for now - hands that you are willing to 5-bet shove when facing a 3-bet. As you start developing some history and see that he is either folding to all your 3-bets or calling/4-betting you wider, you should naturally adjust, but you have to start somewhere and QQ+, AK is a good starting point. What about AQ you ask? I'll address that below. Calling vs. the Range Above: Let's examine the reasons for flatting the player above with this range:

It basically comes down to us keeping the parts of his range which flop dominated draws and dominated one-pair type hands. AQ: If the player above is folding to a lot of our 3-bets, there is much more value in flatting a hand like AQ. In position we are going to get at least two streets of value against worse aces and worse queens (which if you look at the villain's range, there are plenty of). If villain flops two pair we are not going to lose our stack assuming we don't overplay our hand postflop. AT, AJ: For the same arguments as above, the player is opening a lot of worse Jacks, Tens, and Aces to merit keeping these in preflop by flatting with dominating hands. In addition, we are going to get multiple streets of value vs. his medium pocket pairs on J or T high boards when we have AT or AJ. Broadway Cards: These play great for high card value, and will play well in position. Villain is opening lots of dominated cards and dominated draws and we will often be able to float tons of flops and take it away on later steets. Even with a hand as marginal as like QTs, just look at the list of suited connectors and one-gappers to see how often you'll dominate his draws. QTs also flops a good one-pair type hand vs. this range. K9s: Starting to get really marginal, but probably strong enough to continue given all the worse 9's villain is opening with. A7s - A9s: Given the number of suited cards this player is opening, these suited aces will flop nut draws. In addition, because this player is opening tons of weaker 7s, 8s, and 9s, our kicker will often be good on

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boards where the 7, 8, or 9 is top or 2nd pair. Once again - position will allow us to control the pot size and get to showdown on our terms. Merits to a Wide BTN Calling Range: We want to start figuring out this player's actual range and tendencies ASAP and by calling wide, we will be able to get to a lot of showdowns and noticing what type of hands he's c-betting with, check/calling turns, check/calling rivers, etc. If the player notices us playing the button fairly loosely, he will probably tighten up his CO opening range as well which will allow us to open more buttons when it's folded around to us. Then why not 86s ... ? If we want to keep our range wide on the button, why not call his opens with T9s? Well - now a lot of our one-pair type hands have hardly any value and most of our draws are dominated by his draws. 86s has much more value when 3-bet in this spot. Always Consider the Blinds! It should go without saying that before making any decision, consider what the blinds are like. If one of  them is squeeze-happy, dump your marginal K9s, QTs, ATo type hands which will encourage a squeeze. Consider flatting AKo at times in order to back-raise it. In addition, if the blinds are HUGE loose/passive fish that are incapable of folding a one-pair type hand and pay you off, you can start adding some lower suited aces (will always have the nut draw), as well as hands as weak as A7o. It's all about range vs. range, and if someone is playing tons of weak 7's and any ace, A7o plays well in position.

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Playing from the Small Blind (Part 1) This is probably them most complex position to play from because of all the action before us and because we are guaranteed to be OOP for the rest of the hand. Let's start with the simplest scenario though. Action Folds To Us This is where your table selection becomes so crucial and having a nit or TAG on your left pays off. Most players don't steal wide enough BvB. I h ighlighted this early on in my review leakfinder for gsicilano. In my own database, I played 7,176 hands from the small blind and actually managed to squeak out a profit from there. Good table selection and stealing from the big blind was instrumental to this, although part of it is obviously small-sample variance. That said, in my sample, I steal right around 40% BvB. As I hope you know by now, this doesn't mean that you should go into PokerStove, look at the top 40% of hands, and open those. Instead, the villain in the BB is much more important than your actual hand most of the time. For example, vs. a nit, you can probably open ATC profitably. One thing to keep in mind is that you don't want to open with 100% frequency just because he'll get tired of you stealing eventually. So, pay attention to game flow and fold that 82o from time to time. In fact, I open very similar ranges BvB to what I would open on the button vs. certain player types. I tend to c-bet around 55% once called because I'm OOP and most people that call from the BB are not looking to give up to a c-bet (my c-bet success is around 40%). With Limpers You can isolate a limper with most playable hands. Keep in mind an opponent's stack size though! The shorter the stack, the more you want to raise with hands that you are willing to play all-in preflop. Obviously your reads play into it, but good Broadways, some high aces, and the top pocket pairs will play well postflop:

I also would complete with a pretty wide range because of the price that I'm getting, but I want to do it with hands that either flop a good draw or a monster:

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Remember: These are not static ranges! Sometimes I will overlimp K9s, sometimes I won't complete A7o, and sometimes I will raise a small pocket from the SB. Example 1: Villain is playing 81/21 and fully stacked. The idea here is that you have to build a pot on early streets to win a big pot postflop: Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 No Limit Hold'em - 5 players Hero (SB): $27.61 BB: $37.50 UTG: $31.71 CO: $50.00 BTN: $36.11 Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is SB with 3 3 2 folds, BTN calls $0.25, Hero raises to $1, 2 folds Example 2: Villain is sitting on 31 BB's and is playing 67/1. I don't want to play my QJ AIPF and if I flop a pair, I will be able to bet/bet/bet and get all the money in postflop. Thus, his stack size and my unwillingness to play this for stacks OOP had me overlimp. Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 No Limit Hold'em - 5 players BTN: $35.87 Hero (SB): $26.70 BB: $28.11 UTG: $7.77 CO: $32.87 Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is SB with J Q UTG calls $0.25, 2 folds, Hero calls $0.15, BB checks Flop: ($0.75) 5 A 9 (3 players) Hero checks, BB checks, UTG checks Turn: ($0.75) 6 (3 players) Hero checks, BB checks, UTG checks River: ($0.75) 9 (3 players) Hero checks, BB checks, UTG checks So that's some general thoughts on when it's folded around or limped around to us. It gets much more complicated when there is a raise in front of us.

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Primum Non Nocere, Part 1 For those of you who have studied Latin, pat yourself on the back – you can now laugh at anyone who’s told you that you would never use it. For everyone else, I’ll begin with this maxim: Preflop compounds  postflop. This means that a seemingly minor (and thus inexpensive) mistake made preflop grows exponentially postflop. Example: It’s folded around to you on the button. You pick up AJo and raise. The button folds and the SB re-raises you. The SB has been active and you see that he 3-bets 8% of hands over a 250 hand sample. You are both sitting on roughly 100BB’s, and you figure that AJo plays ok vs. that range and that you’ll be in position postflop, and thus be able to control the action. You make the call. The pot now stands at 20 BB’s. The flop comes QJ5r. The SB leads for 65% pot and you make the call with your mid-pair. The pot now stands at 46 BB’s. The turn is a 9 putting a flush draw out there. The SB leads again for a little less than 60% pot. You reason that he could have picked up a flush draw which he is now double barreling and maybe doing it with AK to try to push you off a mid-pair. You call again. The pot now stands at 100 BB’s. The river is a 2 and the flush draw misses. Villain shoves his remaining 50 BB’s and you sit there getting 3-1 on your money wondering if you are pot committed and whether villain is 3-barrell bluffing his AKo or missed backdoor flush draw. Life sucks. You: "LOL - this hand was played badly and I would never be in this spot."  Me: "Liar - you've been in spots like this."  All of us have found ourselves in a similar hand where we make a questionable preflop call and somehow come up with all sorts of reasons to call the flop, turn, and rivers. You end up posting the hand on the forums and get the two line reply: Fold preflop. This is going to be the topic of this article and the meaning behind Primum Non Nocere: First, do no harm. It is a fundamental principle in medical ethics which teaches young medical students that sometimes it is better to do nothing than to try something which could potentially do more harm than good. You should treat your preflop game in the same fashion. What will follow will be a general guide to preflop play for 25NL and below tweaked by wishiewish (who I've realized is better at poker than I am ATM) and myself (who is better at explaining and organizing than he is). It's designed to maximize your EV vs. a pool of relative unknowns (which seems to be the case when you are playing 25NL and below). Many of you will find this unsurprisingly bland and boring, but hopefully the discussion and explanations will be helpful. Some Assumptions: No major history, no sick reads, and ~100BB stacks vs. most villains. No more than 2 short stacks at your table.

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A Balanced Range Let's say that you the only time you 3-bet a hand is when you are holding AA or KK. Well ... if someone knows this about you, it's really easy to play when you three bet them. They call if they have the odds to set-mine and 4-bet you with AA. Every other time they fold. Unbalanced Range: {AA, KK} = 100% value This is an unbalanced range because all your 3-bets are strictly for value. What about a balanced range? Well ... there are 6 combinations of AA and 6 combinations of KK. So your ran ge of {AA, KK} is composed of 12 total hand combinations. Let's balance that with 12 hand combinations of bluffs. For example, let's now also 3-bet 97s, 86s, and 75s. There are 4 combinations of each of those for a total of 12 hand combinations. Balanced Range: {AA, KK, 79s, 68s, 57s} = 50% value, 50% bluffs Now you are in theory much harder to play against because the opponent does know if you are bluffing or re-raising for value. Why you shouldn't worry about balance at the micros: First of all, opponents call without the right odds all the time, so even if your 3-betting range is strictly for value, they will still call with much worse hands and pay you off. Secondly, to understand a player's ranges you need to have a large (2K+) sample on them and there is so little stability among the micro player pool that this doesn't happen often. Finally, even if someone has a large hand sample on you, they might not be able to figure out what your ranges are from the numbers they see.

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Common !NL leaks I'm starting to write up my thoughts on themes I've noticed so far from the 30-minute videos I've review for !NL readers. I've done four so far (they take a while to do) and want to discuss some broader ideas which, if adhered to, will do magic for your winrate. Also, this is kind of a draft, so I hope some of the discussion that comes out of this will help make a more clear and perhaps concise (and certainly grammatically correct) future article. Some of these things will seem elementary and obvious, so if you've heard all this before, pat yourself on the back and go back to crushing the games. Hopefully most of you can take SOMETHING away from each article. Log on to Full Tilt at prime time and go check out the Heads-Up tables at 5/10. You will see a few games playing and a LOT of people sitting around and waiting for action. Why don’t they just play each other if  they want to play? When two players don’t play each other, it’s because one of them doesn’t feel like they have an edge. Yet, when you go down to the 50NL tables, it’s extremely easy to get action. 95% of  those players think they are God’s gift to poker. If 10NL had HU tables it would be even better! So what about 6-max? One of my good friends is a regular at the 10/20 – 25/50 games on Full Tilt and in the top 20 for total earnings in NLHE for 2009. A few times a month I’ll sweat him for a few hours and the first question when watching the 10/20 or 25/50 tables is “Who is the mark?” This becomes obvious after a few orbits, but he knows right off the bat. He’ll tell me – “this guy is good and he has position on me which sucks. This other guy is a nit and plays straight forward so I 3-bet him a lot in position. The other guy is a solid regular and a friend of mine so we try to stay out of each other’s way.” As the game progresses, there are clear reasons for why we are even in the game. As soon as those reasons are no longer there, the game breaks pretty quickly. Now, let’s talk about why this is relevant at the micros. Very few players at the micros have this shark mentality. I was watching a 25NL regular playing in a video and the following hand comes up. It’s folded around to us and we raise K4s blind on blind. We get 3-bet by the villain and fold. He shows us 78o and takes the pot:

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My first reaction was “this is not a good guy to have on our left.” I don’t want someone who is playing 31/27/2 to have position on me 5/6 times per orbit. Now – before choosing to leave or stay is not going to be just based on one player. Let’s look around the rest of the table and see if there are now overwhelming reasons to stay. It looks like we have two nits, one unknown, and one tight/aggressive player playing 23/9/5. While this type of player might be calling/limping instead of raising more than he should, it doesn’t mean that we have a clear strategy for exploiting this player right now. Nor is it likely that he will be a huge donator. As soon as we’ve done a quick scan like this, we need to leave. There are simply much better games out there (we’ll talk a little later about what we DO want at our table although you probably have a clue already). So why do most people not leave when they sit at a table like this? One of them might be inertia – if we are sitting, we will often remain sitting until the table breaks down. The other might be ego. If we get 3bet by an aggressive player, a lot of poker players will take it personally and want to outplay them. No one likes being bluffed or 3-bet light. So then we start 4-betting lighter, calling 3-bets OOP with marginal hands, and other plays that are simply unnecessary to be a big winner at the micros. Why get into leveling wars with a player when you can simply find some loose/passives calling stations and continue taking them to value town? When this happens to you, you need to ask yourself the fundamental question: Why am I playing poker right now? Is it to make money or try to outplay a monkey? If your goal is to maximize your winrate then you need to leave. If your goal is to practice playing a monkey out of position, then you need to stay. Yes – there are times when Durrrr plays Ivey, but probably not when Guy Laliberte is playing the high stakes. There are a lot of Guy-type players at the micros and there is an art in extracting max value from them. Your ego wants to play vs. tough players. Your bankroll wants you to play vs. bad ones. But there isn’t as much satisfaction in beating the bad ones as in beating the good ones. You expect to take money from bad players – that you are entitled to their money, but you feel like you’ve earned the money from the tough ones. You feel like you outplay and outwit the tough player, but the bad player will simply hand over their money if you sit at the table long enough. There was a great article about competitive gamers whose sole focus was on winning [1]. The point of it was that there are winners and there are scrubs and that 99% players that play a video game are scrubs. The article describes “the scrub”: “He talks a great deal about “skill” and how he has skill whereas other players—very much including the ones who beat him flat out—do not have skill. The confusion here is what “skill” actually is. In Street  Fighter, scrubs often cling to combos as a measure of skill. A combo is sequence of moves that are unblockable if the first move hits. Combos can be very elaborate and very difficult to pull off. But single moves can also take “skill,” according to the scrub. The “dragon punch” or “uppercut” in Street Fighter is  performed by holding the joystick toward the opponent, then down, then diagonally down and toward as the player presses a punch button. This movement must be completed within a fraction of a second, and  though there is leeway, it must be executed fairly accurately. Ask any scrub and they will tell you that a dragon punch is a “skill move.” Just last week I played a scrub who was actually quite good. That is, he knew the rules of the game well, he knew the character matchups well, and he knew what to do in most  situations. But his web of mental rules kept him from truly playing to win. He cried cheap as I beat him with “no skill moves” while he performed many difficult dragon punches. He cried cheap when I threw  him 5 times in a row asking, “is that all you know how to do? throw?” I gave him the best advice he could  ever hear. I told him, “Play to win, not to do ‘difficult moves.’” This was a big moment in that scrub’s life. He could either write his losses off and continue living in his mental prison, or analyze why he lost, shed  his rules, and reach the next level of play.”  It then mentions a note about elite players: “The first step in becoming a top player is the realization that playing to win means doing whatever most  increases your chances of winning. The game knows no rules of “honor” or of “cheapness.” The game only knows winning and losing.”  This applies to poker on many levels. For one, many players at the micro and low limits are aware of 4betting light, triple barreling with air, CiB, and other fairly fancy poker plays. What type of plays do people post in their blogs? The huge river CRAI bluff. Or the soul-read calldown with bottom pair. These

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are your “combos” from the above passage. There is a place for them in poker, but that's not what the focus should be. On the other hand, knowing the right bet sizes vs. the right players and getting 10-15% more value over a large sample size isn’t considered sexy, yet it’s what elite players do very often. Leaving right after you got 3-bet for the 2nd time this orbit by the same player is definitely not considered "honorable" or "sexy", but is a winning strategy. For now, focus on finding and recognizing the truly bad players and extracting money from them. There is plenty of work to be done there. Often when you play at the micros, you will know very little about most of the players at your table when you first sit down. The ones you know a lot about are probably at least descent (otherwise they would be broke). So your job is to assess the profitability of tables within a few orbits. Don't be content with having an edge. You want a massive edge. Two or three whales at your table. Make that a priority in your game. If you can spot the mark(s), then you need to have a plan for getting their money. If you can’t spot the mark then leave. If you cannot articulate a strategy for extracting money, then you h ave some thinking to do and that’s poker.

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Turning off Auto Pilot with JTs and QJs I guess I should say that I debated putting QJs and JTs there because they are going to often be tricky to play postflop. That said, if you are going to selectively practice marginal postflop play, those are two good hands to do it with. So use them for the following exercise: Whenever you pick up JTs or QJs in MP, turn off your auto-pilot, and ask yourself whether this is going to be a profitable open for you right here, right now. Who do you have in the blinds? Who is in position vs. you, and how often are they calling? Are people at this table calling with worse tens? Worse jacks? Worse queens? In fact, is this table really that profitable for you right now? If it's not, snap out of it and change tables! If  it is, then why? After you've come up with a convincing argument for opening, open. If you cannot come up with a better reason than "hand chart says open", then go ahead and fold it.

some thoughts about low suited aces vs. A9s: 1. Tons of people don't like to fold any Ax. This means that on a A x x board, kickers will make a difference. A9s has seven other hands dominated. 2. You will never flop top pair (with a non-ace) with A2s or A3s. You can with A4s or A5s, but are !NLikely to get a lot of value out of dominated hands - n ot many people are calling with worse 5's or 4's that will give action. On the other hand, there are tons of worse 9's people call preflop with: 79 - K9, and you are likely to get value out of those hands. 3. A9s gets value with top pair out of 66, 77, and 88 which probably isn't folding on a 9-high board and is behind. 4. Both are equally as likely to flop the NFD. 5. Flopping a straight with A2s - A5s happens less than 0.4% of the time, and flopping a gutter isn't that great. So - at MSNL or HSNL, people often open all suited aces because there is tons of fold equity associated with playing the NFD fast. This is not something which is a staple at !NL, where making pairs and getting called by worse is the way to uRiches [1]. In that regard, even A9o > A2s. [1] If no one has used this before, I'm trademarking the terms uRiches and uBalla (I'm looking at you MDorandD!)

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Red Line Graph article I did got the following message from a CR member: "Thought you may like some feedback on your micro training videos, the lowest point of my graph I  started watching and studying your videos. Since doing this I was able to crush 10nl easy as hell and am now just moving up to 25nl finding it ok but alot harder than 10nl. Both your micro video series have been a huge help to me so thankyou."  And he posted this graph:

Now - I think the general preflop and postflop advice I give allows you to have a relatively flat red line at the micros (refer to my own graphs). This guy must have taken some of the things I've talked about and mutated them. I am intrigued by what he is doing so him and I will hopefully talk more and I'll be able to let you know. Another player who wins pretty much exclusively at non-showdown is GROGHEADFLOW, a Leggo Poker instructor. I'll post his graph below:

If you get a chance to watch his video, he doesn't like folding (preflop, to 3-bets, postflop with a pair or draw, etc). It's fairly eye opening to see that style in action as it's so different from my own. Red Line Disclaimer: Are you a solid winner (4 ptbb/100+)? If so, don't worry about your redline. Worry about your green line.

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ABC Poker defined by DOGISHEAD: Distilled to its essence, ABC poker is a simple idea. It's a model of a solid game that is concise, simplified, and easy to use. ABC poker needs to be 3 things: 1) It needs to be easy to learn and implement  2) It must be +EV and easy to understand why it's +EV  3) It must minimize variance Simply, ABC poker is a non-complex approach to playing with generally static preflop ranges and betting standards. It involves making very basic adjustments, and playing hands postflop in a simple way (little to no slowplaying or tricky play). The reason why ABC poker is so good for small stakes players to learn is because ABC poker is very easy  to implement and get working for you, and it'll create results very quickly. The overall strategy is made to be +EV against the average microstakes table, and although it's always going to be far from optimal, it  will never be in a bad spot except in a very strong game. It does well against almost any type of  opponent, and it gives you a good springboard upon which to learn more complex approaches to the game. When we talk about ABC though, we're generally referring to the ABC game that you learn when you begin playing the smallest stakes. There is a sense in which there is also an ABC game at 5/10, which is the game that 95% of regs have in common (i.e., there is a large % of all spots which most every regular  will play essentially the same), and we refer to the sum of these spots as "ABC play," which in the same way is optimized to be maximally +EV against the average opponent. Of course, it's harder to learn and  more complex than the 5c/10c ABC game, but the idea is the same. It's a springboard on top of which the real "games" are played. This definition will guide a lot that we discuss. I'll talk about alternative lines and things to keep in mind, but the crux of it is that playing your hands straightforward and for value is very ABC at the micros.

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Verneer posts a picture of a table and asks should I stay or should I go? Stay or leave? Why?

Observations by forum members: 1. Positives: - you have position on tourist with a decent stack - 2 of the nits are on your left - only one shortstack at the table and he's on the other side - you seem to have notes on the 3 nits - can you use these to exploit them? Negatives: - only 1 real target (the tourist on your right) - the only LAGish player is short stacked and on the other side of the table - 3 nits at the table - even with notes, you h ave few hands on them so will exploiting them really be more EV than finding a fishy table? On balance, leave. 2. Well lets see, my observations: to your immediate right you have a big whalish type (probably passive calling station) which we have postion on 5/6 times. To your left you have 2 nittyish type players meaning you can open pretty wide until they adjust. The only shortstacker there is in a pretty good position for us, because he wont be interfering to much with isolating the fish to our right. I do agree with gibbs stating to leave because there is only 1 mark an d it might be hard to extract if  other players start adjusting. I think staying at this table is only good if you have a plan; meaning isolating the mark to your right, and stealing alott meaning kind of LAG it up. But if the mark is always calling your bets pf, and limping too much isnt that bad if we are stealing really wide?

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Assume the position...

Originally Posted by Simonlal Why do we have to tighten up against a passive player out of position? He will not use his position all  that often and we will be able to see a lot of rivers anyway after we c-bet and give up, just like we do when we are in position. I disagree with this, but want to break this topic down further. I truly feel that most !NL players will tell you that yes, position is important, yet they make so many plays which go counter to this (this is clear from videos that some of my !NL students have sent me, doing sweat sessions, and reading HH's that are posted). This makes me think that there is a fundamental lack of understanding about why position is important. So, let's discuss this in the context of this specific example: "Why is K8o going to show a profit IP vs. a generally loose/passive player, but will not OOP?"  I'm curious to see what people come up with. I always learn a lot myself through these discussions. Note: If you are the next Tom Dwan (If only you didn't run so bad! It's sick!) and know that you could for sure play K8o profitably both IP and OOP, find a hand which fits the question above, let me know what it is, and why it would show a profit IP but not OOP.

A few replies: I'll try an explanation. Against a loose player who we think will call cbet very light and not fold to a lot of DB we aren't going to DB a lot (if any). That is the premise and the reason why some would say it doesn't matter whether we are ip or OOP. There are 2 basic scenarios. 1) we miss IP we have more options. If it is a dry flop we can cbet and hope to take it down if he whiffs completely. Even fish are less likely to call with air (GS bdfd etc) OOP than IP. If we cbet and he calls we often get to see all 5 cards and can hit river. OOP the villain Will make us fold our air if he has anything when we check !NLess he is super super passive but in my experience most of them aren't that passive. When you check to them after cbetting they will bet even second pair albeit normally smallish. We can also check behind flop and bet turn if checked to twice. 2) if we hit we will normally have a medium strenght hand. Second pair on J83ss or top pair weak kicker on KJT4ccss or somethng similar. IP we can control the size of the pot by checking some flops and turns behind and even bluffcatching rivers if the fish is prone to bet his missed draws. Even if he i isn't we can vbet very thinly on the river with 2nd or third pair if we checked behind turn after cbetting and villain checked brick river to us. OOP we have to bet river blindfolded if we want to get value. OTOH if we check twice to even somewhat passive fish and they have air from a missed draw, they can bet and we have to decide whether to call with our second pair or not. All in all when we are likely to flop either a medium strenght hand or air, being IP helps us control whether there is betting on 2 or 3 streets and gives us info on the hand strenght of the villain so we can decide how thinly to vbet. When we miss we can normally see one more card than we could OOP by checking behind flop or cbetting and checking behind turn. Also villain is more likely to fold his air. --Generally I think 3 points matter: 1) Position facilitates pot control. If you enter a pot with K8, being able to control the size of the pot is going to be an issue with the vast majority of the hands you make. Having said this pot control with marginal hands is never a massive issue vs passive players, but it doesn't hurt. 2) You're going to win more pots when you haven't hit. Again not a major concern with passive players, but even some players who fall under the label of "loose/passive" will occasionally fire air when checked to on the flop or turn, or less occasionally float a cbet in position and fire the turn when checked to. Example: You Raise Q8s OTB with a "loose/passive" caller in the BB, flop is 237r. Whether you cbet or not, improve or dont improve, you're more likely to win this pot as BTN vs BB than CO vs BTN. (EDIT: also I forgot to mention getting to showdown when unimproved with hands like Q8/K8 etc against loose passive players is very important because we're crushing their pre flop calling range and if they dont improve K or Q high will often be good enough to win at showdown)

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3) I'm going to struggle to articulate this one, but I think it's the most important point (given the nature of the villain) so I'll try. Basically it's easier to "value own" loose/passive villains IP. If I'm holding K8o and the board develops 2d7d8h Qs 3d It's going to be a lot easier for me to value bet 3 streets against a loose calling station IP. (EDIT: The ability to extract value vs these villains when we're ahead of there range is massively important, the way we make money off these players is by being able to value bet them to death). Playing OOP I wont extract as much value/wont have the best hand as much when I do "value" bet, etc etc. Yeah I know that's a crap explanation but it's the best your getting I think these points are pretty interwoven, also I'm sure there's things i missed out, but those are the basic reasons in my mind. Also I do think, although it is uncommon, that there are spots at the micros where playing K8o OOP is +EV

--In general it's always better to be in position because you're last to act and it's much easier to control the size of the pot in position, especially vs a passive player. Against a loose passive player I gladly bet 2 streets with TPBK (flop and turn on drawy board, flop and river on dry board), but their average range after a third street with action usually > TPBK. With middle pair I try to get one or two streets of value, depending on the opponent. I can check behind the flop, bet or call the turn and re-evaluate(usually fold vs loose passive) or check river. It's pretty easy to pot control in position, as I said earlier, and it's hard to do OOP because you're always guessing if  your opponent will bet/raise or not. So this is why I prefer position, especially with marginal hands. Why exactly it sucks to have K-rag OOP instead of something else? I suppose you're going to have kicker-problems if  you flop top pair or pair problems if you flop middle pair. About the kickerproblem: if you have AK on a dry K/A-high board, you just bet 3 streets and (usually) fold vs a raise, but with K8 you very well might be valuetowning yourselve against K9-KQ. If your opponent is genuinely loose passive though, and will rarely raise or bet with top pair+ I don't see a big problem, just estimate his calling range on each street and bet for value if it's profitable. (theoretically speaking, because I never actually estimate the equity I have against a range, major leak detected: yay!). Your profit shouldn't be a lot less against a loose passive player, in or out of position. My thinking obviously needs improvement, so all input is welcome. I guess OP is going to make a good point about why it's much more profitable to be IP and I'm completely ready to have my eyes opened. --In theory, we would be profiting against a loose-passive whether we are IP or OOP. We just happen to profit a lot more when we're IP. Player type obviously matters - i.e. even amongst loose passives there are a lot of differences. Some of them call 70% of their hands and c/f a lot. Some of them call 70% and call down like crazy. The fact that we're OOP vs. IP changes little if we consider that regardless if we're OOP or IP we v-bet the same boards, and CB | C/F the same boards. In conjunction, he calls and folds similar ranges whether he's OOP or IP because he doesn't know anything about position. All this means is that when we're IP, we get shown 1-2 more free cards (i.e. we CB the flop and see a turn, or we cbet the flop and CB turn and see a free river) Everyone saying "we get to control the pot when we're IP" is not thinking clearly, because we almost always control the pot when against a passive player, because we either mostly fold or AI when we're raised, and loose passives bet retarded amounts when we check to them anyway.

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Show Me The Money! (Part 1) You will make your big money at

!NL

on the river. You will do so in two ways:

1. Playing the river better than your opponent. This means folding when you are very likely beat, calling if you are getting the right odds and ahead of villain's range, bluffing if villain is weak, or inducing bluffs yourself. You will make your money from your reads. 2. Getting paid with your good hands. I want to discuss the second point. The idea is simple: To win a big pot, you have to build it. Not enough players use the power of compounding on all four streets. You've probably heard how early financial investing reaps big rewards in retirement. The same idea is true in poker, where the river is kind of like your retirement. A bit of Psychology of !NL Poker. People love to see flops, so they call too much preflop. On the flop, most people tend to see how their two cards match up with the three on the board, and if there is a bit of a match, they see one more cards in hopes of improving. On the turn, since they got that far, they really want to see the last card. On the river, if the pot is big enough, they will call if they are getting "a good price." Notice how the only street where people really start wondering if what kind of odds they are getting is the river. This is because there is no more cards to come, so they have to focus on their overall value, AND because the money is actually significant on the river. Basically, preflop and flop are cheap. On the turn, well ... they got this far, what's one more step? On the river it's time to sober up and finally orient themselves. Make Them Pay Early, Get Paid Late. I'll illustrate with the most basic example which assumes you are HU with 100 BB stacks. Scenario 1: He limps, you check. The pot is now 2 BB's. On the flop, bet 75% pot and he calls. The pot is now 5 BB's. You bet 80% on the turn. The pot is now 13 BB's. On the river, you bet 10 BB's. If he calls, you just made around 16 BB's. On the other hand, the pot is not that big on the river, and people don't get that attached to medium sized pots. Note: Notice how people look you up much lighter in both small pots and large pots, but not really in the medium sized ones. Scenario 2: He limps, you make it 4x. The pot is now 8 BB's. On the flop, you bet 75% pot and he calls. The pot is now 20 BB's. On the turn, you bet 2/3 pot and he calls. The pot is now 48 BB's. You've got 76 BB's left and put in another 2/3 PSB. Your river payoff, if called is 32 BB's. Note: Even if you bet 50% of the pot on the river, you make 24 BB's from your river bet, and people find  it very hard to fold any sort of a hand getting such good odds. Scenario 3: He limps, you make it 5x. The pot is now 10 BB's. On the flop, you pot it and he calls. The pot is now 30 BB's. On the turn, you bet 80% again and he calls. The pot is now 78 BB's. You've got about a 80% pot sized bet on the river setting up a a shove. If he calls, you just made 100 BB's. Alternatively, you can induce a bluff since most players spazz out when they got to the river in a big pot and missed. Note: Stacks sizes make the river play here much easier, right? 

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Example: (no reads on villain) Full Tilt Poker $0.05/$0.10 No Limit Hold'em - 4 players

SB: $11.64 Hero (BB): $10.00 CO: $17.80 BTN: $10.33 Pre Flop: ($0.15) Hero is BB with A 9 1 fold , BTN calls $0.10, SB calls $0.05, Hero raises to $0.50, BTN calls $0.40, 1 fold  Building the pot ... Flop: ($1.10) 7 2 9 (2 players) Hero bets $1.10, BTN calls $1.10 Building the pot ... Turn: ($3.30) 2 (2 players) Hero bets $2.20, BTN calls $2.20 Setting up river ... River: ($7.70) Q (2 players) Hero checks, BTN bets $6.53 all in, Hero calls $6.20 all in I decided that there is more value in check/snapping. Spoiler: Final Pot: $20.10 Hero shows Ad 9s (two pair, Nines and Twos) BTN shows Ah 5c (a pair of Twos) Hero wins $19.10 (Rake: $1.00)

Moral: It's easy to win big pots with set-up hands like overpair vs. a set, flush over flush, etc. The pots tend to get big themselves, but that's not where your edge will come ("My edge is that I'm on the positive side of coolers all the time! Wheee!"). Your edge will come in building bigger pots with nonnutted hands on early streets and getting paid off by worse

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Calling Preflop to Make Moves Post-flop In the "Moving Through !NL Thread", I got the following comment: Originally Posted by xxxxx Hey we were playing at the same table today on FT, I was playing as, ______. I was just wondering if  there was anything good/bad you noticed about my game. Good thread too btw. I quickly check my HEM and found out who this player was. I replied: I had you playing 36/34 ... that seems too loose. Not sure how much I was stealing .. my fair share though I guess. Here is a hand we played together. Not sure what you c/c the flop with ... Full Tilt Poker $0.05/$0.10 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players UTG: $33.14 Hero (MP): $19.17 CO: $10.00 BTN: $13.91 SB: $17.70 BB: $9.00 Pre Flop: ($0.15) Hero is MP with T J UTG raises to $0.30, Hero calls $0.30, 4 folds Flop: ($0.75) 2 A 8 (2 players) UTG checks, Hero bets $0.60, UTG calls $0.60 Turn: ($1.95) Q (2 players) UTG checks, Hero bets $1.50, UTG folds Spoiler: Final Pot: $1.95 Hero wins $1.82 (Rake: $0.13)

In response to this, he wrote: Believe it or not I had A T . I really think I messed up this hand pretty bad. I didnt think the hand through all the way on the flop before I checked and then panicked on the turn because I  couldn't think of too many hands that you would double barrel that I was ahead of and just folded. My standard play in this spot would be to c-bet but I decided to check the flop and bet the turn and  river because I thought it would look a little more bluffy and I would get called down lighter by pocket   pairs or maybe KQ,JQ,TJ or something that caught a pair on the turn. I really didn't think about what I would do if you bet so when you double barreled the nit side of me came out and automatically assumed you must have flat called me with 22 or 88 and hit a set. I also think I should have realized that since we were ~200bb deep that your preflop flat-calling range would be wider than usual so I probably should've just c-betted, right?  I responded that "my plan was to raise your c-bet there, so I don't think it would have been a good option !NLess you are ready to make hero call downs on a few streets." This started a lot of discussion about the merits of such plays. I dug around for some old footage that I did with your own MDoranD and posted the following example of a similar spot: 77 raises flop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enmFe11Se-A ... and the method to the maddness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_S0yxhaYMY This lead to more discussion on the merits of such play and the best ways to play against an opponent who is capable of making such moves. Since the discussion proved to be fairly interesting, I figured I would move it here to get some more views on this and de-clutter the " Moving" thread. The two spots are so different on so many levels, but the essence of them is the same: If you are going to call preflop with some more marginal hands, don't simply hope to hit a flop. Be ready to make some moves on the right kind of boards vs. the right type of player.

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Verneer describes how to deal with losing sessions

Originally Posted by killtime Be interesting to see where V ends up considering its Jan and hes moved up 3 levels, even only going up 1 lvl a month would have him playing $100/200NL by years end lol. V do u have a plan to be taking shots at high stakes by yrs end? 10/20 25/50 seems feasible, with somewhat agg BR management. I don't think I will play higher than 400NL this year. That said, this is still a lifetime away. I think that once I have around $2K in the account I will jump into some HU tables which I consider my bread-andbutter. That said, I present you yesterday at 25NL:

Dealing With Losing: I think it's really important to address days like this because this type of day can easily break you as a poker player (a 6BI drop like this accounted for around 10% of my roll at the time). As you can see, I jumped out to 2 BI's early on and after than simply couldn't win. It was your standard 2, 3 and 4 outers, as well as losing flips and getting generally coolered (AK vs. KK BvB). Yes, there is probably at last a buy-in of bad play there - this is almost inevitable in this sort of stretch. Regardless of  how it happens, this post is not going to be about how life is unfair - it's going to address the issue of  managing a downswing. 1. As soon as you feel that it's not your night, stop playing. Just quit right there and then. Even if it's only for five minutes, sit out (don't wait to unpost your blinds, just sit out and walk away). For me, it happened after getting in AK vs. AA for a 250 BB pot vs. a 27/25 who 3-bets 21% of hands. This put me down at -$35 for the night and I stopped. I went downstairs, did the dishes, folded some laundry, and decide to take another shot at the tables. This time I decided to play some full-ring which should reduce my variance. 2. Find something which will minimize your variance. Yes, this means that your winnings will be lower, but so will your losses. When you seem to be on a downswing, it's a victory to just stop losing for a stretch. For me this was moving to a full-ring format. Unfortunately, one one of the very first hands I got AK vs.  AA Blind-on-Blind and was dow n another buy-in. Soon after that I lost QQ vs. 89o AIPF for a 90BB pot  and the nut straight vs. a full house. Full ring was not going to work.

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3. If you are still losing, stop playing all together. Time to go back and re-examine your bankroll. If you are still comfortably rolled for your limit, come back the next day (but not before you carefully review EACH of your hands and honestly ascertain whether in fact you could have lost less or won more in each of your big pots. I feel that one of my strengths is being able to make good folds in correct spots. A huge leak of many !NL players is the inability to fold what they consider to be a good hand. I will give you an example of a fold that I normally make but I didn't yesterday: http://www.pokerhand.org/?5132129 At the time I just felt that it was a fold but I didn't listen to my inner-voice. This is when I knew it was time to quit - when a part of me was blocking out my poker instincts. For those of you that haven't seen Durrrr play at Patrick Antonius at the Aussie Millions, go do it now! There are four parts and you will grow as a player. Here are the Cliff Notes: Durrrr continues getting great hands but Patrick ends up with better ones by the river again and again. Durrrr is forced to fold time after time and seems to do it without showing too much emotion. It is almost unreal how badly he runs and how he continues to make the right play during that run. At no point did he stop listening to his inner voice. Going From Here: Your bankroll is everything. I took today off and will play some 10NL full ring tomorrow. The reason for this is simple: With $593 in my account, I have 59 BI's for 10NL and not even 24 for 25NL. Losing 4 BI's at 10NL would represent a 7% hit to my roll, whereas losing 4 BI's at 25NL would be a 17% hit to my roll. Psychologically, I know I can play my A-game with 59 BI's, but am not sure if I really could with only 24 at this point. Note: There are times when I think I can play my A-game with only 4-5 BI's, but for the sake of this project, re-depositing is not an option, so protecting my bankroll is my priority # 1. Thus, if it gets low, it effects how I'm able to play. Once I win $30 - $40, I will jump back at some 6-max 25NL tables, but I'm in no hurry. Being in a hurry can disastrous for a poker player as it forces you to embrace variance - something I don't think is necessary as you move up through the micros. I will post an update tomorrow on how the day went, but regardless of my results tomorrow, I will guarantee that I will play with a clear head and will play my A-game.

Dealing with a Downswing, Part 2 Yesterday was pretty bad for me as I dropped four buy-ins at 10NL. I couldn't really understand what was going on. To give some context to this, I've been grinding 100NL on Stars on the side to work off  some bonuses. I've been playing 24 tables at a time. In under 30 hours, I've made around 30 BI's.

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Compare this to my graph at 10NL and 25NL during the same time:

Don't get me wrong - if I had an option of doing well at 100NL or 10NL, the choice is clear, but my ego could not come to grips with why I'm doing so poorly at the micros. What is going on? You've probably heard the joke "Move up to where they respect your raises!" This is kind of how I felt at 100NL. Now - There is no way that beating 10NL should be harder than beating 100NL. It wasn't as simple as "variance" - I was simply playing better at 100NL than 10NL. Again I though ... what is the best way of dealing with a level where nothing gets respect? I had to start thinking more clearly. I decided to come up with a plan which I applied and am going to outline the key points and my reasoning behind them as they happened.

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Step 1 was to move to Full Ring. There is simply less variance there for me because my overall ranges are much stronger and I'm able to read hands there better. With all the folding going on, this should lower my variance. Step 2 was to move down to 10NL. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was not comfortable any more losing a few BI's at 25NL and thus didn't think I could play well there. My bankroll was plenty healthy to play 10NL though. After I dropped 4 more BI's at 10NL FR, I thought "what now?" I remember a piece of advice given to a man that was digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole: "First, stop digging." Ok. I was trying too hard to get out of my downswing. I was trying to win it back. How do I "stop digging?" Step 3 was to try playing break-even poker. I don't know how many of you have ever done this. Your goal for the session is to simply break even for that session. This changes the way you play in some subtle ways. Try this your next session - simply try to break even. Notice what you are doing differently. Let me know what observations you come up with when you do it. In the end of the day, I almost dug myself out of the hole, but then BAM - dropped a bunch and quite for the day. Once again, I regressed to trying to force things which could not be forced. I decided to quit and come back the next day with the same approach - trying to simply have a breakeven day. Because in the end, when you are losing, it's a success to lose less the following day. Then to break-even is a step above. When you are able to successfully break even, then you can start worrying about winning. Here is a little secret about playing break-even poker: If you have rakeback or bonuses, it's not really break-even poker (notice the blue line above). The key is to put in volume and not to force things. In Step 4, I decided that a key component of breaking even was to really avoid playing turns and rivers without very good hands. Too many times in the last few sessions did I call a turn bet or river bet with a truly marginal hand and the cost of this was always 20-40 BBs. So, whenever I found myself in a marginal spot on the turn or river, I folded. Suddenly, things started to look brighter and for the first time in a few days, I felt that I stopped digging and was starting to move in the right direction. Now - I am going to start moving in reverse - my next session will still be at 10NL Full Ring to get one more good session in. After that, I'll move to 25NL Full Ring, and hopefully back to 25NL Six Max soon after that. My goal is to do that at around $850. Sitting on $700 right now, so there is work to be done.

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A Postflop Line Exercise (Part 1) I want to do a couple of these, so we'll start out easy. Take a few minutes to come up with a situation in which you would take the following p ostflop line: 1. Bet/Bet/Check-call 2. Bet/Bet/Check-raise 3. Bet/Bet/Check-fold 4. Bet/Bet/Bet-fold 5. Bet/Bet/Bet-call few replies: 1. Def when I'm in BB and have like 92o and flop is 973cc, turn is 4o, river is 5o, perfect spot imo for b/b/c-c. he'll call with all his draws, and might bluff and you can call with a weak pair. 3. b/b/c-f when river brings in a draw and you think he has the draw like 95% of the time. 4. b/b/b-f - dry board, and a really tight player raises the river when you think he only does this with a set. 5. b/b/b-c you have middle set against a tight player who raises river with a set, player is bluff happy. Super aggro player. --1. Bet/Bet/Check-call -> bluff induce here and then, most of the time a vbet is better to my mind. This is a cool spot though. No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (6 handed) MovinOnUp (UTG) ($25.25) MP ($9.90) CO ($12.30) Button ($23.60) SB ($19.15) BB ($24.40) Preflop: MovinOnUp is UTG with J , 10 MovinOnUp bets $0.80, 1 fold , CO calls $0.80, 3 folds Flop: ($1.95) 2 ,3 ,J (2 players) MovinOnUp bets $1.40, CO calls $1.40 Turn: ($4.75) 5 (2 players) MovinOnUp bets $3, CO calls $3 River: ($10.75) 7 (2 players) MovinOnUp checks, CO bets $7.10 (All-In), MovinOnUp calls $7.10 Total pot: $24.95 2. Bet/Bet/Check-raise (only 1 hand out of 250k ) -> c/r for value, as I see him folding a lot to a third barrel. We might lose some value vs. some midpairs though. Applicable vs. aggressive opponents as well No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (5 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com BB ($25) UTG ($14.05) MovinOnUp (MP) ($25.30) Button ($25) SB ($12.15) Preflop: MovinOnUp is MP with 8 ,8 1 fold , MovinOnUp bets $0.75, Button calls $0.75, 2 folds Flop: ($1.85) 4 ,5 ,5 (2 players) MovinOnUp bets $1.30, Button calls $1.30 Turn: ($4.45) 8 (2 players) MovinOnUp bets $3.40, Button calls $3.40 River: ($11.25) K (2 players) MovinOnUp checks, Button bets $3, MovinOnUp raises $19.85 (All-In) Total pot: $17.25 3. Bet/Bet/Check-fold -> we miss our draw and face a bad card on the river to barrel No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com UTG ($30.50) MP ($3.70)

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CO ($14.90) Button ($21.95) Hero (SB) ($25.10) BB ($25) Preflop: Hero is SB with 10 ,J 4 folds, Hero bets $0.80, BB calls $0.65 Flop: ($1.80) 9 ,2 ,8 (2 players) Hero bets $1.40, BB calls $1.40 Turn: ($4.60) K (2 players) Hero bets $3.20, BB calls $3.20 River: ($11) 9 (2 players) Hero checks, BB bets $8, Hero folds Total pot: $11

4. Bet/Bet/Bet-fold -> always costly!

No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (4 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com UTG ($24.20) OMG_Bluff (Button) ($25) SB ($24.40) BB ($30.70) Preflop: OMG_Bluff is Button with 7 , Q 1 fold , OMG_Bluff bets $0.70, SB calls $0.60, 1 fold  Flop: ($1.65) 5 ,8 ,5 (2 players) SB checks, OMG_Bluff bets $1.20, SB calls $1.20 Turn: ($4.05) K (2 players) SB checks, OMG_Bluff bets $3, SB calls $3 River: ($10.05) J (2 players) SB checks, OMG_Bluff bets $6.60, SB raises $19.50 (All-In), OMG_Bluff folds Total pot: $23.25 5. Bet/Bet/Bet-call -> spots where we can't let it go or with our toprange No-Limit Hold'em, $0.25 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com Button ($32.15) MovinOnUp (SB) ($24.75) BB ($27.05) UTG ($24.40) MP ($14.15) CO ($37.10) Preflop: MovinOnUp is SB with 6 ,6 4 folds, MovinOnUp bets $0.90, BB calls $0.75 Flop: ($2) J ,A ,6 (2 players) MovinOnUp bets $1.60, BB calls $1.60 Turn: ($5.20) 5 (2 players) MovinOnUp bets $4.15, BB calls $4.15 River: ($13.50) 4 (2 players) MovinOnUp bets $9, BB raises $18, MovinOnUp calls $9 (All-In) Total pot: $49.50 --1. b/b/c-c I have a hand like TP, there are missed draws on the board and I think villain is capable of bluffing the river 2. b/b/c-r An obvious draw miss the river, but I've hit an unexpected backdraw 3. b/b/c-f The river hit a lot of draws I think villain is drawing to 4. b/b/b-f TPTK vs a calling station 5. b/b/b-c With the nuts or close to it.

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Short Note About Tilt I got the following e-mail today: Quote: Just got to page 35 of your thread (I started reading it last week) and saw your post about wanting to know who was reading. I actually don't have an account there, I've just been lurking and only just started reading 2+2 the last couple weeks at the continued behest of a friend. Anyway, I live in xxxxx and play on FT under xxxxxx and just wanted to say thanks for all the info. I can tell that my play has taken a significant step forward since I started reading (and have gotten more serious about improving) and am much less prone to tilting. I highlighted the part that really caught my attention simply because I never consciously made this connection. I remember watching the Superbowl yesterday and heard the announcers talking about how calm Jim Caldwell was. They asked him if he is as calm on the inside as he is on the outside:

His answer surprised me. "Even calmer on the inside" he said. He added: "When you feel fully prepared, there is no need to stress and worry - you've done the best you can to control what is in your control and sometimes the results are simply don't work out." Note:

Yes, I'm aware the Colts lost, but that's being results oriented.

This is often the case with poker as well. We prepare by studying and analyzing profitable play. After that, we apply it and hope for the best. The sessions where I find myself playing my A-game after losing again and again are the ones where I have no doubt that I played each hand optimally and classify the loses as coolers or bad beats. So - continue working on your game and your results might start improving exponentially. This is because you will playing technically better poker with a better mindset.

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Why Durrrr plays 86s UTG but you shouldn't The difference in coolers at HSNL and  !NL This is an extension of a discussion that I had with WishieWish (feel free to add to or clarify this WW) concerning opening and calling ranges. It seems like a lot of people notice players opening hands like 86s from early position and assume it's a good thing. They've definitely seen hands where a high stakes player like Durrrr opens 86s and sometimes even calls a 3-bet with it. So why do the high stakes player open hands like 86s in early position or a call an early position raise on the button with that kind of hand? It's so that they get multiple streets of action from top-pair or overpair type hands from their sets and overpairs on 75x or 79x type boards as well as are able to bluff 66x or 88x type ones. Basically, if the other players at the table know that you have 86s in your range, that means you probably have 75s, 89s, 67s, etc etc. Thus, they have to account for all those combinations when thinking about your bets postflop. So on a 7 5 J 2 board, when you fire for a second time streets, you are now likely to have draws like 89s, 86s in addition to your value han ds tons of backdoor flush draws. Thus, when the river comes 2 them with J

T

and they end up shoving your third barrel, you will see someone call

because "all the draws missed" and when they see A

A

or 7

7

it up to running to the "top of villain's range" knowing that the villain would have played A and 8

6

, they chalk T

, 8

9

the same way.

Obviously, there are two key ideas here: 1. You have to play against the same pool of players on a regular basis. 2. Your opponents need to be able to read hands and lines fairly well and be able to lay down top-pair or overpair type hands to multi-street aggression. Neither of these two concepts is really that applicable at the micros. I'm not saying that you won't run into players who you will develop some history with or that you won't run into players who are descent hand readers, but for the most part, you won't be making great type of money of them anyhow. The vast majority of your money comes from situations I call "gifts". You can see examples of gifts above. They are situations where a player made so many mistakes on multiple streets that you should just thank them for being at your table in you head (don't be a douche and say this in chat though). Basically, you'll get action with your 7 to actually have 8 your range anyhow.

6

7

or A

A

on three streets vs. J

T

, but w/o needing

in your UTG range - most players will simply assume that you do and put it in

As Stackajawea mentioned in his post, the large player pool is key to this. The bad players who love to bluff and float will project these tendencies to you (and everyone else) and not give you credit for your big hands anyhow even though they've never seen you make a bluff. Even the regulars will often project their own ranges (which, let's be honest - have tons of leaks if they are not crushing) onto you. Thus, for the most part you can play strictly value hands and make inexpensive bluffs which are highly +EV and be ok. He also advised to not nit it up completely and play only your value hands all the time (i.e. - opening 15% of hands on the button) - there is tons of money to be made stealing and restealing if you are smart about it.

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Bluffing and Equity Before we can address playing the blinds, it's important that we begin to discuss the topic of bluffing. So ... let's start. I was talking to a friend about the idea of playing out of position and he brought u p a very important point about !NL players with regards to bluffing. He mentioned that most !NL players don't pure bluff they bluff with hands that have equity (or semi-bluff). I'll give some examples to guide us as we move forward. Example 1: Pure Bluff  MP TAG player opens and you call with 2 4

8

9

2

in the Small Blind. The Big Blind folds and you see a

flop. You check, the TAG c-bets and you check raise him.

Equity: If villain has a top pair or over-pair here, you have around 8% equity. Key Point: If villain continues, you are going to be done with the hand. Example 2: Non-made Hand with Great Equity MP TAG player opens and you call with A you c/r.

Q

in the BB. The flop comes T

2

4

. MP bets and

Equity: You are favored against a one-pair type hand (non-ace kicker). Against AsTs you have 46% equity on that flop. Even against KdKs you have 44% equity. Worst case scenario is that you're up against a set, but even there you have 26% equity. If he comes over the top, you are !NLikely to fold your hand. So ... if you are not folding your hand, you are not really bluffing - you're just playing your equity in this spot. Example 3: Bluffing Marginal Equity Then there is some more gray area. For example, you pick up Q J and call a raise from a MP TAG in the Big Blind (I'm not saying this is a winning play, but for the sake of this example, let's assume you do it). The flop comes 8 9 5 . You c/r his c-bet. Here you have a gutter to the nuts, backdoor diamonds, and overcards that are potentially going to be outs. Equity: Vs. a hand like A

9

you have 41% equity. Vs. a hand like Kings, you only have 23% equity.

If villain calls your c/r, you can still continue on a variety of turns, but your hand is not nearly as strong as the last example - if villain 3-bets this flop you are mucking. So What? Basically, !NLess your game includes a lot of pure bluffing (like in example 1) and bluffing your marginal equity (like in example 3), you should play very tight out of position. The main reason for this is that most of the time you and your opponent will both miss the flop (or will both have weak holdings), and the person in position will end up taking the pot. So - if you are calling with hands like A T and only playing past the flop if you hit, you will start slowly bleeding money and will be in tons of really tough spots. Thus, as we begin talking about playing from the blinds we'll emphasize either hand that are r eally easy to play if you hit (and villains that are very likely to pay you off), or playing with initiative. So ... with that said, my next longer post will deal with playing from the SB vs. a UTG or UTG + 1 raiser.

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Reflections part 1 Quote: Originally Posted by Stackajawea the gap between 50NL and 100NL is as close as it's ever been imo. the gap between 25NL and 50NL may be as wide as its ever been. some of it has to do with the global economy and some of it has to do with a slew of formerly marginal 100NL winners moving down to sustain themselves. There is a lot of truth in what Stack has said. I find that the gap between 25NL and 50NL is very significant in terms of aggressive players. It's totally standard for a table to have 2-3 players with a VPIP of over 26, a PFR of over 20, and a 3-bet of over 8. Tables like this are just going to be tough to play and will cause your variance to shoot up due to getting it in lighter and lighter. This is just not the case at 25NL at this point (at least on FTP). That said, I think I simply made a lot of bad decisions when I moved up to 50NL. 1. First of all, I was really excited about my progress and tried to win more and sooner than I could have. My own impatience led me away from taking the right steps and grinding +EV situations. 2. When variance was killing me, I didn't stop playing soon enough. We all know it's impossible to play your A-game when you are losing and I didn't cut my losses when I should have. 3. Playing HU is not the same as riding a bike ... I played very poorly in many spots. 4. I am still not comfortable playing an aggressive style with 30 BI's and even though taking a shot would have been ok, making the jump to 50NL would not have been. I think as you move up, the games become more aggressive and you need more BI's to play your A-game. So ... saying that you need x # of  BI's to play any level is silly. I think playing 5NL with 20 BI's should be fine due to the passive nature of  the limit, whereas playing 5/10 with 20 BI's is probably a bad idea due to the variance. 5. I've played pretty much every day for the last two months and I was starting to really dread poker. Breaks are really +EV and I didn't take one to re-focus. Thus, I often played anxious and didn't have fun. The bottom line is that I should have decide to take a 4 BI shot and then extend that shot as long as possible. What I mean by that is ... put myself in the lowest variance situations and slowly ease into the limit. That's going to be my plan for my next shot. I will play fewer tables and try to put myself in fewer marginal situations. If I end up losing 4 BI's, I will go back to 25NL and grind it out till I get those 4 BI's back. Then I will continue doing this until I finally break through. My head will be much more clear as I move up to 50NL next time as well. I'm going to approach it with a detached attitude and just focus on getting in as many hands as possible in the 4 BI's I'm going to allow myself. If I lose, that's fine - I won't think of it as failure, but instead will work to create another opportunity to take a 4 BI shot at the lower level where my risk of ruin is pretty much zero. Cliff Notes: I'm embarrassed to say that my head simply wasn't right when I moved up to 50NL the first time. I'm determined to fix that for next time.

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Reflections part 2: Update on last 12K hands:

I finally feel like I broke through and am playing very well. Everything is clicking. My bankroll stands at a healthy 44+ BI's for 50NL, and I'm clearly finding +EV spots to continue building it. It's only been 10 days since I made this post about losing a big chunk of my bankroll (in all honesty, it went from $1,700 --> $850-ish at one point). The difference those 10 days have made is astronomical. There are a couple of lessons here. One of them is simply to have a cushion as you move up. I didn't realize just how important this is until it was almost too late. Playing on a short bankroll is just not a good idea (Short = 20BI for me). 30 is starting to feel better, and at 40 I don't feel like I have to worry about it anymore. This doesn't mean that taking a shot is a bad idea, but make sure you allocate x # of  BI's and stick to it. For example, when I decide to play some 100NL in the future, I'll allocate $400 and try to see how long I can last with it. Thus, I will not start out playing HU since a 4 BI swing if you are running bad can happen very quickly. I'll probably start out with some FR an d then more to SH play. Th e nice thing is that as I continue playing at the higher limit, my rakeback will continue accumulating at a much higher rate, so regardless of what happens with those 4 BI's, I'll be ready to take another shot very soon. I cannot stress the idea of prolonging your shot enough. Make a game out of it. See if you are able to last for 5000 hands. Hell - aim for breaking even for that period as silly as that sounds. A few good things will happen if you do this: 1. You'll realize the next limit is not as scary as you thought it would be. 2. You realize people play badly there. 3. You'll start getting data on the regulars which will help you the next time you make it back to that limit. If you only last for 750 hands, you don't really learn anything about too many of them. 4. More bonuses + more rakeback. There are people that make their living simply from rakeback and I'm obviously not advocating that, but just remember that your bankroll doesn't care where the money is coming from ... it only cares about which direction it's flowing. So that's some thoughts. I think that so many people take unsuccessful shots and I'm not quite done deconstructing why that's the case. I can only hope that my own struggles and reflections will make life much easier for you when you are ready to move up in limits. I know I've not posted much specific poker strategy recently, but I feel that it's the other stuff  (psychology, bankroll issues, etc) that have played a major impact on my game recently and thus feel obliged to focus on that for the time being. I would feel that I am cheating you if I didn't discuss it. I have not forgotten about the other stuff though and will get back to it in due time There is plenty of  2010 left.

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Thoughts on Moving up in Limits, The Monster and The Nute As part of this challenge, I've run really well early on which made me move up in limits fairly quickly. I'll recap this and then explain how I think this overall experience has led to my 50NL struggles. Early on, especially at 5NL and 10NL, the games felt really soft and coupled with the fact that I ran like God, I moved up fairly quickly. I spent 4 days at 5NL and 10 days at 10NL before trying out some rush poker. I played Rush for a few days and again run like God for the most part. My bankroll at this point was sufficient to start taking some shots at 25NL, and I decided I would rather not play Rush anymore. So, in late January, I took some shots at 25NL, did really well my first day and got rocked the second day. This led to my first downswing - 3 losing days in a row. I documented this experience here: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/69...-post16444814/ http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/69...l#post16552525 Well, I worked through that and what followed was 11 winning days in a row followed by a small losing day. I was now in the middle of February and decided that I had enough $$ to take a shot at 50NL. This whole time I was still running pretty nicely over EV, so in some ways, my bankroll was inflated. For reference, here is my overall 5NL, 10NL, and 25NL graph (does not include Rush):

So then came 50NL and HU play. I won a little on the first day, ran really badly but broke even on the second day, and then had a $259 day on day 3. Then it all went bad. I lost $309 on day Feb 22. I wrote about this here: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...postcount=1499 I hated the fact that I was moving backwards since I was proud of the fact I had crossed the $1,500 milestone. Ah pride ... The very next day I dropped $215, but it should have been much, much worse. My overall EV for that day was -$451. This included a horrendous session of HU which pretty much made me quit playing HU till today. I cannot explain some of the plays I made (well ... I can, but I would just laugh at myself if I was reviewing those HH's. It was clear that I was playing a game far, far below my A-game). The next two days were also losing days - I finished down another BI in both and again, ran above EV. At this point, my bankroll dipped below $1,000 and I was beside myself. I was playing really badly, losing tons, and needed to stop. It was clear that I was still rolled well for 25NL and below, and needed to drop.

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So ... I did. 3 days of 25NL saw my bankroll go up by around $150 and I got another $200 or so in rakeback. One upside of my long sessions at 50NL was that I got tons and tons of rakeback. I sighed at the fact that I was resorting to this for my bankroll building, but hey - beggars can't be choosers in times of crisis, right? My bankroll was around $1,400 and I decided to take a very disciplined 4 BI shot at 50NL. My overall attitude was that I would try to stretch it out as long as possible and once I lose $200 at 50NL, I would go right back down to 25NL until I get that $200 back with a combination of winning and rakeback. Then I would keep on repeating this until I broke through. Since I was going to go the low-variance route, I hit the Full Ring tables. Won a little the first day, lost about a BI the second day, and then things started really clicking. I did notice one thing which I will address after I show my graph since dropping to 25NL and then coming back:

The Monster and The Nute Notice the two dips - one was around 4000 hands and the other (smaller one) was around 10,000 hands. These spots have been fairly fascinating, because they have involved an entity which I have started calling "The Monster". It's something a little different from tilt and I don't have a full grasp of it, but it's something real and something which destroys by bankroll. The other part of the time, I was guided by another entity which I have since called "The Nute". Bear with me on this. It's not as simple as "Tilt" and "No Tilt". I truly feel that two different people were playing in some stretches. The reason for this is that if The Nute was the review all of my hands, he would simply not play some of them the way he did. Looking at the graph above (tilted "The Comback"), it's clear where The Monster comes out and where The Nute returns. I want to discuss my thoughts on how and why this entity exists, but this post is already too long. So, the bottom line is that if I can find a way to overcome The Monster, all the tools are there to win. This post has already gotten really long, but I will follow it up with a longer discussion about The Monster, The Nute, and why I think you have all the tools you need to win already as well as why I think you also have both of these entities within you. I will begin with a hand played on HSP to prove my point.

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The Monster and The Nute (Part 2) What is The Monster? As I mentioned before, when I r eview some of the hands I've played, I sometimes feel like one person played one set of hands and another person played another set of hands. The reasons for this are that in some hands, I simply cannot offer good enough reasons for why I played the hand the way that I did. It has nothing to do with winning and losing, but everything to do with being able to justify the play. I will give two recent examples (They are FR, but in essence they are SH and the general ideas are the same): Example 1: Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players CO: $49.50 BTN: $50.00 SB: $61.80 Hero (BB): $53.40 UTG: $52.35 UTG+1: $50.00 MP1: $45.10 MP2: $71.95 Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BB with K K 2 folds, MP1 calls $0.50, 3 folds, SB calls $0.25, Hero raises to $2.50, 1 fold , SB calls $2 Very standard preflop. Flop: ($5.50) 9 3 2 (2 players) SB checks, Hero bets $5, SB calls $5 Villain is playing 41/20 over a small sample and could have ATC here. I bet big for value. Turn: ($15.50) 4 (2 players) SB checks, Hero bets $12, SB requests TIME, SB calls $12 I lead again on the turn fairly big for value. River: ($39.50) A (2 players) SB bets $10, Hero requests TIME, Hero calls $10 Villain leads into me on the river and I'm getting 5-1 on the call but I don't really beat anything other  than busted diamonds. He could have gotten there with some sort of ace, some sort of straight, etc etc. Nevertheless, I don't analyze the situation enough and click "call" - mostly out of frustration and mostly  due to "pot odds". Example 2: Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players CO: $45.55 BTN: $50.00 SB: $53.20 BB: $20.45 UTG: $50.00 UTG+1: $37.70 MP1: $38.20 Hero (MP2): $53.05 Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is MP2 with K Q 3 folds, Hero raises to $1.50, 1 fold , BTN raises to $5, 2 folds, Hero raises to $12.50, BTN calls $7.50 Villain is 3-betting a very wide range on the button. I decide that with all the blockers that KQo has, I will  4-bet it since calling is bad and I don't want to fold due to the villain. Flop: ($25.75) A 4 9 (2 players) Hero bets $7.50, BTN calls $7.50

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Betting small here is ok given how dry the flop is. I plan on DB most turns. Turn: ($40.75) 4 (2 players) Hero bets $11, BTN calls $11 Pretty good turn ... I decide to DB with the intention of shoving the river and while I think he'll peel once with TT, JJ, or QQ on the flop, he'll fold them on the turn. River: ($62.75) A (2 players) Hero bets $22.05 all in, BTN calls $19 all in We get to the river and the ace now makes it much less likely that I have one in my hand. Nonetheless, I  stick to my plan and just ship the river, without even thinking too much about it. He snap calls because given that river, my line sucks. As I was thinking about all this, I decided to catch up on HSP Season 6 and saw this hand play out between Gus and Eli: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGxqBmkC3JY It's the very first hand in the episode where Gus has 6 4 and Eli has K 8 . Gus's flop and turn and fine, but river is awful. He discuss the hand with Kara later on and does the right thing by walking away from the table after it. He was so focused on trying to win the pot that the logical and analytical part of him almost didn't want to process all the information that was available and updated ("The river is an ace! What can I rep? Eli is a calling station ...") So that's The Monster. The Monster is so focused on trying to win the pot at all cost that it simply pays attention to the elements of the hand which confirm his desire to win the hand - even if those elements are very, very thin. For example - if the ONLY part of a villain's range that you beat is a busted flush draw and villain's range that beats you is much, much wider than that, yet you still call, why did you do it? Did you truly analyze his whole range, or were you so focused on the missed flush draw and the fact that you felt entitled to the pot that you just clicked "call" w/o too much thinking? The Monster acts compulsively, is blinded by its own immediate desire (I have to win this pot now! I have to increase my bankroll!) and has a strong sense of paranoia and thus levels himself (He's bluffing me! I can't let him walk all over me! He is raising me positionally so he's weak ..."). What is The Nute? The Nute is the opposite of The Monster. The Nute does not act compulsively, doesn't level himself, and carefully analyzes each hand and comes to the correct conclusion almost always. Sounds easy, right? I decided to call this character "The Nute" after the CardRunners instructor Nutedawg. There are tons of  good videos out there, and plenty of people that give good advice on the forums, but time and time again Nutedawg continues to impress me. The reason is because he continues to reaffirm the basic principle of uNL poker: It's not hard. In it's essence, it's really not. It comes down to having a solid preflop game combined with good value betting and folding. Yet, we work really, really hard into making it into something much more difficult than it needs to be. The Monster makes it hard where it doesn't need to be. If we only listened more to The Nute, our graphs would be much smoother and our winrate double. We would also be playing much higher by now. The Nute doesn't try to make soulreads or make amazing bluffs. He does make very good plays, but they are not "amazing" or "sick" in his mind - they are simply the most +EV ones at the time. He'll CRAI on the river if the spot calls for it - not because it's the only way he can think of winning the hand. His thinking is lucid and he's in tune with all the little things going on in each hand. All this makes him untiltable as if he feels the onset of tilt coming, he quits. The Monster is never able to rear it's full self in this scenario. Letting The Nute guide you ... So obviously you want to let The Nute guide you as much as possible and The Monster as little as possible. Whenever you are faced with a tough decision, examine all that is available, but more importantly, click "time" if possible and start deeply thinking through the hand. Think about ranges

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starting with preflop, villain's tendencies, etc etc. You should be doing this anyhow, but become very conscious of the process again. Try to come up with every possible hand that the villain could have. What could he do this as a bluff with? For value? Semi-bluff? To illustrate, here is a hand I played earlier today where I feel I made the best play on every street. Villain seems to be playing around 25/5-ish and not very aggressive. Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 7 players UTG: $26.35 UTG+1: $93.25 MP: $100.60 CO: $50.00 BTN: $20.95 Hero (SB): $77.70 BB: $45.30 Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is SB with K K 5 folds, Hero raises to $1.50, BB calls $1 Flop: ($3.00) 7 3 T Hero bets $3, BB calls $3

(2 players)

Turn: ($9.00) 6 (2 players) Hero bets $6, BB calls $6 River: ($21.00) 2 (2 players) Hero bets $12, BB raises to $34.80 all in , Hero requests TIME, Hero folds How often does villain bluff this river? Seems like a horrendous spot to shove a missed flush draw. What about JJ or AT? He's probably not shoving the rivers with it, but if he is, I need to have that read before calling. So what's his value range? 2 pair+ and he could have TONS of those. Should I have bet the river? Absolutely. Should I fold when he shoves? Yes. Does it suck to fold KK after putting in ~half of my stack? Sure. Does the fact that I put in half my stack mean I should call off the rest in a situation where the villains will show up with pretty much the nuts? Sure doesn't. So fold. Easy game. This turned out to be a pretty long post, but a pretty important one for me as I move forward. I can already feel it's effects in the last 7K hands:

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A Great Spot to Raise A hand from earlier today vs. a solid regular: Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked.com CO: $49.05 Hero (BTN): $60.35 SB: $52.40 BB: $54.55 UTG: $55.70 MP: $50.75 Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with 9 Q 3 folds, Hero raises to $1.50, 1 fold , BB calls $1 Flop: ($3.25) 4 A K (2 players) BB checks, Hero bets $2, BB calls $2 Turn: ($7.25) 7 (2 players) BB checks, Hero checks River: ($7.25) 3 (2 players) BB bets $4, Hero raises to $18, BB folds Spoiler: Final Pot: $15.25 Hero wins $14.50 (Rake: $0.75)

Villain almost always has a one-pair type hand and is trying to go for thin river value. His range is very clear and non-nutted. I could have ATC since I raised on the button and c-bet the flop and thus my river range includes tons of random two-pair and straight type hands. Don't do this vs. a fish btw They need to be able to read hands for this to work. Bet sizing (big) is pretty important as well I think.

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Leak Finder, Part 1 Doing a leak finder, either on someone else or on yourself, is similar to being a detective examining a crime scene. In this particular case, the crime is quite brutal and gory, but aren't those the best kind to examine? We begin by looking at the big picture, and then start breaking down the little details as they come up. In some cases, the crime is obvious. In others, it's more subtle. It's our job to offer some answers to the evidence presented before us. So - since the goal of this thread is to help you become a more independent learner of poker, I will try to make this interactive. I will offer two a few pieces of evidence and then ask for some general thoughts. Not all the evidence is damning - it's up to you to discern between what is and isn't important and what is and isn't significant. Let's get started.

Even if you are not losing at the rate that this player is, I'm confident that the method with which I will  approach looking for his leaks will give you some insight into your own game. I picked gsiciliano because he was losing at a high rate over a reasonable sample and I figured he would have some clear leaks. As it  turned out, they were not in places where I would have expec ted. Step 1: Select Your Sample This means using the filters to look at your specific hands. I decided to just look at gsicilano's 10NL hands with 3-6 people. You can select both of those options in Filter menu. For comparison, I used my own uNL database, but because I didn't have enough 10NL hands, I added 25NL to my sample to have around 35K hands. Since I wanted to look at his databased, I asked him to export the hands and then send them to me. If  you want to know how to do that, I made a short 2.5 minute YouTube video detailing this process. Step 2: Are You Simply Running Bad? Examine your graph and look at your EV.

As you can see, he is playing fairly nitty preflop, yet losing at a really big rate. Our next step will examine the ... wait for it ...

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Spoiler: ... Red Line!

Step 3: Examine Your Red Line (Positionally) His positional stats and red line graph:

My own from 10NL/25NL:

So what can we infer so far?

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Leak Finder, Part 2

Usually someone whose red line goes down at a rate that Gsicilano's does isn't stealing enough or barreling enough. Let's examine both of those. Once again, I'll offer my 10NL/25NL stats for comparison. So, I filtered for "Preflop Action Facing Player" to be "Unopened". Here are the results: Gsicilano:

Verneer:

Thoughts: So - he's def stealing his fair share on the button, so that's not an issue. Overall c-bet frequency seems to be the same as mine, but two things jump out from this comparison. 1) He is opening a lot less from the SB when it's folded to him and the BB can have any two cards. When he does, his success is 70%! Remember: From the SB, if you 3x, you are risking 2.5 BBs (since you already have .5 committed) to win 1.5 BBs. You only need to be successful 63% of the time to show an immediate profit (which means you can c/f every time you miss and still profit JUST from the times they fold). So - here is the first piece of advice: Open up your SB stealing range when it's folded around and it's just  you and the BB. This is why it's so important to have a nit/TAG on your left instead of a LAG/Donk. 2) He seems to be a "one-and-done" type of player where he'll fire a c-bet on the flop and then not fire again on the turn. His DB frequency is less than 30% whereas mine is close to 50%. Second piece of advice: Have a plan for your han d and don't c-bet just to c-bet. When you decide to cbet, have specific cards that you are willing to DB and make sure you have a good idea of your  opponents range before you do so. Specifically, your mentality should go from "I should c-bet here" to "If  I am not willing to barrel tons of cards, I'm better of not c-betting at all."  So now our next step is to look at hands where he c-bet the flop, and had the opportunity to c-bet the turn but didn't.

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There are a total of 293 of those hands - let's examine some of them in the next post. Leak Finder, Part 3 Now let's look at some of the hands that Gsicilano c-bet the flop and then checked the turn. To begin with, here are some hand from UTG: Hand 1: http://www.pokerhand.org/?5302183 Vs. a 95/11 type player. This should b e a textbook check-behind because if you are behind you are drawing to two outs, but if you are ahead, your equity still isn't going to be that great and villain is pretty short and could shove with a really wide range. Hand 2: http://www.pokerhand.org/?5302187 Vs. a 20/10 touristy-type player. I think c-betting this flop is fine and then c/f the turn is fine, but I have an issue with bet sizing. There is not reason for you to bet 3/4 pot. Are you doing it for value? Are you doing it as a bluff? Are you doing it for balance (say it ain't so ...)? A 1/2 PSB bet here is much better than a 3/4 PSB. Hand 3: http://www.pokerhand.org/?5302191 MP is 24/17 and BB is 39/27. I hate betting this into two people and I hate your big bet size. It doesn't accomplish anything. This is already starting to become a pattern - betting too big on flops where it's unclear if you are doing it for value or as a bluff (this will become an important trend later). Hand 4: http://www.pokerhand.org/?5302194 Vs. a 41/6 type player. If you are c-betting this, you need a plan for later streets. Which cards are you willing to double barrel? If you can't answer that question, just c/f this flop. Hand 5: http://www.pokerhand.org/?5302196 Vs. a 69/54 type player. C-betting here with very little equity and OOP is just burning 4 BBs. So - those are just a few of the UTG hands. This is a huge area where Gsicilano really needs to sit down and ask himself the following questions every time before he c-bets: 1) Am I c-betting for value or as a bluff? 2) If called, which cards are good for me to double barrel? 3) What is the optimum bet size for this specific situations. I believe this area will make a massive difference in both his winrate and his red line. I do want to look at one more area, and that's playing out of the blinds vs. a steal. I'll make a post on that later.

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Leak Finder, Part 4 This part starts getting at playing from the blinds - examining frequencies and such. I will get into specific ranges, etc in a later post.

The last part of Gsicilano's game that I wanted to highlight was his play vs. a steal. Namely his positional stats vs. a CO, BTN, and SB open. I'll compare those to my stats (which I don't think are perfect, and will also offer some thoughts on). Vs. CO Open: Gsicilano:

Verneer:

Thoughts: It's clear that both of us need to open up our ranges from the BTN vs. a CO steal - especially Gsicilano. People are opening fairly wide from the CO, so to only 3-bet them with 4% of hands is burning money. This should be a big area of your game where you should look for profit. He should also look to open up from the BB - folding 90% of hands to a CO steal from BB is too much especially at the micros where people won't make your life really difficult post flop. I should take some of  my own advice and look to play around 15-20% of hands on the BTN and around 15% of hands from the BB. 10-12% of hands from the SB seems good.

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Vs. BTN Open: Gsicilano:

Verneer:

Thoughts: Seems ok, but I would like to see myself play around 20% of hands from the BB vs. a BTN open. Same with Gsicilano. The 3-betting % if about right for these limits. Stick with 3-betting a polarized range vs. people who fold a lot of their BTN steals (65% or more). Vs. SB Steal: Gsicilano:

Verneer:

Thoughts: This is definitely an area where Gsicilano is bleeding money by not playing enough hands. It's cheap and you are IP post flop. This total should go up to around 30% - pretty much anything playable. I should be 3-betting more - closer to 11-12%, so that part he's got down. Finally, I included some postflop stats. Gsicilano raises 32% of c-bets and calls about the same, so his default when facing a c-bet is to raise. I examined the specific hands where he raised a c-bet and for the most part they were ok. There was only one that I didn't really like: http://www.pokerhand.org/?5309094 Either raise/call or don't raise this flop. I prefer flatting and seeing a turn. This seems like an outlier in the range of hands I examined. Still, the big thing to work on here is to play more hands vs. a SB steal for the reasons I mentioned above. Conclusion: These three leak-finder posts were major areas where I felt Gsicilano was bleeding major money. I hope you were able to run the same filters that I ran and leak-find your own game. I also hope that it will make you a more aware and in-tune player when you hit the tables next time.

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Having A Plan There is a very good two part series called "BluePrints" by VitalMyth on CR which addresses this very topic. Here is one of the slides that Corwin discusses:

I'm not going to go through his whole outline because he does it much, much better than I could, so go and watch the video yourself (first one is only 30 minutes). I do want to talk about one idea that Corwin goes into with an example of my own (this would go under "Multi-Way Tricks"): Example 1: Bad/Loose player limps UTG, TAG raises UTG + 1 and you flop in the BB with 7 7 . UTG calls and we go to the flop 3-way. UTG + 1 probably has a good hand since he hasn't been isolating the fish that much. The flop comes 7 8 2 . Corwin argues that this is a great spot to lead small and have the fish call. The TAG will probably raise all overpairs (and the majority of his range is made up of that) and you get a bet from the fish which you probably wouldn't have if you would have checked, unless you were planning on c/c a TAG's c-bet. It also builds a pot much faster since the TAG's raise will be much bigger than his c-bet would have been. Contrast that with the following example: Example 2: TAG raises UTG, Bad/Loose player calls UTG + 1, and you call in the BB with 7 flop comes 7

8

2

7

. The

. Now checking is superior.

Understanding the difference between why leading is best in hand 1 and why checking is best in hand 2 is a huge step in your growth as a player. Plan, anticipate, follow-through

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A Few Interesting Hands from uSweat # 1 As MagisterLudi played 4-tables on Stars, I was very impressed with his game. He had no glaring preflop or postflop leaks although we did disagree on a few hands in a few spots. He is a meticulous note-taker spending most of the session looking for hands on the four tables which ended up going to showdown and drawing conclusions about the players involved. He would then write those notes down and develop reads. This process would be impossible with more than 8 tables to do in real time. This is clue # 1 as to why his red line goes up. He is able to read hands and navigate sticky spots very well. It was clear that he thought about each hand and each street quite a bit - no snap decisions. Hand # 1 The first interesting hand that came up involved A5o OTB vs. a player who at the time was playing 54/15 over 15 hands. MagisterLudi saw him get to showdown with AK in the following hand: PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $0.50 BB (6 handed) Button ($49.45) Hero (SB) ($53.55) BB ($54.20) UTG ($54.50) MP ($19.40) CO ($57.60) Preflop: Hero is SB with 2 ,J 1 fold , MP calls $0.50, 1 fold , Button bets $2, 2 folds, MP calls $1.50 Flop: ($4.75) 3 ,A ,Q (2 players) MP checks, Button bets $3, MP calls $3 Turn: ($10.75) 5 (2 players) MP checks, Button bets $7.50, MP calls $7.50 River: ($25.75) 7 (2 players) MP checks, Button bets $7.50, MP calls $6.90 (All-In) Total pot: $39.55 | Rake: $1.90 Results: Button had K

,A

(one pair, Aces).

MP had 6 ,7 (one pair, sevens). Outcome: Button won $37.65 So then our hand came up: PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $0.50 BB (6 handed) CO ($63.15) Hero (Button) ($50.30) SB ($63.80) BB ($58.50) UTG ($37.30) MP ($54.10) Preflop: Hero is Button with 5 , A 2 folds, CO calls $0.50, Hero bets $2, 2 folds, CO calls $1.50 Flop: ($4.75) 10 ,A , 10 CO bets $2.50, Hero calls $2.50

(2 players)

Turn: ($9.75) K (2 players) CO bets $6.50, Hero ... ? The flop was standard, but the turn was tough because we were most likely in a position to call two streets to:

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A) Chop B) Getting value owned by a 10 (Does he really lead a 10 into us?) C) Drawing very slim vs. QJ I argued that we should have folded the hand preflop, but w/e - even if we had A9 or AQ we would be in a very similar spot on the turn (except that AQ has the blocker to QJ). Hand # 2 This is a fairly minor hand, but interesting to think about as you move up and find more and more shortstackers at your tables. Poker Stars $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 5 players BB: $7.05 UTG: $50.05 CO: $65.60 BTN: $52.25 Hero (SB): $56.15 Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is SB with K 3 folds, Hero ...?

8

So the BB is sitting on 14 BBs. What's our best play here? I discussed the HU Push/Fold Nash Equilibrium with MagisterLudi in the context of this hand. Basically, as stack sizes go down, the game becomes push/ fold (something shortstackers are very familiar with). Some hands become mathematically profitable shoves with 20 BB stacks. Others require less. So how does K

8

fare on that scale?

Yep. Easy shove BvB. What is the weakest hand we could have shoved there and been mathematically correct in doing so? Looks like K5o and 95s are right around the 14 BB level. Now ... what if the SB

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shoved his 14 BB's into our BB? Now the requirements change:

K 8 is still a call vs. this stack size, but tons of hands that we could have shoved with ourselves become folds to his shove. Something to think about as you deal with shorties. Hand 3 This hand came up during a sweat session I did earlier today at 50NL on Stars. The villain in this hand is playing 15/12 over 85 hands. We've squeezed his BTN open two hands earlier when the SB called and took it down PF. Other than that, we have no real history. He is sitting on one other table with us. We are playing 19/17 over 53 hands on this table and 7/3 (LOL) over 30 hands an his other table. Thus, he probably has us as tight, but def aggressive. I'm going to exclude our hand because I want to get opinions on what you think we have given the line we take and what he could possibly have given the line he takes: PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $0.50 BB (6 handed) CO ($100.75) Hero (Button) ($54.20) SB ($83.60) BB ($50) UTG ($50) MP ($50) Preflop: Hero is Button with ?? 1 fold , MP bets $2, 1 fold , Hero calls $2, 2 folds Flop: ($4.75) 9 ,8 ,Q (2 players) MP checks, Hero bets $2.50, MP calls $2.50 Turn: ($9.75) 10 (2 players) MP bets $6.50, Hero calls $6.50 River: ($22.75) 10 (2 players) MP checks, Hero bets $43.20 (All-In), 1 fold  Total pot: $22.75 | Rake: $1.10 So ... what are the most likely hands for him and for us?

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A Nutted Hand. This should be elementary, but what's our play here vs.: A) A 48/18/5 type player B) A TAG Notice: We are very deep ... Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (5 handed) Button ($10.31) SB ($19.58) Hero (BB) ($18.49) UTG ($19.97) MP ($10.64) Preflop: Hero is BB with 4 ,6 3 folds, SB calls $0.05, Hero checks Flop: ($0.20) A ,2 ,5 SB checks, Hero checks

(2 players)

Turn: ($0.20) 10 (2 players) SB checks, Hero checks River: ($0.20) 3 (2 players) SB bets $1.10, Hero? Few replies: A) shove B) make it $4.. idk haven't played 10nl in a while but if it's a bad TAG shove also --A) Shove - should be very profitable, he's never folding a 4, and his overbet makes me hopeful he has the case 4 or some other big hand. B) Raise to like $5? I want to be able to sell a bluff, and an overbet is probably telegraphing our hand vs a TAG. --1. Shove. He usually has a bare 4 when he does this overbet and is hoping a A calls/shoves on him. OBLIIIIIIIIGE HIM. 2. Depending on your definition of "tag" I'd raise around 4.24-5.50. I don't expect a call often though. --Quote: Originally Posted by DaycareInferno i'd shove vs. both of them. Verneer: Would you call a shove with a bare 4 this deep? Remember - there is only $0.20 in the pot before you bet. What's the most you would call as far as a raise?

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A Nutted Hand, Part 2 Villain here is running at 18/10 with a 3-bet of 8% over 64 hands. Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (6 handed) - Full-Tilt Hand Converter from HandHistoryConverter.com UTG ($16.29) MP ($35.05) Hero (CO) ($11.11) Button ($10.15) SB ($10) BB ($11.96) Preflop: Hero is CO with A ,A 2 folds, Hero bets $0.50, 1 fold , SB calls $0.45, 1 fold  Flop: ($1.10) A ,Q ,6 (2 players) SB checks, Hero bets $0.60, SB raises to $1.20, Hero calls $0.60 Turn: ($3.50) 5 (2 players) SB bets $2, Hero ... ? If I call there will be PSB left on the river. What do we put the villain on here and what's our best play against that range? Few replies: our best play is to call again obv. he has 66 rarely AQ or maybe tried a bluff with KcJc. He reps so thin we should let him continue bluffing if that's his plan. I'd call turn. --I'm not so sure about the cold call. I'm not sure what reads he has on us yet, but if we're playing standard game we're generally not looking too fishy. With the min-checkraise, I generally put him on a draw. Sometimes he's super strong, but both work in our favour. I prefer a raise to ~$5. If he holds (AQ, 66, A6) then we're likely just getting it in with him on the turn, or, if he flats, then automatically on the river. If he's played QQ weirdly here, same result, though I'm not liking the chances of that. Let's say that he is just making a weird spewy bluff. How often is he doing that with complete air with this bet sizing? I'm guessing an insanely small piece of the time. If he has air, we've called the min checkraise and the turn bet, there's no guarantee that he'll fire river, or that if we raise, that he's getting the stack in. I think a lot of his hands are either made hands he's happy with (sets or two pair) or speculative hands that haven't made the draw. If you call and let him see river, you're not getting anything out of a missed draw. All in all, I think he has a draw such as KT or KJ a fair amount of the time, and when he doesn't, he's got TPTK or better that he's reasonably happy with. Sometimes he might have complete air, but I think his range favours the semi-bluffed draws a lot more, and thats what you want value from. Raise to ~$5, he's not folding two pair or better, and probably still calling with AK. He's likely to want to call with his draw, so you're generally getting value there. He'll shut down his complete air, but I'm not convinced that you're getting anything more out of him once you see the river, having called the min checkraise and the turn bet. The small betting seems to indicate a willingness to see cheap draws or get value with made hands. Both should make you want to raise.

> Most players at 10NL don't play KT/KJ this way. His range really is pretty much 66 rarely AQ,QQ and then some random spazz. I'd flat this bet and stick the rest in on the river, giving him a chance to valuebet his set, or 3rd barrel his bluff.

--Verneer: I think what inclined me to calling (which I did) here is that he would still have a PSB left by the river, but it would just seem like a suicide spot for him to shove his air. Also, if he does in fact has one of the 6 combos of AQ or 66 he is shoving the river himself. There is the odd possibility th at he's got QQ as well. On the other hand, he could have AK or some weird Ax hand himself to which he might not fold to a min-raise (which I debated). On the other hand, if I raise the turn, I look so incredibly strong ...

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A Nutted Hand, Part 3 This one is vs a 26/14 player against whom we have no history. Turn play? Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (6 handed) - Full-Tilt Hand Converter from HandHistoryConverter.com UTG ($20.15) Hero (MP) ($12.74) CO ($19.60) Button ($19.85) SB ($9.90) BB ($26.90) Preflop: Hero is MP with K ,K 1 fold , Hero bets $0.35, 1 fold , Button calls $0.35, 2 folds Flop: ($0.85) 8 ,7 ,7 (2 players) Hero bets $0.50, Button calls $0.50 Turn: ($1.85) K (2 players) Hero bets $1.30, Button raises to $2.80, Hero ... ? Few replies: Call. C/shove river. Reasoning: Anything that he's raising for value on the turn he'll be betting on the river and he might back into any draws he's betting (instead of raising him off them with a 3bet on turn). --I'd 3 bet the turn in part 3 because I think he has 7x or a worse boat the great majority of the time and isn't folding, so we want to get the money in now before potential action killers can peel which would make him more reluctant to stack off on the river: I'd exclude draws from his range because I'd expect him to raise the flop with them if he's going to be playing them in that fashion. Remember, us being OOP on the river makes it a lot harder for us to control how much $ goes into the pot, especially when we don't have initiative and it illuminates what is in my opinion an overlooked disadvantage to being OOP- most people tend to preach that being OOP is bad because it makes playing marginal hands so much more difficult and potentialy -EV etc., but it also makes it considerably harder to maximise the value of our strong hands. Anyway, I'm digressing. Scare cards which can peel that could kill our action include the case K, any heart, any 8 and potentially even a Q, J, T or 9, which is rather a lot when we consider it. In order to flat here, I'd need some kind of read or stats on his post flop tendencies which lead me to believe he was prone to floating a lot and/or FPS and was trying to reverse Baluga us or something. Absent of this information, I'd  just assume that he's incredibly strong here nearly always and play accordingly.

> Why are nutty hands (which you believe he has) scared of a Q, J, T or 9? Because we might be b/calling turn with some random gutshot? I think board is sufficiently dry to make calling an option. If the board was changed to 7

7

8

9

and we had 99 I'd definitely be advocating 3betting.

> Your points are good and valid, but I just think that most players at 10NL won't be able to reason/hand read like that though and may just be afraid of the three straight+pair on board anyway if all they have is a bare 7x (they might also reason that the board developing in this way makes it harder for them to get value from worse). Even if they aren't afraid, he won't fold his strong hands on the turn if we 3 bet but may be reluctant to put more money in the pot on the river with some of them if any of the other scare cards I mentioned peel, so I think 3 betting is better in any case. Basically, it just boils down to whether or not you think that it's more likely that he's either bluffing this turn and/or raise/folding 7x for value (both incredibly unlikely imo), in which case we should flat, or value raising the turn to stack off but potentially slowing down on numerous 'scary' river cards, in which case we should 3 bet.

--Verneer: I don't like shoving with the KK, but after some discussion, I def like a small raise there to keep initiative and make sure we get paid if he indeed has a hand he likes.

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Verneer interviews ViniVici I continue to struggle with putting hands in. I would say that online poker players, on average, spend a lot of time finding ways to not play poker (not saying you're lazy but ... ok - so many of us are above average when it comes to being lazy). There are many reasons why we don't put in the hands. Three that I can think of are: 1. You've been winning. 2. You've been losing. 3. You've been break-even. I was talking to Hookem the other day about how I need to put in more hands (how many of you say this at the beginning of every month? Let's see a show of hands ... ), but of course that's like a fat person  just saying "I should lose some weight." Neither is probably going to happen but somehow we feel the need to say it. I was talking with another friend who crushes the mid stakes games and he remarked about how much respect he has for the multi-tabling winning grinder. Of course the topic of nanonoko came up, but I mentioned that nano is simply an enigma wrapped in a mystery inside a conundrum, so then we talked about a few other grinders who show up day in, day out, and at the end of the year show a 6-figure profit. Browerkid is a great example of this type of player. These players make a really solid hourly. As I was thinking about all this, I saw vinivici9586's thread on 2+2 called Brag: No Variance ... this of course is not true, but let's begin by looking at his graph from 2009:

This does not include bonuses he gets from being SNE and is 75% 100NL FR and 25% 200NL FR. I asked him a few questions. First of all, what was his biggest downswing during that stretch?  A: 20-ish buy-ins, or right around $3K. Q: What about the longest break-even stretch?  A: About 100,000 hands. And then I asked about some of the issues a lot of us face.

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Q: If you find yourself on a heater early on in a session, do you find yourself unmotivated to grind? If so, how do you overcome those feelings and put the hands in? Conversely, do you find yourself having longer sessions when you are stuck?  A: If I find myself on a heater early on in a session, I usually just quit because I think there is a lot of EV  in booking a winning session. If the tables are particularly good or I feel like I am playing particularly  well, I will stay on, but if I'm just luckboxing a lot of big hands, I will fold out. Because I have to put in a lot of volume, I usually start another session within an hour, but I think it is best to quit the session in order to make sure that you don't get winner's tilt (a feeling of invincibility that results in chasing draws too hard or calling down too light). I definitely play longer sessions when I am stuck because (as I have mentioned), I think it is very  important to book winning sessions when you have to put in a lot of volume. It is very demoralizing when you play 6 hours in a day and are down 500 dollars. I would much rather play 12 hours and be even. (It's not really even because with FPPs that's still a solid 200 dollar day or so). Q: What are some ways that you continue to stay motivated during downswings or long break-even stretches? (both of them seem invisible when looking at your graph, but are there)I use the same routine at the end of every session, and I think it helps me stay upbeat during the difficult parts of the grind.  A: First, I look at my biggest winning/losing hands of the session to see the mistakes I've made. If I've made some dumb mistakes, it is helpful to learn from them; if I am running under EV or am getting coolered, it helps me realize that I am on the wrong side of variance; if I did very well in the session, it  helps me feel better about all the hours that I am putting in.  After that, I purge the entire session from my database so that I can't look at it again. This is my way of  saying to myself that the last session is in the past, and that it doesn't matter anymore because you can't  change anything about it. When you are multi-tabling, it is very important that you don't let a bad beat  at one table affect how you play on another. This applies to playing multiple long sessions in a row as well. If you do badly in a 10k hand session on Monday, you want to make sure that you forget about it by  Tuesday, and purging my hand histories is the best way for me to do this. Except for a sizable downswing in early March and a long break even stretch at the end of August, I  never let my results on one day affect my performance on the next. Ideally, we would all be able to apply  this during a session as well. Over the course of a 10k hand session you have almost infinite decisions (not just on whether to play a hand, but how to size your bets or time your actions as well), so you definitely don't want set over set at one table to tilt you into making a bad snap-calldown on the next. For me personally, I decided to set baby steps for myself. Each day that I play this month, I want to play at least one more hand than I did the previous day with a cap of 3,000 hands per day. I want a goal that I can reach and hopefully this will allow me to "fake it until I make it."

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A book review by “verneer”: Elements of Poker, by Tommy Angelo Simply said, this is the best poker book I've ever read - and I've read a lot of them. Part of me doesn't want you to buy it or read it since if you do, you will become a better poker player and might take my money or money from a fish that I would normally get. The book is a really easy read and you can crack it open anywhere read a bit, get insight into the game, and then put it down. One of the things Tommy discusses is this idea of Reciprocality. Here is what he says: "Reciprocality is any difference between you and your opponents that affects your bottom line. Reciprocality says that when you and your opponents would do the same thing in an given situation , no money moves, and when you do something different, it does [...] You dig for gold by looking for things that you could do differently in the future, things that will create or increase advantageous differences between you and your oponents, and thereby cause theoretical money to flow from them to you." (p. 34-5) For example, suppose you raise JJ UTG and get called by a a player h olding 55 in the CO. The flop comes KJ5 with two hearts and you both get it all-in. Your set holds up and you win the pot. Tommy would argue that there was no theoretical money flow between you two. The way he looks at it, if the positions were switched, you would have played his hand exactly the same way. Only if you were to have played his hand differently in his position would there be theoretical money flow between you too. He continues on page 59-60: "So what is the most profitable hand, reciprocally speaking? Is it pocket aces? Nope. The hand that has the highest reciprocal potential must be a hand that gets played lots of different ways. It's going to be somewhere between the hands that are rarely folded, and the hands that are rarely played. Aces are almost never folded before the flop, so we know that they cannot be the most profitable hand. It seems most improbable that the most profitable hand would be exactly the same hand fore everyone through all  time and space, which means the answer will vary from player to player. And that means that any  answer we produce is just an educated guess anyway. So what the heck. I’ll go first. The hold’em hand I think I’ve made the most reciprocal profit on the over the years is queen-ten."  To me, this is such an interesting way of looking at playing your hands. It's all about how you play your hands different from your opponents. Would they call in a spot where you would raise? If so, why? He also has a section called The Object of the Game (p. 82-83). He writes:  At poker, the object of the game is to stand up with more money than you sat down with. Whoever does that wins. Whoever doesn’t loses. What if you decided that for today’s session, the object of the game was to not tilt? What would you do differently? What if the object of the game was to act last on the turn and river? What if it was to quit  while you felt fresh?  By making up your own object of the game … •

“Today the object of the game is to not get sucked into calling raises in the big blind just because my cards are suited.”  • “Today the object of the game is to not talk about hands at the table.”  … you sharpen to focus of your energy onto that objective. I mean ... that's just gold. I will leave you with this: If you are stuck and you are not having fun, and the reason you are not having fun is because you are stuck, then it's okay to quit while citing this to yourself as the reason: I want ot have fun. I am not  having fun. So I will stop this unfun activity, now. (p. 31) I feel like any person serious about poker should have a copy of this book.

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Sweat Sessions MagisterLudi wrote the following post in the thread: Quote: Originally Posted by MagisterLudi I liked the idea of doing sweat session with another player as you suggested here: "As a side note, if you've never done a sweat session with another person playing around the same limits as you (or higher), these are some of the best things you can do to grow as a player."  However, my doubts are, is it really beneficial? Who should I pick up to do such a sweat session with?  After looking at his results (5+ ptbb/100 winner over 60K hands at 25NL and 50NL) and being intrigued by his 45 degree red line, I decided to discuss in this thread how to set up a sweat session and even offered to do one with him. First of all, the technical side of it. What You Will Need: You'll need two pieces of software. The first is some program which allows you to talk over the internet. The gold standard for this is Skype, but some people have been able to do it over AIM as well. Secondly, you need a screen sharing program like Mikogo or TeamViewer. I use both - depending on who I'm working with. If you end up doing a lot of sweat sessions, you might find that some people like one over the other, so you'll probably end up having both yourself. All three programs should be free. Finally, you need a mic and headphones. Most people use a headset, but just use what works for you. Make sure it's digital (USB) and not analog. The difference in sound is noticeable from my experience. The Actual Sweat Session The person who is going to play starts either Mikogo or TV and you connect on Skype. They play their normal session, and as interesting spots come up, you discuss them (Note: Make sure to check the TOS from a site to see if you are allowed to discuss hands as they are happening in real time - I think some sites have a "one player per hand" rule). The person watching asks questions and makes observations. They should also have a notepad out and write down interesting hands which they will discuss in more detail after the session. It's difficult to do more than 3-4 tables at a time, so find what works for you. Sometimes two tables is good. After the session, go back and spend time discussing the most interesting hands that came up. Talk about alternative lines, the reads you had at the time, and whether you could have lost less (if you lost the hand) or won more (if you won it). This is where the observer's notepad is very helpful. You should both agree on a hand that you found the most interesting from the session and post it to 2+2 to get even more feedback. Who Can/Should I Do This With? uNL has their very own sweat session thread. Check it out for more info. Remember - the more you tell people about who you are and what you are looking for, the more likely it is that you will find someone that will be a good fit for you. Ideally it will be a person who plays similar limits and gets along with you well. For example, if you write: One piece of advice is to PM people who you see active in the threads and whose advice you respect - it never hurts to ask. That said, with everything going on, I personally don't do random sweat sessions with people at this time, but have offered this in the past and will offer this in the future. In my next post, I'll write about a few interesting situations that came up in my sweat with MagisterLudi.

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$/hr vs # of tables comparison I made this very theoretical chart which illustrates two things: Your expected hourly at a certain limit, given a certain # of tables:

We all have one of those (obv it's nearly impossible to figure out what yours is, but it's still there). In order to max your hourly at 25NL, you need to work on two things: Playing 25NL, and playing as many tables. Dropping down to 10NL in order to work on playing more tables can help you in that regard. Eventually, you become good at both playing many tables, AND playing a certain limit. One mistake that I see a lot of people make when they move up to a certain limit is to continue playing the same # of  tables at the next limit as they were playing at their previous one. This is often a big reason why people who take shots end up n ot doing well.

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Progress Milestone: $200 Bankroll! Just doubled my bankroll (+17 BI's at 5NL and 10NL combined), so I am done playing for the day (which means I won't meet my hand goal, but let's enjoy the little milestones. Next one will be at $500). Will start playing 10NL full time now barring a major downswing. Progress (not too terribly different from yesterday - won't update daily because that would be stupid, but will update at major milestones):

Progress Milestone: $500 Bankroll! As I posted when I doubled my initial bankroll from $100 to $200, this was going to be my next milestone. The green line represents my winnings, the blue line factors in the 27% rakeback I'm getting which gets added to the bankroll.

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Progress Milestone: $1,000 Bankroll! Looks like it took me a little over a month to 10x my bankroll. This is a pretty big milestone for me. The road to $1,000 was fairly difficult because I kept on getting close only to lose a cooler or something. I made tons of adjustments which I felt paid off. As you can see, I had a pretty big downswing on my way there.

Now - this includes all the hands I've played - shorthanded and full ring. I actually noticed that I have not been doing well playing full ring (haha), so I'm also going to include strictly my 6-max stats/graph in a subsequent post. I'll also probably focus on 6-max and HU from here on out (which should make everyone happy). Strictly 6-max:

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Progress Milestone: $1,500 Bankroll! 10 days after getting to $1,000, I'm at $1,500+. As you can see, I went ahead and played some 50NL HU tables today - that's where the spike happens. I expect HU to be swingy in th short run, so I wouldn't be surprised if my bankroll dipped below $1,500 at some point. Progress graph:

I did make a few pretty big mistakes today and yesterday. I have managed to go through the whole month playing what I felt was near tilt-free and disciplined poker and then I let a few brain farts. Nonetheless, I'm happy with 99% of my play and would have no shame in posting my losers. So the plan is to continue playing some 50NL HU tables and get all my rust out. I feel very rusty at HU so I'm thrilled to have booked a winning day. Most of it came after I tilted a player pretty hard and he donated a few stacks. Ahhh ... HU ... I will also continue playing 25NL SH but start incorporating some 50NL SH sessions when my bankroll is in the $1,700 region. I currently have 61 BI's for 25NL, but only around 30 for 50NL. I am comfortable playing with that amount when I play HU, but not when I'm playing SH due to the # of tables I play. Anyhow - next update will be at $2K and then I'll start doing them at intervals of $1K. The overall goal is still to go from $100 --> $10,000. I do expect the pace to pick up now that I'm playing both higher and able to play HU.

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Progress Milestone: $2,000+ Bankroll No popping champagne for this since I'm not that thrilled with how I got here. It was definitely ugly, but w/e - I'll take it for what it is I guess. I'm def doing things much, much better recently given the reflection of my progress from the last update.

Nevertheless, I'm here and thus should update. I imagine next session I'll be dipping under the $2K mark, but as I said - I think the recent trend has been good and I'm overall feeling positive. I guess the biggest thing since the last update was my overall excitement with the progress. This led me to want to get to $10K ASAP which created anxiety, results-oriented play, and generally forcing situations which didn't need to be forced.

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General Update: Stopping the Grind Staring at 5NL, I've played 113K+ hands in 2010. Currently, my bankroll sits at $2,774.09 and I'm going to stop grinding FTP for a few reasons.

1. Going from $100 --> $2,500+ accomplishes the goal of building a bankroll at the micros. $2,774 is over 55 BI's for 50NL and means you are overrolled for that limit. The next step is 100NL which is def  SSNL which is beyond the intent of this thread. Thus, I feel that I completed the goal of moving through uNL once I crossed the $2,500 mark. This wasn't my original goal, but I think it works. 2. It's starting to become more and more difficult to balance all that I do. My position with CardRunners takes a lot of time. Writing strategy articles for this thread takes a lot of time (try writing one ... it's harder than it seems ) I want to continue playing poker, but want to mostly focus on stakes higher than 50NL and I want it to be separate from this challenge. Thus, actually building the bankroll at uNL is time intensive and something which I have to prioritize lower. 3. To expand on what I wrote in part 2, I want to really focus on organizing and outlining a path which I believe will win you money at 50NL and below. I've tried to do this in this thread, but didn't have a lot of  direct uNL experience when I first started and thus did everything informally. I've learned a LOT over the last few months and want to organize those thoughts in a more connected format. Thus, a lot of my energy will go into making this product (not sure what it will be yet). You guys have been an incredibly motivating and positive force for me. I will continue to release content in this thread, although right now I'm planning to reflect some on my uNL experience, organize my thoughts on the matter, and come up with a direction on where to go from here. Cliff Notes: I am not done with this thread, I'm not done with playing at uNL, but I'm mostly done with trying to grind out a bankroll at these stakes.

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