On a Heater


I’ve been on a pretty crazy run since the beginning of December. Despite putting in only about 20 hours on the tables in the past month and a half, and playing tables/MTTs with buy-ins in the realm of 1-2% of my bankroll, I’ve managed to grow my 'roll by over 50% going back to December 1st.

About half of that has come from tourneys, and the other half from ring games. It’s tough for me to dredge up stats from the MTTs, but my ring game results (not including the session I’m currently engaged in) are fairly instructive:
Hands played: 551
Time elapsed: 525 minutes
Profit/Loss: 1,670 BB
Profit / 100 Hands: 303 BB
Profit / Hour: 191 BB

Three of my ten sessions resulted in losses, but the profits from my good sessions far outstripped the losses from my negative sessions. Picking up an average of 3BB per hand is INSANE. In order to achieve those results, I tailored my actions to the 500-1K tables I was playing. Some highlights are as follows:

  • Fold most of the time preflop, and almost never limp. It’s tough to win an average of 3BB per hand when you’re committing 1BB to 7-way pots you only stand a 14% chance to win. I saw a flop on average 2.6 times per orbit - and quite a few of those times were “free” flops when I was in the big blind and it was limped to me.
  • When you do get a hand you want to play, bet BIG. For whatever reason, players at these stakes are really tough to bump off preflop. Even 8x opens will often still result in a few callers who are playing garbage like Q7 offsuit. Charge those players a lot to see the flop. They’ll pay it, and you’ll have equity against them.
  • Because you’re betting big preflop, and your opponents aren’t, the hands you want to play will often feature much larger pots than the ones you don’t. As a result, you’ll reap large pots, and lose small ones when you have crap hands in the blinds.
  • Run very few bluffs. Your opponents rarely react to board texture - there might be four cards to a straight or flush on the board and five players in the hand, and they’ll still call with top pair and a weak kicker.
  • Postflop, raises and re-raises mean the same thing to most of your opponents. If you see a 3-bet on the river, in a real-world game someone probably has the nuts. At these stakes on replay, it probably means someone has an overpair they think is still good.
  • Bet sizing also means very little to your opponents. Players have tried to bluff me with a minbet in a 50BB+ pot. That doesn’t look like you’re trying to pick up value, it just looks cheap.

I’m sure there are more takeaways from this run, but this should suffice for now. As I think of more, I’ll post them.


I have found exactly the same.

In my first few months since I came back to using this site last year, I would play 3-6 9-seat SNG games a night, and maybe take chips back in 1 of them. I wasn’t quite breaking even, and slowly drained out half of my bankroll before I started playing well enough to get my win rate up. In between losing my bankroll in SNG play, I would occasionally sit down at a RG table and wait and wait, and eventually take down a big pot that would recoup all my losses from SNG play in one hand. I’d sometimes sit there for an hour waiting for that one hand, but I would always get it.

It felt, frankly, boring, and the poor play at RG tables turned me off as I didn’t feel it was helping me to learn to play better poker, however profitable it might be. Since around October I haven’t played any RG at all, and have therefore not had any way to subsidize my SNG slides. But I’ve gotten much better at SNG tables, and have upped my win rate to where I’m around the breakeven point – I can still have a slide and lose 500K chips in a day or two if I’m not playing my best game every time, but I can also win gradually, and on a good day I’m usually up 40-100K, and on a very good day I might go up more than that, but it’s rare.

RG is clearly the most profitable, since every chip you win in ever hand is going right into your bankroll. But for getting better at poker, I think tournament play is the best option.