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.

All these indicate you have played against casual players who don’t care to play right or not to lose chips. They probably are taking a break and throwing some chips away for the fun of playing. I find many of the analysis and winning reports are against such players. It should really be against standard play.

@narench, I absolutely agree that this is not “standard play.” As I mentioned, I tailored my approach and recommendations to the players at these stakes. That required a pretty significant deviation from “optimal” play, but allowed me to exploit the weaknesses common in this player pool.

Where I disagree with you is your assessment that the players are “taking a break and throwing some chips away for the fun of playing.” My expectation is that they actually don’t know how to play better, and aren’t cognizant of the weaknesses in their strategies. I’m happy to scoop chips by constructing a strategy that takes advantage of those weaknesses - and, of course, to share my observations with the fine people on the forums in order to improve the skills of my potential competitors.

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Totally agree except the part “they actually don’t know how to play better, and aren’t cognizant of the weaknesses in their strategies.”. In my opinion they just don’t care.

Would love to see similar analysis and reports against different standard plays.

The heater continues…

Observing the tendencies of players in the Astral SnG’s from @puggywug’s posts, I hopped in on a 25K Ursa Minor and a 100K Pegasus SnG this morning. Both were 9-handed, and in both I came in first. Many of my previous observations still apply, but I’d like to add a few more:

  • Bet your strong draws, somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3 pot, on the flop. You’ll often get a lot of folds. When you get some calls, it’ll build a nice pot that you can take down when your draws come in, or that you can bluff at on later streets. Here’s one hand where that didn’t work so well - I had 9s7s, with an open-ender to the nuts and a flush draw that I bet heavy on the turn and river, but gave up facing all-ins from trips and a straight.

  • Another advantage of betting your strong draws is that you’ll establish a reputation as an aggressive player. That’s not a bad thing! Toward the end of the 100K tourney, I used that to my advantage by checking some of my strongest hands. When my opponents misinterpreted that as weakness, they tried to bet big to steal those pots from me, only to get caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The last hand of that tourney is a prime example - I check-called a minbet on the flop with a queen-high flush draw. When I made my flush on the turn and checked, he jammed for 3x the pot with middle pair and was drawing dead once I called. Earlier in the tournament, when we were still six-handed, I was able to collect a really nice pot while out of position after flopping the nut straight.

  • Strong preflop play can reap dividends on later streets. In this hand, fairly early in the tournament, I opened to 4BB in the lojack facing two folds and a limp while holding KdQd. The cutoff, both blinds, and the earlier limper all called. When the flop came TT5 with two clubs and a heart, it checked to me, and I was able to steal the pot with a 1/3 pot bet. Picking up a quick 15-20BB early on grew my stack about 15%, and set me up for later tournament success, but it wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t bet heavy preflop. Not to mention, if I’d merely limped, it’s possible that one of the four players that folded preflop would have called with a ten, making it impossible for me to pick up the pot with a relatively small bluff. Here’s another 20BB-ish pot I picked up on a paired board after betting big preflop out of position and firing a ~1/3 pot continuation bet.

  • Sometimes you do everything right, and it doesn’t work out the way you want. In this hand, I have TPTK with a backdoor nut flush draw on the flop, and induce a jam from a player with middle pair top kicker. Turn and river gives us both broadway, and we chop. No sense throwing a fit or tilting - I congratulated him on his catch, and sat out the next hand.

  • So you open 3BB preflop in the cutoff with your medium-to-high pocket pair, or suited broadway, and after two other players call, the flop brings an ace. Don’t shy away from c-betting, somewhere in the vicinity of 2/3 pot, when it checks to you! You’ll have a lot of aces in your range. If your opponents are particularly skittish and you have a bigger stack than them, they might even fold some of their weak aces, fearing you have a strong ace. Use their fear to your advantage!

  • Recognize when you’re beat. In this hand, I’m holding 9T offsuit. The flop gives me middle pair and an ISD, and I minbet into a ~2.6BB pot with one all-in player. The turn is a weird one - it gives me middle two pair, but any 8 has made a straight. I check-call a minbet. On the river, I can’t imagine my opponent betting the pot with anything less than a stronger two pair, given the presence of the all-in player. As a result, I fold, and see that he had made the straight on the turn. I don’t feel too bad about the 3BB I committed to this pot - I bet while I was ahead, and I was able to get away from making a much bigger commitment while behind.

That’s it for now. We’ll see whether the heater continues… :smiley:

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