Something's off

For the past two months, I’ve been winning steadily with a strategy and style of play that I had refined. Today I seem to have hit a wall, or players have adjusted and found my number, or I’m just getting hellaciously bad cards at the wrong time. Not cards I shouldn’t have played, that would be easy to avoid. Hands that I had to play, and couldn’t win with.

I’ve lost about 300,000 chips tonight, and taken in 0. I haven’t been playing THAT badly. I get beat by a great hand over a good hand, or a slightly better hand over my hand.

Something I’ve been susceptible too lately is the re-raise. I’ve been playing well by raising to open, and keeping a tight enough range that I’m opening profitably. I usually get one player to call, and I can usually prevail against that player. I lay down when I have to, but usually affordably, and my win rate has been good.

Suddenly this week, everyone’s calling my opens that would usually have gotten 1-2 calls, and so instead I’m in a 4-5 way pot, and it’s necessary to fold more often because it’s more likely someone else hit the pot when you miss, bluffing isn’t feasible.

I’m also getting killed by slow players passing up at a pot and then raising like hell when I bet in late position. They give me no credit for having a hand, and fire away. If I have something, and call, turns out they really did have something far better. If I don’t call, I don’t usually find out what they had.

Also it seems like I only get really good cards UTG, and if I do win with them it’s not as profitable. If I don’t raise, everyone limps, I can’t check raise, someone hits the flop better than I do, and although I have something, they end up with better. If I raise big, everyone folds and I win a tiny pot. If I raise a little, someone later raises way bigger and I can’t call.

Not sure what I need to do to regain my winning ways. Tighten up and open bigger? Start slow playing and check raising more? Walk away from the table for a day, forget about the bad night, and come back fresh with my A-game another day?

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Be patient. This happens to everyone. We all go through good and bad runs. You’re just running bad for a while. It always turns around, if not today then soon. Keep your stability, maintain your calm. The worst thing you can do is panic or mess with the sound game that has been working for you. On the other hand, if there has been a major change in the opponents you’re facing or the games you’re playing, that might justify a shift of strategies. You might also consider changing the stake level you’re playing for a while (not necessarily down, either). Good luck, pug.


Summary of my day:

  1. 9-seat SNG, finished 7th. Ran A5 suited, paired Ace on the flop with a flush draw into a draw for a broadway straight that came for my opponent and knocked me out. Earlier I’d chased a flush draw to this same opponent and didn’t land it either, losing most of my chips to him. Just bad.
  2. 9-seat SNG, out 8th. Definitely on tilt from the sick loss in the previous game. Playing too angry, no patience, hyper aggressive and ramming my head into walls right now. Jus ta lot of aggressive raises, everyone calling like it was nothing, everyone beating me.
  3. 9-seat SNG. Out 9th. I get AA on the very first hand, on the button, the entire table folds, zero limpers, I raised to 105, SB BB fold, and I buy the blinds. Two more hands, I do the same thing, getting no action with KQ, this time I do get one caller, and I pair my King, but with Ace on the board, I bet into it he folds, good. Then AT, I raise 105, no action, I get another tiny pot. Then KT, I flop KK with an Ace over me, I hit two pair KKTT on the Turn, think I’m good, but then the river is a 4 and my opponent still in the hand with AA hit AA44 which is better than KTKT, so I lose most of my chips. Disgusted, just shove the remaining 255 on J-rag and lose.
  4. 3-seat SNG, finished 3rd. First hand, AT. Flop QK9. Need Jack for nut straight. Bet, but raised all-in, had to fold. A few more hands and I’m out. My out hand, K3, flopped KA4. I go all in, am called by KJ. No respect for the Ace on the board. Sure just call all-in with 2nd pair.
  5. 9-seat SNG, finished 5th. Started out very well, hit a straight and took a huge pot with it, getting far out ahead of the rest of the table with about 6500 chips. Ended up getting KT and flopping top pair Tens, bet the pot and my opponent shoves back, I call and he has JJ. Got me slow playing Jacks. Then I was down to only about 1200 chips, took a hand for a smallish pot, then lost everything shoving AQs into AK. I tried a small raise, a player shoved at me, I called, I flopped a Queen, then the turn was a King and that was that. Lately it seems any time I try betting someone decides to just come back at me harder, and I can’t lay down all the time, can I, but every time I stand up they beat me.
  6. 9-seat SNG, out 4th. One place out of the money. Struggled, but played well overall. Screwed up royally in one hand and lost a big chunk of my stack, but battled back and was doing well. Ended up going bust after raising 3BB with KJo, got called by 4 opponents. Paired the Jack and bet half the pot, got called. Paired the King on the Turn, thought this would be a good hand to suck my opponent all-in on, bet a smaller amount, but still a good pot builder, got called again. River gave him a flush, he shoved, I called, knocked out. QQ, raise 500, 2 callers. Flop trip queens, but there’s a K on the board so maybe someone has KK. I bet, one fold, one call. Turn Jack, opponent shoves at me. I’m guessing they had just filled Broadway with their AT, I fold. At least I’m getting smarter. Q7, flop trip Queens. No action on the flop. One min bet on the Turn. I’m first to act, want to get someone to check raise on for the river, so I check again. No one bets. I win the hand. :eyeroll:

Well, at least I took 2nd in today’s The Cut Off MTT, completely wiping out my losses on the night.

Lol, now I just took #1 in The Grand Canyon. I guess I’m back.

Looks like Alan25main gave some good advice :grin:


Sometimes it goes like that. To win you will always need a bit of luck at some point.

I was playing in a Hijack tournament the other day that you were leading for a while. I started slowly, but played well and got into a decent midtable position, then took an outrageous beating when an opponent called a pot size bet with air and got QQ on the turn and river to win the hand and put me below 2000 chips. I then fought back and doubled up with outrageous luck trying to steal with Ace rag unsuited and getting called by KK, but then making the nut flush on the river and dethroning the kings.

In the second hour I tried to steal the blinds on a 5-player table with JJ and was called by AK and lost the hand and was out. Nothing abnormal about that, but had I won that hand I would have been well placed in the top 10 with every prospect of winning the tournament.

But it was not to be. That is poker.

The important thing is to get yourself into positions where you might win if things go your way.

It is a bit like a golf tournament like the Masters that is going on today. Your first objective is to make the cut, and your second objective is to be within reach of the leaders, and your third objective is to be the leader at the end of day four.

If you make the cut on the line, you can still win, but only if you play brilliantly on day three and day four. If you are leading at the end of day two, you can play a bit safer and depend on other players making mistakes.

If you are close to the leaders on the final round and are running out of time, you can either play safe and take the money, or if you want the glory, you have to go all in with risky shots to close the gap on the leaders.

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Players have definitely figured out something in the last week or so.

I’m seeing a lot more willingness to call a big preflop raise, even calling c-bets. This makes raising and c-betting less profitable, turning it into a liabilty.

If I’m in late position, last to act, any raise I make to no action ahead of me is seen as not-credible, the assumption is just because they missed the flop, doesn’t mean you can just take the hand away from them. They’ll call a half-pot bet, hit the turn or even the river, or maybe they hit bottom pair, and they’ll check you to the river just to make sure. If you don’t fire away again on the Turn, they’ll shove.

Either the vast majority of players were too timid to call bets until this week, or suddenly I’m always betting into made hands, every single time.

When they do call a c-bet at the flop, maybe they trip up their bottom pair on the turn, or maybe the fill out a straight draw along the way, or maybe the AQ you were so hot to oepn with missed everything, but you can’t see them calling your preflop raise with anything that would have hit such a dry flop, but somehow they did call your 6BB raise with a hand like Q3, they pair their 3, and take you out with it.

Then there’s the check-raiser, suddenly everyone’s shoving to your raise, and now you have to decide whether they’re just testing you, or if they were sleeping on a monster, or what. You win 2 small pots in a row with reasonable bets that close the hand when no one shows interest in it, and then the whole table decides to check-raise any late action bet.

I’m going to have to come up with some fresh tactics.

I just played 2 heads-up games in a row. Lost the first, struggling mostly wasn’t getting cards and couldn’t play back, but had a couple good hands, was up twice, briefly, but went right back to folding rags and he’d get back on top within just two or three hands. I eventually got knocked out when my opponent shoved on a pair of 3s, I’d hit Tens on the flop, for 2nd pair, but called and was surprised I was ahead, only then he sucked out pairing his other card on the river.

If I’d won that hand, it would have been a complete turnaround.

The second game, I won. I have never seen a string of cards like this before. Every single hand I had at least one face card, usually a King, and often suited. I won almost every single hand until my opponent was down to around 750 chips, when he finally won a hand from me and made a mini-comeback, getting back up to 2500 chips, and then I got lucky hit a straight and took him for a 2400 chip pot. From there it was just a matter of attrition and steady pressure.

The starting hand is here, and I didn’t show my cards, and there were very few showdowns, but it was as if the dealer had saved up all the good cards he was supposed to give me over the last 3 days and gave them to me all in this game. It wasn’t even fair.

Wrong. This makes raising and c-betting bluffs less profitable, turning it into a liability. You were opening way too wide, and c-betting too frequently with large sizing. Tighten up your range in order to exploit your opponents’ tendencies to call when they should be folding.


Agreed, I recognized that I needed to tighten up my range more. I’m not sure how to decide on a range, though. How do people figure out what range they can open with profitably at a given table?

First you need to define your “baseline” UTG range. This site recommends a 6-max UTG range that captures about 13% of your hands and an open raise size of 3BB. If you’re playing against more players (9-handed, for example), and/or using a larger raise size, you’ll want to tighten that up. Drop some of the lower suited connectors or one-gappers, and maybe your lowest pocket pairs as well.

If you’re in a later position and everyone else has folded, then you can quickly widen your range beyond this. Should you be in the small blind when everyone else has folded, your open range could be as wide as 40% of all your hands. However, if other people have called before you, then you’ll need to tighten even beyond your basic 10-13% UTG open range, since those opponents have good enough cards to commit at least one big blind. Charge them heavily to see a flop, since their ranges probably aren’t nearly as strong as yours. If you scoop preflop, great; if not, evaluate the situation on later streets.

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I don’t think these ranges are a good fit for Mr. @puggywug for a couple of reasons. First, these are cash-game ranges and assume effective stacks of ~100BB. Puggy plays mostly tournaments where stacks are rarely deeper than 50BB and most often much shallower. Second, these ranges were developed for 6-max 200NL online. This is a much stronger game than anything you would see here and more balance is required. Third (related to second) - this article is from 2013, so nearly 6 years ago. The game has changed a lot since then, with far more emphasis on GTO strategies. Ranges have expanded pretty substantially since 2013 to incorporate the need for more bluffing hands within any range. For all these reasons, I’d be reluctant to use them as a baseline.

This isn’t a particularly scientific way of going about it but I suggest starting with a really tight opening range, like 88+, ATs+, AJo+. Its hard to goof up too badly with this tight of a range. I’d then expand that range little by little until I got to a place where I was active enough without sacrificing too much in terms of quality holdings. Maybe shoot for a range that results in a 6-8% RFI% UTG full-ring? Add a few more % with each successive position until peaking on the BTN.

Its tough to come up with ranges for tournaments here. Even if you get a good baseline for the start of the game, you need to start making adjustments quickly as effective stack sizes decrease. In many of the games here, you may not even have 1 hand from each position per blind level. You have to throw out certain hands pretty early on in these games as effective stacks go below 50BB and then below 30BB fast. Then you have to consider keeping active enough so you aren’t chewed up by the blinds, even if you don’t have great cards. Throw in relative stack sizes and ICM considerations and you’d need a new range for every single hand in these games - too complicated.

So, I think most of this boils down to an art more than a science at the level of game and format played here. Observe the players around you and try to keep a relative range advantage over them rather than being tied to any specific range ahead of time. Start with a solid/tight range and adjust on the fly as you have to.



@Comicguy… brilliant, absolutely!


Pretty good analysis.

I just finished second today in a 100+ player tournament. Interestingly when we were down to 4 players left, the other three opponents were all ranked over #300,000, and had less than 20,000 chips in the bank, but they were still tough opponents and the third hour was grueling.

All of the above came into play. To win a tournament, you don’t have to have the biggest stack in the early going, but you need to monitor your stack size at all times, and never let it sink below the level where players stop fearing calling your shoves. If you get to the point where a giant stack can swat you with any two cards, then your chances are very limited.

There will always be a point somewhere in the tournament where you need to double up or die, and this one was no exception. Fortunately I was able to treble up just when it looked like it was all over for me.

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IS there a way to contact replay

Or, on Profile page, click the little ?-mark next to the chip and type your question in the box, then click “send.” Or, message any Moderator or Player Representative you know or can find–there are usually several active at any given moment. You may not get an instant response, butt it will be a quickly as possible. Good luck at the tables.