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280 points

Mid-May Update

Well, here I am almost halfway through may.

Studying is hard but I’m slowly trudging through everything I want to learn. Mental game stuff is hard. 3bet pots are hard. Everything in poker is hard.

I’ve kind of had small losses playing online, but I continue to do well in live play.

Last night I played 2/5 for a few hours and made a decent return. Then I ate dinner. Then I gave a few hundred back playing 1/3 as not my best, and getting shown nut hands over and over.

Mental game finally showing up in live play?! It was fun while it lasted.

This week I want to put in a few nights online, one more live night and an MTT night. I may combine the live play and MTT into a single session. We’ll see…

May 11, 2022 | 10:14 p.m.

Because this low down they don’t usually put in two bets themselves with top pair but will put it in if you do it. Exploit, not protection

April 28, 2022 | 8:36 p.m.

I just reviewed a few mental hand histories from a year ago and 6 months ago (and yesterday). It’s fun to see my poker mind become more sophisticated— and more moderated in my goals — over that time.

April 26, 2022 | 9:40 p.m.

Deep Stack poker - it's not so much that I know what I'm doing. It's more that sometimes I know they don't know what they are doing.

Hero (BTN): $23.22 (232.2 bb)
SB: $13.41 (134.1 bb)
BB: $7.88 (78.8 bb)
UTG: $20.30 (203 bb)
MP: $14.97 (149.7 bb)
CO: $23.55 (235.5 bb)

SB posts $0.05, BB posts $0.10

Pre Flop: (pot: $0.15) Hero has 6d 5d
UTG raises to $0.21, fold, CO calls $0.21, Hero raises to $0.94, 2 folds, UTG raises to $2.25, fold, Hero calls $1.31

Flop: ($4.86, 2 players) 4s As 7c
UTG bets $1.61, Hero calls $1.61

Turn: ($8.08, 2 players) 8h
UTG bets $2.68, Hero raises to $9.20, UTG raises to $16.44 and is all-in, Hero calls $7.24

River: ($40.96, 2 players) 2c

Players agreed to run it twice.

River #2: ($40.96, 2 players) Kc

Results: $40.96 pot ($0.00 rake)
Final Board: 4s As 7c 8h 2c Kc

Hero shows 6d 5d: (Straight, Eight High)
Board #1 : (Pre 41%, Flop 34%, Turn 100%)
(Straight, Eight High)
Board #2 : (Pre 42%, Flop 35%, Turn 100%)

UTG shows Kd Ac: (One Pair, Aces)
Board #1 : (Pre 59%, Flop 66%, Turn 0%)
(Two Pair, Aces and Kings)
Board #2 : (Pre 58%, Flop 65%, Turn 0%)

Hero wins $19.46

Also they shouldn't put the all in click so close to the bet slider increment.

Hero (BTN): $12.00 (120 bb)
SB: $11.33 (113.3 bb)
BB: $21.38 (213.8 bb)
UTG: $23.65 (236.5 bb)
MP: $10.00 (100 bb)
CO: $24.04 (240.4 bb)

SB posts $0.05, BB posts $0.10

Pre Flop: (pot: $0.15) Hero has 5s Js
3 folds, Hero raises to $12.00 and is all-in, fold, BB calls $11.90

Flop: ($24.05, 2 players) 4s 9d 8h

Turn: ($24.05, 2 players) Jd

River: ($24.05, 2 players) 7h

Results: $24.05 pot ($0.96 rake)
Final Board: 4s 9d 8h Jd 7h

Hero shows 5s Js: (One Pair, Jacks)
(Pre 35%, Flop 27%, Turn 59%)

BB shows Ad Qd: (High Card, Ace)
(Pre 65%, Flop 73%, Turn 41%)

Every time you do something smart, something stupid comes and evens it out.

April 26, 2022 | 5:25 p.m.

I'm slowly grinding my way through it, highlighting it and then going back to jot down notes. If you want to talk about it with me I'm down. Actually thinking of starting a mental game study group.

April 26, 2022 | 5:23 p.m.

Great videos!

I'm trying to understand some of the heuristics and where to apply them. I think it was your second video where you talked about the lady playing KK vs I think QJ, and how she had a much more smooth economy of motion in playing KK compared to QJ.

26:00 mark - he's so rapid in his movements comparatively, I thought that would represent some measure of strength?

April 25, 2022 | 10:43 p.m.

I give her $30 back and she gives it back to me and said its her own mistake.

A gentleman and a scholar

April 25, 2022 | 7:33 p.m.

April Summary:

I've been spending a lot of time studying "The Mental Game of Poker" and quite a bit more time playing in the live environment. I think both are paying off.

I've been playing 1/3 and 2/5. At present, my hourly rate at 2/5 is unclear, but I suspect that the games at 1/3 are consistently good enough, that I really should game select and find spots to sit in 2/5. 2/5 does come with the added bonus of skill-building, but man is 1/3 a good game. Dozens of big blinds an hour, easily.

As for study, the mental game of poker is a good followup to "The A-Game Masterclass", at least for me. They complement each other really well. The Masterclass was good at putting day-to-day stuff in perspective - making a more concrete plan for everything and spending more energy on self-care. "Mental Game of Poker" is more focused on game-level strategy and tactical responses to situations, and how to prepare for them.

Last night, while playing MTTs, I devoted all of my energy in "identifying spots" where mental game was the issue.

A few situations that came up:

  • Urge to relax my play against bad players either because I lost a pot or I saw them getting lucky (many times)
  • spite calling, or overvaluing skill, or putting myself in a high-variance, coin flippy situation vs fun players (many times)
  • Getting big mad at losing flips (many times)
  • Overvaluing my hand against clear monsters - limp reraises, passive whale 3 bets etc (fortunately I got away on flop) (several times)
  • The all-in call above that cost me $1000 in cEV (once, but it's verging on self-harm)./

There were a ton of these. I actually was really dismayed at how many there were. Like dismayed and frustrated.

At least I mostly ran well where it counts - deep a high prize MTT and at the live tables where the stakes are high!

-And, I have a toolkit to use to recognize and manage this stuff.

April 25, 2022 | 7:27 p.m.

Hand(s) 2: a string of bad beats and coolers caused me to loosen up and try to get more chips playing a wilder style

1. Describe the problem.

Several times over the night, I noticed that a bad beat or a spot where I ran into the top of an opponents range led me to play worse. The next few minutes showed a tendency to play looser and make looser call downs, to be shown the same again, almost becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy

I feel like I am entitled to win more hands than the run of the cards would dictate. I feel like I am entitled to a reward every time I make a good decision after a few bad outcomes occur. I start looking for spots to "outplay" people, but I am really overplaying the situation

2. Why does it make logical sense that you would react, think or feel that way? What beliefs do you you hold that create this issue.

I believe in my potential as a poker player and I think on the whole I make generally good decisions and create a lot of EV for myself, thus I should be entitled to win more.

3. Why is that logic flawed? Find as many reasons as you can. Accuracy is critical.

Ability is very weakly tied to outcomes on a hand-by-hand basis. Targeting opponents instead of recognizing very precise situational advantages has the opposite effect.

4. What is the correct way to handle the situation. Use affirmative language,

The correct way to handle the situation is to (1) Accept defeat. (2) Accept that I cannot force the situation. (3) Accept that it is a harmful reaction to try to overplay spots because I am entitled to win.

"Poker is not chess. I cannot win every time I play well."

"Trying to overplay a situation will only lead to EV loss"

"If I buckle down and remain consistent, I will perform better."

5. Why is that correction correct? Identify the rationale.

"Value in poker comes from good decision making."

"The belief that I deserve to win more vs an opponent who is making mistakes does not mean overplaying hands will make money"

"Consistency is the pathway to success."

April 25, 2022 | 7:16 p.m.

Hand 1: Spite calling for a ~$1000 cEV loss.

1. Describe the problem.

I was playing a standard reg type player I perceived as beatable. We were heads up for $2k uptop at the final table of an MTT. I had just caught his hand in the cookie jar with a semibluff all-in with K8s and my AKs held up. Less than 4 hands later, snap jammed my open raise and I snap called with A4s with ~20-25 BB effective.

While it doesn't seem intrinsically horrible, there were a few factors that made it worse. (1) I think I had a timing tell on him and I saw him snap it in. (2) There were definitely other lower variance routes that would have put me closer to victory. By a "chip mapping" mindset I just had to wait (See these videos to see what I'm talking about).

But I didn't. Impulsively, in the minute, I felt like I shouldnt be pushed around. This guy had no right to play me like that. I could outplay him anyway I like. I called. I lost a hand where I was a big underdog.

2. Why does it make logical sense that you would react, think or feel that way?

  • With the chip advantage, I can beat this guy
  • no one SHOULD push me around at the poker table because I'm good.
  • No sense in backing down here, because I'm tough and my hand is good

3. Why is that logic flawed? Find as many reasons as you can. Accuracy is critical.

"I can beat this guy". Yes, I had a shot. But I wasn't going to beat him here. He was strong!

"No one SHOULD push me around at the poker table, because I'm good". Poker is about the interaction between opponents - their ranges and tendencies especially - and situations. There are plenty of times where it is right to get pushed around. Also, being good at poker is not a binary YES/NO question. I have many strengths and many more weaknesses that come into play in varying degrees in varying situations.

"No sense in backing down now because I'm tough and my hand is good." Again, this is completely context free reasoning and context is everything. I had plenty of reasons to back down. Maintaining a tough image is not correct here. My hand was not good relative to his range.

4. What is the correct way to handle the situation? Use affirmative language,

The correct way to handle the situation.

(1) Take account of the environment. We were heads up for a lot of money, the opponent displayed a timing tell and I had a marginal at best holding vs a value range.

(2) Ask what is the opponent's tendency? My opponent had a slight timing tell and used it. He was jamming a strong value range. Despite my desire to appear strong, my hand was in fact quite weak to this range 62-38% underdog at least, and his jam priced me out.

(3) What is the correct play? To fold and take my chances on to the next hand.

Summary statements

(1) "I can recognize poker is not a battle of wills and wits only."

(2) "I can recognize context matters more than ego or image."

(3) "If I don't use all of the context of a situation to my advantage, I will let my opponents take EV from me."

(4) "I profit from making the best play, not the most satisfying one."

5. Why is that correction correct? Identify the rationale.

These are correct because: Poker is a game of tremendous contexts. It is also a battle of minimizing mistakes. It is not true that I get to play the way that I want to all the time and make the most money.

April 25, 2022 | 7:12 p.m.

Two Mental Hand Histories, styled after Jared Tendler's approach in "Mental Game of Poker"

April 25, 2022 | 7:06 p.m.


What type of ROI do you expect long run in these tourneys?

I don't know, when I moved up from 20-50 to 100+, ROI dropped significantly. There are two obvious reasons:

(1) Running good is the obvious reason to have good results - I'm sure there was some sunrunning in there, no matter how you slice it.
(2) The regs in those higher games beat the hell out of me at 15-60BB depths. Like I said above, I played a $500 by mistake last month and it was great to see how hard they ball against each other. I was dead meat.

Also does have fast fold cash games?

No. Fast fold may get some traction after Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania join pools, but there was never enough interest while they offered it in NJ

April 25, 2022 | 7:05 p.m.

Plenty to complain about from last night, but on the other hand....

Bink (almost)

April 25, 2022 | 5:21 a.m.

Comment | CrappyTimeSlot commented on Beyond Tells

Great follow up video - I appreciate how you are building this way of thinking about behavior and can’t wait for the next one

April 7, 2022 | 8:28 p.m.

It’s been a busy month, and there’s been limited success in poker (in terms of bb winrate), although it’s been saved by steady live game winnings.

It finally felt safe to travel two weeks ago. I spent a few days down in virginia visintg an old friend. That was great. I also drove accross the Chesapeake in their bridge/tunnel road. It was definitely the furthest I’ve been from land without being on a ferry. Also, going from a bridge to a two lane tunnel underwater was kind of nerve wracking. I’m glad I had my car tuned up before I went!

As for poker, I’m running very good live, as I usually do. I took one beating in early march but have done well since. I’m still trying to figure out how and why I don’t overplay the live poker crowd but have a fair chance to wind up a little out of bounds vs online marks. Maybe the play is just that much worse at 1/3 and 2/5?

In the MTT streets, I’ve definitely hit a downswing. Which is a shame because I am literally destined to win an NJSCOOP trophy, but no one else seems to be aware of it. Also in the “moron” column, I mistakenly registered for a $500 tournament instead of a $50 on WSOP. It was neat to see the guys I play in $100 MTTs going to war, using their “hard in the paint” 3b bluff ranges, rejamming, and going for 3 streets in tough spots. Once the cards ran out, I ran out of gas. So it goes.

In the online cash streets, my frustration levels have been high, and I’m not playing anywhere near my A-game. So, moving mental game study up on my priority list.

In short, without live play, this month would be a disaster. But fortunately there’s live play.

As for the future, I’ve come to a few decisions.

I plan to book a trip to the WSOP in the late June timeframe. Unfortunately, I have a lot of added responsibilities at my job in July, otherwise I’d go twice.

Next, I’m coming to terms with two things - I like playing a mix of poker games, and I like studying a mix of poker games. I’m an ok rec, and there’s room to improve everywhere, so that’s what I’ll do. I think in poker there’s a tendency to go goblin mode and study/play one thing in a big vertical chunk. It’s almost like studying for a big exam like the SATs or GREs I guess. I’m truthfully better at dedicating resources to multiple things, and finding the core connections between them. So that’s what I’ll do. I am lucky enough to have a couple good discords where we talk about hands and study topics. I’ll be trying to do more of that.

Lastly, there’s the fact that my mental game is still lackluster, in game. I lose ingame composure and ingame awareness becomes gets blinded by ego. The A-Game Masterclass has actually helped me enormously off the table — with developing myself independently and not relying on deadlines to get work done, with daily routines, with warmups and cool downs, with devoting more energy to self-care like exercise and mindfulness, with allowing myself more downtime*.

But my in-game faults may be too imprinted to easily work through with his toolkit. I’ve read through and done some work from “The Mental Game of Poker”, and I think it may target my issues more directly. So, I bought a hard copy of the book. I’m studying, highlighting, and making a personal “Cliff’s Notes” of it.

I’ll also learn more sophisticated db analysis in H2N — I think it will help me even in my mental game to identify where spewing happens and what I do wrong — these are spots to drill.

We’ll see how that goes. Lastly, as someone who has had a lifelong struggle with mental health, I think it’s time I find a therapist to support me a little more directly. Maybe they’ll help with poker too - someone with a background in sports psychology could be on my checklist.

Anyway, now that I’m done with travel and I have even more days off in a row, I’ll post again soon. Mostly I like to have good things to report.

Maybe I’ll do that? Report challenges and good results but not focus on the negatives…

*This has helped me as much in my real life as in poker. Highly recommend it to anyone interested in the stuff I mention above.

March 31, 2022 | 11:53 p.m.

NICE. Welcome back. Eager to hear your liveplay takes.

March 26, 2022 | 11:38 p.m.

I spent a lot of time doing recovery this week and i feel great

March 5, 2022 | 1:59 a.m.

I guess a two month check in on my goals is in order

Become More Resilient
I think I was doing a pretty good job of this at the end of last year and I’m continuing to improve. I’m just dealing better with setbacks than I have in the past. I think this reserve can improve globally and then improve in poker. Still need to find a therapist though.

Improve my overall health.
I have not had any thunderous success, but I am on a decent exercise schedule. I’m finding myself less short of breath after climbing several flights of stairs and my resting HR is getting lower. Now that omicron is gone, maybe I can start doing some strength training. I would like to improve my meal planning though, it’s the most difficult part of eating nutritiously - I eat on the fly!

Improve my fund of knowledge.
I’m doing really good here. Spending a lot of time studying both for fun and for work. I have even done some leisure reading, which has not been my style since the pandemic started.

Become a better educator.
Did a great job on this too. Really did a good job of this as well. Did a good job making two pretty good students into great ones on my last shot

Be more efficient.
Efficiency is up but, I’m going to revise this — improve efficiency and energy levels. Flagging energy rears its head a lot. I think based on the Elliot Roe stuff I’ll spend more time in recovery mode.

Get up, get out and do something.
Stupid omicron got in the way of this but I’m starting to make plans, including plans for travel.

Future’s looking bright.

March 2, 2022 | 2:27 p.m.


I’ve been working like crazy but I’ve put in some study time and had a few opportunities to play recently.

Still finding mental game stuff to be my biggest barrier, and still working through the A-Game Poker Masterclass, which is helping me get organized. One piece of advice from the class that I like for life in general is to add more recovery time to my schedule. I’ve started doing this and it’s helping a tremendous amount.

Poker-wise I had one solid winning night at the casino followed by my first big losing night. Lost all in with the second nuts and a redraw to the nuts with a better redraw, lost a bunch of flips, bashed heads against a bad lag and gave him a buy-in, but wasn’t around to collect once he gave it all back.

For march, I’m starting to play MTT seriously again. Mar-1 went pretty well. Played a solid, tight game and made a bunch of deep runs, including second in a small $50 turbo (like sit n go sized) and a deep run in a $55k guaranteed event where I busted after the bubble but before the pay ladder got really serious. The bust out sucked - KK vs a sloppy rejam from the HJ with 55 at ~18BB effective - but I am confident I could’ve keeped getting the money in good. Nonetheless a decent profit for the night.

Looking forward to my study schedule, I’ll:

  • Finish the A-Game Masterclass and probably start with the Mental Game of Poker in late March
  • Work on Preflop stuff for NLH, PLO and MTT. For now I’m treating this as a long, linear curriculum, like college courses. I’m not going all out on one thing or another, just trying to focus
  • Learn Hand 2 Note - Hold em manager is now really buggy - NJ software thing? - and I want to work on opponent analyses. Again, planning for this study project to last all year.

Also I’ve been thinking a lot about where the value of hands comes from. I think I spend too much time focusing on marginal spots and not pumping it up against weird recs and VIPs or just steamrolling nittier players. Basically, looking at where the value comes from on the mountain:

If a game is too tight, the value is added in steals and bluffs (the bottom of the graph). If the game is too loose, the value is added in the core of the range (the top of the graph). If the game is too loose in certain spots and too tight in others, then it’s more complicated.

That’s it for now.

March 2, 2022 | 1:53 p.m.

Comment | CrappyTimeSlot commented on 52 Spots 2022

Hang in there!

Feb. 27, 2022 | 7:58 p.m.

February 12-14

Back at it; made a nice study regimen again for preflop week #2. I made a pretty decent, managable study schedule. I have a few things I want to accomplish, namely

  • Actually learning basic PLO ranges, so I don't just whale around when I play it
  • Drilling in NLHE rfi vs 3bet ranges, particularly against too tight 3bettors and linear 3bettors. No one is polar enough anyway. (They shouldnt be as Ft3b is running in the low 40s at most, but that's another thing).
  • (Off topic) Work related study and A-game poker masterclass. Also, I recommend you join the A-game discord, especially if you have the course.
  • Making flashcards.

I took Super Bowl Sunday off from playing. Saturday I met some guys from my NJ discord at Parx, and between the 3 of us, we WRECKED 2/5 for more than 10k. I wasn't even playing poker that well, I've just found +EV spots, was sizing up my bets and looking to get max value. I won enough that I had a hard time closing my wallet -- how do people carry money around?

Today I dabbled in some PLO on a study break, to try to learn these ranges. I'll play some more - likely online no limit - later.

Hope everyone's February is going well.

Feb. 14, 2022 | 10 p.m.

Had another bout of crappy, unreasonable play. Awesome, just awesome.

This intellectual thing - I want to call it a battle against myself but it's not a battle. This struggle against bad instincts is nerve wracking sometimes. Also, I keep waiting for a breakthrough and instead it's incremental improvements. Just as Jared Tendler basically promised.

Maybe I hire a therapist who does behavioral therapy and sports psychology.

Feb. 6, 2022 | 2:35 a.m.

February 2

So on a whim, I tried something to try to improve my mental game. I started playing 30NL and then as I fatigued, switched to BLITZ to continue to train myself. That way, my freshest self saw the cheeseburger stakes, not the person who would be prone to boredom after blasting through a zillion hands.

It worked. It worked for one session last night and it worked for two sessions tonight. I was going to do three but I have crap to do in the morning so I'll just write a blurb about how good it felt to play well from a mental game perspective.

Hope everyone else is grinding well.

Feb. 4, 2022 | 4:43 a.m.

Aquila Oh yeah lots of mid to high 30s. Lots of whales in my game so playing like a nit is not overtly penalized. And man are they good at value towning whales.

Lots of people in podcasts - I've heard inputs as wide as Peter Clarke and Doug Polk comment on how bad the field is in Nevada/New Jersey.

But, these sims are mostly to look at how to react to their weird opening sizes in various positions. I think I can adapt the SB 3b or fold strat to other positions.

Feb. 4, 2022 | 4:38 a.m.

as someone who plays a fair amount of cash and mtt, but finds mtt infinitely harder to study, I greatly appreciate this series. Thanks!

Feb. 3, 2022 | 7:05 p.m.

Comment | CrappyTimeSlot commented on 52 Spots 2022

making poor decisions off of stats

Absolutely a huge problem that can only get worse.

The way I use it is to approximate defense ranges, where the EV penalty is not like a skyscraper, maybe a little bump in the road at most. If BTN RFI is more like CO, play vs CO range. If UTG RFI is 12%, 3bet top 4% of hands and giant killers like the mid suited connectors on the btn, etc.

If they're wider it's more of a challenge I think. But you won't be penalized for using standard vs BTN strategy.

For me personally: my realization has been that so many of my leaks are going out of bounds and if stats make me do this, I should play without stats and just use player notes.

Feb. 3, 2022 | 5:20 p.m.

Comment | CrappyTimeSlot commented on 52 Spots 2022

If you're getting massive volume against a lot of regs, I find RFI by position to be useful. Basically preflop stats converge fast and everything else goes slow.

As far as self review - I have a longass row of stats. But I need to make them by starting pot - 3b, 4b etc, so I don't have to set up filters every time.

Feb. 3, 2022 | 12:57 a.m.

Comment | CrappyTimeSlot commented on 52 Spots 2022

Nice results

Feb. 3, 2022 | 12:56 a.m.

So I put in some hours for today. Still trying to force it when I played on starsNJ. Ironically I won exactly 1 fewer dollars playing 50NL than I lost playing 30NL at the same time. Lol.

I'm trying to visualize what I'm doing right in Blitz and wrong on Stars. I think there's just an urge to throw my weight around against idiosyncratic players when there's no need. Sit back and grind. I tried to create a visualization - telling myself I could use the same program I use in Blitz on StarsNJ in the control room of my mind, and it went better.

Still more to do.

Feb. 1, 2022 | 4:47 p.m.

Here are some of the SB 3b vs 3x opens I found:

Feb. 1, 2022 | 1:17 a.m.

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