I've been mostly playing cash, but the main site I play on cash games were down for 2 weeks, and MTTs were working fine, so I did some MTT play and study recently. I used to play exclusively MTTs.
I have been studying preflop ranges using online GTO tools (GTO Wizard). Jason Koon is a player I really admire and have listened to all of his interviews. In a few, he has said something along the lines of "You just absolutely have to mix preflop. If you aren't, that's pretty much just bad. You just have hands that need to be in both ranges".
I've always used pure strategies for preflop ranges that are simplifications of GTO mixed ranges. Ignoring the SB, when I look at GTO preflop ranges, almost always all of the mixed combos have the same exact EV for both actions (ex hands that do some limping and some raising), or almost the same EV with a negligible difference. I'm trying to understand why we should, for example, mix limping and open raising in these spots where both actions have almost the same EV for all combos - rather than simplifying to just developing an open raising range and have no limps.
I play fairly soft games, and probably simplified strategies are fine and perform well, but trying to understand in a general sense why we want to mix pre and randomize. I don't mind doing the work to understand why, but wondering if anyone can point me toward how I can learn this and understand the benefit. I could see if the solver had some hands it did one action with pure, and others it did another action with pure, and others that mix the two actions, then we want to mix to maintain balanced ranges and use the pure strats with the hands that want to. But when ALL hands are mixing, and the EVs of each action are the same for all hands.... why?
June 9, 2022 | 12:08 a.m.
Thanks makes sense. Wondering if we should use a larger cbet size with the plan to mostly jam turns. I expect most of the field to be pretty inelastic with flop draws, probably going with like 50-60% on flop and jam turn outperforms the 1/3-JAM line
June 5, 2022 | 2:37 a.m.
Looking for my feedback here on postflop line. Mostly curious if we should be cbetting flop, but also curious about all streets. This is early levels in a $33 PKO where the bounty is like 1/4 of the buy-in.
iPoker - 75/150 NL - Holdem - 8 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4: http://www.pokertracker.com
BB: 40.81 BB
UTG: 66.73 BB
UTG+1: 66.67 BB
MP: 64.17 BB
Hero (MP+1): 59.3 BB
CO: 48.45 BB
BTN: 84.81 BB
SB: 145.43 BB
SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB
Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has Ah Ac
fold, fold, MP raises to 2 BB, Hero raises to 5.7 BB, fold, fold, SB calls 5.2 BB, BB calls 4.7 BB, MP calls 3.7 BB
Flop : (22.8 BB, 4 players) 3c 4d 2c
SB checks, BB checks, MP checks, Hero bets 7 BB, fold, BB calls 7 BB, fold
Turn : (36.8 BB, 2 players) 8s
BB checks, Hero bets 11 BB, BB raises to 28.11 BB, Hero calls 17.11 BB
River : (93.03 BB, 2 players) Jh
BB shows 3s 3h (Three of a Kind, Threes)
(Pre 18%, Flop 76%, Turn 86%)
Hero mucks Ah Ac (One Pair, Aces)
(Pre 82%, Flop 24%, Turn 14%)
BB wins 93.03 BB
May 14, 2022 | 3:47 a.m.
I'm making a big change. Starting next week, I am transitioning away from full-time 45 hour work weeks and will be working only 20 hours a week, so that I can focus primarily on poker.
I'm pretty excited for the change, and the thing I am most looking forward to is getting decent sleep and having a more consistent sleep schedule for the first time in a long time. I've been pushing myself really hard (too hard) for a long time, and this change has been a long time coming. My new work schedule is Tues-Fri, 10-3. I'm hoping to get 7+ hours of sleep every night, and to start every day with a hike and meditation.
My schedule will roughly be:
-Monday- Study day
-Tuesday-Friday - Cash Game Grind/light study
-Saturday- day off, optionally play some hands
-Sunday- MTT Grind
Cash isn't going great so far this month, and I've sort of sabotaged myself by playing some Zone (fast fold) and giving back a lot of my profit from the reg speed tables. I'm down around 3BI net for the month. I'm hoping that next week I will be able to get in some solid volume, and that going forward my quality of play will increase given that I will be more well rested and less over-worked.
Jan. 21, 2022 | 5:16 p.m.
For this month, my plan is to almost entirely play cash. I am going to allow myself 4-5 bullets in satellites to the $535 monthly milly running on 1/30, but aside from that it will be all cash.
Volume goal: 20k hands
Study goal: 40 hours
Study Target: Review EVERY 10bb+ pot played
(The Marinelli method)
These goals are achievable, but with my full time job and schedule they will take a lot of discipline and strong time management.
I’ll likely post an update at the end of the month, and may or may not post between now and then.
Jan. 3, 2022 | 4:52 p.m.
On Game Selection
Lately, I have been playing almost only
Cash games, and played almost no tournaments the last month.
However, in my last 3 sessions I have played 1 tournament + 3 tables of cash. Bovada is running the holiday series, and there have been some big weeknight events. I feel very grateful to be in a place where i get to play the 1 highest stake tournament of the night + cash (and in my opinion this is very good game selection).
My last 3 were a $500, a $325, and a $218. I cashed all three in 15th, 27th, and like 22nd.
I would estimate that when I am on my A game, i can make about $15 per hour per table at 200NL. So to register a tournament, my hourly expectation needs to exceed that benchmark.
$500 MTT. If I assume a 30% ROI (very reasonable IMO), that is a $150 expectation. If I expect my average time at table is 4 hours, 150/4 = $37.5 per hour for the MTT, far exceeding my hourly at one cash table. Extrapolating from this, it probably makes sense to play any $300 and up, and it gets close around the $162-$218 buy in level. $109’s and below will generally make no sense to
Register from a pure $EV/hourly rate perspective. There are other things to consider, like the long term EV of keeping my MTT game sharp and staying practiced in that format, and what I enjoy more/what makes me happy to play.
Having said that, I think basically sticking to $218’s and up is my plan for going forward. I’ll be playing very few MTTs and embracing variance, but firing the occasional
1 table to stay practiced and mix things up.
The nice thing about sticking to these levels is also that the fields tend to be much smaller. That reduces variance and increases cashing frequency, and also carries with it a lower average hours per event. The combo of bigger buy in and lower average hours to cash means a heavily inflated hourly for the times I do add an MTT.
Another additional benefit for me is that I have a job and don’t want to be up late just to mincash a tournament unless that mincash is very significant, and there’s enough money up top to risk being very tired for a few days. I can’t count all the times I have been ITM in the nightly $55, with a decent stack, and still wishing I hadn’t registered it. It’s just not worth the sleep sacrifice. Since weeknight $300+ events are fairly rare and only come along during series on Bovada, I can justify giving up sleep when they do come around. I can add in a few sunday MTTs to stat sharp between series, and continually grow my bankroll in the lower variance cash game streets.
I’ve done a lot of work and made a lot of sacrifices to get to a point where I can justify this type of game selection, and I’m really excited to proceed through 2022 with this plan. See you in the 500NL streets soon!
Dec. 23, 2021 | 4:01 p.m.
A Losing Year
This year has been pretty rough results-wise. Heading into December I’m having the first losing year i can remember. Pretty sure it’s my first losing year since I started taking the game seriously like 8 years ago.
If i try to determine why, it’s fairly clear. I started off the first several months of this year playing higher stakes MTTs than i have before, playing mostly only $109 and up and playing lots of $218 and $500’s with some online $1k’s sprinkled in there as well.
Later in the year, I made the switch to online cash, and jumped straight into 200NL where I think I was a slightly losing player for a while. It’s annoying to lose, but it’s really just a minor bump in the road.
On the bright side
Despite having a bad year, I’m actually feeling really good and optimistic about my future in poker. I’m starting to win at 200NL, have changed up my schedule and am living a significantly healthier lifestyle than I was at the start of the year. Financially I am in the best place I’ve ever been in.
Lately I’m trying to prioritize things like consistent and sufficient sleep, daily meditation, doing fun/enjoyable things that recharge me, and exercise over maximum volume. Somewhat ironically, I think prioritizing these things will eventually lead to much better poker results than pushing myself to the limit and maximizing volume would.
My poker goals for next year are pretty simple. Mostly they are goals I can fully control, except one which is a little bit of a moonshot:
-20k hands a month - 220k for the year (one month off)
-Minimum 5h study per week
-Reach 1knl and beat it over 50k+ hands
*That last one will be tough. But I’mma do it.
Dec. 2, 2021 | 3:13 p.m.
Liked the analysis on this one.
Personally haven’t played short deck and have no intention to, but still found it interesting and useful to hear you discuss short deck hands on T4 along with the vanilla NLHE discussion.
Entertaining intros + good analysis is a great combo and really liking watching these as a post-session wind down
Dec. 2, 2021 | 2:57 p.m.
0 for 16
After week one of the USPO going pretty well, week two went about as badly as it could. I did not cash a single event, and finished 10-20 from the bubble in several of them. I fell off the leaderboard and didn't win any of the prizes. On top of that, I missed the main event, because Global decided to randomly end late reg at level 5, instead of level 6 like literally every single other rebuy tournament on the site.
I had an extremely frustrating Sunday grind. Aside from missing the main on Global, Bovada went down and the tournaments I was in on there were ICM chopped. Of the tournaments I did play, I went 0 for 16, without a single cash. This is not purely variance, and in my opinion, should basically never happen. I played really bad poker, that's all there is to it.
I did everything I could to prepare. I exercised, prepared healthy meals prior to playing, meditated before playing, had an idea which events were on my schedule, and have been doing some studying throughout the week. I'm really not sure why I played so poorly, but my guess is that I've simply been playing too much for the last few weeks and need to take some time to relax and recover a bit. I've also probably had a play/study ratio that is a little off, and need to put in a little more work off the tables.
Now that the series is over, my schedule is going to shift quite a bit and I am going to be focusing more on cash again. I will only be playing MTTs on Sundays for the next several weeks, and grinding cash otherwise.
I'm also hoping to make some changes off the tables, and want to start doing more strength training and get back to consistent morning meditations. More on that in a future post, GL out there!!
Sept. 7, 2021 | 11:02 a.m.
I think using a 95% range to make your strategy more resilient and less face up is a good idea.
You can also adjust and tighten your opening range as soon as you show down one weak hand. You are then winning the adjustment game and re-exploiting your opponents adjustment to your initial exploit in a way.
Sept. 1, 2021 | 1:48 p.m.
I have been playing MTTs for many years as a side job and do pretty well making a decent side income with them every year (playing exclusively online).
I tend to mostly play push/fold up to like 14-15bb, but I have been studying GTO ranges and they do a lot of limping and min raising from all positions down to even 10bb.
I think that in practice, especially in softer games, playing push fold with solid ranges ends up being a decent exploit, but am wondering if i should take a more GTO approach to level up my game.
It feels very unnatural to me to min raise off 14bb or less, and looking at the GTO responses to my min raises, I can say that nobody is rejamming “correctly” - they are all too tight. So it seems like there are some problems with using GTO opens - we should not be calling off as light as solver does.
What are your thoughts on using GTO to come up with good ranges at these stacks? Should we even be trying to approximate GTO here? If so, how would you go about proceeding after min raising or limping given that pools don’t rejam the way a solver does?
I am very motivated to be the best player I can be and am totally cool with potentially punting off some stacks while integrating this new strategy, but am also very concerned that the GTO approach might not be ideal in a lot of real world games.
Sept. 1, 2021 | 1:43 p.m.
On The Board
One week into the US Poker Open online series with half of the events completed, I am currently sitting in 5th place on the leaderboard. There’s not a ton of gap between myself and 1st, and I’ll be going for the win this week!
Of the first 8 events, I’ve cashed 4 and final tabled 2. Unfortunately, my 2 final table appearances ended in 9th and 6th place finishes. I feel that i played well, and the 6th was a result of someone making a large ICM punt and calling me off and me losing a flip. The 9th was a turbo variance fest.
I essentially bubbled the one PLO event on the schedule, and it was a spot where i could have just folded into the money. I got it in preflop in a spot I definitely could have avoided, and if i’m being honest that tilted the shit out of me. I very rarely play PLO and the blunder is understandable, but man the leaderboard points for a mincash in that may have been enough to put me in first or second. Oh well.
Excited to finish out the series and gunning for that #1 spot!!
Aug. 30, 2021 | 10:16 p.m.
Really excellent video! Loved the approach to hand reviews with GTO/Exploit hybrid, very well explained
EDIT: Would LOVE to see some more videos where you review hands with a solver, and then discuss the exploitative adjustments we can make from a GTO baseline
Aug. 24, 2021 | 12:58 a.m.
T-Shirt Prop Bet
Several months ago, I attended a mindset and presence seminar with Jason Su and Nick Howard. It was a great experience and something I really enjoyed. This was a private group of about 10 players from many different backgrounds, and we did 4 2-hour sessions during the seminar.
I met a couple of great guys who are live pros in Florida. We still keep in touch, and we started meeting once a week - every Wednesday, to just do a quick mindset check in and discuss how things are going for us. We don't discuss strategy, it is pretty light-hearted and I look forward to it every week.
This week when we met, one of my friends in the group brought up the upcoming US Poker Open Onine Series on Global Poker. I couldn't help myself and had to look up the schedule while we were on the call. As I was looking over the schedule, one of the guys in the group said "look at that big smile!" ...and that was the moment I realized, I have to play this series :). I was involuntarily sporting this big goofy smile and didn't even notice it, and it just came from reading over the schedule and imagining myself playing all of those events.
The series also has an overall leaderboard, where top 10 at the end get additional prizes. First is a trip to the PokerGO studios, a 5k check, a dope Gold crown trophy, and some swag. The other places are mostly just a handful of $55 tickets. I have decided I am going to do everything I can to try to win that leaderboard. There is only one USPO event per day, except on Sundays, when there are two. I am going to grind cash each night, but also add in the one USPO event to my grind for the next few weeks, and see what I can to to take this thing down.
I have put together my schedule, figured out my total investment, and planned my exact registration times for each day. One of the guys in the group is also gunning for the leaderboard, so we came up with a friendly prop bet. Loser has to buy winner a T-shirt, but loser gets to choose the t-shirt. It's just a fun little competition to help keep us motivated and add in some comradery to the grind.
If you're playing the series, I'll see you in the streets! ;)
Aug. 22, 2021 | 6:04 p.m.
Fed Up With Mediocrity / Switching to Cash
So far, August has been a terrible month results-wise. I had a horrible week, losing tons in both Cash and MTT. On top of that, my Fiance' got COVID this week, and I've got a ton on my plate for my day job.
Despite all that, Last week I studied harder and smarter than I have in months- focusing on solver work for 6max cash games. I had a big downswing at the 200NL tables, and moved all the way down to 50NL. I've decided to 1-table the Zone games on Bovada, and to focus entirely on growth and strategy development, not worrying about or thinking about profit or hourly. I purchased subscriptions to some of the new cloud solver tools - OdinPoker and GTO Wizard. Having both subs is expensive, but I see it as a good investment with potentially uncapped upside. I like Odin better for reviewing individual spots, but the aggregate reports feature of Wizard are awesome.
I studied about 8.5 hours last week, on top of grinding and a more than full time job, and having more household responsibilities due to my Fiance' being sick. I did a lot of work on SBvsBTN 3BP, and developed simplified flop strategies as the SB 3bettor that I feel pretty good about. I also looked at XR responses for boards where I am simplifying to a range check (there are not many boards where I do this), and looked at turn strategies after cbetting for the boards I am range betting.
I am sick of being a mediocre player, and sick of the emotional rollercoaster that comes with focusing on results. I don't need to make a bunch of money from poker right now, and I am better served to work hard in the lab.
A losing year?
After 2020 being my best year ever in terms of profit, Here we are in August and I am currently down for the year in 2021. After having a lot of consistent success in MTTs for years, that is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. I guess it makes sense, my ABI has gone up a lot and I've been firing several $218 - $1k tournaments. The variance ramps up and the ROI goes down along with that.
I've come to enjoy cash more than MTT lately, and getting more sleep has been nice. There are a few good private games around me a few times a week and will start playing those more as well. I'll hopefully play a $2/5 $1k cap once a week, and a $1/3 $500 cap once a week, and play Zone for the rest of the week. Being down for the year is annoying, but I am feeling good and optimistic about my new plans and routines.
A New Routine
The good thing about having a pretty rough week is that it has motivated me to reflect on my routines and study processes, and come up with better ones.
For the next few weeks, I am going to try the following schedule for weekdays:
-90 Mins Zone Session - recorded with commentary
-Review entire recording using solvers and other tools after playing - take notes
-Relax, read a poker book in bed before falling asleep (Modern Poker Theory for now)
If I can consistently stick to this, I think success becomes inevitable. Good luck at the tables everyone!
Aug. 16, 2021 | 3:10 p.m.
Was refreshing and interesting to see that you believe mental game/resilience is actually more important than technical skill.
I’ve always believed this and feeling even more confident about it lately.
July 22, 2021 | 5:32 p.m.
...But should I grind Cash?
After winning 5k in 2 days as highlighted in my last post, I blasted away hard and lost most of it back pretty quickly. I played the Bovada Mad Monday schedule, including the $500 High roller and 2 entries into the $270 Main, investing over $2k on the day, and bricked everything. On top of that, I had a few nights of playing a bunch of cash at the end of MTT sessions and losing, losing losing.
I was feeling pretty down about it and felt like I was starting to sabotage myself again. Last night though, I had an +$800 session including a 2nd in a $55 where I got it in way ahead and lost heads up. That was really all it took for me to stop self-loathing and start feeling good about myself/my game again. I've also been doing some preflop MTT work and trying to apply more of a GTO strategy in certain formations where I have historically taken a very unbalanced "exploitative" approach. Some of the GTO preflop ranges do kind of feel like spewing in these games, since villains just don't have as much of the bluff portion of polar ranges as they "should" have in theory. It doesn't feel great to 4b jam A5s in a spot where GTO is to do that pure, and just always get snapped by strong hands, but in other situations I feel like expanding my range and using mixed frequencies preflop has helped my postflop game a lot.
I feel like every time I try to play online cash, I regret it, and feel like I'm spewing and/or sabotaging. On the other hand, though, if I could become a winner at 200NL and mix that with some MTT play, that seems like a much better way to make a living from this game. I have a really good opportunity to start coaching with a high-level player for cash games and am having my first session with them next week. I am exchanging my labor for the coaching instead of paying for it, and will be helping this person make the best cash game training app in the world. I can't say much else about it, but that is not hyperbole and I really believe if this works out that the app will be the best out there. However, in order for it to work out, I kind of have to decide to commit to more cash play/study and decide I want to start winning at 200NL and eventually at 500NL. It's hard, because I feel that I am quite good at MTTs and have a massive sample of winning at very high ROI- and sort of feel like a badreg donator whenever I play cash.
For now, I will continue to mostly focus on MTTs, and playing a big schedule this Sunday. I will see how the cash coaching goes next week and how I feel about playing more cash, and go from there.
July 8, 2021 | 3:13 p.m.
Finding My Way
Wanted to pop in here and post a quick update.
For the month of June, i decided to stick solely to cash games and not play any MTTs. This was motivated by the lack of sleep and generally unhealthy lifestyle i was living. I have been crushing MTTs, but the lack of sleep has been crushing my body. I have back pain very often and was underperforming at my job.
June sucked. I did not enjoy grinding cash and really missed tournaments. I won a small amount online playing mostly 200NL, and lost a small amount live playing 500NL deep in a private game.
The last 2 nights, i made my glorious return to tournaments. I shipped a $110 2 nights ago for $2500, and shipped an $82 last night for $3400, netting around 5k profit over the 2 sessions. I played very well and was very present and focused in my sessions. However, in just 2 sessions the effects of lacking sleep are already coming back. Something is beginning to become clear to me:
I need to quit my fucking job.
I make really good money. I have great benefits. I’m 33 years old and quitting my very secure job to play poker would be objectively irresponsible.
I don’t care.
All i want to do is put 60 hours a week into online tournaments. I don’t care if i fail. I don’t care if its tough and stressful. I want to march to the beat of my own drum, and i want to go to bed without setting an alarm.
I’m not there yet. I dumped most of my roll into crypto and then the market downswung at the same time i downswung. I gotta build up the roll and reduce my expenses a bit more. I’m gonna do it.
At the end of July I’ll be heading to Florida for the SHRPO, using the rest of my vacation time for the year to do so. I’m really excited for the trip. I have no expectations and will be happy if i go there and brick every event. It’s just about being in the game - being at the table.
For now, I just gotta balance the MTT grind with a job as best I can. With some good fortune and very hard work I may be able to achieve joblessness by the end of the year.
July 3, 2021 | 4:41 p.m.
Yooo Tariq love your vids, the T blocker River B-3B around 11:00 in was quite nice ;)
Really enjoy your thought process, thanks sir
May 13, 2021 | 9:36 p.m.
kravean Hey man nice to hear from you! Thank you for the words of encouragement. Completely agree about consistency and the process. I love the bodybuilding analogy. It's all about compound gains!!
BTW, have been checking out your Poker Journal and really love it. I am trying to take some time off from grinding this week and doing more studying and sleeping, I hope to take some time to read through your journal and get caught up on your journey.
Feb. 8, 2021 | 3:34 p.m.
Rough Start to the New Year
January was my worst month results-wise in a very long time. I lost a little over 5k. A good chunk of these losses were in PLO, which is a game I am new to, so that is kind of to be expected. On top of that, I also have been playing Mid-Hi MTTs and losing a bunch there as well.
However, despite having a bad month, I kept up on study and studied more in January than I have in a long time. I got in 40+ hours of focused "lab work" type study and that doesn't include passive RIO video watching in bed, reading some poker books/articles, podcasts, etc.
My ego caused me to play higher stakes PLO than I should probably be playing (I took shots at $2/4 - $5/10) but after losing a couple of buy-ins there I quickly moved back down to $1/2 and plan to stick there for this month.
It kind of feels like I am just getting punched in the face every time I play a session of PLO, but honestly, I've never had this much fun losing before. Because I am fairly new to the game, I am learning a ton and applying huge upgrades to my game every single session.
I decided to give PLO a real shot because it has become obvious to me recently that the MTT grind I was on is just not sustainable and is not going to continue to work well with the demands of my day job. I am getting a huge promotion this month, and will have a very difficult long-term project to complete. I can't be getting 3-4 hours of sleep on week nights and logging on to work late any more.
I have invested a lot of money into improving my game and start MTT coaching with Matt Hunt (S4Y) this week. My plan for February is to split my study time about 70% PLO, 30% MTT, and get in as much PLO volume as I can, while playing 1 MTT session per week (usually this will be Sunday).
I hope to get close to 40k hands of PLO in this month, and if I am not beating $0.50/1 and $1/2 PLO over that sample, or at least feeling like I have massively improved my game over that sample, I will give up on the PLO experiment and go back to all-in on MTTs, which have been a stable income source for me for a long time.
My processes are good, I am studying in an effective way every single day, and review hands after every session. As long as I am able to trust the process and continue with what I am already doing, and I avoid self-sabotage and playing too high, I think it is very likely that I will figure out a solid winning PLO strategy and have the capacity to consistently execute that strategy.
Very excited to see how my year in poker unfolds, and the bad start is just a small bump in the road. LFG!!
Feb. 3, 2021 | 4:06 p.m.
Following and looking fwd to more posts! Very new to the PLO streets coming from MTTs. Thanks for sharing your ideas here!
Feb. 3, 2021 | 3:51 p.m.
Agree with Thallo- and if SPR is low enough that BB can XR and get it in in a single raised pot then I don't think you can ever fold, they would have to be the world's biggest nit shortstacker. I kind of feel like the profile you could fold against almost doesn't exist.
Jan. 25, 2021 | 4:02 p.m.
I recently dove into PLO and have been studying PLO4 preflop ranges. I find myself playing more PLO5 than PLO4 lately at stakes from $1/2 to $3/6. I was wondering what general preflop range adjustments should be made in PLO5?
Are there perfect rundown hands that become better than AAx hands? Like is something like 789TJds superior to AAx? In spots where we get it in pre, compared to getting to flop with a med-high SPR with these two types of hands?
Any other general advice on preflop appreciated. I find myself feeling a little lost with how I should approach Preflop 3bet/4bet spots with AAx hands with 5 holecards. Also double paired hands. The other classes seem fairly intuitive but these ones are giving me some trouble.
If there are any vids you can recommend on this that would be great too!
Jan. 25, 2021 | 3:59 p.m.
Thanks man that makes sense. Is like 1/3 a good size here? I assume we continue vs a pot size raise if we use that cbet size? Probably in an aggressive fashion?
New to grinding the great game and have only studied preflop so far.