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.
Thank you!! Love the car/helicopter analogy. The specializing thing is something I have struggled with massively and have jumped back and forth between MTT and cash a lot over the years. These are all extremely valuable and true pieces of advice that probably just about anyone can benefit from. Appreciate you taking the time to post these!
Aug. 6, 2021 | 5:20 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.
Jan. 22, 2021 | 5:14 p.m.
Hello. Curious if I should be checking this flop. My bet/call vs a range of 8xxx is a -EV punt. Should I be preferring to XC this flop blocking the 2? Is my BC fine? Note CO is a passive rec and BTN is LAG reg.
CO limp, BTN 3x, we 3b POT in BB, both call. Then we Bet-Call flop in a spot where I think I punted.
Blocking the 2 seems useful, but having NFD, what else is BTN jamming if not 8x (and sometimes they have quads)? Having to bet-fold makes me think that cbetting is an error.
Jan. 22, 2021 | 5:17 a.m.
I am new to PLO and going through the FTGU PLO Course here on RIO. It is great so far.
You should definitely start with studying preflop ranges, and spend a month+ on that before moving on. Just having rock solid preflop ranges will give you a big edge over the pools at lower stakes. Always pushing equity in postflop scenarios will go a long way.
Also, play less study more :)
Having a little degen in ya could be an asset for PLO if you can get it in line and construct better habits and routines :)
Jan. 16, 2021 | 2:39 a.m.
IMO it can’t be detected, but also is not a good way to maximize winrate. For one thing, hard to pick up on nuances, sizing and timing tells, reads, exploits if you are not hyper focused on the tables and distracted by the solver.
Furthermore, in most games, we are better off deviating from GTO in the majority of spots. I’ve not used vision but does it handle multiway? Many pots in my experience are multiway, so that would be out.
People are free to use it while playing (ethical considerations aside), but IMO it would be impossible to reach a state of flow and play in a way that maximizes winrate doing this. Vision seems like a great tool for off the table study, but does not seem optimal to use in real time.
If I knew every reg in my games were using vision while playing, it would not deter me from playing in those pools. I would prefer them not to be, but majority of winrate comes from VIP’s anyway and i would like my side playing with full focus over being distracted by looking up optimal solutions in game.
Jan. 15, 2021 | 8:38 p.m.
Hello I am also interested in some study partners. Successful at Mid - Hi MTTs and transitioning to PLO lately, playing PLO200 at the moment. Currently working through the FTGU PLO course and plan to go through all of Tom Chambers content after that, doing a lot of manual math/Excel work before I dive into solvers. I want to get my "hands dirty" and do a lot of manual work so I can deeply understand the math and blocker effects before I get into solvers. Thx!
Jan. 15, 2021 | 3:13 p.m.
In this hand, UTG is running 61/18 with 45% limp and 3% 3bet over 87 hands.
I have seen them overlimp MP vs a UTG limp and then flat my CO pot size 3bet with AAQ5 single suited.
I cannot get the "pretty" hand history option to work no matter what I try to do. Hopefully this is clean enough:
iPoker - $2 PL Hi (6 max) - Omaha Hi - 6 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4: http://www.pokertracker.com
BB: 117.65 BB
UTG: 538.42 BB
Hero (MP): 296.99 BB
CO: 36.74 BB
BTN: 29.67 BB
SB: 100 BB
SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB
Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has Ah Jd As 5h
UTG calls 1 BB, Hero raises to 4.5 BB, CO raises to 16 BB, fold, fold, fold, UTG calls 15 BB, Hero raises to 65.5 BB, CO calls 20.74 BB, UTG calls 49.5 BB
Flop : (169.24 BB, 3 players) Qd 6c 5c
UTG checks, Hero bets 167.24 BB, UTG raises to 472.92 BB, Hero calls 64.25 BB
Turn : (632.21 BB, 3 players) 6h
River : (632.21 BB, 3 players) Td
So I think that I played the hand fine, but just wanted to check- mostly flop action.
If we assume the short stacker who 3bet ONLY has AAxx, therefore meaning the 2 other Aces are dead, is my line fine given that assumption? I think many players here are only 3betting AA, and I am interested in a "worst case" analysis.
I did my own work on the hand and found the following:
If we run HU equity for preflop for just myself and the deep whale, and enter the other 2 Aces as dead cards, my equity preflop against the hand they showed up with is 60%, and it is also 60% against a range of top 5% of the deck with the other AA dead. Against top 2% my hand with AA dead is still pushing equity.
On Flop, with AA dead, my hand against 5% has 57.17%, and against 2% is 46.57%
Preflop seems OK, but hypothetically if we KNOW the short stacker has AA, should we do anything different? Same question for the flop play.
I feel like SPR is low enough that We should be doing fine enough hand vs. range to just pot flop and stack off. Getting folds is a good event, as any small backdoor equity we ever manage to fold out seems good. We also get calls from hands like QJKXcc that we are behind (especially assuming the other AA are dead), but have enough equity against to stack off.
Should we do anything else on this flop? Is checking back and seeing a turn a better option?
Jan. 15, 2021 | 2:19 a.m.
No i think you are right. It probably is not worth the hassle and there are probably better ways to study. It’s just that most of my winrate comes from these weak players and i am trying to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of my strategy against them. Honestly solvers may even be overkill against these guys, I dunno.
It’s kind of shocking how many players with these types of stats i have been encountering, even at stakes as high as $500 BI.
Now it is of course also important to balance that with studying our strategy against regs, and there is where i do think Pio study has some value. They are not playing anywhere near GTO either, but i still think we can learn some game tree fundamentals and deploy those and they can help us exploit better.
It might make more sense to just play around with a tool like CREV or Power-Equilab or something vs fish, and that is what i am already doing. Just thinking if we can leverage pio in a useful way but maybe not.
Jan. 8, 2021 | 2:54 p.m.
Haha thanks. Yeah I am very familiar with Nick Howard and the PD mass data methodology but I don’t really see how that can be applied in MTTs. We can’t buy HH’s and i have yet to find a way to pull in clairvoyant MTT HH into the software used for MDA. you are probably right that there are a lot of assumptions holding me back. It’s not like i am not exploiting fish and winning at a high rate against them- I am. Just looking to take my study to the next level
And maximize win rate as much as possible, and I don’t really think grinding solvers using GTO inputs as a baseline is the best way to do that- but i am very open to the idea that I could be dead wrong.
EDIT: to say it another way:
If someone is playing 38/4, and you open MP and they defend CO, does it make sense to take the GTO preflop range for CO defense vs MP and plug that into PIO to study how to execute against them? To me the answer is a very clear No. So, if that is true, isn't that kind of the same thing as putting in a more accurate preflop range, then clicking buttons in Pio to get to river- to study how to play river vs them? My assumption is the range Pio has them getting to river with will be very far off from the range they actually get to river with, in the same way the range they get to flop with is way off if we just plug in a GTO preflop range for a 38/4.
Will my assumption of what range they get to river with be perfect? Hell no. But I am pretty confident it will be more accurate than the range pio thinks they get to river with. And if that is the case, why not just run the sim from river to begin with, using the range we assume? Especially if we feel good about our flop and turn plays and feel that they are pretty straightforward, but just have questions about the optimal sizes and frequencies to use OTR?
Jan. 8, 2021 | 1:05 a.m.
If we assume BB calls your river jam with only KK+ and AK, that is 6 combos that beat you and 9 combos that you beat. Therefore, well over 50% of your opponents calling range loses to your jam on the river and it is a good jam.
I like your line and while raising earlier streets is probably reasonable, I think the call down line and delaying your raise to river is also fairly reasonable.
BB has a narrow ish range and we don’t get them to pay off with that many hands unless they are going to heavily over value Top Pair (which is certainly possible).
Your play is fine and raising earlier streets would also be fine imo
Jan. 7, 2021 | 9:20 p.m.
I think any HUD stats and reads you may have on the 4bettor are very important here. How soft both your table and this tournament are is also a factor. If you can realize large edges in a lot of situations, this is just a fold. In general i would estimate we are up against a strong range no wider than JJ+ AK, and against that range our equity is not great.
Jan. 7, 2021 | 8:30 p.m.
This is excellent advice and resonates so so much. Your posts and recent CPG podcast interview were very insightful and just wanted to thank you for putting your message out there.
I am an MTT grinder and have a job, but have learned the hard way how true all of this is throughout my career. I’ve joined virtually every training site that has ever existed, participated in forums, tried to make sense of solvers, etc.
The “sky is falling” mentality has been the standard line for several years now, and it’s total bullshit. Last year was my best year ever in poker, by a large margin, and it was a year where i had no active training site memberships and spent maybe 10 hours in a solver. I started to develop my own study routines which made sense for me, and stopped consuming the same content everyone else is passively consuming. In my opinion, games have gotten better, and it’s easier to make money. The sky is staying put :)