Monday, March 19, 2018

16 Simple Yet Effective Ways to Get Better at Poker in 2018

How to Get Better at Poker in 2018
People ask me all the time how they can get better at poker. And it really isn't that difficult in 2018 because there are more free tools and resources than ever to get you started.

There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to start turning at least a small profit this year at the lower stakes online or in your live cash games or tournies.

So in this article I am going to break down my top 16 simple yet effective strategies to get better at poker in 2018.

1. Decide to Start

The first and most important part of getting better at poker is simply just deciding that you are going to start making this a priority in your life. Because the truth is that improving your poker game is not something that is going to happen overnight.

Much like starting a new business you shouldn't expect to start seeing any significant profits for several months at the very least. You need to look at this as a long term investment instead.

So you need to get yourself a consistent playing schedule. Even if that means only a couple nights a week after work, you should know exactly when you are playing poker and it should be the same times every week.

You should also delegate at least an hour or two a week to off the table studying as well. I will get into how to do that more below.

2. Know Your Limits

The next thing that you need to do in order to get better at poker is get consistent with the limits and the games that you play.

If you currently like to jump around playing cash games one week, tournies the next and playing for $5 one week and $100 the next, you need to stop this. It is much better in poker to be a master of one specific game than a jack of all trades.

I would suggest starting at the lowest possible limits (remember there is no rush to the top) and to slowly build your way up as your bankroll grows.

In cash games online this usually means the $2 games (1/c 2c blinds). And in tournies this means tournaments with a $1-$5 buyin.

3. Get the Right Funds

Your bankroll (the funds that you have to play poker) is like the capital that you have in your business. You wouldn't start a new business with $10 would you? So why would you start your poker career with that?

It is incredibly important to exercise proper bankroll management for the games that you are playing in. This means that you should have at least 30 buyins for any cash game (100 buyins for tournaments).

I didn't just make these numbers up by the way.

There are clear mathematical reasons for why this is the case. Without getting too nerdy here it basically reduces your risk of ruin to a manageable level.

So if you decide to play in the $5 cash games for instance (2c/5c blinds), then you should have at least $150 in your bankroll.

The bottom line is if you take poker seriously, then you need to get serious about having a proper bankroll as well.

4. Get a Poker System

What do I mean by a poker "system?" I mean a simple strategy such as TAG (tight and aggressive) that will work well against most opponents in low stakes games.

More specifically this means that you know exactly:

  • What hands to play from each position
  • When to re-raise
  • How much to bet on the flop, turn and river
  • When to bluff

And so on.

This is the kind of stuff that you should never even have to think about. In other words, these decisions should all be automatic for you.

Now there are tons of great free resources out there for this from starting hand sheets to beginner level courses and videos.

I always just recommend my free poker ebook for this though. It lays out the entire system for you to start winning quickly at the lower limits.

5. Get Accountable

One of the most important things that helped me early on in my poker career was what you are looking at right now, this website.

If you go back through the ancient history of this blog you will find meticulous notes on my goals for the month and year, how many hands I played each day and so on.

I also developed a small amount of readers who I felt accountable to. When you know that you will not only let yourself down, but others as well, this gives you more reasons to succeed.

Start a free blog today on Blogger or Wordpress and just start writing down your goals and tracking your progress.

If you want to get more serious with your website, have a custom name, and gain followers even quicker, then you can get a cheap hosting package for as little as $3 a month.

6. Get a Poker Network

Another thing that helped me get better at poker was developing a network of poker friends. And having some sort of blog or way to be found online was a big help in creating that network.

When you surround yourself with other people who have similar goals you can build each other up and support each other during the tough times (which absolutely will happen in poker).

You can even start your own private Facebook group and discuss hands regularly with each other. Every poker pro I know relies on a small group of friends for support and encouragement.

7. Know Your Odds

Much like having an automatic poker system in place you should also know your basic poker odds without even having to think about it.

And please understand that perfection is not the goal here. In other words you don't need to know that the odds of making your draw are exactly 34.17% or whatever.

Somewhere around "1 in 3" is just fine.

Here are a few common odds that you should know:
  • Odds of making your flush draw with two cards to come - 1 in 3
  • Odds of making your flush draw with one card to come - 1 in 5
  • Odds of making your straight draw - roughly the same as a flush, just slightly less
  • Odds of making your gutshot straight draw with two cards to come - 1 in 6
  • Odds of making your gutshot straight draw with one card to come - 1 in 12
  • Stack odds needed to set mine preflop - 15 to 1
  • Odds of flopping your set on the flop - 8.5 to 1

These are some of the most important ones in my opinion. You should memorize them all.

For a full listing of all the poker hand odds I often refer to this list by Pokerology.

how to get better at poker in 2018

They do a great job in that article of showing you how to count your outs as well.

Print this out, stick it on your wall. Do whatever it takes so that this kinda stuff is ingrained in your mind.

You never want to have to waste time thinking about your odds of hitting your flush draw for instance in the heat of the moment. Make sure you already know this kinda stuff by memory!

8. Know Your Poker Math

Another basic but often neglected way to improve your poker game is to know the basic math. And once again, this is really easy to do once you get the hang of it.

The most important thing to know is how to calculate your pot odds. Now I have already written an in-depth article about poker math before.

But the basics are this (two step process):

Step #1 - Take the current pot size and add the bet you are facing to it.

Step #2 - Then divide this number by the current bet you are facing.


The pot is $4 and your opponent bets $2.

4 + 2 = 6

6 / 2 = 3

Your pot odds are 3 to 1.

The reason why this number is important is because you can then compare it to your poker hand odds (as we just discussed), to determine whether you should call or fold.

9. Watch Poker Videos

One of the best ways to get better at poker is just to watch somebody else do it. Youtube and Twitch are probably the two best places to watch pros and amateurs alike play for free.

I actually have my own Youtube channel. No updates for quite awhile but I promise I will start making some videos again soon!

In the meantime here are some other great Youtube and Twitch channels/streams that I personally use to learn from all the time.

10. Study Poker Courses

Video based poker instruction is getting better and better these days though and so if you really want to dive even deeper and learn from the very best, then poker courses are one of the best investments you can possibly make.

They almost always come with a price of course though. Most of the best poker courses these days are coming from Upswing Poker in my opinion.

I highly recommend their Poker Lab for example. In fact I recently reviewed it right here.

I also recommend their Elite Cash Game Mastery course although this is only for extremely serious and advanced poker players. I also reviewed that right here.

Lastly, I myself will be coming out with a comprehensive course for the lower stakes games later this year so look out for that!

11. Poker Forums

Poker forums are a good free way to learn and get better at poker. You can post your own hands and get feedback from others.

One drawback to poker forums though is that anyone can post on them. This means that sometimes you will get bad advice and they also tend to attract negativity/trolls.

However, overall I think there is still a lot more to be gained by participating in forums than the drawbacks.

Here are a couple of the top poker forums in 2018:
  • CardsChat - Beginner friendly, good community. I personally post there quite frequently.
  • 2+2 - More advanced poker discussion but has problems with negativity/trolls.
  • LiquidPoker - A long-time personal favorite of mine. High level discussion, lot's of pros.

12. Join a Poker Community

Everybody has a Facebook account these days right? So why not a poker version of this?

Well, there actually is one and I post on it all the time. It is called Tiltbook.

Tiltbook is a great way to network with other poker players and pros and create that friend group that I talked about above.

And don't worry, the discussion on Tiltbook is strictly poker. So you don't need to worry about any political rants, stupid cat videos or ugly baby pics!

You can follow me on Tiltbook right here.

13. Study Poker Books

Poker books are still a great way to get better at poker in 2018 especially for newer players or those struggling at the micros. I have written 3 of them myself so obviously I would recommend those first.

My first book in particular, Crushing the Microstakes, has been been called "the bible of micro stakes poker" and it has helped thousands of people turn their results around now.

However, there are tons of other great titles out there these days as well.

Just hop on Amazon and search for poker books. Make sure they were written in the last 5-10 years though. Don't read ancient books from the 80's or 90's before online poker even existed.

14. Hire a Coach

Arguably the very best way to get better at poker in 2018 is to just hire a coach. Now of course this isn't going to be free and you need to make sure that you hire the right one.

But there is nothing more beneficial for your game than having a poker pro review your hands and strategy and make custom suggestions just for you.

Now people ask me about coaching all the time and I am sorry but I do not coach anymore. I simply do not have the time between playing poker, writing this blog and all the traveling I do.

15. Study Your Own Hands

If you can't afford to hire a coach right now then one of the best ways to improve your poker game is just to study your own hands and fix your leaks.

This is why I am such a big proponent of using a software tool like PokerTracker.

Most people think that the main purpose of these programs is for the HUD. Nothing could actually be further from the truth!

I have spent countless hours in PokerTracker over the years studying my own hands and my opponents to create the strategies that I use to beat these games.

I also run filters to find out exactly where I am losing money and how to fix that. I recently wrote a big long article showing you exactly how to do this.

16. Always Remember Your "Why"

The last strategy that I have for you to get better at poker in 2018 is to always remember your "why."

You probably started playing this game for fun am I right? That is why you were first drawn to poker. Well, this is the way that it always should be as well.

Most poker pros who I know who grind day in and day out do it because they truly love to get up each day and play some cards. 

It is when poker starts to get too serious that you start to lose that energy and desire to get better or to even play the game. 

It is also simply a proven fact that people are more motivated to learn and improve when they truly enjoy what they do.

So for me personally when the grind of cash games starts to get to me I play something totally different like tournaments or even a different format altogether like pot limit omaha.

I also write about poker all the time on this blog and elsewhere and enjoy helping others achieve their goals and get better.

All of this ensures that poker always remains fun and interesting for me. And that in turn keeps me hungry to learn more and improve both on and off the tables.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to get better at poker in 2018 really doesn't need to be that difficult. There are arguably more ways to improve your game than ever these days and many of them are completely free.

Firstly, it is important to develop a "system" of play (or baseline strategy) as well as pick the right games to play in and have a proper bankroll.

From there you can further your development by watching poker videos, streams, studying poker courses, books or even hiring a coach.

You should also develop a strong poker network of friends to help yourself get better at the game and motivate each other during the tough times. Creating your own blog or joining a poker community like Tiltbook are a few great ways to go about that.

Lastly, make sure that you always remember your "why" in poker. Don't ever take this game too seriously and you will always remain motivated to play more and improve your game.

Let me know in the comments below what you think are the best ways to get better at poker in 2018.

How to Get Better at Poker in 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review: A Complete Walkthrough

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review
Elite Cash Game Mastery is a new poker course from Upswing Poker. And as soon as it was released I was excited to have a look.

The reason why is because this course is taught by Andres "educa-p0ker" Artinano who has been one of the most successful high stakes online cash game players in recent years. He has over 2 million dollars in winnings against the highest level of competition on PokerStars.

In fact Andres is widely considered to be one of the top ten poker players in the world as of right now in 2018. It is really hard to find this kind of high level poker instruction anywhere.

So I have spent the last few weeks studying this extensive and highly advanced course. And I really must stress that last point.

This poker course is meant for extremely serious poker players only. It is for people who are looking to take their game to a world class level.

So in this Elite Cash Game Mastery review I am going to break down every section of this new poker course and give you an inside look into exactly what it offers.

1. Elite Cash Game Mastery Course Overview

The Elite Cash Game Mastery course is broken up into 4 different sections, preflop, postflop, live play and "other" which I will get into a bit later.

And the course is meant to be consumed in that order as well.

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review

There are 62 total instructional videos (all done by Andres) spread across each section as of the writing of this review. And as should be expected, the majority of those are in the postflop section.

This course also includes plenty of downloadable content including Andres's entire preflop ranges, HUD setup, filters and player reports for both PokerTracker and Hold'em Manager.

Since this is a fairly new course we are also promised that even more content will be added in the future. So there is a huge amount of material already to cover here.

Let's dive in!

2. Elite Cash Game Mastery Preflop Section

The preflop section of Elite Cash Game Mastery begins with the blinds, and specifically the big blind. I like this approach since in my opinion this is easily the most misunderstood and misplayed position at the poker table for most people.

Andres dives deep into the factors involved in defending from the big blind from both a GTO and an exploitative approach.

And something else that I found new and interesting is that he also breaks down his big blind defence strategy here based on the opponent's skill level, the impact of the rake and the math versus various bet sizings.

Andres then goes into 3Bet, 4Bet, 5Bet and squeeze strategy from the big blind discussing his overall approach versus different player types and then analyzing various ranges using Pokersnowie and Piosolver.

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review

The preflop section continues with a detailed analysis of how to play blind versus blind. And Andres once again makes detailed use of solvers in order to highlight the best ranges possible.

The preflop section concludes with an extensive breakdown of RFI, cold call, 3Bet and 4Bet strategy (both IP and OOP) from EP, MP, the CO and the BTN.

Overall, this section of the course offers a very high level insight into how one of the best poker players in the world thinks about the preflop part of the game.

3. Elite Cash Game Mastery Postflop Section

As I mentioned before, the postflop section of Elite Cash Game Mastery is where you will find the largest amount of content. There are currently 35 videos in this section alone covering every facet of the game on the flop, turn and river.

And this makes sense because as I mention all the time on this blog and elsewhere, postflop poker is easily where the biggest edges are to be found these days.

Most people play at least "ok" preflop but the decisions after the flop become a lot more complex and multi-faceted. So this is truly where some of the best poker players in the world get ahead.

So starting from the flop Andres gives you his complete strategy, analysis and plan for the hand.

Here are a few of the things you will learn:
  • How to build flop CBet ranges both IP and OOP
  • Delayed CBetting and probe bets
  • Flop check/raise strategy
  • Turn and river barreling ranges both IP and OOP
  • 3Bet and 4Bet pot strategy
  • How to approach multi-way pots
  • Facing turn and river CBet strategy
  • River calldown ranges versus aggro regs
  • Playing as the cold caller both IP and OOP

And much, much more.

In fact there is so much high level content in this section that I would recommend studying just one or two videos per night, taking notes and implementing the ideas at the poker table. Because if you try to digest everything here at once, you will easily get overwhelmed.

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review

The discussion in the postflop section of the course is once again bolstered by plenty of hand range analysis tools and solvers.

But nothing is too geeked out. In other words you don't need a PHD in mathematics in order to understand what he is saying.

What I also like about the postflop instruction is that Andres uses plenty of example hands from his own games at the very highest stakes in order to help illustrate everything.

All and all, this is probably the most comprehensive postflop strategy analysis that I have ever seen in a poker course. I found myself constantly taking notes and replaying entire sections in order to grasp everything that he was saying.

Once again, all of the analysis is extremely high level and it is not meant for beginners or low stakes games. This is about learning how to think about the flop, turn and river like a world class pro.

3. Elite Cash Game Mastery Play and Explains Section

Just like in the Upswing Poker Lab which I already reviewed before, the Play and Explains section of Elite Cash Game Mastery really shines.

"Play and Explains" are basically exactly what they sound like. Andres plays poker against some of the best players in the world at the high stakes online tables and explains his actions as he does so.

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review

This section of the course is almost worth the price of admission alone. Because it is very rare that you get an inside look into some of the biggest cash games in the world online including NL5k Zoom.

And of course you also get to see the hole cards of one of the winningest online pros while they explain their decision making to you.

Andres also reviews his top 25 biggest pots ever played against some of the most well known high stakes online crushers including Trueteller, OTB_Redbaron and LLinusLLove.

You just aren't going to find this kind of advanced hand analysis in any other poker training programs out there. So for me, getting to watch these videos was one of the biggest highlights of this course.

4. Elite Cash Game Mastery Review "Other" Section

The final section of Elite Cash Game Mastery, which is simply called "Other", is a collection of videos on important topics that didn't have a place in the previous sections.

Andres provides an extensive review and analysis of his HUD setup which I found particularly interesting. He not only talks about why he uses each particular stat but more importantly how to interpret the information correctly, which is vitally important.

He then covers a few topics that I have never seen anyone discuss before such as the impact of the rake on your strategy at the poker tables as well as how to play optimally in straddle and ante games.

This section finishes up with the downloadable content where you can get the charts with Andres entire preflop ranges and his HUD setup so that you can use it yourself at the poker tables.

Also included in the downloadable section are the filters and player reports that Andres uses in PokerTracker and Hold'em Manager to study other top level pros and create the strategies to defeat them.

Final Thoughts

The Elite Cash Game Mastery course is one of the most high level and eye opening poker training programs that I have ever seen.

And the best part of all for me is the knowledge that you are learning from the very best. Here are some of Andres's results over the past few years:

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review

That's over 2 million USD in profit against some of the best poker players in the world!

But as I have cautioned a few times already, this poker course was not meant for beginners. Andres plays in some of the very biggest games online against the toughest competition. So the level of instruction in this course matches that.

This course is meant for someone who is already playing poker at a reasonably competent level but is having trouble breaking through into the upper echelons of the game.

For somebody like this I think the Elite Cash Game Mastery course could be one of the most effective tools possible to accelerate their progress and guide them to success in mid and high stakes games.

If you take poker very seriously and you want to learn the strategy and the decision making of one of the best high stakes poker pros in the world, then I would recommend checking out this course.

To learn more about Elite Cash Game Mastery, click here.

Let me know in the comments below if you have tried the Elite Cash Game Mastery course.

Note: The links in this article are affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you I may earn a commission if you choose to purchase this course.

Elite Cash Game Mastery Review

Monday, March 12, 2018

How I Made $44,341 Playing Low Limit Poker

blackrain79 poker winnings
I have made a lot of money playing poker over the years and most of it has been at stakes which many people would consider to be very low. I am talking about games with a buyin of $2, $5, $10 or $25.

In fact, last time I checked I had made $44,341 mostly by just playing in these games. And this is from several years ago by the way. It is a lot higher now.

Also, this figure does not include rakeback and bonuses which means that there are 10's of thousands more dollars that I made on top of this as well.

So how did I do it? Well, I am going to tell you exactly how in this article.

I Have Played A lot More Poker Than Most People

The first thing to note is that I have played a lot more poker than most people. In fact I have played more poker than most live poker pros will ever play in their entire lifetime.

Last time I checked it was somewhere just north of 10 million hands.

I did this mostly by mass multi-tabling online poker for many years as a sick grinder, often playing as many as 20 or 30 tables at a time for hours and hours upon end every single day.

You can find all the messy details somewhere back in the history of this blog. It's completely insane how much poker I used to play!

blackrain79 poker winnings
Me multi-tabling online poker

The thing is though, when you play this many hands you start to see patterns and figure out the game for yourself on a deeper level.

For instance, when you have seen the same tight/passive player type raise the turn on a certain board texture 100 times, you start to understand what their range is.

Or in plain English, you begin to realize what hands they are doing it with. This allows you to make the right adjustments and ultimately make more profitable decisions at the poker table.

This is why I have preached endlessly over the years on this blog that simply playing more poker is easily the #1 way to improve your game.

It is important to study the game, discuss the game, learn from your favorite players and so on. But most people do far too much of this.

Just like achieving any high level of skill in life, getting really good at poker requires endless hours of practice and repetition. There is no better teacher than massive amounts of direct experience.

This is a huge part of why I have made so much money playing micro limit poker games over the years. I am that guy who is always sitting at your tables, on your left, and re-raising you :)

I Only Play in Games Where I Am a Big Favorite

The other important thing to understand about my results is that I only play in games where I am a big favorite. Or in other words, I only play against bad poker players.

Now when you play at stakes as low as I do, this tends to happen a lot naturally anyways. But it still requires plenty of work sometimes. I am constantly table hopping no matter what limits I play.

And I have made no secret about this over the years as well.

While some people seem to think there is some sort of "honor" or respect in battling it out against tough skilled players, I disagree completely.

In fact, I think this is about the dumbest thing you can possibly do if making lots of money in this game is your goal.

And the reason why is because the profit in poker doesn't come from outsmarting the other solid thinking players who don't make too many big mistakes.

The money instead comes from fleecing the clueless recreational players who have massive fundamental problems in their game and tilt like crazy.

Look, we all started playing this game for fun but there is really only one metric that will determine your success or failure at the end of your career.

And that is your total profit.

They can say whatever they want about me. Believe me I have heard it all, "bumhunter king of the micros," "he can only beat bad poker players" etc etc.

But at the end of the day I am up big time over my poker career where it actually matters, extra digits being added to my bank account.

You can find me on the left of some fish stacking him over and over again.

I Learned to Become Incredibly Patient

The last thing I want to mention about my poker winnings is that I had to develop a near super human level of patience at times in order to create these results.

You see the thing is, when you play a lot at the lower limits like I do, then you are naturally going to encounter more players who play loose and call too much. Even the regulars will do this sometimes.

This means that statistically you are going to take more bad beats. There is simply no way to get around this. It's just math.

When they don't fold their bottom pair or some ridiculous draw like they usually will in higher stakes games, they are simply going to hit that miracle card on the river sometimes.

And it sucks, it hurts. Believe me, I know this better than anyone!

But you can either choose to get all frustrated and tilt away your money like most people do, or understand that the math is on your side and you will win in the long run.

Now I know this isn't an easy thing to do. I had terrible tilt problems for years.

But eventually I learned that if I ever wanted to be successful in this game, then I simply had to learn how to get over it. Or at least quit the game for awhile when I could feel the tension building inside me.

Look, you are going to take an unbelievable amount of bad beats over your poker career especially when you play in small stakes games and when you play as much as I do.

What is the point of getting all bent out of shape over every single suckout? The only thing that actually matters is that your poker winnings graph is going in the right direction over hundreds of thousands or millions of hands.

As long as your results are positive in the long run, does it really even matter what stupid river card they hit again this time?

Good hand sir, on to the next one.

Your Results May Vary

Now let me finish up here by saying that even if you follow my strategy exactly to a tee and become a mass multi-tabling sick grinder like I was, you may still not achieve these same results.

The biggest reason why is that most of these results are from several years ago when the games were quite a bit easier.

Also, playing millions and millions of hands in small stakes games is clearly not the most efficient way to turn a big profit in poker anyways!

Life is full of irony though.

In a bizarre twist of fate, by playing all of these hands and achieving these results, I became known as one of the foremost experts in the world on these low stakes games.

This allowed me to create a large side business teaching the game through this blog with multiple books, video courses, coaching and countless other opportunities coming my way.

None of that was planned at all but it just goes to show that when you pursue anything in life with a maniacal passion, good things do tend to happen in the end.

But even with all of that said I would be the first one to advise against my strategy of playing a ridiculous number of hands like this in low stakes poker games.

Your plan instead should be to move up and play at stakes where there is considerably more money to be made.

Also, in today's games it is much more important to lower the table count and focus more on finding the fish and making the best poker decisions.

As I have stated for many years now, I don't play 20 or 30 tables at a time anymore. I play much less than this and I also table select and site select like a madman.

Final Thoughts

If you only take one thing away from this article I hope it is that you can get whatever you want in this game but you have to be willing to put in the work and persevere no matter what.

I have never been someone who dabbles in this game of poker. I have been all-in with it since day one. I always made it my mission to out-work everybody else and always keep a clear vision of what my goals are.

This is why I have achieved the results that I have both on and off the poker tables now for over a decade. This has also given me the freedom to travel the world and live in exotic tropical locations like Thailand and the Philippines.

BlackRain79 online poker in Thailand

The flashy number that I put in the title ($44,341) to make you click on this article really isn't the important point at all. It's just a stupid number and I have made way, way more than that overall in this game anyways.

What I want you to see instead is the dedication and the commitment that it takes to achieve these results.

I wasn't born with some sort of superior ability to understand this game. And believe me, I am nowhere near one of the best poker players in the world.

But I am really good at one thing, I don't quit.

I just keep making the right plays on a consistent basis no matter how bad the results have been lately. And this is a skill that anyone can learn.

Start taking massive action towards your goals every single day (poker, fitness, business or whatever), and you can achieve anything you want.

Thanks a lot for reading and all the best at the poker tables, unless you are on mine :)

If you found this article helpful or inspiring in any way, do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

blackrain79 poker graph

Monday, March 5, 2018

Knowing When to Quit for the Day - A Poker Pro's Perspective

Knowing When to Quit for the Day in Poker
Something that many new poker players in particular struggle with is knowing when to quit for the day.

Should you call it quits when you are winning, break-even or losing? What about length of time, number of hands and so on?

In short, it can be confusing especially for a poker beginner to know when to call it quits and stop playing for the day.

As someone who has played this game as a pro for over 10 years now I have struggled with this myself at times. But there definitely is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

So in this article I am going to provide you with the answers for how to plan your poker sessions and how to know exactly when to quit for the day.

1. Play a Specific Number of Hands (Online Poker)

If you play online poker the best thing that you can always do is plan to play a specific number of hands. This is something that I have been doing for years.

The reason why this is effective is because it gives you a clear and unambiguous target to shoot for. You know exactly how many hands to play and exactly when you will quit.

Now, how many hands you should play depends on if you multi-table or not. Check out my complete guide to playing more online poker tables by the way right here.

If you only play on one poker table, maybe you want to set a target of 200 hands.

Keep in mind that most 6max tables online will deal around 80 hands an hour (or 60 hands per hour for full ring). So if you are playing on one 6max table, then it should take you approximately 2.5 hours to complete your session of 200 hands.

If this is too long for you, then set the number of hands lower at say 100 hands. And of course if you play, 2, 4, 8, 12 or more tables, then you can multiply this number significantly.

For Example:

You play 4 tables of 6max and you want to keep your poker sessions to roughly around 2 hours each. You should shoot for about 640 hands.

Each 6max table will deal you 80 hands per hour. So 160 hands over the span of 2 hours. Multiply this by 4 tables and you get 640 hands.

You could of course just round up or down to a nice even number. I think you get the idea though.

The bottom line is to set a clear and unambiguous target number of hands before you start playing. This way there is never anything to even think about regarding when you should quit playing.

When you have played the target number of hands you sit out and leave. Almost all online poker sites by the way will tell you exactly how many hands you have played.

2. Play a Specific Time Limit (Live Poker)

Now if you usually play live poker (i.e. in a casino), then you have to find another way to determine the length of your sessions. This is because knowing the number of hands that you have played would only be possible if you literally counted each and every one.

Nobody wants to do that.

This is why when I play live poker I simply go by the clock. I will plan to play a certain amount of time. This could be 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours or more.

The bottom line is that once this time limit is up, I am done. Whether I am stuck large, winning big or somewhere around break-even has no bearing at all on my decision to quit.

And this is the common theme that you will see behind the quitting decisions of both online and live poker pros like myself and others.

We don't make the decision on when to quit playing for the day based on emotion or results. There was a clear plan on when to quit that was set BEFORE we even sat down to play.

3. Do Not Allow Results to Determine When You Quit Playing Poker For the Day

The reason why allowing your results to determine the length of your poker session is a bad idea is because you have absolutely no control over what they will be from day to day.

There is so much variance (short term luck) associated with poker that it is almost impossible to predict what your results will be on a day to day basis.

This is why I actually suggest that you don't even pay any attention to your poker results at all. And instead use an independent and arbitrary variable for when to quit poker for the day, such as number of hands played or hours played.

Many online poker pros that I know will go weeks without even checking their results. Why you might be asking?

The reason why is because they know that their day to day results in poker are basically meaningless. As long as you are properly bankrolled for the games you are playing in, there is really no reason why you need to know how much you are up or down in the short run.

Learning how to ignore short term results also has potentially huge positive benefits especially for somebody who has tilt problems. I know that this was definitely the case for me.

When you can finally stop stressing over every little bad beat you take and just focus on what actually matters, (making consistent good decisions at the poker table), your emotions are likely to remain much more stable.

And therefore, your results will likely improve dramatically over the long run.

4. Extend Your Session if the Games Are Particularly Good

Now with all of that said, there is one key situation where I will break all my rules and extend my poker session beyond what I had planned.

And you should do this too.

This is a situation where there is a really loose and wild fish at the table who is clearly playing very badly and giving his money away.

It is often worth it to stick around in a spot like this because it is such an insanely profitable position to be in. This is especially the case if you have the seat on the left of the crazy player (aka the "Jesus Seat").

This will allow you to get into so many more pots with them and get to act last on every street. This gives you the ultimate ability to outplay them and get all of their chips before the other players do.

There have been many times over my poker career where I have played well beyond what I had intended because the game was just too good to leave.

Often this has led to absolutely massive winning sessions for me where the fish eventually dumped several stacks to me.

This actually happened in the recent video course that I put out for NL2 online. If you watched that then you will remember that I stacked the same fish over and over again.

This is why my results for that session (and in these games in general) are so insanely high. I don't leave the table until the fish has handed over every last chip to me.

5. Quit the Session Early if the Games are Bad

On the flip side, if the games completely suck and you are having a tough time finding the fish, don't be afraid to just quit your session early.

Many people forget that no matter how much you study and improve your poker game, the biggest factor affecting your poker results is always going to be the people who you are playing against.

Your win-rate is always going to be vastly higher when you are playing with clueless recreational players splashing around with terrible hands and making tons of fundamental mistakes.

You honestly don't even need to be any kind of a great poker player to print money against these guys. I have literally made a career out of it, waiting for AA/KK or my set and then getting paid in full from these goofballs.

The regs though (regulars) are people just like you and me who study the game, try hard to win, play tight etc. It doesn't matter how good you think you are, you are just never going to have a huge edge versus these kinds of players.

They simply do not make enough big fundamental mistakes for this to be possible.

So if the games are particularly bad go ahead and just quit your session early. This is the perfect time to do a session review and improve your own game.

Which brings me to my next point.

6. Schedule Time for Regular Session Reviews

Regular session review is one of the best things that you can possibly do to improve your poker game. What I mean by this specifically is analyzing your key hands in a tracking program like PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager, finding your mistakes and fixing them for next time.

This is really one of the biggest differences between the elite winners and everybody else. All of the pros and biggest winners are constantly studying their own hands (as well as their opponents) in order to get better.

The reason why this is so effective is because these programs tell you exactly whether you are winning or losing for every situation imaginable. And the numbers simply do not lie.

So you can keep butchering the way you play AK out of position in 3Bet pots for years and years on end or you can go into PokerTracker and find out specifically why you are losing here.

For much more on how to find your leaks and fix them I wrote an entire guide on this recently. You can find that right here.

7. You Never Actually "Quit" a Poker Session

The reality of poker though is that you never actually "quit" a session. The only poker results that really matter are those at the end of your career, whenever that is.

Because as long as you plan to play poker again one day what difference does it make how much you were up or down today?

Poker is one big long game and trying to "book a win" on any individual day so that you can feel good about yourself really accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Playing winning poker is not like a regular job where you can expect to receive regular earnings. Some days you will lose in poker and this is perfectly normal.

All poker pros have losing days, lot's of them. Some days they get absolutely smashed in fact.

Does this mean that they suddenly suck at poker and should just quit the game completely? No of course not, it's one day. Even one week or one month may not matter. This is because they are still printing money in the long run.

And this is why I recommend that you only concern yourself with longterm results in poker. And by that I mean at least one month. Because anything less than this can just be complete variance.

Don't be like everybody else and get caught up in the short term illusion.

Final Thoughts

Knowing when to quit for the day in poker is an important skill to learn. Whether you play online or live I suggest using a fixed variable such as number of hands played or hours played in order to determine when you will quit.

And just to be completely clear, you always set this amount BEFORE you sit down to play.

The only reason why you should ever deviate from this plan is if the games you are playing in are particular good on that day or extremely bad.

You should always stick around for as long as you can if there are lots of fish playing bad and throwing away their money on your tables.

On the flip side, if your tables are full of tight multi-tabling regulars, then this is a good opportunity to quit early and go work on improving your game instead.

If you want to know the complete strategy that I have used to create some of the highest winnings in online poker history at the micro stakes, then make sure to pick up a copy of my free poker ebook.

Let me know in the comments below when you quit a poker session. How do you decide when it is time to quit for the day?

Knowing When to Quit for the Day in Poker

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review: A Comprehensive Walkthrough

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review
I recently had the opportunity to study the Advanced Heads Up Mastery course by Upswing Poker. I think some of the biggest edges (and potential profits) are in heads up poker so this course really caught my attention.

But the biggest reason why I was excited to have a look at it was because all of the content was created by 3-time WSOP bracelet winner and arguably the best no limit heads up poker player on earth, Doug Polk.

This is something that I have always talked about for years on this blog especially. That is, make sure that you are learning from the best. The Advanced Heads Up Mastery course certainly qualifies in that category.

This is a massive learning program. There is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20-30 hours of video to cover along with countless other downloads and live play video from some of the world's best poker players.

I also want to be very clear from the start that this course is not meant for beginners. This is a highly technical poker course that is meant for very serious people who are looking to take their game to a world class level.

With all of that said I am going to do my best below to give you a complete walkthrough of everything that is inside the Advanced Heads Up Mastery course.

Preflop RFI Course Material

The preflop section of Advanced Heads Up Mastery begins with a detailed analysis of small blind raise first in (RFI) strategy.

By making extensive use of equity analysis tools like PokerStrategy's Equilab Doug Polk breaks down the theory behind which hands to raise first in here.

He then goes into a deep analysis of his own PokerTracker database from the small blind and discusses exactly what is profitable and what is not. These conclusions are drawn from his high stakes heads up matches online where he has won millions of dollars.

In the next section Doug goes on to discuss the big blind strategy beginning with what to do when the small blind limps.

He then discusses continuance ranges versus a small blind RFI, when to 3Bet and the math behind it. Once again all of this is backed up with equity analysis in both Equilab and his own PT4 database.

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review

This section finishes with the download links for some charts which include the exact hands to play in heads up poker from both the small blind and the big blind. This is a virtual "cheat sheet" for the entire preflop strategy in heads up poker.

And there are another set of downloads which gives you the exact bet sizes to use for RFI, 3Betting, 4Betting and 5Betting from both the small blind and the big blind.

Furthermore, Doug gives you the exact frequencies for how often you should be making each of these plays. I have personally never seen anything as thorough as this.

The entire heads up preflop strategy is broken down into a science here teaching you the exact hands to play at the very highest level.

Preflop 3Bet/4Bet Course Material

The next section of Advanced Heads Up Mastery dives deep into the theory, strategy and math behind 3Bet and 4Bet pots.

Anyone who has played heads up poker before at any level knows that understanding how to play in 3Bet and 4Bet pots is absolutely crucial to your success these days.

So Doug begins by discussing small blind facing a 3Bet concepts and ranges. He once again makes extensive use of equity tools and his own database to show you exactly how to make the most profitable decisions in this situation.

The next section dives into 4Bet strategy from the small blind and how the big blind should react. Again, there is a concerted effort to find mathematically sound reasons for every recommendation.

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review

Doug gives you the exact ranges for when to make the 4Bet from the small blind along with when to fold, call or 5Bet from the big blind.

The discussion is once again thorough with hours of video and analysis. If you want to learn 3Bet and 4Bet strategy in heads up poker at the very highest level, frankly I have never seen anything this detailed before.

Postflop SRP Advanced Heads Up Mastery Course Material

Now as important as preflop strategy is in poker, anyone who has played this game seriously knows that most of the biggest edges come after the flop.

Preflop in many cases is almost a solved science at the higher limits. In fact the preflop sections of this course give you pretty much as clear of a blueprint for how to crush preflop in heads up as I have ever seen.

But postflop is a whole different story. This is where the men are separated from the boys to use a worn out old cliche.

And so that is why the majority of the content in Advanced Heads Up Mastery covers postflop play. It offers a comprehensive analysis of how one of the best heads up poker players in the world thinks about the game on the flop, turn and river.

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review

So after Doug explains some of the key concepts and terminology behind postflop heads up play he gets right into flop play from the small blind in single raised pots (SRP).

As you can see above, literally every scenario possible is covered. From what hands to CBet with, what value combos to include, bluff combos, how and when to barrel, dealing with probe bets and facing a check/raise on the flop, turn and river.

There is a corresponding video for each section, typically 15 minutes to 45 minutes in length. Again, the discussion here centers around teaching you the mathematically correct decisions at the highest stakes of heads up poker.

The next section includes over 20 videos and even more analysis for how to play from the big blind in every scenario possible in a single raised pot.

You Will Learn:
  • When to fold to CBets
  • Value and Bluff combos when facing a barrel
  • Probe bet range combos
  • Check/raising CBets
  • Check back ranges
  • Playing against delay and double delay CBets
  • Turn and River bluffing combos

There is honestly so much here that I think it would take most people at least a week to get through just this section. I would recommend studying just one or two strategy videos a night to avoid information overload. This is what I did.

Postflop 3Bet Pot Advanced Heads Up Mastery Course Material

The next section continues with a breakdown of how to play postflop in 3Bet pots from both the small blind and the big blind.

The discussion here once again is highly technical including numerous examples from Doug's own high stakes database.

He also makes use of "Game Tree" analysis to teach you 3Bet pot decision making from a mathematically correct point of view.

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review

Doug then goes on to discuss when to bet versus check the flop in the big blind in 3Bet pots, double barreling, triple barreling, AQJ combo breakdown for calling down, delay CBets and barrels.

The next section of Advanced Heads Up Mastery focuses on teaching all of these same concepts from the perspective of the small blind this time including exact value betting and bluffing ranges.

Finally, the last section breaks down the theory and strategy behind playing 4Bet pots. Since so much money goes into the pot preflop here, the decision making is not quite as complex. Nevertheless, no stone is left unturned here either.

Heads Up Versus Sauce123

The very final section of Advanced Heads Up Mastery is called "Play and Explain." It is basically just what it sounds like. Doug plays heads up and explains his actions at the same time.

But this isn't any old heads up match.

This is an 11 part 4-tabling session versus one of the best heads up players in the world, "Sauce123" aka Ben Sulsky.

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review

In this epic heads up session where Doug plays against Ben at $100/$200 the amounts of money flying around are staggering. You are truly getting an inside look at heads up poker played at it's highest level possible.

This section of the course is honestly worth the price of admission alone. Quite simply, you get to watch two of the best heads up players on earth go at it.

And of course this includes getting to see Doug Polk's hole cards for every single hand as he explains exactly why he makes the decisions that he does.

Final Thoughts

The Advanced Heads Up Mastery course is the most comprehensive heads up No Limit poker course that I have ever seen. And what's better is that it is taught by one of the best heads up poker players on earth, Doug Polk.

The amount of content and high level analysis that went into the making of this course is truly overwhelming at times.

This is why I recommend that you study this course over weeks and possibly months. Do not try to take it all in at once.

I want to re-iterate as well that Advanced Heads Up Mastery is by no means meant for beginners or those just starting out at the lowest limits.

This is a very high level course meant for serious poker players who want to take their results to a world class level. And that is why it comes with a pretty serious price tag as well.

But when you think about the potential value that you could make from this investment if you are looking to succeed in high stakes heads up poker (millions of dollars), this is quite frankly a steal.

And the best part of all is that you get to learn it all from the very best. Doug Polk is a 3-time WSOP bracelet winner with winnings in the millions of dollars both online and live.

You can learn more about Advanced Heads Up Mastery right here.

Let me know in the comments below if you have tried the Advanced Heads Up Mastery course.

Note: The links in this article are affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you I may earn a commission if you choose to purchase this course.

Advanced Heads Up Mastery Review