On this episode of our podcast, Zac Shaw interviews one of Red Chip Poker’s most active and outspoken members to give you some insight into the mind of a seriously dedicated poker player.
He goes by “Persuadeo” and if you’re a Red Chipper, we’re sure you’ve seen him dispensing great advice in the forums, or may have read his excellent poker blog. You might have even seen him on a recent Live at the Bike episode 4-betting Shaw with eights and getting him to fold jacks, but we’ll get to that later.
Persuadeo is a cash game player, mostly at $5 and $10 blinds. His home base features a $500 max bet so he’s looking to move on to a new location. He described the strategic implications of this $500 max bet as “a no limit game” through the flop and then a “huge limit game” for the turn and river.
“It’s silly but it’s profitable,” he said. “If you’re in a true no-limit area, count your blessings.”
Persuadeo decided a few years ago to quit his day job and go pro — the dream of all poker players. His blog chronicles this choice in detail. He was burnt out in his job, and poker was his “savior”.
“My friends and I had a couple of bankroll challenges”, he said. “I did really well in the second one and got myself a bankroll. That coincided with really needing to move on.”
Player Feedback in Poker
Persuadeo said he is not a big reader of poker books and does much of his poker study in consultation with others. This comes as no surprise to Red Chip Poker members who see him frequently in the forum.
He explained that he thinks of poker 24/7. “By giving advice and receiving advice, I get the information I need,” he says.
He went on to describe the difference between the Red Chip Poker forum community and other poker forums. He’s not the first player to point out that other poker forums can be full of trolls and bad attitudes, while our forum is noticeably free of such negativity. He was introduced to Red Chip Poker via Ed Miller’s Poker’s 1% book, and never looked back.
Build Your Own Poker Training Material
Continuing on to the subject of mental game and playing A game, Persuadeo said he used to be “not the best” at mental game until he challenged himself to correlate what was going on with his life and his poker results. The correlations were striking, and he made adjustments that had a huge impact on his poker game. Some of those adjustments were fairly obvious — sleeping and eating well, for example. Others were less obvious, like avoiding playing poker after turmoil in his personal life, as it tended to bleed over.
By having this mental game quiz to correlate his life to his poker results, and pampering himself a bit before sessions, he invariably puts himself in the best mindset to win.
“If I didn’t do something right, I need to go back and correct it immediately,” he said, adding that when he encounters obstacles, he tries to replicate the situation and make the right decision in his next session.
He said he might use Equilab to do analysis for some hands, but mostly he thinks about ranges and hands away from the table constantly, honing his poker mind day in and day out.
What Do Full-Time Poker Pros Exploit
We asked Persuadeo what weaknesses he exploits in other players. C-betting was at the top of his list. He said many players at lower limit games simply don’t take the board or opponent ranges into account when they decided to C-bet or not. It’s not so much their frequencies are off, but they just lack a plan and couldn’t explain why they’re c-betting in that spot if you asked.
“People don’t really use board textures very well,” he said. They don’t think about how their range work against their opponents’ range, and they “play blindly.”
He also mentions bet sizing in live games as a leak he exploits. As simple as the process of counting out chips and putting them in the pot is, there are huge information leaks to exploit.
The biggest thing to exploit, he said, is many players’ failure to plan poker hands ahead of time.
“On a hand for hand basis, when you’re dealt XX, you should think about the position you’re in, all the stack sizes around you, all the players, and how and why you’re going to do what you’re going to do for every hand,” he said. “Without that, you’re giving too much away.”
His advice for developing a plan? He suggested only playing a small, select number of hands in your next several sessions, but playing those hands to the best of your ability, with fully thought-out plans that you’ve developed away from the table and think through thoroughly when you’re in the hand live. He said this will be “exhausting” but totally worth it, as the thorough think-through will develop into poker intuition and bleed through into the other hands you play.
Study to Play Ratio in Poker
Persuadeo said his study-to-play ratio in poker is probably quite high in terms of amount of study compared to play. This is because he is constantly thinking about poker, contemplating hands both passively throughout his day and actively during dedicated study time. He also plays short 4-5 hour sessions, and staying in that short-session sweet spot means that there’s a lot of study that leads up to his play.
Advice for Going Pro
Persuadeo had some great words of wisdom for players aspiring to take the game more seriously and perhaps even go pro:
“If you’re not thinking about the game on your own, you’re not really a poker player. You’re just enacting other people’s material.”
This is something we’ve heard Red Chip co-founder and coach Christian Soto talk about a lot — seriously dedicated poker players aren’t just taking the strategies in training material and implementing them. They are creating their own edges, developing their own movings, and finding ways to exploit the fact that others are generally just implementing well-worn strategies. The only way to achieve this level of edge above the common player is to contemplate poker deeply and frequently, and to create one’s own strategies for one’s specific games and opponents using what’s out there as inspiration.
Doug Hull’s flop texture spreadsheet as mentioned by Persuadeo is here.
Persuadeo on Live at the Bike
The podcast concludes with a brilliant strategic analysis of a hand Persuadeo played with Shaw on Live at the Bike during the 2nd annual Red Chip Poker meetup.
The hand went a little something like this: Red Chipper Skors raises UTG to $15, and Shaw makes it $40 on the button. Persuadeo ends up 4-betting with 88, getting both players to fold. Persuadeo explains how he suspected Skors to be opening wide in early position, and expected Shaw to have a strong but not premium hand like nines, tens or AQ, based on the smallish bet sizing compared to other bet sizing he had observed previously.
The hand analysis at the end of the podcast demonstrates Persuadeo’s higher-level thinking and the reason why he’s a successful pro. It gives the average poker player a great example of a poker mind to aspire to.
Thanks to Persuadeo for taking the time to chat with us, and we highly encourage you to read his poker blog for more great insights.