It’s been a while since I came to you with a Strategy in Action episode. There are many reasons for this, but first and foremost, I was taking my time putting together a more respectable vlog, where my focus is going to start going more and more. Here it is, please let me know what you think in the comments:
A few more reasons: I’ve been busy, I didn’t get much studying done over the summer, and my results were fittingly both boring and sad.
A couple of months ago, I traveled to Las Vegas for the 3rd annual Red Chip Poker meetup. The original intent was to produce an episode around the Vegas sessions, but after winning a little, I donked off a stack when my AK ran into AA on a king-high rainbow board, and later I got stacked again when my aces were cracked by queens after getting it all-in pre-flop. On top of those losses, I punted a stack in a PLO8 hand and bled most of another stack playing 8-game mix with Red Chippers and coaches. All of it was a blast, but a very unprofitable blast! If there was one takeaway, it was that it was hard to focus on playing my A game while having so much fun, and also trying to work at the same time, documenting the trip for all of you. It proved to be an impossible balance to achieve.
When the smoke cleared, my $1/$2 bankroll had taken so many hits, I was now back down to my golden buyin of $300 (well, $362 to be exact). Doug Hull talks about the ‘golden buyin’ in the podcast we recorded about bankroll management. Basically, if you’re a recreational player but you want to treat your poker bankroll like a professional, you can look at it as always trying to run up that first buy-in. Either you build a bankroll and never have to hit the ATM again, or you find yourself back at the cash machine withdrawing another ‘golden buyin’.
I was one step away from having to go back to the ATM for the first time in this whole last year of playing $1/$2 and studying to beat it. There was only one thing left to do: Study!
Wait. I still had the problem where I didn’t have any time to study.
But one thing I had been playing around with was trying to figure out a way to study during times I would otherwise be daydreaming — while doing the dishes, driving, things like that. And I decided the best way to do this would be to game out situations in my head that came up often in the $1/$2 games I was playing.
For example, something that would happen a lot would be I’d raise AQo or AJo from MP or LP to my standard $12 +$2 per limper, and I would get two or three callers in all sorts of positions — the button, the blinds and those who limped behind. Then on the flop I was faced with something around a $50 pot deciding whether to c-bet and how to size that c-bet. I wanted to feel really comfortable in spots like this that came up a lot, and gaming this situation out in my head was going to help.
But I needed something to focus on, and I arrived at SPR as the best thing to pay attention to. Here’s a great primer if you don’t know what SPR is already:
Confidence is all about knowing what’s coming next, and knowing you can react to surprises too. By focusing on SPR in the specific situation above, I realized that most often I’m going to have effective stack size around 200-300 on the flop, meaning I’ll have an SPR of 4-6. If I bet, say $35 into $50 on the flop and get one caller, now the pot is now $120, and effective stacks are closer to 165-265, we’re looking at an SPR of 2.5 at best, probably less. That’s stack-commitment SPR levels right there. So from a post-flop planning standpoint, putting a c-bet out on any flop meant playing for stacks if I made it to the turn.
I had been working with Doug Hull earlier to plug my common leak of c-betting too frequently, and this helped me appreciate why slowing down is good in some spots. I still may have committed this leak error in the had depicted in the video (let me know in the comments), but at least I now have a much better awareness of SPR considerations when making decisions at the table.
The Next Chapter
After SugarHouse, I’m playing more poker than ever, heading to Rivers Casino, a Red Chipper’s home game, and probably another Northeast casino before checking in with you on my next vlog. I have greater ambitions than just a typical poker vlog (which this kind of is) and big plans for creating a monthly video that is both full of strategic value for the studying player, and full of entertainment value for viewers at any level. Stay tuned!