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!

Showing 9 comments
  • justin trofholz

    I think that @Ed Miller add to range hand is suited as in A2-A5 suited, but I could be wrong. Thanks for the vid!

    • Zac

      Yes, I think you are absolutely right. Oh well, glad I flopped two pair!

  • Ed

    you know what would be cool?
    if you told me you were going to be a SugarHouse BEFORE you went there.
    I only live about an hour away, jerkface! lol
    then there could have been a fish at the table for you to pick on.
    unless it was between 8/3 & 8/6. then I was at Watkins Glen anyway.

    maybe next time.

    • Zac

      Ed, can’t believe missed the opportunity!

      Come join our Northeast meetup thread:

      I always try to announce where I’m going to be, and I’m trying to get better with making time to hang with Red Chippers AND play. I’ll see you next time.

      • ed

        yeah, I need to start lurking on the forum at least.
        btw – did you consider Parx? it’s < 20 miles from Sugar House & usually has twice the number of tables running. (according to Bravo).

        and thank you for not getting a cheese steak while in Philly.

  • Persuadeo

    Nice vlog, highlighted by original music, which is a big improvement over most. As for your your A5 hand, you played it fine, more to the point is how poorly your opponent did. He reopened the betting on a board he should have few raises on.

    • Zac

      Glad you appreciated the original music, it feels essential. And phew on feeling like I played the A5 hand OK.

      Next time I am going to get some opinions in the forum BEFORE I publish my own hand analysis… and maybe pick some more interesting hands.

  • Matthew

    Mmmmm….hot dogs. If you’re a foodie, be sure to hit the Reading Terminal market next time you’re in Philly, if you haven’t already. The Roast Pork Sandwich at DiNic’s is the nuts.

    A5s to balance. Not A5o. What was your plan if you whiffed? What was your plan if you flopped top pair only on a dry board? Or wet board? Boy, that guy played it pretty bad as explained. God bless him.

    Save AJo for the cutoff or button. And fold that rag in same positions if you’re facing an open raise from a proven nit. You’ll live a longer healthier life.

    Thanks for the Vlog. Sugarhouse poker room looks pretty nice.

  • JoeOffsuit

    Hi Zac!

    I believe Miller has AA, KK, and A5s in his “5-bet shove” range (which is of course a subset of his “3-bet raise” range), but I don’t believe A5o made is in any of his “2-bet open raise”, “2-bet call”, or “3-bet raise” ranges.

    That said, with 2 diamonds and 2 broadways on the flop, and yes the only reasonable hand ahead of us being 55 with zillions of other hands we are beating in his min-raising range, bet/shove IMHO is a great line on the flop. Well played.