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Abusing the Button Part 2

Posted by BlackRain79

Hey guys here is Part 2 as promised. If you have any questions or comments about the hands please post them below. Still don't know how to embed on here so I'm just direct linking to youtube.

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Abusing the Button Part 1

Posted by BlackRain79

Abusing the Button Part 1

Hey guys, I made a couple mini strategy videos for my blog. Today I will be posting part 1. The hands were taken from a short NL5 session that I played a few days ago while working with a student. Unwittingly I kind of played like a maniac overall and especially in late position. I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea here though. While I do think that LAG is optimal at the lowest limits I am only playing 4 tables in these videos. I would never attempt to play like this while 24 tabling. And if I was playing at a higher limit where some of the regs might play back at me some more I would also tone it down quite a bit.

Also, you don't have to open this wide either (I am raising some pretty junky stuff like K2s, T5s). The main idea here is just to open your eyes a little bit if you are currently playing a really nitty game. And believe me I used to be that nit. But a couple of years ago I started realizing just how profitable it was to start isolating much wider than I normally would versus the legions of limpers that you will find at these limits. It definitely was difficult at first because I had it engrained in my head: only play good hands. However when you start to open up your range even a little bit it eventually becomes second nature to you.

You learn to think less about the strength of your hand and instead focus on the strength of your position. As I talk about at length near the beginning of my book, with a huge sample of HEM data to prove it, money flows towards the button in poker in a big way and there is just no denying it. It might seem like an overly simplistic view of things but if we know that the blinds and early position aren't very profitable, in fact losing in the former case, why not just play less hands there? And conversely, if we know that the cutoff and button are wildly profitable why not just play as many hands as possible from them?

This is the overall approach that I have tried to take over the past couple years and I think it has paid dividends in my winrate. I hope you enjoy these two videos and if you have any questions or comments about the hands, please post them below.

I can't seem to get the video to embed here properly with wordpress so I will just link directly to it on youtube.

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NY Giant Doubt

Posted by Jared Tendler

I’m a NY Giants fan. In the run up to the NFC Championship game, I’ve been paying closer attention to what the players and coaches have been saying in the media. Gives me a chance to get a glimpse into how they’re doing mentally, and then connect my estimate to how I see them perform. It’s a great way for me to learn and continue to test my perception. (Plus, with the Giants doing so well, it makes paying close attention even more fun.)

I came across this article about Justin Tuck, the team’s defensive captain. He’s been battling injuries all season and made some interesting comments about how he’s been able to deal with them much better in the past several weeks.

While the injuries haven’t healed, he’s played significantly better because of his attitude towards them. That’s why I’m sharing this article, his situation is very different from what any of you will face, but there’s a lesson to learn.

This is the quote that I keyed in on from the article:

25th Hour

Posted by GiantBuddha

I’m running from the law down a too-well-lit corridor. In my hand is a magenta sheet of paper bearing my sentence – 5 years, 9 months. I can recall neither my crime nor how I got cornered in this stupid building. All I know is the fear of confinement. I must be free.

I open my eyes in a too-dark room. I can recall neither where I am nor how I got here. All I know is that I’m not running.

Germany. I’m not breaking the law, but I have run from it, from what calls itself the law and then changes its mind. I’m here to play poker, and I sleep with my computer.

The screen sears my eyes as I ask it the time. It’s almost low noon. Another six hours on my Kickstarter. I visit the page and find my project fully funded.

It’s like Christmas morning. An emotional one-eighty. Two people put me over the top at the same time – a friend and a stranger – and then there was a third.

More pledges roll in before the closing bell rings. I smile in gratitude, just before dawn in Germany.

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Week 2 (Tilting)

Posted by Charette

Hey DTB,

Well this week did not turn out the way I thought it would. Semester 2 has started and I am back at the University and busier than ever. I only have to balance 4 classes, but there is so much reading involved in each one. So school has taking up pretty much all my time this week and has really held me back from playing any poker. Oh well though what can you do school comes first then poker, but don't inform my gf about that one lol.

I was only able to play a couple of 1-2 hours sessions this week and they have not been winning ones. My BR continues to shrink which can be very frustrating. However, it isn't the money that has been lost which frustrates me the most though. I was unable to play my A game all week and  that is the reason for all my frustration. I am going to list some possible things that may have affected my A game this week. This will be just a little bit of an Self realization for myself.

Possible reasons for my C game:

  1. First and foremost with school taking up so much of my day the only opportunity to play is late at night after one has been reading and listening to lectures. So by this time my brain muscle has already been overloaded with work and my focus kind of goes out the door when it comes to logging onto some 18man tournies late a night.
  2. HEM2- Nothing, but problem so far with this new program. My stats were not lining up with the right players and I had to continually  search for the right stats while playing 4 tables. This can become very hectic when your down to short handed play. I thought I had fixed it and everything was lining up, but with the tables switches in the 18mans when it gets down to 9 man the stats would be all over the place . LOL this gets to be very frustrating as well as trying to understand all the new features that go along with the program. This will just take a little bit research and a better understanding of the program.
  3. Not reaching my set targets is a huge hit to the ego. I thought for sure with only 4 classes id be able to play my 100 games a week and accomplish my other targets, but things come up and poker gets pushed aside.  So now one must adjust his goals so that it doesn't affect me mentally. I will be posting new goals at the end that will be more realistic for me to accomplish,but will seriously effect my development in this game. What can you do? Without readjusting and not being able to accomplish these targets every week I believe it will have a major negative effect on how I develop as a player. This will put me in a bad mood at the end of every week.
  4. Stuck at the $3.50's- I am getting tired of playing at such a small stakes and not being able to beat them. I have been stuck there since black Friday and I ended up taking my BR from FTP to Vegas to play and have fun. I ended up coming back home up about 1000, but it all had to be used towards school and could only afford to put 200-300 dollars into my pokerstars account. Since I only had a little BR I didn't want to take the chances of hitting some bad variance and losing it all at the 7.00's. So I figured why not just build it up from the 3.50's then jump back into the 7's when I had the BR for it. Sounded like a great and smart plan, but ended up losing more and more. It can be so frustrating when one knows he has and can beat the 7.00's for a profit, but then just get slaughtered at the 3.50's.

Well that is me in a nutshell as far as I know for now.

Anyways, Lets focus on some positives:

1. Was able to read Collin's chapter on Short handed play. Great chapter was able to read it and then go through my HH's in the situations where it was either 3 handed or heads up and find some of my leaks.  (Thanks again Collin)

2. I was able to read many concepts of table poker by Tommy Angelo which were very interesting and helpful. side note: I was able to work on my ability of not sending out more information than I was receiving. Just the other day I was invited over to play in a 12 man tounry and ended up cashing in 3rd place which was nice.

3. I have renewed my subscription to DTB and will be utilizing it way more efficiently than I did the previous time. (Will be going over Greg's videos again for any concepts I may have missed as well as going over casy's videos again). Sounds like a lot of back pedaling, but I think it will be a great refresher course for me now that I can relate their vids with Collin's concepts and hopefully turn my game around. Im excited to dig in to the vids again.

Goals: Week 3

1. Going to dig into Collin's chapter titled Stack-Dependent Strategy on the Bubble. I really need this one because I seem to bubble lots lol.

2. Will finish reading Tommy's concepts on table poker.

3. Now for games I have been trying to think of a realistic goal: I figure 50 games a week for sure and if I go beyond and above that great.  (4-tabling). This should be reachable and not have me feeling shitty at the end of the week. (This is will be highly dependent on HEM2 cooperating.)

4. And of course HH's I figure 1 hour a day going over hands and discussing them either on the forum or skype.

Thanks for listening guys and GL at the tables.

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It. Is. On.

Posted by GiantBuddha

2012 grind in full effect. I'll be playing 6 to 10 hours per day, almost every day, for the rest of the year. I'm going back to the method I used to build my game up in 2008. Two shorthanded tables or one table heads up. High focus, quality over quantity, repeated hour after hour. Warm up and review, video and study.

In other poker-related news, I've been on a video-making tear. Sledghammer and I just recorded a two-part small-blind mini-series. We covered some fundamentals and some not-so-fundamentals. I've also got four new table play videos in the queue, so look for an increase in Limit Holdem content on DragTheBar.

I'm also doing a small amount of private coaching, available for $75/hour or $300/5 hours, only through my Kickstarter for Zen Madman's Flash Fiction Folio. I'm excited about publishing my fiction for the first time, but it will be easier to focus on poker once the project is done. Only 65 hours left on the Kickstarter, so act fast if you want coaching, the book, or a postcard from online poker tour 2012!

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Overplaying Top Pair Hands

Posted by BlackRain79

Overplaying Top Pair Hands

This past year (since about May 2011 I think) has been interesting in that I have started coaching for the first time ever. I think I have coached somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30-40 people. There have been of course a wide variety of different skill levels. Some have been total beginners. Some have been very solid players. And everything in between.

But all of these people sought my services because they were struggling for one reason or another. And after having worked with this many people I have been able to notice many common trends. The first of which is a general proclivity to spew or tilt more than they should. It is very difficult to "fix" this issue as a poker coach. We can go over the hands and agree that there is bad play from tilt going on and I can lecture on about the importance of staying disciplined in these spots.

But the truth is that at the end of the day it is up to the student to make those adjustments at the table. And I make some of these same mistakes from time to time when I play as well so I would be a complete hypocrit to try and tell them that they must play perfect at all times. As long as you are human, you are going to tilt. I try and tell students to just focus on getting a little bit better over time in this regard. There will always be spew to some extent.

However, another common area of concern that I have noticed is overplaying top pair hands. This is a frequent issue that I have seen to some degree across all skill levels and unlike spew or tilt is something that I can easily discuss and try to fix with them. Now what kind of top pair hands am I talking about?

I am mostly talking about TPTK (top pair top kicker) and TPGK (top pair good kicker) hands on dangerous boards or in situations where you are likely to only get action from better and fold out worse. I am just going to dive into a couple of examples here to hopefully better explain this. Both of these hands were played recently by a current student of mine.

Example #1

NL10 6max

Effective Stacks are 100bb.

Hero opens to 30c from the CO with,


A 15/11/1.7 (702 hands) nit with a 3% 3bet makes it 90c to go from the button.

A 9/5/1.9 (378 hands) supernit cold calls from the BB.

Preflop Analysis

I would actually prefer that we just fold preflop here. If the cold caller in the BB was a fish I think a call would be fine. But when it's all tight regs involved I think our hand plays very badly against their range. That is we are often dominated when we make a pair. And I don't think they ever have anything in their range that we dominate such as,

A9, A8, KT, QT

Also, since they are reasonably competent players they aren't going to spew off a bunch of money with worse hands anywhere near as often as a fish would. So OOP (out of position) I would just fold here. I don't advocate calling 3bets OOP very often as is.

Things change a little bit when it is multi-way, but I would much prefer that there be a fish in the hand. When it is only regs, I would only call here most of the time with a hand like a pocket pair that stands to definitely be the best hand (barring the incredibly rare set over set situation) should we hit.

Hero calls in this example however.

The flop comes,


The BB checks and Hero leads out  for 85% of the pot.

Flop Analysis

I am not a big fan of donk betting (leading into the preflop raiser) very much in general. And this is also something that I have noticed some of my students doing way too much in my opinion. But that is a subject for another blog post and I don't want to get into that right now.

In this spot here, I think donk betting is an especially poor choice. I don't like the sizing either. The main reason why I don't like leading here is because this is a situation where if we get action, it's probably only from better hands.

We already determined that the preflop raiser (the button 3bettor) is fairly tight. I mean he has pretty standard full ring stats and this is a 6max hand! His overall 3bet% is 3 and his 3bet from the button is 4%. This is already quite tight for full ring. This is very tight for 6max.

If we quickly open up Pokerstove we can see that a 3% range looks like this (the hands in purple),

And a 4% range looks like this,

Now Pokerstove distorts things a little bit when you plug in ranges because they include more pair hands than most people normally would but I think you get the idea here. This guy basically only has big aces and big pairs in his range.

So when we lead out for near pot here in an already bloated 3-way, 3bet pot we basically make one of two things occur.

  • He folds his big aces
  • He calls or raises with his big pairs

So anytime we get action it is from better hands. And we force him to fold all of the hands that we are a big favorite against. What's worse is we even take away his ability to make a cbet with these hands and at least put some dead money in the pot. And sometimes he might spike an ace later in the hand and get himself into all sorts of trouble versus our two pair as well.

So it is a lose/lose situation for us to lead out here. The play that I would recommend is to check/call or check/fold. Poker hands often play out like a domino effect and this exact sort of situation is why I advocated simply folding preflop.

By making a mistake in calling preflop we allow ourselves to get in a difficult situation like this. If we check and he cbets he could be doing this with his big ace hands which we beat but he could also be value towning us with his big pairs. Worse yet, we are OOP in a bloated 3bet pot and it will be very expensive to find out which one it is.

Since the opponent here is quite passive and there is another player involved, I actually don't expect him to cbet all that often with his big aces anyways. So I would probably just check/fold in this spot.

Button calls on the flop.

The turn comes,


Hero bets near pot.

Button shoves for a small amount more and Hero calls.

Turn Analysis

I would definitely advocate just shutting down at this point and not putting another penny in the middle. As I said before, I think the button's continuance range on the flop is almost unequivocally only hands that beat us. If we don't improve on the turn I think we are just value betting for him by barreling here.


The river comes,


Button shows A♥A♦

Hero mucks.

Example #2

NL10 6max

Effective Stacks are 100bb.

Hero opens to 30c from MP with,


A 20/7/0.5 (16 hands) virtual unknown calls from the CO.

An 18/15/1.4 (432 hands) TAG calls from the BTN.

Preflop Analysis

Not much to say. Everything is very standard.

The flop comes,


Hero cbets about 85% of the pot.

Both villains call.

Flop Analysis

I think the cbet here is very standard. However I think the sizing is a little bit less than optimal. I would prefer a smaller cbet here of around 60% of the pot. This is a very dry board with an ace on it. Both of these players appear to be reasonably competent so far and so I don't expect to get too much action from worse hands. I expect them to fold with almost the same frequency whether we cbet 60% or 85% here so this just allows us to save a little bit when they actually do have a monster.

If one or more of the villains in this hand were fish I think the larger cbet sizing is excellent. This is because these types of players absolutely will continue will all sorts of worse hands and we just want to start building as big of a pot as possible.

When you make a big cbet and get called by two relatively tight decent looking players on a very dry board like this one, the alarm bells need to go off in your head.

The turn comes,


Hero bets again for 85% of the pot.

CO folds and the BTN goes all in.

Turn Analysis

So as I said, given the flop action I think we really need to be careful here on the turn. I would actually not recommend betting here again into two players. And if I was to bet I would definitely make it smaller now, 60% of the pot. And this follows a similar line of reasoning as on the flop.

My preferred course of action here would be to check/fold versus any reasonable size bet (50% of the pot or more). I do not expect a decently tight player to be floating a near pot sized bet on the flop here with light holdings and then make a good sized bet on a turn card that changes nothing. And I especially doubt that that will be the case when there are two of them.

I expect that one of them will often have a hand that beats us (AK or two pair+). And one of the only actual draws,


got there. Even though I don't expect either of them to have that hand in their range very often, it is worth noting. So I would not advocate barreling the turn here. But when we do and especially when it is a big bet and one of them comes over the top, it is the nuts every single time.


Hero calls and both players are all in.

The river comes,


Button shows 5♠5♦

Hero mucks.

Nathan Williams aka "BlackRain79" is a microstakes grinder, poker coach, DragTheBar instructor and the author of Crushing the Microstakes. Now available in Spanish and Russian as well.

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The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd’s Lawn

Posted by GiantBuddha

Getting close to the completion of my Kickstarter. Towards that end, I wrote an extremely short mystery today. Very short. I imagine I may write a shorter one someday, but not tomorrow. I'm posting one piece of fiction per day on my new Tumblr:, but the story here will follow:

Roger Ackroyd lived in a handsomely appointed house in King’s Abbott. Despite the numerous comings and goings on the day in question, my focus was not on the contents of the house. No, I was sniffing around the verge, uncovering clues that no man could divine. Yes, she had been there. I knew this even before I found one of her curly white locks. I patrolled a minute more and found a suitable locale.

I did what I was there to do and left.

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Week 1

Posted by Charette

What a busy week. I'm back in school now and spent close to 500 bucks on books ( so gross) and I still need one more book. All my classes seem pretty interesting except for shitty women and gender studies this is going to be a tough one to get through.

As for my targets this week I did manage to reach 100 games, but I had to bump from 4 tabling to 6 tabling on the last day to reach my target. It has made me realize that I feel pretty comfortable playing that many tables and might just stick with it. With school,kickboxing and my social life I think 6 tabling will be easier to reach my target of 100 games per week. So we will see how that goes. As for making any money I am sorry to report that I have lost some BIs and that my bankroll is shrinking. It gets so frustrating knowing that I can't even beat the micros. It also seems that even the micro's 18 mans are heavily infested with regs which really doesn't help, but I know if I keep working I can turn things around. Hey worst comes to worst I have to through some more money at this game that I love lol. Oh well.

As you can see by my graph things are not looking the greatest, very up and down and down and down lol.

  • So I completed: 100 touneys
  • ROI%: -10.8%
  • In the money%: 25.3%
  • Winnings: -36.74 (about 12BIs)
  • Time played: 20hours
  • $/hr: -$1.94
  • Avg Buyin: $3.44

$EV adjusted:

  • ROI %: 1.3%
  • Winnings: $4.47
  • $/hr: 0.24

So it was a bad week, but hey things could have been worse I could have 0 dollars in my BR right?

HH's: defintely have been going over my troubled spots and talking about them on skype which really helps. I have found 2 great groups of guys that love to talk about this game and my game is dveloping alot faster because of these guys and I thank you very much for any help you may have offered me. Thank you.

As for my studying targets: I was able to finish a chapter of Colin moshmons book about Calling All-ins and Profitable “Passive” Plays. This chapter was crucial for me on understanding on how to play when I am short stacked and when to open my calling ranges against other villains. I have really enjoyed this book and has also helped me develop my game and feel more confident in my decision making. ( Thank you Colin Moshmon).

I am also in the middle of reading Tommy Angelo's book which is very insightful and enjoy it very much. I originally watched his vids on the Eightfold Path to Poker Enlighment a while back and did not even consider reading his book. I was still tilting lots, but tried to implement his strategies on helping with my tiltlessness. However some of the things in his videos I had forgotten and when I seen his book while surfing the web I instantly grabbed and dug my nose into it. I have now combined my reading of the book with the videos. I will read a chapter or a section in the book then turn on my Ipod and listen to Tommy and Wayne. This has made me better understand the concepts, theories and a better overall understanding of the game. I advise any serious poker player to read this book and watch his videos. (very entertaining). I have read up to the Table poker section and look forward to reading and understanding this chapter even though I rarley get to play poker at a real table, but I feel it will stil be a needed read for me none the less.

Well I think that pretty much sums up my week and my development is coming along well I look forward to the coming week. Hopeflly we will see a nice turn around, but you never know I could get felted this week lol... O well life is good and poker is just for fun. (for Now) =)

Week 2 Goals:

  • Another 100 games (6 tabling) Im pumped to try 6 tabling profitably. I will 6 table till I go broke which isn't much. (about 40 BIs) Not a big deal Im willing to challenge myself and not worry about going broke. I can afford it! PLus I need to 6 table if Im going to reach this goal this week because I am also going to be busy with my studies now that the introductions are done in class and the real work begins. This week is going to be FUN! lol
  • Time to move on to the next chapter of Colin Moshmon's book which is Short Handed Play I look forward to this chapter it will be very crucial for me to take in and understand his concepts and use them at the table. Looks like itll be an interesting chapter can't wait to jump in.
  • I will also be challenging myself to get the Table poker section of Tommy Angelo's book read and understood. I have read a little bit of it so far and I don't want to put the book down. So I will be reading this chapter as well as watching the video that goes with this section. This shal be interesting.
  • And at last my HH's I will continue to go over my hands and take at least an hour away from the tables to critically analyze my games as well as going over the tough spots with the groups in my skype.
  • I am still waiting on Greg zerosum79 to reply to me about the video he wants to make with me on the 18man structure on Drag The Bar. I can't wait to be able to pick his brain and help develop my game so I can beat the damn micos. I want to get into the 7s already and make soem real cash or loose it hahaha.

GL at the tables

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Why Poker?

Posted by Charette

Why Poker?

Was unable to play at all on day 2. So I just read another chapter of Colin Moshmon's SNG book. Read over how to play with a minuscule stack (2-3bb). This book is a must read if one is really interested in trying to grind SNG's. Whether you play 6max or 180man, this book covers the fundamentals and can be applied to a wide array of SNGs. It has really opened my eyes to many spots I have been missing and has gave me a way better of an understanding of the game. Can't wait to dig into Colin's math book because I really need to develop my math skills in poker.

Yesterday I was asked why I waste so much of my time with poker and the question had me thinking for a while as to why I love the game. Made me think why anyone would waste so much time with their hobbies whether it be video games, boardgames, painting, reading and etc. The only logical reason I could come up with is our hobbies are an escape from reality and all the sufferings that come along with it. Of course I'd be lying if I said money isn't a motivation to keep playing this swingy game, but there must be more to it then that since I am still willing to play after being down 50-80bbs. We could say it's my competitive nature whether you want to be believe that being competitive is a natural instinct. I believe it's more then that for me anyways.

For me to answer this question honestly I have to look at my other hobby. I have been training for the past 2 1/2 years in what is called Muay Thai Kickboxing. After the first free day trial I was hooked and could never get away, but why? I don't compete and I don't make money, but I continue to train harder then half of the fighters who do compete. The reason I continue to develop my skills is because I love the art and what it does for my brain and body. It makes me feel great after walking  out of the gym knowing that my brain continues to grow and my body continues to become stronger. It's not the results of my work out that keeps me driving or otherwise I would feel crushed everytime I get beat up when I spar and would probably want to quit.

So this leads me to believe that it isn't competition or money that keeps me coming back.I believe I  kick box and play poker because they are both constantly evolving and changing which means I must continue to use my body and mind. This means that my brain and body is constantly changing and evolving which I believe is for the better. Poker to me is a great brain exercise and I think this is the most important kind of exercise one needs to continue and make sharp decisions in life.

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Goals for 2012

Posted by Charette

2012 Goals in poker

Hey everyone,

First blog ever: Thought I would start off with some weekly,monthly and yearly targets I would like to reach. I wanted to start blogging so I can hold myself accountable for completing the goals I set out. I am an SNG player looking to climb the stakes in the 18mans and maybe mix in some bigger fields as the year goes on.

Yearly Goal: An experiment for me to evolve from a casual player to a part-time player while balancing University,work and kickboxing.

Monthly Target:

  1. 500 games (4-tabling): This may change depending on how my schooling goes. It could turn into 1000-1500, but we will see.
  2. 20hrs of studying HH's
  3. 20hrs of studying and developing my skills (vids and books)"perhaps a vid series a month"

Weekly Target:

  1. 100 games (4-tabling) again this depends on how much time I can give.
  2. 1hr of HH studying with or without a friend
  3. 1hr of studying and developing my skills "perhaps a video a day"

I refuse to use a bankroll goal because this can become very tilting when just focusing on an ROI% or how much money I am making. Yes I want to make money in this little journey of mine, but I would rather be more focused on what things are going through my head while playing and making +ev decisions.

I will be obtaining some coaching from Greg (zerosum79) who is part of Team Moshmon. I look forward to being able to work with him and to see if I should invest in a coach to help develop my game.

I hope to really turn around my poker game and achieve most of these goals I have set out for myself and become a solid SNG/MTT player as time goes on.

A little about me: I am 23 years of age and located in Canada. I am currently going to my local University to obtain a social work degree. My hobbies are Muay Thai kickboxing, baseball, football and poker. I have been playing poker since I was 11-12 years old, but haev only been taking it kind of serious for about 2 1/2 years. I have no other further news other then I am a loosing/breakeven player and looking to get my games in to obtain a real sample.

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Discount Coaching For Fiction Fans

Posted by GiantBuddha

As part of the Kickstarter for my Flash Fiction Folio, I’m offering coaching at about half my normal rate. That’s $75 for one hour or $300 for a five hour package. Each of those comes with the eBook and paperback editions of my first collection of fiction. Sessions can be for limit (small to mid-stakes), no limit (small stakes), or poker theory (including EV calcs and combo counting), and you can split the cost with a study buddy or group.

It’s super simple. All you have to do is participate in my Kickstarter at the $75 or $300 reward levels. Where else can you buy coaching through Amazon?

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Out of the Clouds

Posted by GiantBuddha

I’ve been in Germany for a solid week now, and despite all the novelty – new language, caramel soy pudding – the time has flown by. It took a few days to get some poker sites set up, and I’ve yet to play a substantial number of hands. It’s time for that to change.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working. I’ve drafted an ambitious year-long plan, worked on my flash fiction project, and finished up my Poker Player Bill of Rights. But it’s time to get my grind on. Head out of the clouds, feet on the ground running. Running good, I hope.

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Poker Player Bill of Rights

Posted by GiantBuddha

From superusers to colluders, from shady sites to greedy governments, poker players are constantly at risk of being cheated, swindled, and defrauded. While intelligent players look out for themselves and each other, not everyone has access to enough information to keep safe. There should be an organization keeping an eye on these things, allowing players to focus on playing.

Before an organization can fight for our rights, we first must establish what those rights are. To this end, I have drafted a Poker Player Bill of Rights. I have defined and explained each right, and followed that with an assessment of where we currently stand on protecting these rights.

The full article is on, an independent news outlet built by our own Nick "Hood" Jones.

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German Soy Pudding

Posted by GiantBuddha

After mixed success on the soy milk front, I decided to brave the soy pudding frontier. As you can see, I went a bit overboard and bought all four varieties. Again the results were mixed. The vanilla is mediocre, the dark chocolate is decent to good, the "milk" chocolate is very good, and the caramel ist die Bombe! This may be my lack of recent sugar intake speaking, but it's one of the best puddings I've ever had.

German vegan tip of the day: look for food with the 100% pflanzlich symbol. All plant, all the time. Unfortunately, it's found almost exclusively on soy goodies, but that's a good enough place to start.

This will be my last food blog for a little while. I've got a big piece coming out on pokerfuse tomorrow, and I'm getting some poker sites up and running. More on that soon.

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Ich Bin Strikter Vegetarier

Posted by GiantBuddha

Well, that's what Google Translate tells me, anyway. On Day 2 of my journey, I did a little language research to prepare for the supermarket. It turns out there are a decent number of soy products, including banana soy milk! It's quite tasty. I'll buy some seitan and soysages tomorrow. Sadly, I haven't found any black beans. They're all kidney and baked beans, and all with sugar added. But I got a nice bag of apples for only .99€. The euro is losing steam on the dollar, so my money's going a bit further than I'd anticipated.

My attempts at opening a local bank account were thwarted by my lack of registered address here. I'll try again tomorrow at HSBC, which advertises exceptional service for expats. Hopefully sleep will come for me now and erase the insomnia of yesterday.

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Dealing With Min 3bets

Posted by BlackRain79

dealing with min 3bets

Minimum bets in general are something that you will encounter a lot at the lowest stakes, especially NL2, NL4 (Merge) NL5 and NL10. This is because these limits are populated by more recreational players on average than any other. That's the polite term. More commonly they are referred to as fish!

One of the biggest problems that fish or newer players in general face is a deep misunderstanding of the math of the game. Now anyone who reads my blog, has watched my videos, read my book etc knows that I am not a big proponent of the math side of the game. I advocate knowing just the basics such as pot odds, implied odds and a few basic hand odds such as the probability of a flush draw coming through for instance. All of this information can easily be found with a simple google search and digested in about 20 minutes of reading time.

While knowing this basic stuff is important and will be crucial in certain spots I have long believed that the majority of the decisions that people make at the poker table really just boil down to logic, also often referred to as "common sense."

For instance, if there is $10 in the pot it does not make any logical sense to ever bet $1 because we give our opponent 11 to 1 on the pot. Virtually any hand possible, in any situation possible, can continue given those odds. But players at this level routinely make these plays. Instead of diving any deeper into the why, as I don't think it's very important, I think we should instead just focus on what to do when facing these specific types of bets.

And for the purposes of this article I am just going to focus on min 3bets.

A minimum 3bet just means exactly what it sounds like. Your opponent re-raised you the absolute minimum. This is also sometimes referred to as a CiB (click it back). Because in most poker software there is a button available to bet the minimum amount on every street. This way you can play limit hold'em while playing no limit hold'em. Fun for the whole family!

Minimum 3bets can mean a lot of different things depending on the player type. Sometimes they are the absolute nuts, AA or KK. But I think plenty of people give them too much credit. They are also some broadway hand such as KJ or even a mid pocket pair from time to time. And of course a certain amount of the time they will just be out and out trash as well. So it is important to view them with a pretty wide range in mind.

Now as I often say, I think the first thing that you should look at before anything else in a no limit hold'em cash game is your opponent's stack size. And by stack size I do not mean money. I mean big blinds. You really should train yourself to think solely in terms of them and be able to quickly interpret how many big blinds certain dollar or euro amounts mean at your stakes. I really, really wish poker rooms would just give us the ability to view stacks in big blinds but that is for another rant (I mean article).

There are wide variations in the actions that I will take when facing min 3bets depending on what stack size my opponent has 20bb, 50bb, 100bb, 200bb for instance.

Let's go from smallest to biggest.


There are a couple of things first here. In today's online poker environment I believe virtually all rooms have gone to a 35 or 40bb minimum buyin for cash games and moved all the shorties to CAP or shallow games (thank God). So if somebody has 20bb they have likely lost at least half of their initial stack. The reason that this is important is because it tells us that they are not using the auto rebuy option that most poker rooms also offer these days.

These "stack size tells" can give us a lot of information about our opponent before we ever play a hand against them. Serious poker players and professionals will almost always buyin for 100bb or whatever the maximum amount is. And they will also almost always make use of the auto rebuy feature. So if you encounter somebody with a 20bb stack, they are almost certainly a fish.

Against a 20bb stack there isn't much room to manoeuvre after the flop even in a single raised pot. In a mini 3bet pot there is even less.

Say we open to 3bb and the shortstack min 3bet's us to 5bb. Add 1 more for the blinds and the pot on the flop will be 5+5+1=11bb. Since the shortstack only started the hand with 20bb and has already put in 5bb, he has only 15bb left which is just over a PSB (pot sized bet).

In these situations we can't ever really profitably call the min 3bet preflop and then fold the flop. We will be getting nearly 2 to 1 on his shove (15+11/15=1.73 to 1).

So we need to make our decision preflop on whether we want to continue on with the hand or not. And by continue I mean that we should just go all in. I suppose you could get tricky with AA or KK for instance and just call because it's an easy call or shove on any flop. But the only play that makes any sense the vast majority of the time here is to shove or fold.


Versus a 50bb stack things get a little bit more interesting. Against this stack size we can call a min 3bet in some instances and then fold if we completely whiff the flop. This is because our opponent will have a lot more behind and therefore there is a little bit for us to win.

So while against these guys I would still advocate that you shove or fold most of the time, there is a little bit more wiggle room to call with a decent but not quite premium hand such as,

A♥J♥, A♦Q♠ or T♥T♦

And just get it in when you flop decently well.


Versus a 100bb stack you will need to be calling quite a bit wider versus a min 3bet. When the stacks are 100bb deep and somebody min 3bet's you, it doesn't really change a whole lot about the complexion of the hand. There is still plenty of room to play all three streets postflop. And of course you have amazing odds to set mine or just hit something cool with a suited connector or broadway hand.

Especially when I am IP (in position) I don't think I fold pretty much anything versus a min 3bet given this stack size. Even if I am on the button and opening the trashiest part of my range. Maybe something like,


I would probably still call. The price is too good and I am confident that I can outplay my opponent (especially with the benefit of position) after the flop often enough to make up for my crappy hand.


When the effective stacks (the lowest stack size in the hand) are anywhere north of about 150bb or more there is no hand that I will fold to a min 3bet whether I am IP or OOP. There is just so much stack behind to get (implied odds) that it's worth my while to call with anything. And remember that min 3bet's almost always come from really bad players so I expect to win a big pot plenty of the time when I hit something. Against a reg or somebody decent this wouldn't be the case nearly as often. But you also won't find them min 3betting you very often either.

Player Type and What a Min 3bet Means

Now that I have gone over some general guidelines regarding stack sizes when facing a min 3bet it is equally important to know which player type you are up against. Depending on the player type their range can vary widely and thus significantly impact our decision. Now as I said, it is mostly bad players who will be min 3betting us so I won't even talk about nits, TAG's or LAG's here (the broad banner known as regs).

I am going to be talking about

  • SLP's (semi-loose passives, 24/6 stats)
  • Fish (55/5 stats)
  • Maniacs (75/55 stats)

The first two categories, SLP and fish will have a much stronger range than a maniac when they min 3bet. A min 3bet for a maniac is a standard play. Many of them will literally min 3bet every single hand so their range is enormous.

None of this is an exact science of course but against somebody who has literally half the deck or more in their range you should be routinely just shoving over their min 3bet's when they have 20bb or even 50bb with a pretty big chunk of your range. Make sure to be aware of who is left to act behind you however, especially if you are deep.

Versus maniacs who have 100bb or more I will call pretty wide and just use their aggression against them for the most part. So you can easily call with plenty of mediocre hands such as,

A♥9♥, K♦J♠

And just become a calling station when you hit. There is often no point in raising them because they will just barrel the whole way with a ton of air hands and just put the money in the middle for you. Whereas if you raise they will just fold and only continue the few times where they actually have you beat.

Versus SLP and fish things are quite a bit different. There are definitely some really weak players in this category (ones with an extremely low PFR for instance) who will only min 3bet with a huge hand, sometimes AA or KK only. Versus these types of players I will usually just fold everything but my premium hands if they have a 50bb or less stack and cautiously call if they have more.

But against most SLP and fish their range is decently wide enough to warrant calling or shoving with plenty of my range when the stacks are 50bb or less and calling a lot when they are deeper. I don't really mess around with them much when I don't hit. But I don't really advocate messing around with fish much under most circumstances. The reason of course is pretty simple, they don't like to fold! And in "3bet" pots they will be even less likely to fold.

The great thing about players who make these min 3bets however is that they will often make min bets after the flop as well. So you can easily call their "cbet's" with your whole range and try to spike something ultra cheaply or just check down ace high for the win.

Nathan Williams aka "BlackRain79" is a microstakes grinder, poker coach, DragTheBar instructor and the author of Crushing the Microstakes. Now available in Spanish and Russian as well.

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Welcome to Düsseldorf

Posted by GiantBuddha

I've arrived in Hamburg without incident. New Year's on a plane was frightfully uneventful. I can't decide whether the highlight was when they gave us champagne and people arbitrarily clinked glasses (even more arbitrarily than normal, since it was 11:37 somewhere and 12:37 somewhere else), or when midnight EST passed and no one blinked. But my personal highlight was going through immigration in Düsseldorf.

"What is the purpose of your visit?" the stone-faced officer asked.

"To visit friends and to see Europe," I answered.

"How long would you like to stay?"

"89 days."

He looked up from my brand-new empty passport, then back down at my passport and leafed through it disdainfully. It felt like five minutes before he spoke again.

"So you've never been here before?"

"No, well, not since I was three."

"I see...and how many dollars do you have with you?"

Now, if this was New York, I'd assume it was a mugging attempt. But this is a common immigration question and I was prepared.

"Two thousand in cash, and another ten thousand in the bank." Hopefully not too much and not too little.

"And you can take a long vacation from work like this?"

"I'm a writer, so I don't have to be at home to get work done."

He nodded his approval and turbo-stamped my passport.

"Enjoy your stay."

So I think I found the magic answer to getting approved for a 90-day visa. Have money and be a writer.

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