May has been profitable in terms of money and improvement. 

 

I finally made it to the river!

Let me explain what I meant by finally making it to the river.  When I first came to PSO a year and a half ago, I was a turbo tourney player with a decent understanding of the preflop action; shoving/calling ranges, ICM, fold equity, relative stack sizes, etc.

Then I joined the first Full Ring vs 6-Max challenge in order to improve my postflop game which I knew was lacking. At first I had two gears. If the flop fit, I bet/raised, if it didn’t I check/folded. (This worked surprisingly well I might add.) A few months later, Dave told me that I needed to correlate the preflop action with the postflop action. This one sentence fundamentally changed my understanding of poker and my approach to the game.

This one sentence forced me to focus on ranging opponents rather than just staring at my cards. It also forced me to consider how my actions would affect the range opponents were putting me on.

Moreover, it forced me to quit looking at the preflop, flop, turn, and river as a separate and unrelated situations, but rather as being dots in a row. All the dots can be connected with a “line” and must be regarded in relation to each other! This is how we narrow a villain’s range and can plan our actions, our line, accordingly.

Perhaps this is obvious for cash game players, but I had been playing tourneys for five years without really considering it. Suddenly, listening to Gareth talk about “lines” and how many streets of value bets we can expect started to make complete sense! 

I’ve spent the last six months trying to truly understand this one sentence and how to incorporate it into my play. Now, I finally feel like I am drawing a mental line through all the dots from the preflop action straight through to the river. I am finally thinking in terms of “lines”. Consequently, I am value owning myself less. I understand the value in passive lines such as bet call call. And I am able to play a much wider range of starting hands without getting lost on the turn and river.

I still have a long way to go, but for the very first time, I believe I am thinking like a real poker player.

Quite a few members/trainers/hand analyzers here at PSO have helped me take important steps throughout this process - thank you all! In particular a huge thank you goes to Dave for turning my head away from the shadows so that I might truly perceive the game! 

To continue with this process, I plan on re-watching quite a few of the cash game videos. I expect to get quite a bit more out of them now that I better understand the fundamental way of thinking. I am quite excited about this!

May 6-Max Challenge

With the end of May also comes an end to my 6-Max challenge. Check out that thread if you want stats, graphs and hand histories. Let it suffice to say that I have been profitable on all formats and buyin levels all month long. I was able to cash out a decent chunk of money from my bankroll which made my whole family happy, and I started broadening my poker repertoire by adding 6-max into the mix.  Playing 2NL has been a huge confidence booster, but more importantly, playing a new format heightened my focus and resulted in some major improvements to my game.

I started the 6-Max challenge on a whim. Basically I was curious how 6-max compared to Full Ring. What have I learned you ask?

Same Game, Different People
6-Max Zoom isn’t that different from Full Ring Zoom. It is just NLHE after all. The first time I was going to play 6-Max, Dave told me to view it as full ring in which the first three positions had folded. That was good advice, and pretty much how I have been approaching the game. There has been one noticeable difference though, especially at 2NL and 5NL. Full ring seems to attract more of the super tight nits whereas 6-Max has more of the agro maniacs.

At 6-Max I had to create a new label entitled “AI pf overbettor” because I so often encounter players who regularly open shove +100bb stacks, or who make huge all in 3-bets to my preflop raises.  For example: this Boom hand.

6-Max Advantages
You get to play more hands in 6-Max than in Full Ring. Playing more hands is always fun, but it has a few other advantages as well.

Firstly, I am gaining experience and practice faster than on FR because I am actually getting involved (not just folding) in many more hands each session. I play 1000 hand sessions. On FR I would be involved in about 130 of those whereas on 6-Max I’m involved in closer to 200. I’m actually playing 70 hands more per hour!

I am by nature one of those FR super tight nits I mentioned earlier. 6-Max is improving my overall game by taking me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to play more postflop situations. I can’t just rely on the strength of my own hand. I have to rely more heavily on my reads and ranging skills. If playing 6-Max helps me to better develop those skills, then my overall poker level will improve. It was through these murky postflop situations that the stuff above about thinking in lines finally started falling into place.

Finally, there are two other factors that are important to me. Firstly, since I’m playing more hands, I’m accruing FPPs faster. That is always nice! Secondly, being on a 6-Max table gives me considerably more space for my HUD. On FR I keep my HUD stats to one line just to avoid clutter, but 6-Max has plenty of space. I am working on a new HUD setup with two lines allowing for twice the number of stats. This should be immediately beneficial.

NOTE: If you are a beginner, or losing player, I would strongly recommend playing full ring. FR can teach you patience and allow you to learn the fundamentals thoroughly. If you don’t have those skills yet, then the advantages mentioned above such as playing more hands and relying on reads will be a disadvantage resulting in you losing money faster. 

Plans for June
I need to rebuild my bankroll before I can even consider getting back to 25NL Full Ring. Plus, 6-Max seems to be working for me. Most of June I expect to play sessions with 4 to 6 Zoom tables running. I play 6-Max and Full Ring with a pretty similar style somewhere between ABC and TAG. This allows me to play both formats at the same time without getting confused. For example, I will play a six table session with four 6-Max Zoom tables and two Full Ring Tables all at the same buyin level, or I will play a four table session with three 6-Max at my current buyin level and one 6-Max at the next buyin level. Basically the 6 table sessions are primarily for building my bankroll whereas the 4 table session focus more on improvement. 

I also plan on playing as many PSOSOP as possible.

All in all, May has been a great month, perhaps the best! The pieces of the puzzle finally started to fall into place.

Best of luck in June and have fun at the tables!

Roland GTX