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Beginner Poker Skills, Bovada HUD Usage and a Future eBook | Q&A | #67


Sky Matsuhashi

on May 27, 2016

In today's Q&A, I answer 3 listener Q’s about what beginning players should understand about poker, using a Bovada HUD and the subject matter of my future eBook and other exclusive content.

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


Beginner Poker Skills, Bovada HUD Usage and a Future eBook

Question 1 from Dave (1:30)

I am a donk. Where do I begin with my studies? I have many, many of the old school books (Sklansky, Caro, Brunson, Malmuth), but so much has changed. I love your podcasts but some of the concepts (esp the math) are over my head. I am going to purchase the Ed miller book ‘The Course’. You have done a great job presenting it! Please HELP.
  • The very first place to start is to understand what hands are profitable to play from each position and to create your own hand ranges that you follow as you play.  In the very first chapter of ‘The Course', Ed Miller discusses the considerations he puts into creating his own hand ranges, and how they increase in size as the position gets later.  Follow Ed Miller's recommendations exactly for a few weeks.  If you've never thought about hand ranges before, then strictly following his well thought-out ranges will save you brain space as you play.  Once you get used to the ranges, you can start to add/subtract hands that you feel comfortable or uncomfortable playing.
  • The next thing you should do is get a program like Equilab from or Flopzilla.  These programs allow you to calculate equities of hands and ranges, and can give you insight into the strengths and weaknesses associated with the hands you choose to play.  Flopzilla is especially good for hand reading opponents when you eventually get to working on that skill.
  • So, for your Q about poker math, the most important math to remember is the breakeven equation.  And that is the b/e point = bet (or call)/total pot (with the bet/call included).
    • How often do you have to win to make a profitable river call?  = your call (the bet) / total pot (after your call is added).  Example – call 4 to win a total pot of 20 (with your 4 call included) = 20%
    • How often does your 3bet bluff have to work?  bet / total pot.  Example – bet of 5 to win total pot of 15 (with your bet added) = 33%
    • How often does your draw have to hit in order to make a profitable call? call / total pot.  Example – call 3 to win total pot of 10 = 30%
  • Make sure you listen to podcast #’s 17, 45 and 55 for lots more math.
  • Something else for absolute beginners is to start having a reason for every bet you make.  This is a leak that many players have.  Your bets should do one of two things:
    • Get players to fold better or to laydown good draws (bluffing)
    • Get players to call with worse or pay too much for draws (value betting)
  • Once you start to think this way, your bets will be more successful as you'll automatically consider how strong your opp’s hand likely is.  Listen to podcast #49 for more on this leak of betting with no reason.

Question 2 from Big T (5:50)

Hi Sky,

Thanks again for your answer about pocket pairs a few weeks ago. I am playing them more often now, not always successfully, but it made me win a few big pots I was very happy about!

1- I’m playing online poker only on Bovada, so do I really need a HUD, and if so, why? 

2- Hand review.

There's one EP raiser, we’ll call him player A. Another short stack player B calls. I 3bet on the button with AQo. The blinds fold and players A and B both call.  So I’m IP, 3way and the flop comes Ac8sQs.  The pot is 2700 chips, A has 2,100 behind, B has 1,000 behind and I have 1,600.  A goes all in (he covers me) and B (short stack) calls.

I KNEW that A had a flush draw. Not sure if it was a reasonable guess but it is what immediately came to my mind (easy to say it was a good guess now).  I suspect that B has a flush draw as well even though I thought he might have called with an Ace…Either way, it doesn't matter since I think the player who's covering me is already on a flush draw.  I call, the turn is another spade and I know that I'm out of the tournament. B ends up winning the pot with a better flush than A.

Now that I'm reviewing it, I realize now that A also had a straight draw (it goes fast during the actual game and I hadn't noticed that).  So, this leaves me with a few questions:

1- Should I risk my tournament knowing that a spade on the turn or river means I'm out? I thought the odds were good, but I'm still not sure I should have called with 2 pair.

2- Is there any other mistake I made?

3- I would probably not call a 3bet preflop with TJs or A3s as my opponents did. Especially not if I were A and didn't know what B would do.  Am I wrong and should I call 3bets more often when I'm in their position?

Thanks again for your podcast!

Big T 🙂

Here's the HH text:
GAME #3387517657: Texas Hold'em  NL  Tournament 2016-05-06 03:48:21/GMT
Table $500 Guaranteed (Turbo DS) (#9997580), 263292 (Tournament: $500 Guaranteed (Turbo DS) (#9997580) Buy-In: $3+$0.30)
Seat 1: P142_651839MF ($3,000.00 in chips)
Seat 2: P45_466635UK ($5,930.00 in chips)
Seat 3: P126_999008IY ($5,292.00 in chips)
Seat 4: P11_455538KH ($1,790.00 in chips)
Seat 5: P9_466867VW ($2,130.00 in chips)
Seat 6: P66_766095QL ($1,615.00 in chips)
Seat 7: Hero ($2,615.00 in chips) DEALER
Seat 8: P37_594341BN ($3,803.00 in chips)
Seat 9: P28_523101XN ($14,847.00 in chips)
P37_594341BN: Post SB $75.00
P28_523101XN: Post BB $150.00
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [DA CQ]
P142_651839MF: Raise (NF) $340.00
P45_466635UK: Fold
P126_999008IY: Fold
P11_455538KH: Call $340.00
P9_466867VW: Fold
P66_766095QL: Fold
Hero: Raise (NF) $830.00
P37_594341BN: Fold
P28_523101XN: Fold
P142_651839MF: Call $490.00
P11_455538KH: Call $490.00
*** FLOP *** [CA S8 SQ]
P142_651839MF: Allin $2,170.00
P11_455538KH: Allin $960.00
Hero: Allin $1,785.00
*** TURN *** [S4]
*** RIVER *** [H3]
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $7,630.00 Rake $0.00
P142_651839MF: Shows [S10 SJ] Flush, Queen High
P11_455538KH: Shows [S3 SA] Flush, Ace High
Hero: Mucks [DA CQ] Two Pair, Aces and Queens
P142_651839MF: wins $2,035.00
P11_455538KH: wins $5,595.00

1) Bovada is an anonymous site, you’re just playing with player numbers that change with every new tourney or cash table you’re at.  This makes it so you can only accumulate statistics on a player during the current session you’re playing with them.

I don't think you need a HUD for any site, but as long as you know how to use it properly you'll be better off.  As an MTT player you might play anywhere from 20-200 hands with any one player depending on how lucky you are that your table doesn't break up.  Even over just 40 hands you can get a good read on an opp's tendencies using the Bovada HUD.  The most useful HUD stats over small sample sizes are VPIP, RFI, 3bet, attempt to steal, fold to steal and cbet/fold to cbet.  If you were using a HUD with lots of different stats like 4bet and WTSD and whatnot, those stats wouldn’t be so helpful over small sample sizes.  But if your HUD just contains the stats I previously mentioned, then you'll be better off than if you didn't use a HUD.  So, I recommend using one if for nothing more than to just see VPIP, PFR and 3bet to get a good sense of the player type you’re up against.



Plus, poker tracking software is also good for storing hands for review off the tables.  Even if you don’t do so now, having a database of hands you played that you can analyze for leaks is extremely valuable.

2) Hand History Answers:

1) Absolutely, you were right to make the call.  Looking at the pot odds you needed to win, your all-in call of 1,785 was going to win a total pot of 7245, so you only had to win 25% of the time.  The flush and straight draws will only complete about 40% of the time, meaning you're going to win 60% of the time (I calculated this by the outs they had: 7 spades and 3 Kings = 10 outs out of the 43 cards remaining in the deck, will only hit about 40% of the time).

2) I think the mistake you made was not 3bet shoving pre-flop.  Your 3bet and their calls made the pot 2,850, but you only had 1,785 behind.  You can see that player B in the MP only had 960 behind.  Normally at <20bb's, my 3bets are shoves b/c of this stack to pot ratio problem.  On the flop you had less than a psb in your stack.  You would’ve been better off 3bet shoving pre-flop.

3) I think they made decently profitable calls pre because of your sizing.  Make it at least 3x the open to make it much less profitable for them to call.  In general, their plays here are losing plays and at their stack sizes they should be 4betting or folding.  Now, the UTG player A could call and shove any flop, making for an often profitable stop & go play.  But other than that, they should both fold to your 3bet due to stack sizes and the weakness of their hands.  They aren't getting good implied odds to continue.

Question 3 from Firaga (15:00)


I will be VERY happy to pledge my support in the near future once I can take care of some personal financial goals.  Can you give any more insight as to what the strategy videos and/or ebooks might cover? I don't know how far in the future you plan your projects but I am interested in hearing about it.

Also, have you enjoyed using WordPress? I am considering using them for hosting a blog (part of my being accountable for my goals) but I am hesitant to commit to a site.

Also, super quick update. I decided that HUSNG are the best games for me right now. (if you don’t remember, Firaga was the one that asked about which discipline to stick with for future profitability and longevity) HUSNG’s combine my desire to learn cash game concepts (all decisions are based on cEV, not ICM) and hand reading with my knowledge of push/fold poker and turbo/hyper turbo experience.  Early results are favorable but too early to get excited. Thank you very much for your last email!

Best regards, Firaga

  • For my first eBook, it will be a book related to studying poker and will cover all of the techniques that I use to get the most out of my time studying.  Future eBooks will cover things like the most important topics to master, in order of importance (you might have heard mention the minimum effective dose, or MED, before). The videos will be on different topics, all things that I will only release there, not in my YouTube channel nor the podcast.
  • I currently use WordPress for my website.  It’s super easy to use.  I have zero coding experience and with WordPress and all the available plugins I find it very user friendly.  From my understanding, once you own a domain and create a site, all that content is yours.  So if you don't like the platform, you can migrate everything to another.  I don't know about the logistics of doing that, but I'd imagine there's a way to take your WordPress site and move it over to Squarespace for example.  But do some research first.
  • Good luck with the HUSNG play!  It's a tough discipline, but I think it will help every player improve their skills.  Some of the best players in the world are HUSNG specialists, so I hope to see you competing with them someday.


I'm heading to the Colossus this year, and at there’s a great article about the adjustments they made to the tourney structure for the Colossus this year.  30 minute levels instead of 40, with antes kicking in early and a level being skipped.

The article talks about how crucial it is to get active early and how accumulating blinds/antes early on will be key.  Don’t late reg and make sure you’re on time b/c by the end of the third level, if you’re still at starting stack you’ll only have 33bb’s.  If you’re heading to the Colossus, I suggest you check out the article by clicking above.

Pokernews is also putting out lots more articles for those traveling to the WSOP this year with lots of good tips on how to make the most of your trip.  Just visit for the strategy articles.

Up Next…

In podcast #68, I'll continue the ‘Hand Reading Lab' series and dive into the benefits of Flopzilla, how it helps in hand reading and the many other uses of the software.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.


Sky Matsuhashi

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