Playing for Bread & Butter is the #1 profitable poker strategy.
Not only does B&B poker earn you more chips, but it also makes poker more fun, exciting and less frustrating.
This page will teach you how to put yourself into this most profitable situation more frequently and how to exploit non-Bread & Butter players. Plus, we'll dive into your PokerTracker 4 database to see just how much more profitable you are in B&B than when NOT in B&B spots.
Bread & Butter Poker: #1 Strategy for Profits
Listen to this podcast #381 as you follow along below:
Bread & Butter Poker is one of the best things I learned from Tommy Angelo’s book, Elements of Poker. If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend you picking it up right now. Tons of good strategy and lots of good poker mindset information within.
As Tommy Angelo explains it, there are 3 parts to Bread & Butter Poker:
- You were the preflop raiser. This means you have the flop initiative and can make a cbet. You also have the best starting hands in your range, and the players who called don’t.
- In position on the flop. Position gives you more information to base your decisions on through the streets. Plus, you can pot control by checking behind or you can make sure money goes into the pot.
- Facing 1 or 2 opponents. The less opponents there are, the easier it is to get value or bluff them off their hand. Many weak players who like to call see multi-way pots, and that makes them harder to win.
Bread and Butter poker applies to any form of Holdem poker. SNG’s, MTT’s, cash, home games, LIVE or online.
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3 Strategies to Get More Bread & Butter
The most profitable poker players hunt for Bread & Butter situations. And let me tell you one super important thing about this, you can’t hunt for (nor can you even stumble into) a Bread & Butter situation if you’re calling.
You have to leave your calling ways behind and become more of an open-raiser, in isolation raiser and the 3bettor preflop.
And when I say “leave your calling ways behind”, that includes limping and over limping. One critical aspect of hunting for B&B is that you are not creating multi-way pots by passively building the pots giving players yet to act better odds on making the call.
Just think about that for a second: your call builds the pot and gives better pot odds to everybody remaining in the hand. Sometimes the LAG players will take this opportunity to make 3bet squeezes. But most other players are going to take the opportunity to call in order to see the flop in a larger pot. This makes for multi-way hands where often the only way to win it is to hit the flop with the strong hand or draw.
Let’s equip you to head out into the field and hunt some bread-and-butter.
There are 3 things that you need to incorporate into your game and into your mindset to become a more profitable poker player.
#1: Play with a Bread & Butter Mindset
I talk about playing focus sessions where you might be working on one specific strategy at a time. This week all your sessions are devoted to making good cbets, or continuing more often vs cbets or bluff 3betting your opponents as often as possible.
You want to focus on one strategy at a time because that’s what’s really going to ingrain it within your skill set.
But, it would not be a mistake if you spent every session you play from now on with sole focus of putting yourself into as many B&B situations as possible.
It would be like a car salesman knowing the type of walk-up customer that’s most likely to buy a car and always being on the lookout for them. Let’s just assume it’s a man with a nice polo shirt and slacks, wearing an expensive pair of sunglasses and neatly trimmed hair. If the car salesman looks out of the lot and sees a man that looks like this and 3 cars down from this person, this is shabby dressed teenager, it would be a mistake to approach this shabby dressed teenager before the put together man.
This exact same thing holds true for you on the felt. It would be a mistake for you to do more calling than raising. It's a mistake for you to defend your blinds more often than you open raise from the cut off and the button. It would be a mistake for you to over-call or over-limp into a pot instead of 3betting or iso-raising.
With a bread-and-butter mindset, you are constantly searching for and putting yourself in the most profitable of situation which once again is being IP on the flop, as the preflop raiser and against 1 or 2 players.
#2: Be an Aggressive Raiser, NOT a Passive Caller
Have the attitude of:
“If it’s not worth raising, it’s not worth playing.”
That doesn’t mean a hand is never worth calling preflop, but it does mean you’re always on the lookout for opportunities to raise.
Utilizing ranges that limit your calls and call for lots of open-raising, isolating and 3betting is a great way to do this.
You can use my KISS Cash Game Ranges from my book Preflop Online Poker, or you can find others or develop your own.
You want to open-raise and isolate more from the CO and BTN, so your ranges should be the widest in these spots. From the MP and earlier, stay nice and tight. Because the more you open from those positions, you open yourself up to lots of IP callers as well as 3bets.
You also want to 3bet more frequently in the CO and BTN, especially against aggressive open-raisers. If somebody open-raises 25% of the time in the EP, their range is too wide to be profitable when facing 3bets.
3bet 'em to put yourself in Bread & Butter.
If they fold a ton, that’s great! You’re often going to pickup a quick and easy 4bb+ with your 3bets.
If they don’t fold a lot versus 3bets, look for a high Fold to Cbet stat, preferably at 60% or more.
The other thing important idea to getting more B&B is to limit the calls, especially out of the blinds. Keep your calling ranges very tight and if you choose to call, do it with hands that are ahead of the majority of their raising range. It’s okay to call with AT versus an opponent who open-raises every Ace. But it’s not okay to call with A8o if they only raise with AT or better.
Keep in mind that when you call in the blinds, you’re giving your opponent a B&B situation. If you always remember this, you’ll find yourself folding more often in the blinds, and that’s a good thing. Giving your opponent B&B is the same as handing them your chips.
#3: Bigger Bet Sizes Avoid 3bets and Isolate the Weak
You can’t control your opponent’s actions, but you can influence their decisions with good bet sizing that pushes them toward the action you want them to take.
Aggressive 3bettors make more 3bets versus 2bb open-raises than against 4bb open-raises. So, if you want to dissuade them from 3betting, size your open-raise closer to 4bb’s.
Most of the time with open-raises, you want to either get everyone to fold or one of the OOP blinds to call.
Even if you have AA, if everyone folds, you win the pot. If only one or both blinds call, you’ve found B&B. The problem comes when a LP player calls, taking away your position and making it more likely the pot goes multi-way to the flop. Sure, you’ve got AA, but against 3+ players, you’ve got tons of landmines to dodge.
Make your open-raises large enough to get only the blinds to call.
This same rationale holds true when you’re isolating limpers. They limped, which makes them a weak player. If you’ve got a hand you want to play HU against them, iso-raise to a size that will dissuade the rest of the players from calling and from 3betting. I recommend 6bb+1 per limper to accomplish this.
It's fun iso-raising to 9bb’s against 2 limpers with a hand like ATs. I know that the person who calls this large size after limping is one of the weakest players at the table, and my ATs has great equity against their limp/calling range.
When it comes to 3bet sizing, always go 9bb+ at a minimum when IP and 10-12bb+ when OOP. You need to make it enough to get everyone to fold or just one player to call. If you make it 6bb’s over a min-open-raise, you’ve just made it very tempting for flop-loving Fish to call. Your 3betting hand just built a huge multi-way pot, and that’s not B&B especially if somebody called you with position.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:
Use the strategies you learned above, and strive to put yourself into 100 Bread & Butter spots this week.
Track this in your poker journal. Select a fresh page and at the top, write these words, “I will get Bread & Butter 100 times this week” along with the dates.
Now, for every B&B spot you put yourself in, make a tick mark. Track it for every session this week and then total it at the end.
In the next part below, I’ll help you dive into your database to see how profitable your week of 100 B&B spots was.
Now it’s your turn to take action do something positive for your poker game.
How Much More Profitable is Bread & Butter Poker?
I bet a lot of my audience takes my word for the profitability of Bread & Butter spots over other spots. But, I want to do more than just tell you what these spots are.
I want to show you, in your own database, the truth of this. I'm teaching you how to fish!
The goal here is to spur you into action and get you to hunt for as much B&B as possible.
Also, doing the work I'm about to show you will wake you up to some leaks you need to address.
Listen to this podcast episode:
Or, watch it on YouTube and click-along with your PokerTracker 4 database:
Use This Spreadsheet
Use These Filters
If you need help running these PokerTracker 4 Filters, watch the video above and follow along with me.
1. Saw Flop In Position:
2. Saw Flop as the Preflop 2bettor:
3. Saw Flop Heads Up:
4. Bread & Butter Heads Up:
Edit each filter above as necessary to help you find all the win rates for the spreadsheet.
My Personal Results Over 15.5K Hands
Record these numbers for yourself and let the results spur you to ACTION!
Any losses you find (negative win rates) are signs of potential leaks to plug. Plug your leaks by reviewing related hands and finding your mistakes, learn better strategies and use them in-game.
Pay attention to where your Wins > Losses.
- Let this propel you to hunt for profitable spots.
- Avoid unprofitable spots.
- Learn better strategies in unprofitable spots.
Analyzing my results above:
- I must continue to strive for as much Bread & Butter as possible.
- Plan for additional callers when going for B&B. Also work on post-flop skills in 3-way pots as the preflop raiser.
- Work on my BTN and SB calling, and turn calls into 3bets more often.
Using Bread & Butter Strategies Against the Fish
Because Bread and Butter is where most of your profits come from in any form of NLHE, you want to put yourself into this spot as often as possible.
Your fishiest opponents, however, haven’t learned this. They don’t even realize that this situation is where the profit comes from.
Because they don’t understand this, they’re constantly getting involved when they're out of position or in multiway pots or too often as the preflop caller. They’re doing everything they shouldn’t be doing (great for you!).
It’s your job to put yourself in as many Bread-and-Butter situations against these players as possible.
There are 3 major parts to this, so let’s get into them.
Listen to this podcast episode:
Part 1: Find Players with Fishy Symptoms.
#1: Not Knowing About Bread and Butter Situations
The general idea is that the more calling and limping they do, the more likely they don’t know about B&B. Callers allow themselves to get to the flop without initiative, often out of position and their call isn’t doing anything to limit the number of players in the pot. In fact, their call elicits more callers.
#2 Being a Losing Player
Losing players can be identified in one of two ways: general player type and looking at objective data from your poker tracking software.
In general, Whales, Nits and Maniacs are the most likely losing players. LAG’s and TAG’s can be as well, many of these players know how to play profitable poker.
If you have 2,000 hands or more on a player and their win rate over that small sample is negative, then consider them a losing player.
#3 Calling Too Frequently
These stats are key indicators of too frequent calling:
- Call 2bet at 20% or greater
- Low Open/Fold to 3bet at < 30%
- Low Fold to Steal at < 50%
- Limp > 10%
- Limp/Call > 40%
#4 Willingness to Play Out of Position
The stats just mentioned are critical, and higher %’s at earlier positions are what you want to look for. 2bet Calling at 30% is good, but that might go from EP at 15%, MP at 22%, CO at 30% and BTN at 50%. This player is at least a little positionally aware. A better target would be 30% across the board with even higher calling out of the blinds.
#5 Terribly Unprofitable Calling Hands at Showdown
A player occasionally showing up in 3bet pots after calling preflop with KTs and 44 is one thing, but a more profitable target would be showing up with 75s, K2s and Q9o. The worse their showdown hands, the more bottom line building potential there is when playing against them.
Watch this podcast episode slideshow on YouTube:
Part 2: List the Exploits
Exploiting the First Symptom: Not Knowing About Bread and Butter Situations
Open-raising every single time the target is in a blind position.
Tag every fish with the word “FISH” in your player notes and color-code them green.
Exploiting the Second Symptom: Being a Losing Player
Get involved in as many B&B situations as possible against them.
If they lose money with too much post-flop aggression, call down lighter. If they lose by calling with marginal hands, bet thinner for value and beware of their raises on wet boards.
Exploiting the Third Symptom: Calling Too Frequently
Use larger-than-normal bet sizings for your value iso-raises, value open-raises and value 3bets when you expect them to give you action.
Value bet big post-flop, especially on wet boards. If their Fold to Cbet is high, bluff them frequently.
Exploiting the Fourth Symptom: Willingness to Play Out of Position
Expect a call when you iso-raise them, so make your play with hands better than their calling range. Use proper sizing in an effort to get just them calling.
Don’t bluff steal with little-equity hands like J2o. Keep your steals restricted to decent hands that can compete with wide calling ranges on the flop.
Exploiting the Fifth Symptom: Terribly Unprofitable Calling Hands at Showdown
Make sure your holding is at the top of their range (giving you more preflop equity and a better chance of earning post-flop value).
Make BIG value bets post-flop when the fishy player is capable of calling with marginal pairs and any draw on wet boards.
Part 3: Pull the Trigger
Now that you know what you’re looking for in the fish you want to target and you have a list of exploits to work from, play focus sessions of 1-2 tables where you actively try to exploit opponents with this leak. Test out the exploits and tag every hand where you have the opportunity to use it, whether you do or not. Study each of these tagged hands in your next study session. Look for any mistakes, commend yourself when you do it well, and refine your exploits to use in your next play session.
Successfully exploiting this leak in others may require more study, but don’t back down now. You’ve plugged the leak, now it’s time to utilize that prior work to earn more chips.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:
Pull the trigger on your fishy player exploits! This is critical. Knowing who and how to exploit is one thing, but if you never do it, you’re missing out on all the profit potential these players provide you.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
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