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Online Poker my darling… be my Valentine? | Podcast #278


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 13, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day! On this special day, I'm asking online poker to be my Valentine and I'm sharing with you the reasons why I love her.

Some of the things I love apply to both online and LIVE poker. But, because my realm is the online realm, it’s what I know, it’s what I love and I want to share it with you today.

Why Online Poker is my Valentine

Open 24/7

The online realm is open 24 hours per day.  When I was a LIVE player, there weren't any games worth playing until 11am or so.  I’m a morning person.  Sometimes I get the hankering to play poker at 8am after the kids go to school.

If you haven’t tried online poker yet, I recommend it.  I love that you can play in the comfort of your home for tiny stakes at any time of the day.

Listen to this Episode: Online Poker my darling… be my Valentine?

I love the Cheap Practice

When the buy-in is only $2 or $5, you can practice all the aggressive and costly plays you want.

Need to work on 3bet bluffing?  Go to town at the $2 or $5 tables for a fraction of the cost of a LIVE $1/2 game.

Poker Tracking Software

I’m in love with my PokerTracker 4 (get PT4 and support the show!). It’s the best money I’ve ever spent in poker (other than $25 for Flopzilla).

I love how PokerTracker 4 records every single hand I play. And even when I fold the hand, it keeps track of the action so I can review the play of my opponents after the fact.

I can go through my database and group the results by different situations. For example, maybe I think I am the “bee”s knees” when it comes to cbetting. So I filter within PokerTracker 4 for cbetting on the flop, and I see a piddly win rate of 122 bb/100 hands, this dispels any myths that I hold in my head about me being terrific it cbetting.

The results of running such a simple filter can be eye opening.

And now that I found this area of opportunity, I can work through all of my cbetting hands to see how I can improve my strategies.

I can even filter for and learn from these situations:

  • Cbet opportunities I passed up on.
  • Hands where I cbet, got called, then I checked on the turn.
  • Cbet on the flop, called a raise then at showdown I ended up losing 50bb’s through my botched play.

Maybe I should ask PokerTracker 4 to be my Valentine?

Heads-up Displays (HUD’s)

I can't mention my love for PT4 without also saying how I love that the online sites allow me to use my Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4. The HUD allows me to spot my opponent’s tendencies super quick.

For example, I can have just 10 hands on a player and have a good idea of their style of play. Maybe “Wally789” just sat at my table. I didn't notice because I was focused on other tables. 10 hands into my history with Wally, I look at the HUD readout and see that VPIP = 80% and PFR = 0%. What does that mean? Well, I just stumbled across Wally the Whale. With only 10 hands played against him, and without watching a single one, I know this is the “mark” at the table and I should play as many hands as possible with him.

Maybe my Smart HUD should be my Valentine. Hmmmm?

I Love Fish

Fish are loose-passive players who play way too many hands and the only things they love are; 1) seeing flops, 2) making strong hands like straights and flushes, and 3) cracking AA with 9d5d. Because they can’t think beyond their 2 cards and the board, they make decisions that are pretty face up, so they're easy to play against.

With the most fishiest Fish like Wally the Whale, they are the best targets at the table. Whenever you find one, stay at the table until you earn all their chips or they choose to leave. It’s like being on a hot streak at a craps table; you don't leave until the hot roller's turn ends.

Check out this Fish-tastic podcast episode:

I Love Isolating the Fish

I also love isolating the Fish to get them heads-up with myself, especially when they limp into the pot and I have position against them. But, when they call frequently from the blinds, that's good as well. It's great when you've found a Fish who calls a lot preflop but they fold when OOP against cbets frequently. They bloat the pot preflop with calls then quickly award you the pot post-flop.

God, I love poker.

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together (regardless of the results)

Sometimes though, these isolation raises against Fish just don’t work out so well.

But if you read the signs correctly and saw that your exploitative play is like printing money in the long run, don't hate the results. You should be happy that you pulled the trigger on an exploit you devised that had a high chance of success. Sometimes the Fish is at the top of their range or hit a good pair on the flop.

A-game Play

I love it when everything is clicking and I'm playing in A-game mode. This is often the result of warming up and being in the moment by removing all distractions. I’m focused intently on each hand I’m dealt. I'm making great reads and great folds, bets and raises. A-game play is what I always strive for and I absolutely love poker when I’m in A-game mindset, regardless of the results.

Turbo Tournaments

I love the turbo format. A turbo online tournament has only 5 minute levels, but because you don’t have to wait for a dealer and the action is quick, you get more hands in one level then you do in a nightly LIVE tournament with 15 minute levels. When I play in those nightly tournaments here in town, if I make it to the final table and get paid, it’s often 4 hours of work. And if I don’t make the money, I could be there for roughly 3 hours or so and earn $0 for it.

But when I play a turbo tournament online, those often reach the money within about 2 hours or so. And they often end, at least at the site I play on, by 3 hours-ish. So I get my tournament fix in less time and if I don’t catch, I didn't spend too much time on the felt.

Sit and Go’s (SNG's)

And related to tournaments, I love one table sit and goes. You get your tournament fix in a much shorter amount of time, which is lovely. It’s also great that many SNG players are notoriously weak and bring their terrible tournament play skills to the 6max and FR tournaments.

SNG's allow you to sit back and show patience while your less knowledgeable opponents knock each other out. I can’t tell you how many times I was card dead, did not play a single hand and still made it to the pay bubble still with roughly 1,400 chips. I love SNG’s.

:55 breaks

I'm a huge fan of the 5-minute breaks at :55 of every hour. LIVE tournaments breaks for 10-20 minutes every 60 to 90 minutes. Screw that. I much prefer the more frequent 5-minute breaks in my home without lines at the john and soda in the fridge.

Poker is a Game of Skill

I love how poker is a game of skill. The harder you work at it, the more success you find because poker relies more on skill than on luck. Poker rewards luck quite often, but I believe that skill wins out in the end.

If I were to give poker a skill to luck ratio, it’s probably 80:20.

Other forms of gambling like blackjack, that’s 20:80. And craps? That’s probably 5:95 (with the only skill being the ability avoid the complete sucker bets).

Fun, but no skill required.

Poker Skills Translate to Life

There are so many poker skills that translate to life, like patience, mindfulness and paying attention to details (among many others). All of these poker skills translate to the outside world as well.

For example, I believe in the power of studying and working to be 1% better every single day. It really works for poker as I've been studying every day for years now and I feel my skills are way more improved due to that study. I apply this to things outside of poker as well. Like right now, I'm learning Japanese in preparation for a trip to Japan later this year. I used to live there for 1.5 years teaching English, and I learned a little bit of Japanese at the time. But, that was 18 years ago so I’ve forgotten a lot. Right now, I'm studying Japanese for 1 hour/day with my Pimsleur app.

Hajimemashite, douzo yoroshiku. (How do you do? It's a pleasure meeting you.)

Watashi wa Sky desu. (My name is Sky. I'm a big fan of sunsets, whiskey and unicorns. Not in that order.)

I love Japanese.

My Poker Business

I love how poker is allowing me to support my family with this business. It's all thanks to the support of YOU, my faithful reading and listening audience. You are listening to the podcast, telling your friends, buying my books, signing up for the Poker Forge, buying my webinars and so many other things. I truly do appreciate and love all right alongside of online poker.


Sky Matsuhashi

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