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Poker Question and Answer Episode | Smart Poker Study Podcast


Sky Matsuhashi

on July 27, 2023

You have a poker question, I've got an answer! I love helping my audience figure out the things that are most pressing to them.


Q&A Podcast #448 – Preflop Ranges Challenge, Moving Up, Tournament Tracking, Red Line

Listen to Q&A Podcast #448 as you follow along below:


Question 1 – Preflop Ranges Challenge

I enjoyed your challenge from last week (Episode #446 – Steal, Steal, Steal! Challenge), and I'm looking to do more. What challenge do you think I should do? – JD

I wasn't going to do another challenge again so soon, but JD's question inspired me!

I was in my Poker Forge Discord group and I saw a post from Roy. He's crushing it with over 25,000 hands played while strictly using the KISS Cash Game Ranges at 5nl, 10nl and 25nl. So, I'm going to do what he's doing!

I'm going to play 5,000 hands at each of these stakes on Ignition Poker and see what results I can achieve. It's been a long time since I tried to play strictly KISS Ranges, and I'm hoping it will be fun doing so on Ignition Poker.

I think this is a really good challenge for players who are having a hard time playing profitably up through 100nl. These ranges will have you playing a tight-aggressive style, which is going to give you a mathematical advantage against your looser opponents at the microstakes.


Challenge Goal: Profitably play 5,000 hands of 5nl in one week using the KISS Cash Game Ranges.

I'll be 4-tabling 6max and it should take about 15 hours to get there. Eeek! That's a lot of poker in one week, and it's tough for me to play that much.

After 5nl, I'll repeat for 10nl and for 25nl. I'll report back later on the podcast with my results and tips for using the KISS Cash Game Ranges.

The KISS Cash Game Ranges (get 'em above) are the same ranges from my Preflop Online Poker book and I've given them out on the podcast before and they're the same ranges that I give to my poker for students.


Question 2 – Moving Up In Stakes

My question to you… what is it like going up in stakes in online cash games? I'm guessing there's an overlap in skill between all the stakes and that it's not a straight line of skill increase along the way. Any advice for moving up? – Darren

When moving up, you're generally going to find a greater proportion of aggressive and competent players. However, there are still plenty of players making mistakes that you can exploit, and even the good players are exploitable.

From 2nl to 10nl, the player pool is basically the same and full of fish, but progressively you'll find more regs as you go.

Starting at 25nl you'll find professional players making a living from poker. These players probably live in low cost of living countries.


Tips for Moving Up

Keep looking for the fish! They're the ones who make poker profitable. So table selection is still a valuable strategy for making money.

Take stabs at the next stake gradually, just one table at a time.

  • When you feel ready to move up, cut your tables to 2 or 3 with just one of them being the higher stake.
  • So, you might play 2 tables of 5nl and 1 table at 10nl. Or just one of each if you're going to play on 2 tables.
  • If the software allows, view chip stacks in BB's, not $'s. That way, you don't see the amount of money at risk, everything is just in BB's.


Follow the 40x buy-in rule for your bankroll.

  • At 5nl ($5 buy-ins), you should have 40x in your bankroll, so $200.
  • For 10nl, have $400.
  • When you get near $400, maybe like $350+, take a stab at 10nl 1 table at a time.


Continue playing just one table at a time of the higher stake. Review your hands and learn how they play. When comfortable, add a second table.

When you reach 40x buy-ins, and if you want to, make the complete move up to the higher stake. But, be ready to go back down as necessary if you get hit by a string of bad results and you drop down to 35x buy-ins.


Question 3 – Tournament Tracking

I play on Ignition (with the PokerTracker 4 “Hand Grabber” – affiliate link), but mostly tournaments. I’ve been doing very well in PKOs. However, I find the actual bounties are not imported to PT4 and credited as cash won. I know you play mostly cash, but have you come across this issue before? Also, any $25 or above tournament is not recorded at all. I know this relates to the “version” or either PT4 that I bought, or the hand grabber I bought. Do you know which one, or is it both? – John C.

I think the hand grabber grabs all hands, but you need to have the full version of PT4 to get all the higher buy-in tourneys recorded.

I don't think it's PT4's fault when bounties/results aren't tracked properly. Sometimes the sites don't record that important information in the hand history files, so PT4 has no way of gathering it.

I recommend that you manually track your buy-ins and bounties and payouts won with a piece of paper as you play. I record the buy-in, the rake, my finishing position and any payouts manually.

Let's imagine you play a PKO and end up collecting 3 bounties: $10, $20 and a $30. And, you win $80 upon getting KO'd.

Go into PT4 and find the tournament. Right-click and “Edit Tournament”. Make sure all the details are recorded properly.


Garbage In, Garbage Out

You want to know how profitable you truly are. Of course, your online bankroll will tell you how much money you won or lost this month. Maybe at the start of the month you had $1000 in your account, and at the end of the month you have $1,200. Great, you have $200 profit right there.

But, you want to see on a tourney-by-tourney basis how profitable you are. Maybe you're losing a ton of money in all the $10 tournaments you play, but you had a super big score in a $50 tournament. But because the software isn't recording all of this, you could be deluded into thinking you're doing great in these $10 tournaments.

Accurate results allows you to analyze them to find areas of opportunity for you to work on.


Question 4 – Red Line

I want to ask, about fixing the Red Line, I know it's very vast topic, but what do you think is the number one factor that can affect the Red Line? – Nektarios

Yep, vast topic for sure.

The Red Line is a graph in PokerTracker 4 that shows your non-Showdown winnings. If you win a lot of pots without showdown (by betting or raising and getting them to fold) then you have a positive red line. If you lose a lot of pots by folding early, you'll have a negative red line.

The #1 factor that can affect the red line is entering a hand pre-flop with a plan for how to steal it post-flop.

Whether calling or raising preflop, our ranges don't hit a pair or better 65% of the time. This means that the most likely way to win will be to successfully bluff at some point.

That's why I did the Steal, Steal, Steal! Challenge two weeks ago.  I wanted to build my preflop and post-flop stealing skills. By doing so, I'm winning more pots and my red line will be positive for it.

Depending on how you enter the hand preflop, make a plan:

  • Before calling, know the raiser's cbet tendencies. What street is he honest on? Does he fold to donk bets? Is he a one-and-done cbettor?
  • Before raising, know who the likely callers will be. Do they fold a lot on the flop or turn? Are they sticky with any draw and any pair? Can they use their position against you?

The more thought you put into how you can steal the pot, and if you're able to pull the trigger on steals, the more non-showdown pots you'll win and the better your red line will be.



Sky Matsuhashi

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