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Poker Study Groups, MTT Opening Ranges and Bubble Play | Q&A | Smart Poker Study Podcast #85


Sky Matsuhashi

on August 6, 2016

I answer 3 listener Q’s about learning with your poker friends in a study group, my MTT opening ranges and dealing with adjustments for bubble play.

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


Poker Study Groups, MTT Opening Ranges and Bubble Play

Question 1 from Mike (2:20)

Good Afternoon Sky!
I have another question for you that might be an interesting topic to talk about.
As you know I host a bi-weekly relatively low buy-in poker tournament game with a big group of friends and acquaintances. Some of the more serious guys in my group and I are talking about getting a small group together every other week to talk about poker outside of actually playing a game. What types of things do you think would be good to go over? Any particular format you think would be more beneficial for the group to follow? Our plan right now is for everyone to bring at least one interesting hand they saw in a video, or a discussion from a podcast, or something they read in a poker book for us to debate/discuss or work on our math, etc.
Thanks again!
Mike @utgpoker on Instagram

  • Good format to start, but I’d love to see it eventually morph into something else in the future: discussing a specific topic from week to week where everyone will consider it ahead of time and bring their thoughts, ideas and questions to the group. You can actually lead this and choose topics to discuss. You can do lots of research online, watch videos, read articles and books, and bring your findings to the group.
  • But for now, everyone will have different hands to discuss and it should make for some interesting talk among many different subjects. You should have a list of questions ready for each hand you bring to the group to help add to the discussion.  Great types of questions:
    What's our range here as the pf 4bettor?
    What's villain's range here for calling the 4bet OOP?
    What reads on the villain could aid our flop decision? What history might come into play?
    What's the break-even on our call on the flop? How often is he bluffing, and with his bet sizing how often does it have to work?
    What do you think the equity of your hand is vs the villain's range? (and have Flopzilla or an equity calculator available to find the answer)
    Listen to episode #82 where I discussed the importance of asking the right questions when studying poker.And one other thing, I want you to treat this as an opportunity to teach others what you know. When you do this, you’ll tend to start teaching on a subject b/c you’ll be the one coming most prepared each week.
    When you teach a concept, whatever the concept or area of study, there are 4 benefits we gain from it:
    1. A greater understanding of the subject matter
    2. Improved social and communication skills
    3. Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
    4. Personal growth through challenging oneself

Question 2 from Isaac (10:50)

What is your opening range for Microstakes MTTs?

My ranges start off pretty tight in EP and MP, and I’m stealing plenty in the CO, BTN and SB.  My ranges tighten as the tourney progresses and my stack size in BB's starts to decrease or as other people get to push/fold mode if I've still got a big stack.

Here are my opening ranges by position for MTT's when in early and mid-stages:

EP (UTG thru MP1) 22+, ATs+, AQo+, KJs+, KQo, QJs – 10.7% or 142 combos

EP opening range

MP (MP2 thru HJ) 22+, A2s+, ATo+, KTs+, KJo+, QTs, 76s+ – 17.9% or 238 combos

MP opening range

CO 22+, A2+, K9s+, KTo+, Q9s+, QTo+, 75s+, 65s+, T9o+ – 32.1% or 426 combos

CO opening range

BTN 22+, A2+, K7s+, K9o+, Q8s+, Q9o+, J9o, T7s+, 75s+, 65s+, 87o+ – 38.2% or 506 combos

BTN opening range

SB same as BTN until I know the BB defends a lot.

My CO, BTN and SB opening ranges can expand or contract based on who is in the blinds.  Very nitty players and I’ll open more, very loose players who fight back a lot, and I’ll tighten up.

Question 3 from Isaac (16:10)

 Well, talking about the open ranges that you sent me; how do you calculate the ranges for bubble play and near the final table bubble? I have BIG problems on those and I think that will be the key to breaking the micros.
  • When it comes to bubble play and the final two tables, my ranges might tighten up but they won't expand much.
  • Everything is situational at the money bubble and final table bubble.  I'll look at the players at my table and determine who to best steal from, who to call shoves against, who to resteal against.  I restrict my steals to only the BTN and CO, and generally adopt a very tight SB range depending on my BB opponent.  I'll pay particular attention to the players in the CO and BTN when I'm in the blinds as I might need to defend against them for some needed chips or to stop them from taking advantage of the bubble to chip up for themselves using my blind money.
  • I'll look to see which players are likely to call down lighter than normal and I'll restrict my shoving and reshoving ranges against them and mostly go for value.  Beware the LP players that will call 15bb shoves w/suited Aces and mid-pp’s and broadways.  It’s great they call with these weak ranges, but that means I shouldn’t be shoving bad Aces, small pp’s or suited middle cards.  If I’m stealing, I want a reasonable chance of success, so I don’t want the loose callers to still be in the hand.  I'll try to steal liberally from nits and look for good spots to jam or raise over limpers to pick-up a lot of chips.
  • These situations take a lot of practice, and I'd recommend reviewing all of your bubble hands the next day after you play the tournament.  Becoming a better bubble player comes from lots of play, paying attention to your opponents and learning from your mistakes.

Up Next…

In podcast #86, I'll answer 6 listener Q’s (from the Ace-High Poker Group) about gaining poker XP, bubble dominance, blind stealing, MTT TAG play, multiway equity and ICM considerations.

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


Sky Matsuhashi

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