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Q&A: Hand History Reviews and Ranging and Avoiding Bloated Pots | Episode 131


Sky Matsuhashi

on March 31, 2017

I answer two listener questions about doing hand history reviews and assigning ranges as well as avoiding bloated pots with weak hands.

In case you missed it, in episode 130 I answered three Q’s about making the leap to full-time pro status, using outs and odds to make good decisions and facing good players.

Q1 From Robert: Hand History Reviews (1:40)

Robert wanted to know how to properly do session reviews


Hand History Reviews are the best way to spend your off-the-felt study time. Videos, books, podcasts and articles are great for learning info, but HH reviews are where you see how well you’re putting to use the info you’re learning.
Use PokerTracker 4 and Flopzilla or Equilab when reviewing hands.

I always start with the hands I’ve tagged from the previous session, or maybe the biggest losing hands if things went terribly the night before. I also review hands by hole card strength, especially if I see some very weak hands played from earlier positions.

Start your reviews by assigning a range to your opponents and narrow that range as the hand progresses through the streets. Part of your HH reviews is learning what you can about each opponent you’re up against. When you spot something worth remembering, take a note of it within PT4 under that player’s note editor. You want this note available to you during future sessions. Try to think about their player type and just make sense of their actions. Did that play make sense? How do you play in similar spots? Would other player types play differently? How can you exploit this in the future?

You’ve got to understand why you made the street by street plays you did. If you catch a mistake, take note of it in your poker journal. Also commit to not making those mistakes again. You can help yourself avoid these mistakes by reviewing them in your warm-up before each session.

Action Items

Turn each of your mistakes into an “Action Item” for your play sessions.

Mistake: called too much to chase your draw on the flop and turn

  • Action Item: Compare the pot odds with the equity of your hand before you decide to continue with a draw

Mistake: failing to cbet when your opp’s Fold to Cbet stat was very high

  • Action Item: Always check the Fold to Cbet stat before you act on the flop

Join me for 28 Days of Poker Study as I celebrate the release of my new book: How To Study Poker Volume 1.  I'll share with you everything I study and every technique I use during my challenge starting on April 2nd.  Click here to learn more and to join.

Q2 From Danny: Ranging and Avoiding Bloated Pots (7:05)

I need to work on assessing stats & ranges on players that fall outside the obvious. Ex: What to do in position against a player with a 45-60% cbet range? What to do against a player with cbet stats of 55-45-38 (flop turn river). I'm comfortable exploiting the obvious over or under bettors, but these mid ranges are tougher. My other leak I think is getting involved in too many big pots- cbetting too much or turn betting too much. This aggression bloats the pots and then I have to face tough decisions with one pair type hands on the river.


You have to use Flopzilla.  It’s the best software around for understanding ranges and how they interact with boards.

Do 1 or 2 hand history reviews every day with all the steps I outlined in the previous question.  Pay attention to the “Statistics” section in Flopzilla to see what types of hands their range hits.  The more work you do like this off the tables, the more these numbers and ranges enter your thoughts as you play.

Over time you'll get a sense for how often ranges hit flops.  If somebody’s cbet is at 70%, but their range hits the flop only 34% of the time, then you know that 1/2 of their range is weak.  Adjust to this and play accordingly.

Make hand ranging your in-game focus when you play.  Mentally assign the pfr a range in every hand, then try to think about how often that range hits the flop worthy of cbetting for value.

When it comes to avoiding bloated pots, the first step is to not call 3bets as much.  Devise a range of hands worth calling the three bet after opening and hands you can 4bet with.  (or you can use the KISS Cash Game Ranges)

Also, be much more selective about the hands you 3bet from the blinds.  Playing OOP in a 3bet pot is not a bread and butter situation .

Filters for Bloated Pots

Run a filter in PT4 for “Saw Flop” and “Raised Preflop Any 3bet”.  Hopefully you're making profitable 3betting decisions.

Next, run a filter for “Saw Flop” and “Called a Preflop 3bet”.  This is likely negative.  Run through all of these hands and review whether or not your call was warranted.

Count the number of OOP losing hands vs IP on the flop.  You'll probably find that a majority of these hands were OOP and possibly with hands you should've folded pre.  Take note of these mistakes and create Action Steps to not allow them to happen again.

Challenge (11:35)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

Run those 3bet filters in PT4 that I just mentioned. Find the spots and the hands where you’re losing the most, and resolve to fixing them. Correcting bloated pot mistakes is a great first step to increasing your win rate, or even taking it from a negative to a positive.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Up Next…

In podcast #132, I'll answer two listener questions about keeping your poker study notes extremely organized and getting beyond your fear of being bluffed.

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


Sky Matsuhashi

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