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Q&A: Not Paying Off, Starting at 10NL and Rash Decisions | Episode 148


Sky Matsuhashi

on July 22, 2017

In this episode, I answer three of your questions about not paying people off, starting at 10NL and avoiding rash post-flop decisions.

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


Q1: Not Paying People Off (1:05)

From Barry: Hey sky, I need help with a major leak: paying people off. I can't help it, but I keep proving myself right by calling when I know I’m beat, like calling an all-in with JJ on a Q high flop.  Do you have any advice or content you could point me towards?  Thanks.

Answer: Paying people off is often a combination of not wanting to believe them, not thinking through your decision to call and not seeing the signs that you're beat.  Here are 7 things I recommend you do

1. Take a Breath

Remind yourself to take a breath before decisions for big amounts. Breathing helps to clear your mind and put you back in control. Practice taking a breath before each hand you play, and before each decision you make.

2. Know the Reason

Have a reason for every bet or call or raise or fold. Of course, every bet or raise is for value or as a bluff. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing.  If you're calling a raise, it's because you think your hand is best, it can hit a good draw or there's a chance to steal in the future.  If you're calling for the “hope” that you're good, it's a bad call.

3. Take a Critical Look Back

Every time you find yourself at the end of a hand and realize that you weren’t thinking through your decisions or your opponent’s range, take a critical look back and figure out why. Were you scared of your AA getting sucked out on that you just bet, bet, bet without considering the board and what he’s calling 3 streets with? Did you lose the hand before, then played the next hand while just thinking the whole time about the previous?  Figure out what’s causing your mental lapses and develop a plan to fix them.

4. Tag the Hand

Create a PokerTracker 4 tag called “GaveValue”. Every time you find yourself giving value in a spot where you should've folded, tag that hand for future study. Then, in your next study session, make sure you figure out exactly what happened to cause you to give the value you know you shouldn't have given

5. Filter for Facing Flop Raises

Run a filter in PT4 for times when you called a raise on the flop and saw showdown. You'll possibly find a huge negative win rate here. (as high as -750BB/100 hands)  That's a huge leak.  These are most often times when you should fold because often post-flop raises equal strength as opposed to bluffs.  You can also run this for calling turn raises and river raises as well and see what those win rates are.

6. Review Big SD Losing Hands

Look at your biggest losing hands that went to showdown. Often times in these big losing pots, your opponents show they're interested in the hand three times or more. When somebody opens the pot pre-flop then calls, that's twice they've put money in.  When they call your cbet, that's a third instance of them liking their hand.  Alarm bells should be ringing.  When they donk lead the turn, that's #4 and should be a huge sign that they like their hand.  As you review the big losing hands with multiple actions on different streets, count the times they show interest, and I bet at 3 or 4 you should've picked up on the fact that your hand is beat by that point.

7. Listen to Episode 23

Listen to podcast #23 and read Ed Miller’s book ‘The Course’.  Skill #2 was incredibly valuable.

Q2: Starting at 10NL (5:30)

From Lewis: Hey sky! I'm listening to episode 130 of the podcast and I heard you recommend to start at $10NL rather than $5NL or 2NL. It would be amazing if you could possibly reply with a few reasons why?  Kind regards, Lewis


I recommend starting at 10NL over 2NL or 5NL for these reasons:

  1. With a 40 buy-in minimum, at 10NL that's only $400.  Most people can spare $400 easily to begin an online poker journey.
  2. With a $2 buy-in or a $5 buy-in, how likely are you to take it seriously?  With only $5 on the line, it's easy to make weak plays and just say, “Well, guess I won't buy that Starbucks tomorrow, so I'm even.”

This same mindset is in play for your opp's at 2NL and 5NL.  10NL is when they start taking it more seriously, so I think it's a better place to begin.

Q3: Rash Post-flop Decisions (10:50)

From Josh: I think my biggest weakness or leak would be making rash decisions post flop. I understand the skills I have learned and studied, but sometimes I just spew chips without thinking about anything but my own hand and the pot odds offered.


Here are 4 recommendations for this leak:

1. Take a Breath.

Take a breath before every decision, big or small.  This allows your mind to pause, assess the situation, and then act.

2. Have a Reason for Every Play

Rash decisions mean you're not thinking through them, or not thinking at all.  A play occurs to you, and without a valid reason, you just make it.  If you're making illogical and unthinking plays, that just equals -EV decision making.  You don't want to play like your target opponents.

3. Be Honest With Yourself

You must learn from your mistakes.  This comes first from accepting your mistakes.  Accept that sometimes you don't think through your decisions and you're actigin rashly.  You need to figure out what’s causing your mental lapses and develop a plan to fix them.

4. Tag Hands

Here's another tag you can create; “Unthinking”.  Use this tag every time you play only your cards and the board. This will help you with #3 above to figure out why this happens. Knowing why it happens is the first step in fixing this issue.

5. Read ‘Peak Poker Performance'

You must pickup the book ‘Peak Poker Performance’ by Dr. Tricia Cardner.  The whole book is about keeping you in your A-game mindset.

Challenge (13:40)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Create specific hand tags that are relevant to any weaknesses you may have. In today’s episode, I talk about an “Unthinking” tag and a “GaveValue” tag. Recognizing you’ve got an issue is the first step to fixing it. So, admit to yourself what your problem is, tag all relevant hands as you play, and resolve to study and learn from each of them.

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


Curt purchased a copy of My Smart HUD.  Thanks for the support, and you've made a step towards improving your opponent reads.  Get your own copy here:

Chris Sepic purchased the ‘How to Study Poker Webinar' and received the ‘Opponent Destruction Webinar' as his free bonus.  Click here to get $5 off either webinar and receive a bonus of your choice:


Sky Matsuhashi

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