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Q&A: Post-flop Hand Reading, Facing Cbets & Desperation Tilt | #221


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 6, 2019

In this episode, I answer your questions with actions you MUST take right now to improve you post-flop play and your reactions to losing big money.

In episode 220, I discussed how a weekly study plan will improve your study efficiency and avoid poker overwhelm.

Q1: Hand Reading On-the-Felt (2:55)

From: Ricardo Valenzuela

Q: My question to you about the hand would be if you were playing this hand either live or even online, how long would it take you to be able to break the hand down without the use of Flopzilla and would you still come up the either the same or close to the same conclusion?


Over the next 5 days, play strictly one table focus sessions where your goal is to hand read the first person to enter the pot in every hand played. Depending on how they enter, the sizings they use and their player type, picture in your mind the preflop range they are playing with.

When the flop hits, gauge how well their range hits the flop. And then narrow that range in your mind through the streets based on the actions they take.

This kind of practice won't make perfect, but it will help to develop your intuitive senses of your opponent's ranges.


I have to admit, I cannot do this type of exacting practice on the felt, and who knows if I would come to the same conclusion. With more time to analyze a situation off-the-felt conclusions for sure are better than my on-the-felt conclusions.

But, hand reading exercises lead to better decisions and I'm more frequently thinking about my opponent's ranges.

If you've seen my 66 Days of Hand Reading videos on YouTube, then you've seen me take 15-20 minutes and make very exacting choices when it comes to assigning a preflop range and narrowing that range through the streets.

For example, I learned that most turn check-raises or cbet raises I face over dozens of hand reading exercises taught me they're mostly done with 2p+ hands. Now, it's easier for me to spot the strength in their play and fold most of my TP hands vs a raise.

Another thing hand reading exercises teach us is that somebody can only have hands on any street if they had them on the previous street and preflop.

239Ar Board Example

For example, on the turn the board is 239A and you have a set of 9's. You were the preflop 3bettor and they just called your cbet on the flop. On this Ace, you could be beat by AA or 54 for a turned straight.

But, does your opponent call with those preflop and just call the flop? Possibly, but highly unlikely in a 3bet pot. AA most of the time 4bets or would raise your flop cbet. 54s is not a likely 3bet calling hand preflop. They could call with 54 on the flop, but if they can't have that hand preflop, they can't get to the turn with it.

One final thing to keep in mind, though, is that your opponent's prior showdown hands will influence the preflop range you put them on. So, if you've seen your opponent call a preflop 3bet with AA or 54, then you'll take that into account and maybe approach this Ace on the turn differently.


Q2: Hand Reading and Quantifiable Stats (7:00)

From: Chris Baltzer

Q: This week I'm studying Hand Reading but I'm not sure what quantifiable stats I can track to monitor any progress I make. Any suggestions???


For the next 20 hand reading exercises you do off-the-felt (1-2 per day), choose hands that revolve around one skill you want to improve. Maybe you want to understand your opponent's cbets more. So, choose hands that went to showdown where you faced a cbet.

Next, figure out which stats will be affected by your improved understanding. In this instance, you could track Fold to Cbet and Raise Cbet. You would track these stats before and after your 20 hand reading exercises.


Don't do hand reading around a random hand every time. Choose one theme of study for the entire 10, 20 or even 66 hand reading exercises.

Here's a bit more detail on exactly what you can do while working on Facing Cbets.

Every day do a full hand reading practice where you faced a flop cbet and it went to showdown. As you narrow your opponent's range, use their Cbet stats (flop, turn and river) to gauge what hands you can remove from the cbetting ranges. This will give you tons of practice analyzing your opponent's cbetting patterns on different boards and you'll gain a better grasp of the cbet stat in general.

In every session you play during this time, have a “facing cbet focus”. So, before you call preflop, visualize their range. Also, take a look at their Flop Cbet and Turn Cbet (in position or out of position) before you call preflop so you know what to expect from them on the flop.

Tag hands that are confusing or interesting for study the next day. You can also do your hand reading on some of these tagged hands.

Recommended Quantifiables for a focus of “facing cbets”:

  • Call PF 2bet by position
  • Win rate when calling 2bets preflop
  • Call Flop Cbet – both IP and OOP
  • Win rate when calling the flop cbet
  • Raise Flop Cbet – both IP and OOP
  • Win rate when raising a flop cbet
  • Call Turn Cbet – both IP and OOP
  • Win rate when calling the turn cbet
  • Raise Turn Cbet – both IP and OOP
  • Win rate when raising a turn cbet

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Q3: Desperation Tilt (13:20)

From: John Berry

Q: My biggest (and I mean super big) problem: I suffer from chasing losses – usually after a bad beat, but it could just as easily be after a session of bad play. This tends to lead to more reckless bad play in a desperate attempt to recoup my stack as soon as possible, which leads to deeper tilt, which can lead me to blowing my entire bankroll.

Any practical advice you can share would be great.


Whip out a piece of paper and pen and write down the early signs that signify your desperation tilt is increasing and the specific things that trigger your tilt. The more you know about how you're affected the better you will become at handling the situations.

During your play sessions from now on, take regular hourly or half-hourly breaks from the table. Use the break to assess where you are at mentally. Go for a walk, use the restroom or do some push-ups. Do things to take your mind off of any beats or losses you suffered.  Only return to the table when you're in the right mental space.


This is not a quick and easy fix. This type of tilt is a buildup of all the anger and desperation you’ve felt in the past, so it’s going to take concentrated effort to fix.

One of my favorite poker books is Jared Tendler's The Mental Game of Poker. You can get this on

Chasing losses is something too many players deal with, and he discusses it starting on page 145 in the “Desperation Tilt” section. A desperate player will do anything to get back those losses and it's a form of accumulated tilt/anger/frustration at losing.

Here's a logic statement to tell yourself before each session you play and after you suffer a big loss:

“Losing an entire stack is part of the game, so I accept that this will happen sometimes. But, I'm going to earn more stacks from my opponents than they earn from me due to my superior play and my ability to stay in control.”

In the book he gives a 10 step strategy for getting over Desperation Tilt on page 148, and the 2 tasks I gave you within the Action to take a moment ago were numbers 2 and 4.

I highly recommend that you read everything starting on page 145 in order to help you get beyond this form of tilt.

Pick a Challenge (16:40)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  I just gave you 3 different potential Actions to take, now it’s your time to shine! Choose the one that’s most applicable to what you’re striving for right now, and step into action.  Playing and studying with purpose are the best ways to improve your game. To help you out, here are some inspiring words from Lieutenant Rasczak in Starship Troopers

“This is for your new people, I only have one rule: everyone fights… no one quits.  You don't do your job, I'll shoot you.  You get me?”

Support the Show

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Up Next…

In episode 222, I’ll discuss cbets and taking more action this month.

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


Sky Matsuhashi

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