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Q&A: Quitting a Session and MTT Blind Stealing | Episode 128


Sky Matsuhashi

on March 28, 2017

I discuss 5 ways that you can get beyond desperation tilt as well as guidelines for stealing more MTT blinds.

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


Q1: Quitting a Session: Desperation Tilt (1:30)

Question from Dennis Kim:

I'm struggling with quitting a session.  I've read Tommy Angelo's section on quitting several times and I’m getting better through taking breaks, but I just over-extend a session, especially when I'm stuck.


Struggling to quit sessions sounds like Desperation Tilt.

If you suffer from desperation tilt, you find yourself chasing lost money by staying in too long, buying-in to more games or moving up in stakes to win your money back.  This leads to incredible bankroll downswings, so it’s a key one to tackle.

There are a few things you can do to help get beyond desperation tilt:

  1. Use logic statements. (episode 19 and episode 61) These are carefully crafted statements that inject logic into your mind to help you get past negative emotions.  Here are two logic statements for desperation tilt:
  • As soon as I hit my stop loss for the session, I will end it. No exceptions.
  • If I stay longer and spew off my stack, I’ll be the donk or fish at the table.
  1. Find a partner. When you’re about to start a session, have a partner that will call you to end your session at pre-determined time.  When time’s up, your friend will hold you accountable to leaving the table.  If you don’t leave, you owe him/her dinner or a massage.
  2. Choose your punishment. Assign yourself a punishment when you don’t fulfill your intended goal of ending a session by a certain time. Punishments work very well to curtail bad habits.  Maybe it’s cleaning the garage or finally fixing that busted drawer or mowing your in-laws yard.
  3. Be the professional. Set the alarm on your phone to go off every hour. When it goes off, ask yourself, “Would the professional stay another hour in this mindset?”  If the answer is no, then get out of there.
  4. Continue trying to be better. Like you read in ‘Elements of Poker’, continue taking breaks and setting stop-loss or time frames for playing. Do this every time and keep pushing yourself to meet your goals.  Treat poker like a business and do what’s healthy for the business.  You know that playing tired or hungry or upset or staying at the tables too long is bad for you, so make the conscious effort to do and be better.

“Would the professional stay another hour in this mindset?”  If the answer is no, then get out of there.

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: MTT Blind Stealing (6:25)

Question from John: 

He said he needs to work on blind stealing strategies during mid to late MTT stages.


Stealing blinds is a great skill to develop in MTT’s.  The best MTT players in the world are masters at this.

Here are some strategies:

  1. Know if your steal will likely result in folds. Too many people try to steal just because it's folded to them in the CO or BTN. You've got to consider more than just your position (remember, steals take place in the CO/BTN/SB).
  • You want to think about who’s in the blinds. Foldy blinds are great to steal from.  If they’re defenders or short stack shovers, that's not so great.  Remember, you’re stealing, so you don’t want a call or a reraise.
  • Stack sizes matter. The smaller or larger they are the more likely you'll get a reshove, a reraise or a call.  Mid-size stacks are often leary of getting into pots OOP, so they’re a little easier to push around.  Look for stack sizes that yours can heavily damage.  They're less likely to fight back for fear you’ve got a very strong hand and they might lose a large portion of their stack.
  • Tourney conditions are important. People tighten up near the bubble or the FT bubble, so stealing is a bit easier then.  Beware bubble abusers, though.  They like to put the fear back on you by re-stealing.  Also, when the bubble breaks, your ss blinds are often happy to gii because, “Hey, we’re in the money, time gamble.”
  1. Expect the 3bet rejams. You want folds, but prepare yourself for 15-25bb 3bet rejams. Before you raise, know how you’ll handle it.  Got a hand likely above their 3bet rejam range?  Then you can call.  If they’re only rejamming with a small and strong range, you may want to ditch those weaker Aces, Kings and small pp’s.
  2. Expect the call. Getting called is better than getting re-raised. But, when your steal gets called, you’re forced to go post-flop with a weaker hand.  Prepare for this by considering how your opponent plays post-flop OOP.  You need to think about the range they’re calling with as well.  It likely has lots of weaker Aces and broadways as well as sc’s and maybe small-med pp’s.
  3. Don’t min-raise steal. This is getting called way too frequently by most blinds nowadays.  You’ve got to up it to 2.25-3bb’s.  If your steal sizing is 30% of your stack, go ahead and just shove instead of raising.

Challenge (9:35)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

Devise some of your own logic statements for whatever sort of tilt you experience. There’s Running Bad Tilt, Injustice Tile, Entitlement Tilt, Desperation Tilt and a few others. Some of my favorite logic statements are “I can’t control how I run in the short-term, it’s only the long term and making great decisions now that matters” and “Weak players need to win occasionally to make this a profitable pursuit.” Please let me know what logic statements help you in your tilty times of need.

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

Up Next…

In podcast #129, I'll discuss why it’s okay to use Evernote at LIVE poker tables, and I get into non-showdown winnings and addressing a sagging red line.

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


Sky Matsuhashi

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