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Volume Sessions | Smart Poker Study Podcast #9


Sky Matsuhashi

on January 21, 2016

Volume Sessions are where we do our real grinding: this is where we put the hours in and our skills to the test to make da money for da honeys.

In case you missed it, in episode 8 I taught you how to ingrain new skills into your poker repertoire in a smart, systematic way by using Focus Sessions.

This is Day 3 of my 30 Day Challenge to release a new podcast every day

Volume Sessions, Podcast #9

Podcast Mission

My mission is to teach you how to get the most out of the volume sessions that you play, and to help you increase your volume should you feel the need.  You will also learn strategies to stay focused and concentrated throughout the session and avoid that robotic play that can happen when playing too many tables.


This is where we grind and shine.  Because we spend most of our time in volume sessions, I’ve created a list of 3 benefits of playing them.  Keep these in mind to give your volume sessions real purpose.

*A little caveat:  If you’re happy with the volume you play, and don’t feel like trying to increase it, don’t.  There’s no rule saying how much you have to play.  

3 benefits of playing volume sessions:

1. Volume Sessions are the key to building our bankrolls and earning a poker income.

  • There’s nothing better than getting a good warm-up, firing up the tables, making good decisions and walking away with a few extra buy-ins or a huge ROI.
  • In order to achieve your bankroll or income goals, we need to play a minimum number of hands or tournaments every day or week. For example, you're SNG grinder want to earn $1,500.  If you're a $1.00/SNG winner, you need to play 1,500 SNG's.  How long will it take you to fit that in at your current volume?  Can you increase it by 25%?

2. Volume Sessions give us insight into skills that aren’t yet in our unconscious competence.

  • As discussed in episode 8, one of our goals is to get skills into our unconscious competence where we’re able to use them without even thinking.  In volume sessions there are times when we’re playing and we come across a tough decision.  Those times should be screaming to you: “You don’t know this enough!  You’ve got to study me!”

3. Volume Sessions allow us to see how we’re managing our issues with tilt.

  • Volume sessions are where we're most likely to tilt.  One of your jobs as a poker player is to not blow your money because tilt takes away your ability to think logically.
  • As you play a session we want to note any instances of tilt. What happened that started to tilt us?  If we overcame that feeling, how? Did we have to quit to avoid tilt? What could we have done instead to stave it off and continued playing?
  • If you haven’t done so already, I recommend picking up Jared Tendler’s Book ‘The Mental Game of Poker.’  Even if you don’t think you suffer from tilt, you can still gain a lot from reading this book.


Do the math – Take your current ROI divided by how much more you want to make, and see if you can fit in that extra volume.  Can you play that much volume even quicker?

Find your motivation – Increasing volume and going from 2 hours per day to 3 hours of grinding can be really tough, but having a good reason can help you push through your plateaus.

Add gradually – Whatever you’re comfortable with now, tack on one more.  One more SNG, one more MTT, one more cash table, one more quarter of an hour of play.  Once you get out of your comfort zone, stick with it until you become comfortable again.

Switch formats – If you’re comfortable with the # of tables and the amount of hours you’re putting in, maybe switch to 6 max tables or to turbo tables.  Less opp’s means less tanking and more hands dealt.

Add poker clients – You don’t have to just stick with one site at a time.  I often play on Carbon and ACR at the same time.  It takes some time getting used to.  I’ve seen Alex Fitzgerald (pro and coach) on Twitch playing 3 sites at once.

*Another caveat: increasing volume increases income, but don’t forget that improving our skill also increases our income without having to add volume.  If you can take your SNG profit from $1/SNG to $1.50/SNG you wouldn’t have to increase our volume at all.


A lot of this is covered in episode 5 about warm-ups and cool-downs so go back and listen to that.

  • Set a quantity goal – Having a goal for the number of hands, tourneys or hours to play in the session will help you put in the necessary volume.
  • Number of tables – Find what works for you and go with it. Use common sense when trying to play more tables, and if you start to get overwhelmed by the number of decisions you have to make, you know that's your threshold.  Avoid “robotic play” and if you feel like you're succumbing to this, drop your volume until you get out of it.
  • Proper Warm-ups – listen to episode 5
  • Thoughtful cool-downs – again, episode 5
  • Timer and Music – I use a Tabata timer to go off every 5 minutes to remind me:  “Hey, you should be thinking through your actions… don't robotically click buttons… have a reason for each action you take… you aren’t feeling angry, are you?”  I’ve also started listening to jazz as it helps me concentrate (no lyrics).
  • Take Breaks – Intense multi-tabling over too much time can really dampen your spirits and drain your energy. Be smart and take breaks at least every hour.

I play 3 Volume Sessions for every 1 FOCUS Session I do.  This helps me keep my volume up, while still allowing some dedicated time to ‘sharpen the saw’ in the FOCUS Sessions.

Podcast Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: figure out your current return on investment (ROI), whether it’s $/hr, BB/100 hands, $/SNG, whatever and figure out how long it’ll take you to hit your bankroll goal at that rate and at your current play time.  Now, calculate how much you’ll have to play per day to get there 25% quicker.  Can you make the commitment to play this amount every day?  It’s all up to you, but use your current ROI as an earnings potential estimate.


Sky Matsuhashi

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