“M” Poker Ratio for Tournaments

M Poker Ratio

Tournament poker can be very complex can’t it? There are so many aspects to tournament poker and very few all encompassing strategies. This is where “M” can help you. It’s a tournament poker concept that was named after the late Paul Magriel Jr, a professional poker player and author. In this article, we will explain the meaning of M poker, highlight its value in tournaments and hopefully provide some food for thought for you moving forward.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What does M-ratio mean in poker?

M Ratio is a measurement of how healthy our stack is relative to the blinds and antes. It’s basically a measurement of how long you can last before being blinded out of the tournament.

How Do I Calculate M-Ratio?

To calculate your M poker ratio. You simply divide your stack by the blinds and a full round of antes. So, if you have 25,000 and the blinds are 600/1,200 with an ante of 60 at a full ring table, your M would be 10.6 (25,000/ 600 + 1,200 + 540).


M poker

How Tournament Poker Strategy Changes Based on Your M

The value of knowing your M is that it helps your overall mentality, at a given time in the tournament. In theory, the healthier your stack, the more flexibility you have. You can play aggressively or conservatively. Dan Harrington’s tournament poker books identified various zones in which the value of M fit into. These zones help define the strategy one could employ to help their chances.

Value 20 + [Green Zone]

Wouldn’t it be lovely to always live in this zone? This is deep stack poker playing and allows you to pick and choose the hands you play. You can play suited connectors, set mine and make speculative plays. A little hit to your stack won’t cripple you.

Value 10 to 19 [Yellow Zone]

The blinds and antes put a bit more pressure on you here. You can’t get away with quite as many speculative calls but you’re still doing ok. No need to panic yet in this zone.

Value 6 to 9 [Orange Zone]

You can’t waste any chips here. Flat calling raises is out of the question. Every steal represents a decent increase to our stack so first in mentality is paramount. We won’t have to open shove just yet though.

Value 1 to 5 [Red Zone]

Time to start shoving. We have very little fold equity and need to get our chips in. It’s better to be the one shoving but either way, we need to be all in or folding.

Value under 1 [Dead Zone]

No fold equity and very little chips. Even a double up won’t be of much value. This is the zone we want to avoid at all costs as we are going to have to get lucky several times.

Final Thoughts on M Poker Ratio for Tournaments

Knowing your “M” is a great way to measure your stack and assess how you’re doing. It’s a really useful tool for tournament players who perhaps don’t realise how deep their stack size is. Sometimes you see tens of thousands and think you’re doing well. In reality, you may actually be desperate and need to be playing push fold poker.

I can attest to the value of using M in tournaments. I used to always have my calculator with me, working out what my M is and how I should be playing. With experience, you know it intuitively and there’s less need to stick to it religiously.

It’s also worth pointing out that “M” poker was coined decades ago and primarily for poker in casinos. Live poker was often slower and deeper stacked play. In online poker, stacks are generally more shallow and blinds go up quicker. The strategy still holds up pretty well today but it’s good to be aware of it’s limitations too.

If you are looking to improve your tournament game and open to poker training, why not trial our poker mentor service? You can also email me directly at info@texasholdemquestions.com or book in a free 30 minute consultation by clicking below.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d be interested in reading our ITM poker ratio or tournament poker strategy article?

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The Mathematical Aspect of Poker

If you dream about becoming a professional poker player, but you hated math in high school, we have some bad news for you. Math is as important when it comes to poker, as reading people or learning to bluff. One can spend years perfecting his game and his poker face, but a true player must also have a flair for numbers as well. There are numerous books written on this mathematical poker and studying some of them will surely improve your game. Knowing your math is a prerequisite to start winning in both traditional or online games.

Playing Just For Fun

Spending one pleasant evening with your buddies while playing texas hold’em can be fun, but we bet that you didn’t know one fun fact. Before texas hold’em entered our lives, there was a seven-card stud. This was the most popular poker game to play with your friends and family. Everyone loved it as it was more fun and less strategy orientated. Maybe the reason why the Texan version finally prevailed is that it is more challenging to win a hand than when playing seven-card stud.

There is one more reason perhaps, and that is much easier math that helps one calculate his odds quickly while playing. Knowing your odds by default can make you a lot of money, or at least prevent a player from casually losing it. In poker, mathematics comes in many ways while calculating outs and probabilities in every step of the game. Knowing even just the basics of flop, river, or turn odds will make one a much sharper player.

Playing Just To Win

With so much money in play, online gaming has become immensely popular in recent years. Some said that playing online defuncts the use of strategy, but they are so wrong. Math has never been more important when it comes to online gaming, especially when playing poker. There are hundreds of free calculators one can use for improving his odds, but these little gadgets can’t help if one doesn’t know how to use this info properly. Concepts like pot odds or implied odds should be introduced in your vocabulary if you consider yourself a true card player.

No one can survive today’s online session without understanding these concepts properly. These are just the basics of complicated math behind every card game that involves money. Knowing your mathematics is the best cure against bluffing, and it will help you see right through those who manipulate or bully you into folding. Remember that poker is a war with cards, and your goal is to win and annihilate all opponents without mercy.

Skill Vs Math

Making it online is getting harder as more amateurs are getting to that professional level. They learn fast and evolve their play constantly while searching for worthy opponents and the best casinos on the net. Finding a fast withdrawal online casino can be challenging, but our comprehensive reviews can help you with that. One needs a strong, reliable casino where he can show his skills and make a secure withdrawal of his winnings. Nobody wants all that training and math learning to be wasted, but some soft skills can indirectly affect your game as well.

We are talking about a seat at the table, knowing which cards to fold, and which ones to hold on to. These choices have implications on the probability of your success and can affect one’s win rate. Choosing an aggressive strategy approach or playing slow and cautiously is another thing that influences probability. Choosing the right online casino and weaker opponents shifts odds in one’s favor. Keep all this in mind if you want to stay on top of your game.

Advanced Math Skills

If you were wondering how does Phil Ivey read his opponent’s mind and wins so many tournaments in a row, we can tell you his secret. He is very good at math. Concepts like implied odds, preflop, or post-flop probabilities are so embedded in his mind that he is not even unthinking about it. One needs a ton of practice plus a great passion for this game for reaching this level of skill. Practice makes it perfect so start learning about probability and your money stack will rise steadily.

Another thing one needs mastering is patience. Many would think that patience has nothing to do with math but it actually does. Knowing when to fold or when to strike is essential for all these numbers and probability talk to make sense. Otherwise, your strategy won’t work, no matter how many books on texas hold’em one has read. There are no shortcuts toward greatness, so a pro player should learn the theory but also know how and when to apply it. When one gets to that level when he knows that his opponent knows that he knows what he is thinking, he is on a good way to becoming a master of this game.

Conclusion

Become a player you always wanted to be. Nothing can stop you except your fear, or just not believing in yourself enough. Start with some basics and work your way up while conquering this game. Small daily improvements can make a big difference in poker, so be persistent. Poker makes math seems fun and easy to learn, so start learning, and do not forget to enjoy yourself.

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Implied Odds – What They Are and How to Use Them

Implied Odds

When it comes to poker maths, there’s lots of curious terms you will come across. Implied odds are one of many that you will hear players use. Many players use the term to justify poor call or bad beats they inflict on opponents, you won’t though as you have this article to help you. This article will look at what implied odds are and how you can use them correctly.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What Are Implied Odds in Poker?

Implied odds is the amount of money or chips you expect to win if you have you hit your hand. This estimation can be used in conjunction with calculating pot odds to determine whether a call on the flop or turn will be profitable.

Problems with Implied Odds

One of the problems with implied odds is that people over-estimate the amount they will win if they hit their outs. My advice is to be conservative when predicting the amount you hope to win. You need to consider your opponent type, stacks sizes and board texture when making a “best guess” as to what you will win.

Player’s often defend a poor call by stating they had implied odds when they really don’t.

Example of Good Implied Odds

You’re heads up in position against a wild fishy player. Both of you have over $500. You’ve got to the turn with 6h 7h:

Your opponent bets $25 into $40 on a board of 5d 8s Kh 2c:

Against a wild player who is prone to bluffing and/or calling a future bet and deep stacks – this is a good implied odds situation.

Your opponent has over $475 behind him and your hand is well disguised if you hit. Looking at the pot odds, you need 27% equity to call and make it break even. With just 8 outs you are around 17% so you don’t have the right pot odds. However, given we expect to get paid handsomely, we can make the call here. When you factor in that you have last action, it makes a call a little easier. As we are behind by 10% equity, we need at least 10% more of the pot to make the call ok. With $90 in the pot at the river, we can certainly expect to get called for more than $9 and thus make a call profitable.

Example of Bad Implied Odds

You’re heads up and out of position against a nitty reg.  You have Kd Jd:

Your opponent has $120 and bets $20 into $30 on the turn. The board reads 8s 9s Td 5c:

In this scenario, you have outs to a Q or 7 giving you 8 clear outs and 17% equity in the hand. However, the bet requires you to have 28.5% or more. Moreover, your hand is not well disguised if it hits. For a Q or 6 to come would bring an obvious straight on board. Do you really expect to get paid from a nitty regular?

Things required for good implied odds

  • Disguised hand
  • A nice pay off
  • In position
  • Deep stacks
  • An opponent that is likely to call you

Conclusion

Implied odds are a great tool to have at your disposal. Its primarily used for cash games but have merit in slow paced, deep stacked tournaments too. I think there are many players that make money from poker without using this concept – but it is one that will enhance your game and give you a better appreciation of accurate bet sizing, value betting and poker maths in general.

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Inside Straight Draws? You May Aswell Burn Your Money

Inside Straight

Otherwise known as the gut-shot straight, an inside straight is one of the most improbable hands you can make in Texas Hold’em. As a beginner you may chase these on occasion thinking you will get a big payoff but will you and how often will you hit your insight straight?

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is an Inside Straight?

An inside straight is where you have 4 of the 5 cards needed for a completed straight. You have to hit one card to make your straight, unlike the more favourable open-ended straight which has 2 ways to make a straight.

Example Hand

There are 2 limpers to you and you complete from the small blind with Kc 8c. The flop comes 7s 6s 4d. Everyone checks to the button who bets out 75% of the pot. You need a 5 to make your straight. This is an inside straight draw as you only have 1 card to make your hand.

What are the Odds of Making an Inside Straight Draw?

With 4 outs to an inside straight, you have approximately 16% of making it from the flop. You have just 8% of making it from the turn to the river. Very few poker hands play out that afford you such lucrative pot odds. There are some scenarios where you may have additional outs with an over-card e.g. A-J on a K-T-2 flop. The ace may be good if you hit it but for the purposes of this article, we are only focusing on the insight straight.

Most Famous Pot

There was an episode on High Stakes poker that involved a massive pot of $743,800 with Patrik Antonious and Jamie Gold. Patrik called a 3 bet with ace jack. He check called a flop bet on Q-T-X and proceeded to turn the nuts against Jamie’s pocket kings. This is a rare spot where he had amazing implied odds, as demonstrated by the fact Jamie Gold moved all in on the turn. Anyway, enough of the commentary, have a look for yourself below for one of the largest ever pots for an insight straight. Note – Patrik lose 2/3 of the pots when they ran it 3 times.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, hitting your inside straight is very unlikely. You need to consider will your opponent even pay you off? You also need to think about whether you are even drawing to the nut hand. If you are and you’re facing a minimum bet, perhaps you can afford to peel one, but if not, get out of the pot.

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Poker Excel Dashboard – Do You Have One?

Poker Spreadsheet

What’s your spreadsheet skills like? Have you thought to mix poker and Excel yet? I’m a massive fan of spreadsheets, data, reporting and good record keeping so combining the two was natural for me.

The great thing about utilising spreadsheets for poker is it provides you with insights you wouldn’t have discovered. You’re the creator and can customise your tables and graphs how you wish.

Poker Excel
Template Texas Holdem Questions Data Sheet for Poker Excel Dashboard

Facts Don’t Lie

The best thing about data is that it’s factual, unbiased and truthful. Fact’s don’t lie and it’s there, in your face. It forces you to confront areas you didn’t want to before because it’s easier to ignore them. Let’s say you start record keeping your cash game sessions through poker excel spreadsheets and you find out over a year that you lose money on Monday nights. This may be painful to you because you’re off on Tuesdays and therefore love to play on Monday evenings. You like playing in the one game available that runs at a convenient time for you.

What will you do with this information? Will you stop playing that game now or not? Spreadsheets are great in this way as it’s not anecdotal or hear say information, it will provide useful, relevant facts about your game and poker win rate.

Garbage in Garbage out

If you are thinking of starting a poker excel spreadsheet, there are some rules you need to adhere to, otherwise it’s a pointless activity. You may have heard the saying that reporting can be only as good as the accuracy of the data input i.e. if you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out. Here are some basic but fundamental rules to stick to if you are considering a poker spreadsheet.

  1. Enter data accurately
  2. Don’t get too excited or too downbeat by short-term results
  3. Don’t keep cancelling and starting again
  4. Stick with it

Texas Hold’em Questions Poker Excel Dashboard

I appreciate not everyone is an excel wizard. Perhaps you’re interested in improving your record keeping, monitoring your win rate and finding out your “niche” in poker but don’t have a knack for spreadsheets. Fortunately, we are highly proficient in excel and can help you. I use it all the time with the players I mentor. It’s a fantastic way to track performance on a regular basis.

At a glance of a graph, I can tell if John Doe is winning this month, whether he’s up year on year and which game is his strongest. These insights help decision making moving forward. If this is something you potentially want, we can certainly help you. Fill in your email below and you can download a template report for free. The template gives you an idea of what what kind of report you can expect to get from us on a monthly basis.

John Doe Report

If you’re interested in a stand-alone product of poker excel dashboard and updates or you want the updates and reporting reporting – we can help you. Just click the free quote option at the bottom of this article to find out how much it will cost.

See some snapshots below for an idea of what the dashboard and graphs can look like.

We can quickly see John started well in January and has been on a decline since. Do you track your monthly winnings efficiently and compare against previous months?

See how John wins in the morning/daytime but loses at night? If there is a lot of data and volume, he may need to consider only playing during day time. Do you monitor whether you play better during day or night?

John wins at NL $50 and $100 but a loser NL $200. At first glance, he should focus on NL $50. Do you track your performance at different stakes?

Are you interested in having a poker excel dashboard? Click below to get a free quote.

Free Poker Cash Game Spreadsheet

If you are already a competent user of spreadsheets and happy to fill in all the data yourself, we also offer a basic poker cash game spreadsheet for free. You don’t get all the cool graphs and advanced insights that our dashboard shows but it does the job in recording your session; highlighting the basic figures like profits and hourly rate.

Interested in a free poker cash game spreadsheet? Just fill in your email below and you’ll be sent the spreadsheet instantly by email.

Are You Set Mining Correctly in Poker?

Set Mining Poker

Set mining is something the majority of low stakes poker players do wrong. They’re either doing it with the wrong stack sizes, from a bad position or against inappropriate opponents. In this article, I will briefly explain what set mining is and what factors to consider before calling raises hoping to hit your set.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is Set Mining in Poker?

Set mining poker is a term that describes calling a raise before the flop with the intention of hitting a set or three of a kind on the flop a win a big pot. 

What are the odds of flopping a set?

The chances of flopping a set with a pocket pair are quite remote. You will flop a set approximately 1 in 7.5. In other words, you will hit three of a kind almost 1 in 8 times you try. That is not very often is it? Moreover, when you do hit your set, you won’t always get paid off.

Implied Odds

This is the phrase poker players love to use to describe a situation where they are making a call because they anticipate a large pay off if they make their hand. This is the reason you see Daniel Negreanu calling raises with three five suited. He doesn’t mind calling 2 and half big blinds in the hope of winning 200 from a weak player who is prone to overplaying top pair or overpair type hands. 

The things you need to consider when set mining are: stack size of opponent, their tendencies, likely hand strength and the likelihood of getting their stack.

What are the Considerations?

Set mining isn’t just about holding a pocket pair, calling any raise and hoping to hit. You need to look at several factors before choosing to set mine. The list below are some aspects to consider with reasons why.

Opponent

If your opponent has a tight range then your chances of getting paid are higher. Conversely, facing a player who opens lots of pots and plays well post flop is tougher. You can’t assume you will get paid off quite as easy or for the same value against a good LAG. As they are playing more hands, their range is more balanced, less weighted toward overpairs and big cards that make top pair.

If your opponent is a standard, rubbish LAG type , you can get paid. The difference is critical. A bad LAG is someone who is playing lots of pots but prone to mistakes post flop. They are the type of player to get stubborn with hands as weak as second pair. Against them, you can still set mine profitably.

Table Image

If you have a tight image, you don’t have the same implied odds as a looser image. This is because your check raises and big bets command more respect and have gravitas. Players also (foolishly) weigh up whether you’re on a heater. If they think you are, they may not pay you off. This is more common in live poker games than online where people pay very little attention to who is running well and who isn’t.

Position

Set mining out of position is not easy. You may try for a check raise and miss a street of value when they check back. You are not closing action so it’s hard to manipulate the pot size. Let’s say you check/call a flop bet and check again on the turn. Your opponent may opt to pot control and check back, particularly if the turn brings a danger card.

Set mining in position is much easier as you can dictate the pot size with greater freedom. You are the one closing the action and therefore in greater control.

Opponent’s Mental State

An opponent that is dejected or psychologically weak isoften more liable to pay you off. This is the same for an opponent playing on tilt or if they are suffering from burn out. They will simply curse their luck and pay off bets if they’re not on their A game. They will probably moan “it’s a cooler” or “I got a bad beat“.

On the other hand, a player who is playing well and winning is probably going to be in a good mental state, able to fold decent hands post flop.

If I am facing a tilted opponent who raised from under the gun, I’m licking my lips with a small pair, praying to bust him if I flop my set.

Set Mining Tips

Set mining is great against donkeys, pay off wizards, nits and with deep stacks. There are plenty of these types in any online casino Singapore. To set mine profitably, consider the amount you are calling before the flop, multiply it by 8 and if your opponent has that or more and you’ve factored in the considerations above, make the call and good luck!

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Photo by Bart Van Dijk

Pot Odds – The Easy to Understand Basics

What are Pot Odds?

You have probably heard of pot odds but maybe you’re not sure what they are or how to calculate them? Don’t worry, everyone has been there. Basically, pot odds are the comparison of the cost of making a call compared to the size of the pot. It is usually expressed as a ratio; however, the far more valuable tool is the conversion of ratio to percentage. Most poker players find it easier to understand things as percentages than ratios.

How to Calculate Pot Odds?

Pot Size Versus Amount to Call = Pot Odds as Ratio
$100: $10 or 10:1
I think it is more valuable to see this as a percentage. To convert this, we simply add the pot size and the amount to call and divide the amount to call by the pot size. Using the example above, it would be:

$100 + $10 = $110
$10 / $110 = 9%

What is the Point?

Understanding the maths is very important to being a long-term winner at poker. Decision making is often based on the maths aspect, is a call profitable? Are they bluffing often enough? etc. In order to use poker maths effectively, a poker player combines the context of the situation with the odds at hand. It also allows one to manipulate the pot odds and enforce errors on the part of your opponents. This is a key skill requirement for winning poker.
Let’s look at an example of how pot odds could be used for important decision making.

pot odds
Photo by Chris Liverani

Example of using Pot Odds

The pot is $50 on the turn with just the river left to come. Player A has a flush draw holding Kc 10c:

The board reads:

pot odds

Player B has Ad 8d:

Player B is considering how much to bet with their top two pair. By betting $30, the pot will be $80 and Player A will be getting $30 for a pot of $110.  Using the method above, we can see this can be converted to represent 27%.

With a flush draw and one card to come we know there is approximately 18% chance of Player A making the best hand, thus, the bet enforces an error on the part of Player A as they are not getting a sufficient price to make the call.

On the other hand, if Player B bets $10, Player A will have 16.6% and a turn call becomes profitable. See how important it is to size your bets?

Conclusion

As we can see from the above example, pot odds can influence decision making and affect your long-term profitability. They should be used in combination with your hand reading, context and implied odds (look out for future article on implied odds). One of the great things about poker is you are in control of your decisions. By understanding odds and relative hand strength, you can learn to manipulate pot sizes (something not possible with slot odds) how you want to and enforce mistakes from opponents.

If you are interested in poker maths and record keeping read out poker spread article from below.