If you often find yourself deep in tournaments but end up busting in big pre-flop all-ins that you probably could have avoided, you might want to read on.
A couple of weeks ago, a BBZ student by the name of Aleksis posted two healthy scores on GGPoker in the BBZ Brags Discord. “I tried not to punt pre-flop and be stickier post-flop, and it worked out well,” he wrote.
What is punting in poker?
Punting is a term used when a player either blows through their chip stack over several hands in quick succession by making one or more questionable moves, or they make a single aggressive play–often for their entire stack–knowing there’s a good chance they could get called by a better hand.
Punting pre-flop is something many of us are guilty of. We study BBZ’s charts and follow them to the best of our ability, then make a big aggressive chart-approved play and get punished. Sometimes they’re unavoidable, but when we make these moves, are we taking the game dynamics and player tendencies into consideration?
“For me, I was making casual punting mistakes like opening with the bottom 10% of my range from the cutoff and button pre-flop, then under-folding with my range versus human 3-bets,” Aleksis tells us.
By human 3-bets, Aleksis is referring to the strength of the average 3-bet in-game compared with the ‘computer’ 3-bets we see on charts. In general, poker players don’t play aggressively enough and are therefore not 3-betting enough from the blinds. This means when they do 3-bet, they rarely have as wide a range as a solver suggests. Their 3-bets are more often weighted to strong hands which perform well against the bottom 10% of our opening range.
Punting is something that happens more frequently when we’re multi-tabling, as we’re not always focused on the specific table’s dynamics and player tendencies. So how did Aleksis come to realise he was punting in certain spots?
It turns out that Aleksis had booked himself a database review with Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond, a.k.a. BBZ, who downloaded his HUD stats and hand histories and went through his numbers, pointing our his weak areas and giving props on the good areas.
“Truthfully, it was really good and super fun,” says Aleksis. “I was mentally ready for criticism before it started and I knew I had to switch off my ego. That’s how it is when you talk about your poker game with people who have been doing it better and for longer than you. You mainly listen and ask questions.”
Through the database review, Aleksis learned that in order to make more deep tournament runs, he was actually able to play more hands pre-flop and post-flop than he was currently. He just had to focus.
“You make more in-the-money runs when you expand your range in situations where people continue to be tight and tight only,” he says.
Lose focus, however, and you might end up punting off a ton of chips against a player that you know full well is playing incredibly tight.
Aleksis has been on a tear ever since his database review, as you can see from some of his results below.
“My advice is to be more aggressive overall–not just pre-flop–because if you are you’ll end up building stacks and winning a lot of money,” says Aleksis. “You just have to be extra focused with your aggression to avoid punting and be ready to play your best possible game every day!”
After each session, Aleksis notes everything he did that he thinks is good or bad, then runs sims (or asks friends to do it) to make sure the plays were good or bad. “That’s the ultimate coaching,” he says. “Wake up, watch a BBZ seminar, play a session, run the spots, go to bed, wake up, and do it all again.”