Ask SplitSuit

Ask SplitSuit November 2011

What is Ask Splitsuit?

In November 2011, visitors to ThePokerBank were given the opportunity to ask SplitSuit a question in an "Ask SplitSuit" section. The questions could be about anything. Here are all of the original questions SplitSuit received.

The questions and their answers (by SplitSuit) have been posted below.

The Q&A.

Q: In general, what do you personally think is the best way to make money? Is it grinding cash games or MTTs? Or do you think it's site/player dependant etc?


A: I would personally say cash games are the best. Hourlies tend to be the better, and you need less of a bankroll to be properly rolled. Of course, MTTs offer a better “homerun potential”… but you can always grind cash and play the Sunday Million once a week =)

Q: How would you play against a player who isn't terrible but is loose aggro, when they can hold almost any hand?

A: If the only information I have is that they are an A-fish… I will usually tighten up and value-inject my range. Once I have information (for instance, a high Fv3bet), I will start adjusting and exploiting his weaknesses.

Q: I play in a house cash game and I find it's almost never heads up, and people don't really see the strength of a 3 bet. Any tips for a game like this? Also there are 2 players that fall into my earlier question.

A: In super loose/passive games I tend to start limping a lot more, and super value-inject my opening and 3bet ranges. Especially when these games are playing deep, I get very limpy on the button with AXs/SC type hands. These games are frustrating due the inability to ISO and even open my “normal” ranges…but they become super profitable with a great postflop skillset.

Q: How would you suggest keeping track of hand histories in live games for evaluating the game?

A: I use my iPhone to take notes on hands (and to anyone watching me, it just looks like I am texting =) ). I also have a pretty good memory, so I am able to remember hands even from 4yrs back…so that always helps!

Q: Which do you prefer best: coaching, playing, writing, or producing videos?

A: I prefer them in this order: Coaching, Playing, Videos, Writing.

I love coaching and helping someone reach a new level in their game. Writing is fun and forces me to do a lot of extra exploration and work…but it's super time consuming and sometimes difficult to convey a complex thought with just words. Playing and videos are about equal for me…but I really do love being able to play and enjoy the feeling of making correct decisions in real-time =)

Q: Hey James, how come I don't see you on RPM anymore? I used to see you pretty often at 100NL FR, but then after BF I haven't seen you even once. I know you have other stuff going on like playing more live pokerz, but it wouldn't hurt you to keep a little bit on RPM even if only just to maintain familiarity with current game conditions. Although we certainly don't need any more good grinders on the Merge network, so I suppose I should be happy. Best of luck with all your endeavors.

A: I took a very long break from online games after Black Friday. I lost a lot of my motivation to play when everything I had built for the last 5 years crumbled in about 30 seconds. Couple that with having 4 bankrolls locked up online…I didn't really feel motivated to go grind. I am slowly getting back into it, playing more live as well, and looking to get some more online play in soon.

I will also say that I don't lose the familiarity with current game conditions due to all the coaching. In fact, with coaching I am familiarizing myself with levels I wouldn't normally play…which allows me to be more informed when coaching/making videos.

Best of luck with your endeavors as well =)

Q: Thoughts on the poker economy going forward in the future? Sustainable? Botting likely be an issue?

A: I think poker will re-boom (although probably not to the same scale as in 2004) once governments get their heads out of their asses and allow poker to globalize. All of this “let's keep poker within our own borders” is ridiculous and is incredibly short-sighted imo. By globalizing poker I think there can global regulation, which will cut down on issues like botting and other online issues that currently have no real punishment.

Q: I seem to be winding up at the bottom of the money in a lot of tournamemts rather than the top. I have been opening up playing more hands and watching my position, my cash games are improving but not the tournaments. How can I improve my game?

A: I have issues when going from cash to MTT simply because I forget the “one life to live” mentality that is necessary for MTTs. Any chance that is happening to you?

Q: James what is the number one thing you did that improved you're game the most?

A: I sat down for about 3 hours and explored every facet of my game. I wrote down my opening range per position per previous action, my CB range on various board types, my VBing strategy, my bluffing strategy, etc. I then explored the games I was playing in to see if I was going about anything incorrectly. As it turns out, I was leaving a lot of money on the table and messing up some very important situations. In doing all of this I not only redesigned my game, but got a deeper understanding of some important concepts and adjustment strategies.

I suggest everyone do this every so often =)

Q: Hey Split, your videos are the best that can be found, thank you so much.

Question: Why are there so many players live who know so much poker theory but keep making live poker a fish-calling pool? is it the fault of sites like pokerstrategy, intellipoker and so on, that give a very strict, non-adaptative approach to poker?

Thanks a lot. I'll buy some of your premium videos in the next few weeks.

A: Thank you =)

Everybody wants to think that they are intelligent and talented. Live players are no different, and thus they spout out random poker theory/math that they picked up along the way. Often times they don't even fully understand what any of it means…let alone how to apply it. Besides…do great players really go around giving great advice at their tables?

Enjoy the videos if you buy them! I certainly suggest checking out the “Playing Draws” video =)

Q: Thank you for all your videos and coaching!

How can an MTT player understand the level-grade of his game? A lot of players think that they are good but they miss a big cash to boost their BR. What do you think about that?

Thank you.

A: You're welcome!

Unfortunately, I don't play MTTs and can't really offer much advice here =( I would simply run through every hand from a few MTTs and see if you are leaving any money on the tables (steal spots, 3bet spots, CB spots, etc.). Hopefully you find a few spots that can help you in the future =)

Q: As everyone else has said, great videos. As a relative beginner they have helped my game immensely so thank you and keep them coming.

As for the (poker related - sorry) question, I recently played a hand where I flopped TPTK OOP (AK on K-rag flop) and bet into a fairly passive player (33/11 VP/PF). I was called on F+T and raised on the river. I called and was beaten by 2-pair (K-2!).

Is there any way (i.e. bet sizing?) that you can get an idea if you're beaten by a passive player OOP before their river raise (and thus saving 1 or 2 bets)? Don't bother telling me to watch out for raises from passive players, I know that now :)


A: Thank you…I'm glad my videos have helped!

Fish are fish, and they size ridiculously. I usually look out for big raises from passive players, as P-fish tend to use a “big bets with big hands” mentality. And of course, always be nervous when facing a raise from a P-fish…especially on the turn/river =)

Q: When are you priced into a pot with a table full of limpers? I play a lot with limpers and it always seems like I am getting great odds to limp along. What is your rule of thumb?

A: I pretty much never look at a limp spot preflop as “I'm getting X:1 and thus need to limp along here.” I am more focused on my position and hand, and of course expected future actions. I always want to be very careful when limping suited gappers, low suited connectors, suited Kx, Qx, etc. behind in very MW pots. When confused in these spots/games...just stay tighter and be more value-injected imo.

Q: At what stake do you think stuff like floating, double barreling, checkraise turn as a bluff etc. is starting to be useful? I currently play at NL10 and I'm table-selecting well, so I don't get so many spots for the above things due to fish... Does this become usefull at 25NL or 50NL?

A: Ehhh, maybe certain 50NL games? The lower you play, the less folding you should expect from the average player at your table...thus why you should keep a lot of your game value-injected. But of course, if you ever have information that you could take a +EV bluffy all means do it =)

Q: is there a possibility for future 6-max vids? I know you're more of a FR person, but your insight in poker is advanced and any vids will help us noobs as well as the poker community. Tx and gl.

A: Sure. Most all of the videos I've done so far can help 6max players conceptually…it's just that some frequencies and ranges change between 6max and FR. But I can certainly look to add some more 6max stuff…did you have some 6max hands that you wanted me to review?

Q: A Chara,
Cé mhéad Gaeilge atá agat? 
Mise le Meas.

A: 98.5% Irish. =)

Q: What is or was your career… your chosen profession outside of poker? And what tied/ties it to being successful in poker vis a vis your strengths and limitations in the game… thanks Split.

A: I've never really had a conventional job (although I've started a bunch of businesses over the last 4 years). I went to college for Marketing, and a lot of things from those classes and my Economics classes have helped a lot with poker. Especially with things like basic game theory and bet sizing (product pricing).

Q: The longer time goes on, the more everybody is playing a similar game. Even the very smallest stakes. Do you think we'll ever get to the stage where even the micros aren't really exploitable? If we're all playing to break even and pick up our fpp/vpps then it's not going to be very enjoyable poker. Where do you see the future of online cash games? 

Personally, I've gone back to SNG/tourneys after 2 years of cash games. Variance can be a killer but the players are awful (even the regs)

A: I think poker will always be exploitable and beatable. Just because lots of players are playing a nit or nitTAG strategy…doesn't mean they don't have exploitable areas of their game. Thus why I think everyone should learn to LAG well =)

I think online cash games will continue on the way they are until there is a re-boom of sorts. And until the massive influx of fish…players will have to learn to crush the multi-tabling nits and TAGs.

Q: Do you reckon you could pwn Jack Wilcox heads-up?

A: HUNLHE is one of my weakest games…so I'd imagine that he'd beat me =)

Q: How many 5 year olds could you take on in a death brawl scenario?

A: To quote a master… "would I be able to wield one of the 5yr olds like a sword?" I think I could take on 12 of them assuming I am unable to wield one of them. Probably about 19 if I could wield one =)

Q: Who do you think is the best tournament player? Who do you think is the best cash game player? Who are you rooting for to win the WSOP Main Event this November?

Also, Keep making those videos. They are very educational and informative.


A: MTT: shaundeeb
Cash: durrrr
WSOP: I was rooting for Benba

I will gladly keep making videos if you keep watching them =)

Q: To the aspiring poker grinder who has a decent understanding of the game, would you reconmended to focus on 6-max, full ring, or whatever happens to be the softest games at the time?

A: I would recommend being able to play both formats well, but probably spending more time with 6max on average. Of course, if one format gets super soft and that becomes the most profitable way to spend your grinding time…then play that until it starts drying up =)

Q: How does a US Player get money into an online poker site and then withdrawn his money if he has winnings?? With the US DOJ's recent actions im afraid to post any money on any of the web sites. I see US players on all of them but do not understand how they are getting their money out if they are. What do you suggest?

A: Many sites offer options like credit cards and WU for depositing…and checks are the standard cashout method for US players right now. Just make sure to do your homework on any site you are going to play on to ensure they are reputable, regulated well, and cashing out regularly. I personally suggest RPM Poker, as they have been nothing but good to me.

Q: Local tournament.
10 to 11 to a table, seating is crowded.
Self-deal is inconsistent and can be sloppy.

Seat 5 picks up and looks at Seat 6's cards… what happens next?

A: Meh…I'd personally just give Seat 6 Seat 5's original hand (assuming Seat 5 didn't look at those cards yet). However, I'd expect players to want a re-deal because live players love to complain about everything.

Q: What kind of betting with a K before flop and if you miss what to do?

A: Lots of betting and then possibly less betting unless betting is better than not betting.

Q: What's a realistic hands/hour-hands/day goal that a person who wants to take this seriously should be grinding the micros at? What's a realistic bb/100 win rate? How much time is too much time before beating the micros?

A: I'd personally want to be playing no less than 500hands/hr…but I'm a big proponent of learning how to multi-table well (but the real answer for this question is super personal and based upon the skills and goals of a given player). A realistic WR would be 1.5PTBB/100 (3bb/100) at 100NL, and obviously a little higher at lower levels.

I don't think the last question is fair. Simply because it could take a particular player a long while to finally grasp some of the major concepts…but once they do…they can grind right out of the micros with ease. Quitting is for people who quit…

Q: Folded around to Hero on BTN with AKo. Hero raises to 2.5x. BB calls (LAG, 77-JJ, ATB, 76s+). Flop: 632r. Villain checks. Hero

Flops like these confuse me with ace high. I'm getting enough FE to make a c-bet +EV (Flopzilla says 52.8%); however, I'm only folding out hands that I beat & many of them are dominated. If I felt that Villain would lead with his entire range on the turn would taking a SDV line & checking back flop, calling turn lead, & evaluating river be valid?

A: Ehh, I'd rather just CB versus that range most of the time and plan on dubbing sometimes (assuming I don't think I'm getting CR'd too often). I'd need more info before I did the check flop/call turn/eval river line…

Q: Many comment about which sites have the weakest players, but little is written about the stakes at which the weakest players play. While it may easiest to think the lower the stakes, the worse the players, I wonder if that is true. Perhaps the bad players like the thrill of playing for slightly higher stakes. What do you think?

A: On average, the weakest players will be found at the lowest stakes. And even when you get a super fish in a higher stakes games…you will be surrounded by more competent players who will be attacking the fish just as hard, if not harder, than you are. However, there are fish everywhere…so just scope em out and take dollars =)

Q: If someone (player 1) bets out of turn, then someone before raises an amount larger than player 1 does player 1's money stay in the pot? Does the situation apply to both tournament and cash games?

Thank you.

A: I honestly have no idea, lol. I would ask a floor person at your local card room, or ask in the Brick & Mortar section of 2p2

Q: I'm an aspiring poker professional, but can not seem to get the same positive result online that I do playing in live games. I recently moved due to my job and no longer live close to a casino to go play live and seem to just throw money away when I play online.

I've read books, and tried changing up my style of play for online but can't seem to figure out how to break through and consistently make long term money…. any help?

A: There is a big difference in dynamic between live and online. Are you using a HUD to play online? If not, I would certainly suggest it (and you can watch my HUD video to learn how to use it). Online is a tougher game…and would say 2/5NL live plays similar to 25NL online. So certainly keep that in mind when selecting games online…

Q: What is a good long term average amount to win on a $3/$5 table?

A: Assuming that is $3/$5NL live (with a $500 buy-in)…I would say your hourly would max out about $35-$40/hr.

Q: When is the next book coming out? When do you think we'll get online poker back?

A: I actually decided to release a video series rather than a new book (Red Chip Poker).

As for getting online poker back? I have no idea… but hopefully soon!

Q: In the chapter of DFRP called the "OMG I'm Confused Line" you mention that as a default on an AXX board you check back PP's with definitive SDV (JJ+) & c-bet PP's < JJ. Why do you do this as a default? Is it because checking 88 makes dealing with a turn lead really difficult?

A: Bingo. Also, the lower the pair, the more overcards to that pair you will have to contend with on the turn (which makes it super tough both when facing a turn bet…and when deciding to bet the turn)

Q: Hi James. Was just wondering if there was any chance you could post some SNG strategy vids. Or is it that you dont play them?

A: I don't play STTs and thus wouldn't feel comfortable releasing strategy content for them. You can certainly use some cash game concepts in STT/MTT formats…but STT/MTTs offer a different dynamic given the blind increases and “one life to live” mentality.

Q: Should we set limit of winning and losing in each session before we play? If yes, what should be the maximum number of buyins to lose if each buyin is 200bb?

In my experience, when I call to draw a flush, most of the time I do not have the correct odds to call my opponent's bet. Should I bet out first to draw instead? Or should i raise the bet in order to better the odds?

Thanks for your reply.

A: I personally suggest stoplosses most of the time. I personally take a break if I drop 2.5BI, and quit a day if I lose 4BI. For deep buy-ins, I would obviously loosen them up just a bit.

Too tough to say without more info. If you find yourself confused with draws at all, I would suggest buying my “Playing Draws” video…it should answer all of your questions.

Q: Hi Split.. in overall terms do you think there is all that much differens in STTs at $7 lvl on stars compared to $15 and even higher? I think at these lower lvls the play is roughly the same. What differences do you think there are?

A: Given that I don't play STTs, I can't really comment here. Sorry =(

Q: Hi my friend. Today's online people play only 6max – they dont even think to play FR. Why you prefer FR? is something special you like? Thank you.

A: There are still FR games, but 6max games have always been more popular online. I personally think FR games are easier to get started in…but that 6max players have more upside potential on average.

Q: Hi, 

Thanks for your vids, I always learn a lot. My question is what would be your "default" play (against a regular, neither too tight nor too aggro), when you flop medium strength top pair or overpair (9 through 6), heads up?

Here are some examples:

- You open from the CO with Kh7h, get called by the SB, the flop is 7s4s2d: what do you do if checks? If he donks?
Same hand, but you get called by the button. Do you cbet?
- You called the CO open raise from the button with 88, same flop than before, what is your plan? What if you called from the SB?

Thanks, perhaps I've given you an idea for your next video…

A: I'm glad you are learning a lot =) Here are some answers…

CB K7. If he donks I'd call. I'd also CB OOP.

Call a bet, or bet if checked to. OOP I'd c/c on average and play turns better than he does. If he is super dubby though, I plan for that when choosing my line understanding that most every turn is an overcard and I will face bets on it (hint: I'm thinking about how he would play rivers =) )

Q: Could you walk us through what an average session is like for you?

Such as: which days/times are best, your table selection methods & reasons, your seat selection methods & reasons, what stakes you'll play, do you mix stake amounts during the session, number of tables, do you ramp up & down the number of tables as the session starts and ends, how long is your average session, what's your mental checklist before you start and after you end a session, etc…

Thanks, your videos are the best!

A: Wow that's a lot of questions…Let's answer them in order:

  • Weekends and nights are best.
  • I prefer super nitty tables so that I can just LAG it up PF and steal a ton of blinds.
  • I prefer nits 3 to my left and 2 to my right. Otherwise, no 3bettors on my left. And I like fish to my right.
  • I have a unique POV on which stakes I'll start a session at. I don't mix stakes in my tables (like 7 50NL tables and 7 100NL tables at the same time)…but I will jump around stakes during a session if I feel I need to.
  • I start on 10 tables on average, and usually try to get up to 18. I've played as many as 40 tables at the same time, but average around 14.
  • My average session is usually about 46 minutes. My brain is usually too exhausted after an hour to continue, and of course some sessions are shorter due to tilt, boredom, stoploss, bad tables, etc.
  • I start a session by turning on a song that I will listen to on repeat for the entire session. I wrap up every session by going over my 3 biggest winner, 3 biggest losers, 5 random hands, and any hands I marked while playing.

Hopefully that helps, and I'm glad you are enjoying the vids!

Q: Split!

What's life been like since Black Friday? Do you still play online in the States or have side projects (coaching, vids, etc.) become more profitable? What was the biggest hurdle you ever had to overcome in your poker career? Should I move to Vegas? Can you dunk?

A: Life has been a roller coaster…but then again…when isn't life a roller coaster? I haven't played a lot online since Black Friday…but I have been playing more live. My biggest hurdle in poker was breaking away from the standard and unimaginative TAG strategy and really creating something that I felt comfortable with. I think every poker player should live in Vegas…if nothing else just for a couple months during the WSOP. I have never been able to dunk…even at my athletic peak. But thanks for bringing up such a sensitive topic =(

About SplitSuit.

James "SplitSuit" Sweeney is author of Dynamic Full Ring Poker: Beyond The Basics. He also coaches at his personal website He uses the alias *Split* at the 2+2 forums, which is where you can find his famous contributions to the COTW thread.

Go back to the immense Texas Hold'em strategy videos.


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