Getting to Poker’s Fantasy Land

Let’s get to poker’s Fantasy Land! What is this, you ask?

Fantasy Land is being in the most profitable spot with every hand you choose to play. It’s seeing EVERY flop in position, as the preflop raiser against 1 other player.

Is it possible to reach poker’s Fantasy Land?

Probably not. But in this post, I’m going to help you get as close as you can to it.

Listen to the podcast as you follow along below:

Poker’s Fantasy Land: The Land of Bread & Butter

Poker’s Fantasy Land would be if we could be in a Bread & Butter situation with every hand we choose to play.

Impossible, I know.

But just because it’s impossible doesn’t mean we can’t get more B&B than we do now, and it doesn’t mean we can’t get more than our opponents.

B&B is when you are IP on the flop, as the preflop raiser and against 1 other opponent (2 other opponents is okay and is still B&B).

Here’s a quick break-down of why Bread and Butter situations are so profitable:

  1. You’re In Position (IP). Position = more information = intimidation = power = profits.
  2. You’re the Preflop Raiser. You have KK and AA in your range, they don’t. Plus, continuation bets can be powerful ways of extracting more value or getting players to fold.
  3. You’re Heads-up (HU). Decisions are easier when facing just one other opponent (but again, 2 opponents is okay, just not as good).

You control the hands you choose to play. Because of this control, you can purposefully work to put yourself in more B&B situations than you do now.

You can choose to take more steps towards Fantasy Land than away from it.

 

Walking Away From Fantasy Land

First, why would you ever walk in the opposite direction of Fantasy Land?

I guess the simple answer is you are sometimes in situations where the non-aggressive plays are just fine and can be +EV (expectation of winning chips). Also, you can’t control playing from out of position nor how many players you see the flop with.

Calling

The more preflop calling you do, the further you get from Fantasy Land. Strong, profitable poker requires that you raise preflop more than you call.

Are you more of a caller, though? Look at your VPIP and PFR. If the gap between the two is a higher percentage than your PFR, then you’re more on the passive side. Examples of passive players:

  • 40/5 – the 35% gap > 5% PFR
  • 20/9 – the 11% gap > 9% PFR

The greater this gap is than your PFR, the more steps you’re taking away from Fantasy Land.

Playing Out of Position (OOP)

Calling from the blinds is obviously going to lead to OOP play. But, limping in the EP and MP also lead to lots of OOP play.

Also, raising a lot from EP when you know there are a lot of callers with position against you is just asking to be OOP on the flop.

Tiny Sizing

Do you raise to a size that invites lots of callers? Making it 2bb in a full-ring game is going to get every suited hand, every Broadway, every Ace and ever connected hand to call you.

You’ve got to raise to the table’s “pain threshold” in an effort to get just one caller.

This is the same for 3betting. If you make it 6bb’s over a 2bb open-raise, you’re asking for LP players and the original raiser to just call you because you made it too small. This might also invite bluff 4bets, which you probably don’t want.

Bread & Butter Blockers

Bread & Butter Blockers are people who love to call or 3bet from the later positions. Pay attention for who is left to act, and if you expect them to call or 3bet bluff, you’ve got to make your sizing bigger to discourage them. If they enter the pot after you, and with position, they’ve just blocked your B&B potential for the hand.

B&B Blockers also lead to multi-way pots. When the CO and BTN both like to call, they just sweeten the pot for the blinds to call. So, your 3bb open-raise with AA in hopes that just the BB calls, will lead to a 5-way pot after the CO, BTN, SB and BB all call.

Not the worst situation to be in, but now you’re in a field of landmines… watch out.

 

Get Closer to Poker’s Fantasy Land

Let’s get as close as we can to Poker’s Fantasy Land.

We’ve got to be the preflop raiser as often as possible and search out Bread & Butter situations.

Here’s what you’re looking for (and put these points on a sticky note for quick in-game reference):

  • Look ahead and avoid B&B Blockers. Always pay attention to the players still to act before you enter the pot. Look out especially for Bread & Butter Blockers.
  • Open-raise when the most likely caller is in the blinds. You want OOP blind callers for more B&B spots.
  • Size your raises large enough to limit re-raises and callers.
    • Make isolation raises over limpers large enough to convince everyone else to exit the pot and give you the limper all to yourself.
    • Open-raise large enough.
    • Same thing with 3bets. You want all to fold or just one player to call. Choose a size that achieves this.
  • Choose hands that you’re comfortable seeing the flop with. You’re going for B&B, so expect callers.
  • Plan for how you can steal the hand post-flop. Someone’s going to call you… what tendencies can you exploit to steal the post-flop pot?

*In-game Pro Tip: Use a Bread & Butter tick sheet with one column labeled “B&B” and the other labeled “Not B&B”. For every flop you see, make a tick mark in the appropriate columns. The goal is to have more tick marks in the “B&B” column.

 

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Strive to reach Poker’s Fantasy Land! Go for as much Bread & Butter as possible. No matter your hole cards, before you make your preflop play, ask yourself, “Can I get Bread & Butter in this hand?”

Keep your sticky note in front of you as you play:

  • Look ahead and avoid B&B Blockers.
  • Open-raise when the most likely caller is in the blinds.
  • Size your raises large enough to limit re-raises and callers.
  • Choose hands that you’re comfortable seeing the flop with.
  • Plan for how you can steal the hand post-flop.

Now it’s your turn to pull the trigger and do something positive for your poker game.

 

Support the Show

These wonderful poker peeps are working on poker’s #1 skill with my Online Poker Hand Reading Workbook: Brian Roy, Andrew Duffy, Jose Santos, Keith Rawson, Richard Cook, Axel Noack, Robert Bronstein, David Hogan, David Neal, Keith Smith, Chris Martin, Scott Vorachek, Thomas Westgate, Ding Qin, Roy Nichols, Courtney Smith, Jose Valdivieso and Enzo Ligotti.

Sky Matsuhashi
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