The 3 Best Poker Strategies to Increase your Red Line
Here are three of my best strategies to increase your red line at poker, or in other words improve your non-showdown winnings. But before we go there, let’s step back.
Why do you care? My guess is you’ve read about some mid-stakes crusher who has a red line shaped like a bike ramp, while yours drops off to oblivion. Obviously our goal is to maximize the green line (net won). If you currently have a nice steadily rising green line over 100k’s of hands, then you really shouldn’t worry about it even if your red line declines. “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”
If however, your green line is dismal as well, and probably since you’re reading this blog in the first place, you have reason to believe that improving your red line will indeed have a significant impact on the green one. This brings us to strategy #1.
1) Understand the Red line Factors
Let’s begin by moving away from the abstracted concept of a “graph line” and into more tangible indicators. We’ll discuss two statistics:
- W$WSF % – Won Money When saw flop
- W$SD % – Won Money at Show down
The first, W$WSF, quantifies the percentage of the time you win the pot, once you’ve seen the flop. It doesn’t matter whether you get to showdown or not. It doesn’t matter how big the pot is. It’s simply a measure of how frequently you’re winning post-flop. Players with high W$WSF (>= 47%) tend to have at least flat red lines. In fact, it is one of the best poker statistics to focus on if you want to manage your red line.
The second, W$SD, describes when you DO see a showdown (i.e. flip the cards over on the river), how often you win. Realize this is correlated with your blue line (showdown winnings) and inversely correlated with your red line. If you’re trying to increase your red line, you would want to get your W$WSF higher but make sure your W$SD is not TOO high (under 55%).
This is a good approach if you play in tough games (i.e. mostly full of regs). But if you play micro-stakes, and often have two or three fish at the table, this actually could be the wrong approach. Fish tend to be calling stations and/or maniacs. Versus calling stations, your job is to wait for strong hands and then cash in at showdown (higher W$SD). You beat maniacs by giving them lots of small pots but eventually stacking them with a few big pots (lower W$WSF). This is why it’s perfectly fine to have a downward sloping red line in really fishy games.
2) Know the standard lines to attack
Regardless of the game you play in though, you always want to be aggressive. Especially when you’re up against another reg, you should be fighting hard to win. Anytime they show weakness, this is your chance to attack. Let me give you a few examples of common lines to use that will certainly increase your red line.
Bet Versus Missed C-bet
At micro-stakes, you should be betting the majority of the time someone declines to continuation bet. Players do not “protect their checking range” enough that you have to worry about getting trapped.
Most regs chicken out when it comes to the river barrel bluff. Don’t be that guy. Come up with a specific strategy that will result in you barreling more rivers (e.g. I’ll bet my non-nut busted flush draws or I’ll bluff whenever his WtSD% is under 25.)
Raise the Flop AND FOLLOW THROUGH
Most regs also don’t follow through enough with the turn bet after bluff raising the flop. Again, you’re better than that. Bet the turn frequently after bluff raising the flop. So many regs will call the flop raise just to see if you’ll keep firing.
Double Barrel the “back end”
When a villain checks back the flop, this usually means one of two things: 1) he’s giving up or 2) he’s pot controlling weak showdown value. If it’s #1, he’ll simply fold to your turn bet. If it’s #2, he’ll probably fold to your river bet. You win either way!
3) Think Outside the box
This last strategy is what separates a solid 45% W$WSF grinder from a deadly 50% W$WSF crusher. Attacking the standard lines above is a good start, but it will only take you so far. You have to go deeper. To truly get ahead and win at least half the time post-flop, you need to break from what everyone else is doing. You have to out-level your opponents. Bluff in spots where people aren’t usually bluffing. The ABC regs will then say: “well, he would never bluff here. I guess I fold.”
Take your sizings to the next level. Go big. 85%, 110%, 200% pot-sized bets. Obviously, the bigger you bet, the more fold equity you will have, and the more pots you will win. The One-Two Punch I blogged about last time is the perfect example.
Work in more leads and alternative lines. Donk the flop. Or check/call the flop and donk the turn. Or bet the flop and check-raise the turn.
And don’t be afraid to lose the pot. You must overcome such fear in order to become that bad-ass red line rocketeer. The more you experiment, the more you’ll discover, and eventually the more confident you will become.