3 Tips That Will Increase Your Jackpot Poker Profits
By Bob Garcia
Jackpots poker tournaments are a fun way to learn how to play short-stack poker; you can play them one after another, enjoying the non-stop rush for hours at a time, or pull up a couple during halftime of the big game or on your lunch-break at work and take your shot at a life-changing score in a matter of minutes. But as in most things in life, with such a huge upside comes inevitable risk.
With a never-ending string of jackpot SNGs popping off 24-hours-a-day, there are endless opportunities for inexperienced to make the types of small, repetitive mistakes that often go unnoticed (after all, you can’t possibly know what you can’t possibly know) and will eventually show a significant negative impact on your bottom line. Because no matter how small the strategy error is, when multiplied over hundreds or even thousands of games, it is inevitable that they soon begin feeling no better than dozens of ‘small’ splinters would under your fingernails. So, to help you avoid this death of a thousand cuts, here are 3 tips and strategies for increasing your profitability at the jackpot poker tables.
Select the right type of hands to Continuation Bet
When sitting at jackpot poker table, most players recognize that they need to play more aggressively, but often select the wrong spots to do it, of which the most common one is when continuation-betting. Inexperienced players erroneously believe that just because they entered the pot as the aggressor, they have a duty to fire the flop regardless, but nothing could be further from the truth. A good continuation bet, or “cbet”, is composed of roughly an equal number of value-bets and bluffs (we can go a little harder on the bluffs since the population still tends to over-fold on the flop) while leaving some value hands out that can be included in our check-back range (to avoid having our opponent be able to profitably bet any two cards when we fail to cbet). By betting the flop too aggressively, we expose ourselves to a checkraise-heavy counter strategy that is extremely difficult to defend for all but the most studied of students. That’s why taking the approach of only cbetting hands that play well versus a raise, as well as draws that are highly unlikely to win the hand in a showdown, is a good place to start, with adjustments being made in either direction once you’ve built reads on your specific opponents’ tendencies.
Fire more rivers
Here’s a fun exercise to try at the Jackpot Poker tables: bet the river every time the hand has been checked down the whole way. You don’t need to bet much either, a half-pot-sized bet is more than enough and only needs to work a third of the time to show a profit. If this is not a play you’ve made consistently, odds are you’ll be surprised at how well this little poker hack will do. Just be aware that if this type of play is not in your repertoire, you’re likely going to be caught stealing much more often than you’re used to, but don’t let that dissuade you. Unless a certain opponent is unwilling to fold in spots such as this, grit your teeth and fire that river bet, no matter how scary it feels!
Additionally, if you ever end up with the betting lead on the river as the aggressor (meaning that you bet the flop and/or turn and now have the opportunity to fire another bet on the river), make sure to balance your range by betting both your big hands as well as your missed draws that have no showdown value.
These two situations are ones where it becomes very easy to increase your overall aggressiveness at the table, giving you a unique edge that most recreational players are not experienced enough to attack or exploit.
This really should have been tip #1, because without it you have about as much chance at long-term success playing Jackpot SNGs as Seth Rogen does getting into North Korea. BRM, of course, stands for Bankroll Management and is the single most important tool in any serious poker player’s arsenal. Jackpot SNGs are a crucial place to practice good BRM thanks to their speed and the variance inherent in such a short-stacked format, with 100 buy-in downswings being far from rare. Common logic dictates that players always maintain a 200 buy-in bankroll and move down a level whenever falling too far below that benchmark.
For these same reasons, it’s of the utmost importance to treat a 2x prize-pool game with the exact same focus and dedication as one would a 200x game. Because in a game where the variance is extreme to begin with, “punting” away the most common prize-pool payout to chase the jackpot spin is a sure-fire recipe for going bust. The key then, much like it is in any form of poker, is to treat each game, and even each hand, independently from the prize-pool and focus on making the right plays time after time while your opponents spew chips all over the table trying to rush their way to a six-figure score. Of course, there will be times to stray from a hand-by-hand strategy, such as when playing a large multiplier where your opponents are likely to play much more timidly, but more often than not sticking to your game-plan without getting distracted by the money on the line will be optimal strategy.
Practice these three tips the next time you’re sitting at the Jackpot Poker table, selecting the right type of hands to continuation-bet, playing more aggressively on rivers, and practising excessively-strict bankroll management, and you’ll soon find that your time at the table is not only more profitable, but much more fun as well.
Good luck out there!
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