How to Improve Non-Showdown Winnings

Tom Dwan
Since durrrr always makes his opponents fold before the hand even starts, his redline is upsloping.

Online poker players who use stat tracking tools like Hold'em Manager or Poker Tracker know all about the "redline."

For live players, or players just starting out, "redline" winnings are your non-showdown winnings - hands you win without going all the way to a showdown.

Non-showdown winnings can be seen in HEM or PT by going to your graph page and hitting "display showdown winnings."

A red line will appear on your graph - that's your non-showdown winnings.

Hence the name redline (ldo). Why is this relevant?

Lately on the online forums, it's become a bit of a pissing contest among players to have an upward-sloping redline - meaning you win more money than you lose in non-showdown pots.

Does it really matter?

Yes and no. Of course you can still be a successful poker player with a negative redline. Different playing styles do different things to your graphs.

Where you run into problems is if your redline looks like a sharp downward slope.

Gus Hansen
Hansen: No Fgators.
 

Losing more than you win in non-showdown hands is a common leak that many players have - most notably 2+2 "legend" Fgators.

Fgators posted a now-famous thread in the BBV forum claiming he was the most unlucky player in the world and because of his perpetual run-bad he couldn't win at poker.

Fgators was a massive multi-tabler and played a ton of hands. And in that ton of hands, he definitely saw his share of bad beats.

But that wasn't why he couldn't win.

His redline was the most depressing sight ever; a sharp, downhill line almost the exact opposite of his showdown winnings.

Because he was losing so much money in non-showdown pots, it almost didn't matter how much money he made at showdown.

It could never make up for what he was losing.

What causes a downward sloping redline?

A downward sloping redline is caused by one thing: putting money in the pot and then folding.

That's it. If you're regularly putting money in and folding, your redline will suffer.

If you do it often enough, your overall win rate is going to suffer.

Some common ways players regularly hurt their redline:

All of these examples hurt your redline. The binding theme is putting a bunch of money into the pot only to fold without a fight.

So how do I avoid the dreaded downward-sloping redline?

Almost everybody that has a sharp, downward-sloping redline plays too many tables.

What too many tables is to one person may be completely different to another person.

But if you're basically playing your session on auto-pilot, you're playing too many tables - and your non-showdown winnings will suffer.

The easy solution: play fewer tables. Think about each decision you have and weigh your different choices.

Some examples of how you can improve your redline:

Joe Sebok
If he's a calling station, c-bet less.
 

Continuation-bet less and continuation-bet in better spots. Focus on your opponent and his tendencies.

If he's a calling station, you should be c-betting a lot less.

C-bet when the board seems to help your range, or if you plan on firing multiple barrels. If you're going to "one-and-done" the board, don't c-bet at all.

Fire more second barrels. Ditch that horrible one-and-done approach to c-betting.

Think about your opponent's flop-calling range. Double barrel cards that strengthen your perceived range and hurt your opponent's range.

Fire more third barrels. Again, think about your opponent's calling range and your perceived range.

Think about what type of hand he likely has and think about how much heat that hand can stand.

For example: you raise in the cut-off and a tight opponent calls in the big blind. The flop comes T 5 3.

If you choose to c-bet this, you should be firing a ton of turns and rivers because your opponent will rarely have a big hand.

He's going to be three-betting most overpairs preflop and he's going to be peeling one or more streets with hands like 88, 99, and AT.

Of those hands, few if any are going to want to call three streets.

If you fire one or two barrels then give up when he bets the river, you're losing a bunch of money without showdown.

Play your draws aggressively. Calling on the flop and the turn only to fold the river when your draw misses leaves money on the table.

When you play a draw aggressively, you have the added bonus of fold equity. This can increase your non-showdown winnings - not hurt them.

Play more hands in position. A simple one. When you're in position, you have the control.

Think about it. If you call a raise out of position, then check/call when you flop a gutter, when he fires the turn you have to fold.

Now think about if you have that same gutter in position. You can win by hitting that gutshot, or you can bet that turn when he checks to you and win it that way.

Guillaume Darcourt
Find the one-and-done players.
 

Bluff and semi bluff more. Just like in the last example, don't just play "fit or fold" poker. Look for opponents that have weak redline disease and punish them.

Find the one-and-done players, float their flop c-bets and take the pot away from them on the turn.

Think, think, think

These are just a few examples of how you can improve your non-showdown winnings.

The main thing you have to do is think. Think about why you're doing what you're doing and ask yourself what you're hoping to accomplish.

If you're just betting for the sake of betting, your whole game is going to suffer.

A word to the wise

If you're a winning poker player, it's best not to obsess over having a positive redline.

If your style is working for you, continue with it. Chances are messing with what works is going to make you less money - not more.

If you're a fledgling poker player, though, and your redline looks like the Dave Murray downhill, you'd best make some changes now - or resign yourself to just being another one of the thousands of rakeback grinders out there.

More strategy articles:

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About Daniel Skolovy

Daniel Skolovy started out in the gaming industry as a lowly dealer, spending countless graveyard shifts dealing blackjack, pai gow, carribean stud, baccarat, etc. He quickly became bored dealing games that were so obviously weighted in the house's favor.

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Robert 2013-09-30 04:57:53

@daniel if you play all-in, then yes. skill doesn't mean you win can win a single (specific) hand, but more of them in overall

daniel 2013-02-19 13:52:21

only a moron thinks skill helps at poker. any two cards can win ad you cant control it so its pure luck

Erik 2011-09-23 01:03:58

This is the most helpful article I have ever read for my online play. I also made the error of playing to many tables at the same time in the past, and as a result, would continue to lose money by auto-piloting them, even with a TAG strategy. I realized that my best option was to play less tables with more of a focus on observing my opponents behavior and reacting accordingly. As you say in this article, the key is to THINK.

Arty Smokes 2011-09-17 04:57:44

Nice article. Can you fix the (currently) broken links by adding /strategy after the dotcom address please?

Philippe Steels 2011-07-14 20:47:55

Excellent article ! My red line is break even and my green one just raises comfortably... I guess I don't have to worry then :)

Kyle 2010-10-04 00:59:02

Great article!!

Mark 2010-10-02 00:04:26

Thank you for this interesting, insightful article.

mike 2010-09-21 22:54:36

Love the articles, you can never have 2 much advice

poker jesus, son of poker gods. 2010-08-20 00:47:04

this was one of the best articles evaaarr

Nick 2010-08-12 13:25:27

Great article and great site.

Ah the redline, took me quite some time to get a positive one.

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