How to Improve Non-Showdown Winnings (AKA Fixing Your Redline)

Is this your redline?

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 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.

What Does a Downward-Sloping Redline Mean?

Where you run into problems is if your redline looks like a sharp, downward slope. Losing more than you win in non-showdown hands is a common leak that many players have - most notably 2+2 "legend" Fgators.

fix your poker redline
Putting money in and folding = redline issues

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.

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Fix Your Redline By Playing Fewer Tables

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. 

One of the best things about online poker is that you can play more than one table at a time. Instead of the gruelling 20 hands an hour you may get live, online you may be able to get 1,000 hands or more.

non-showdown winnings
Play fewer tables.

Though more hands an hour is an obvious plus, there's also an obvious negative. The more tables you play the less attention you can give each one of them.

Auto-Pilot is a Major Factor

Let's say your win rate is three big bets per 100 hands (3BB/100) over a large sample size when you play one table. If you double the amount of tables you play, in theory you double the amount of money you make.

But you can't just keep doubling your tables and keep making more and more money. Eventually, as you add more tables, your game will start to deteriorate. You'll no longer be able to give each decision the required amount of thinking. You'll rush decisions to act on other tables and you'll slip into auto pilot.

Auto pilot is one of the major factors of a downward-sloping redline. When you slip into auto pilot you stop thinking. And when you can't give each decision the required amount of thought, you'll make countless little mistakes.

No longer are you thinking, "My opponent is tight-aggressive and will probably peel with 99 on T 3 4." You're just thinking, " I raised pre-flop I c-bet, hurrrr."

You don't think, "If I c-bet this board I am going to have to fire multiple barrels." So when you c-bet that flop and he calls, you shut down on the turn. He bets the river and you fold. Bam, you just wasted a bunch of money and hurt your redline.

poker non showdown strategy
Beware of auto-pilot.

Now picture doing that on 10 tables for two-plus hours. Similar situations pop up all the time and if you're consistently on auto pilot you'll be making mistakes like this all session long.

When your session is filled with small mistakes, your win rate - and especially your non-showdown win rate - is going to suffer.

How Many Tables Should I Be Playing?

That's up to you. Only you know when you're giving each decision proper thought. You know when you're struggling and rushing your decisions.

Some people can play 12 tables at once without rushing decisions or going on auto pilot. Others may struggle with two. It's up to you to figure out how many tables are right for you.

But I make more with a smaller win rate and more tables!

Well, that's probably true. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out if you win at 3BB/100 playing two tables and 2BB/100 playing eight tables, and your only goal is making money, then play the eight tables.

If, however, your main goal is to improve as a poker player and move up in limits, then you may be better off in the short run playing less tables, making less overall money, but playing better poker.

When you massively multi-table you may make more money but you stunt your poker growth. It's up to you to decide what your goals are.

Do you want to move up in limits and improve as a poker player? Or are you happy with where you are and how much money you're making currently? If it's the former, you're better off playing less tables and paying more attention.

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non showdown poker winnings

How You Can Improve Your Poker Redline

C-Bet Less and C-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.

Further Reading:

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.

Further Reading:

When to Fire a Second Barrel on the Turn

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.

redline poker tips
Get aggressive with draws

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.

Further Reading:

Play More Hands in Position

Stop playing out of position! It's been said a thousand times but if you're playing out of position you're going to lose money. And when it comes to non-showdown winnings, it's extremely true.

When you play out-of-position you're at an extreme disadvantage. You have to act with no information and your opponent gets the huge bonus of getting to see what you do before he acts.

What that means for your redline is that you're going to be left guessing a ton. You're going to peel with your second pairs and your weak top pairs, and then you're going to fold to further action.

poker redline HEM
Position position position

Putting money into the pot and folding = redline disaster. An example:

$1/$2 game online; effective stacks $200. You're in the big blind with A T. It's folded around to the regular on the button who makes it $7.

The small blind folds and you call. The flop comes J T 3. You check and he bets $12 into $15. You make the call and the turn comes K. You check and he fires $28 into $39.

Now here's your problem. You know that the K is a great barrel card. And you know your decent opponent is going to second-barrel it with almost 100% of his range - just because you're going to fold so often.

So your options are fold and forfeit 10BB, or call and hope he shuts down on the river. If he fires the river, you definitely have to fold and now you're forfeiting 23.5BB.

Neither option is good. Especially if your opponent is capable of firing multiple barrels. Because your opponent is in position, he's entirely in control of the hand.

He decides whether to bet or whether to check and he always has the last say. If you lead, he can fold, call or raise. If you check, he can check or bet. Where your hands are tied he has complete control. With similar hands taking place all the time, it's easy to see how you can bleed money from out of position.

Though it's impossible to completely avoid playing out of position (you can't just fold TT because you're out of position for example) you can (and should) tighten up your out-of-position calling range.

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Further Reading:

non showdown winnings poker strategy

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.

Further Reading:

Don't Obsess Over a Positive Redline!

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. But 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, you'd best make some changes now - or resign yourself to just being another one of the thousands of below-average grinders out there.

More on Fixing Your Redline:

More Beginner Poker Strategy articles:

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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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