How to Fix Your Red-Line

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Having a strong
red-line isn’t impossible; it just takes a solid understanding of the game to
get your red-line moving in the right direction without affecting your winrate.

What Is The
Red-Line?

In essence, the red-line
refers to non-showdown winnings. When you put money into the pot and fold, your
red-line will fall, but if you can get your opponent to fold without going to
showdown, your red-line will climb. An example of this would be if everyone
went all-in every hand and you called only your strongest hands and folded the
marginal. In this case, your red-line would be negative because you’re only
winning showdown pots and losing blinds; neither of which improve your
red-line.

Does Having A
Positive Red-Line Matter?

Yes and no. You can
improve your win rate by improving your red-line but bear in mind you don’t
need a positive red-line to be growing your bankroll. A winner can have stats like
half-a-million won in non-showdown, a-quarter-million won overall and a
red-line of straight-down. Or half-a-million won non-showdown, negative
hundred-thousand in showdowns for a positive red-line and net gain. Both
players are examples of overall winners, although one has a negative red-line.

The line that
should get 90% of your attention is your bottom-line. And how much money you’re
making overall. 

A flat red-line is
better than a negative one, as is usually the case in games where there are
more regulars and fewer fish, and pots tend to be small to medium-sized. If
you’re getting the better of your opponents on the small-medium pots, your
red-lines will be flat or positive. However, if they’re getting the better of
you in non-showdown small-medium pots, your red-lines will be negative.

How To Improve Your
Red-Line

  1. Be More Selective With Your Continuation Bets (C-Bets)

When you c-bet all the time you’re
contributing to the pot, but if you check-fold and give up, you’re hurting your
red-line. It’s a bigger drop than if you just check folded on the flop.

  • Fire Second And Third Barrels More Often 

Recover the non-showdown value lost
from check-folding and increase your red-line by getting your opponent to call
one or two barrels, then folding. The more your opponent calls before they
fold, the greater the increase to your red-line, for a bigger non-showdown pot
win.

  • Value Bet Thinner

It may seem counterintuitive, but try
value betting thinner when you’re called by better to help your blue-line. Get
your opponent to fold some hands that you had beat, or to fold a slightly
better hand, and that’s a pot that goes straight from your blue-line to your
red-line.

  • Defend Your Blind More Aggressively 

Defend your blinds for better pot odds
and remember, money folded in the blinds hurts your red-line. It’s considered a
non-showdown pot lost. So protect your blinds more often by defending and
winning a few more pots postflop. You only need to win less than half the time
you defend. Or win pots off the blinds by re-raising your opponent to steal and
take down those 3-bet pots postflop. You’ll see a bigger gain to your red-line
from the built-up non-showdown pots.

  • Play More Aggressive In General (Check/Raising)

A passive game in general means, trying
to win pots at showdowns; which hurts your red-line. However, if you can pick
your spots well and try to force your opponents to fold by adopting a
semi-bluffing or aggressive check-raising approach, this will improve your
red-line. It also means relying on fold equity rather than just playing on your
pot equity.

  • Don’t Call One Barrel With The Intention Of Folding To More 

As with the first point, be selective
with the hands you play. If your opponent is going to fire two or three barrels
and your hand can only call one barrel, you’re better off folding to the first
bet when you know more are coming.

  • Stop Calling 3-Bets With Weak Hands

Stop throwing money into the pot when
most of the time, you’re going to fold postflop. In a 3-bet pot you’re dealing
with a bigger pot than usual, and therefore a bigger hurt to your non-showdown
line. In general, don’t call 3-bets with weak suited connectors or small pairs
unless you’re extremely deep-stacked because you so rarely connect well enough
to play aggressively. Most of the time you’ll end up folding, so if you call
even once before folding, you’re destroying your red-line.

The Bottom Line

Improve your red-line
by implementing these techniques one at a time to see an uptick in your
red-line. If your bottom line follows the same upward trend, great, if not
focus your efforts where it counts: your bottom line. 

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