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Advanced Poker Training’s New Combat Trainer Learn To Beat “The Hand” That Is Defeating You

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jun 20, 2018


Another solid session undone once again by… The Hand.

For hours, I grind out a profitable session: playing fundamentally strong, being aggressive preflop, continuation betting at a high rate, and not calling off lots of chips with obvious second best holdings. Then there it is: The Hand.

I have a strong holding, I’m facing off against an aggressive player, and I’m staring at a flop that offers innumerable ways I could be in trouble. Every action is fraught with potential disaster. I feel completely at sea without decision-making tools to grab on to. The Hand has a way of making all of the gains of dozens of well-played hands evaporate, along with any positive feelings I had about the session.

Later I replay the hand over and over in my head, looking for traps I missed, wondering how it might have gone better had I changed my line. I crave another shot, hoping to make it right. However, I may not see a similar situation to The Hand for weeks. By that time the memories of what went wrong will have faded, and I’ll sit there struggling anew, feeling no better off.

Advanced Poker Training’s Combat Trainer

Recently, I looked for resources to address this feeling of ill-preparedness in these tricky situations. After reviewing the top training sites, I discovered the Combat Trainer at (APT). The Combat Trainer is described as preparing players “through repeated drills of common scenarios” and seemed to address the problem I was having.

Advanced Poker Training’s Combat Trainer offers just that — repeated drills on common scenarios, in six categories — from preflop to river play, and additional ones specifically for tournament tactics. I figured I would start at the beginning, and chose a preflop scenario that immediately spoke to me: “How Many Ways Can I Play Pocket Jacks Wrong?” In this scenario, the player has J-J in the cutoff and is facing a middle-position 3x raise. Straightforward enough.

For several repetitions, all was well. I three-bet most of the time and took the hand preflop. I flatted and set mined a couple of times just for kicks, to no avail, but took the hand down with a continuation-bet most of the time, and folded to re-raises on a couple of occasions. Safe, solid, and profitable play over the first dozen or so hands.

Then there it was: The Hand. I three-bet preflop with JSpade Suit JDiamond Suit and was called. The flop came JClub Suit 10Heart Suit 9Heart Suit. The Villain checked and I bet half the pot and got called.

This is when I knew that APT was onto something. That flop, and the actions taken, made me feel nauseous instantly. I have top set, but this board is soaking wet. I could be behind already to K-Q, and practically half the deck could yield potential turn scare cards. The out-of-position player called. That can’t be good.

The turn was the KClub Suit. APT, now you are just being cruel. The villain checked to me. I didn’t want to check because of the flush draws, so I bet half the pot again, and got raised. What was I thinking? I wish I had checked. He probably doesn’t have Q-Q – he would have four-bet that preflop. Can he really have A-Q? Or is he still on a flush draw, and is just trying to steal this one from me? And there it is… that lost feeling.

Unable to fold my set and hoping for a paired board on the river, I call. A 4Diamond Suit comes on the river and the Villain bets his puny remaining stack, no more than 25 percent of the pot. I make a disgusted call. Yes, he indeed had A-Q and I wave goodbye to this session’s profit.

I persisted with the Combat Trainer and won most of the hands but ran into several other tricky moments. It was amazing to be able to play 100 hands in this scenario over about 20 minutes. I started to get a feel for each action and likely outcomes as I experimented with different lines. I even saw a couple of other “flopped set, wet board, sticky player” situations. This allowed me to internalize a set of strategies in a short time. Strategies that stuck with me long after the session ended.

I ran through several other scenarios on APT’s Combat Trainer, spending significant time on a river scenario with top pair top kicker facing an opponent who has called me on every street. Let’s just say there were some rocky moments and valuable learnings there as well. The Combat Trainer is clearly another win for APT, already one of the most versatile of the online poker training sites. No other resource allows for such intensive focus on a single problem situation in such a short period of time. This is how learning happens.

Combat Trainer’s Birth and Future

After my encounter with the new Combat Trainer I contacted Steve Blay, Founder of APT, to discuss this groundbreaking tool. Blay explained that the Combat Trainer fills an important, previously unfilled, role in players’ training regimen. “Profitability in poker often comes down to a few key hands over the course of weeks or even months of play. Win the majority of those big hands and you’ll realize significant profit. Lose them, and your stake will take a big hit.”

While some of poker’s downswings are due to the variability in a string of missed big draws or bad beats, Blay feels too little attention is paid to the role of preparation for common challenging scenarios. “One of the first situations that came to mind, and one of our first scenarios, is playing AK out of position when you miss the flop. You raise preflop, get a couple of callers, and then miss completely. How frequently do you c-bet, and how do you decide which boards to do so on? If you c-bet and get called, do you continue to bet out on the turn? These are the situations that can get expensive quickly.”

Blay reports that APT members are excited about the new Combat Trainer. “APT is not only a training site with a wide array of tools, it is also a growing community of poker players. Members play daily tournaments vs. other members, discuss hands in our forums and are constantly encouraging us to expand our materials. Their response to the Combat Trainer has been very positive. Mostly they just want more scenarios and even greater functionality.”

Further development of the Combat Trainer is a point of emphasis right now for APT. “We’re working to move the Combat Trainer in a number of directions. We’re making it so the chip stacks and opponent types change each time you start a scenario. We just released about 10 more scenarios, and hope to a few dozen by the end of 2018.”

Advanced Poker Training’s Combat Trainer leverages the site’s strengths: the ability to play a high volume of hands in a very short period, the ability to focus that practice on specific skills, and resources like real time advisor suggestions.

Blay indicated that the Combat Trainer continues his mission at APT to provide a top-notch training platform of focused practice. “There are no secrets or shortcuts to getting better at poker. You need to learn, play, practice, and absorb feedback. If you play thousands of hands and thoughtfully apply and develop your skills, the results will follow. At APT we want to provide all the tools needed to fully develop your game without sinking thousands of dollars into it, or thousands of hours playing.”

Some of the other Combat Trainer scenarios currently available are:

You flop a flush draw but the preflop aggressor is betting into you.

You have pocket queens and bet the flop. A king comes on the turn. Now what?

Pocket kings on a A-K-4 flop; how to extract max value?

Straight draw, out of position, 40 big blinds deep in the middle of a tournament.

Advanced Poker Training’s Other Tools and Features

The Combat Trainer joins an already rich collection of tools that APT offers its members. Members can play up to 500 hands per hour in APT’s no-limit hold’em training game simulation which can be designed to resemble the structure, stakes, and player strength of their most common live or online games, both cash and tournament play.

Every hand you play on APT is stored forever in your own online searchable database. There is even a “Retry” feature which allows members to play a single hand over and over again, allowing them to try different lines and see the impact on other players’ actions.

Each week, APT provides its members a Training Plan that analyzes the most important areas for practice based on a computerized analysis of the player’s game. Ongoing reports chart quality of play for all starting hand combinations, at each position, and on each street. These reports also allow members to assess performance on certain poker actions, such as raising preflop and continuation betting, the amount which luck has affected performance, and an analysis of their best and most challenging hands. The hand analysis section even allows members to replay hands that have been tagged as outstanding by APT and hands that they have identified as problematic. Resource links then offer the means to practice weak spots and direct players to instructional articles and videos on those topics.

While high-volume, focused practice is critical to APT’s training regimen, the site offers various other modes to aid in that education. “Beat the Pro” Challenges allow members to compare skills against pros such as Scotty Nguyen, David Williams, Jonathan Little, Ed Miller, and others. Hand Reviews by WSOP champions Scott Blumstein and Qui Nguyen and founder Steve Blay give members a peek into the minds of experts in the game. Regular Webinars with poker pros such as James “SplitSuit” Sweeney, Alex Fitzgerald, and Jonathan Little give members even greater insight into improving specific areas of their game.

In addition, Advanced Poker Training offers a wide variety of tools to help members analyze their game and optimize their play. The Winning Odds tool allows users to calculate their hand equity in any situation that they define. Knowing the Odds, which can be viewed on-site or downloaded offers a series of odds charts grouped by the most common scenarios (e.g., flopping a set, completing draws on the turn or river). The Shove-Fold tool allows players to input an exact situation and determine whether shoving or folding is the right move given the hand, stack size, and opponent’s expected range. The Tournament Chop tool calculates a fair ICM chop for situations in which players would like to make a deal.

Meanwhile, the APT Blog offers insights into poker strategy, goings on at Advanced Poker Training, and commentary on the poker world at large. Finally, the vibrant APT Member Forum allows players to discuss problem hands, hand reviews, and play in general with other members, and with Blay and other members of the APT team.

With its high level training simulations, training reports, and the above tools and resources, it is clear why the site has had more than 150 million hands played on it. Whether you are a novice or a regular live or online player, and whether you play cash games or tournaments, has a unique set of training offerings for your game, and I think you will find that the speed and quality of the training will help you improve your game no matter what your level. ♠