Monday, January 20, 2014

PLAYING YOUR "A" GAME: The sign over my desk

This is the contents of the hand written sign I've taped above my laptop+monitor setup in my office:



Thursday, January 16, 2014

updating my blog roll

now that I'm posting regularly (and hoping to continue to do so for the near future) I'd like to link to some blogs that are also posting regularly.  While I love all of the blogs I'm currently linked to, several of them haven't posted in well over 6 months.  Dfly's blog deserves a pass since it's so good you should go back and read the archives if you haven't already.  And I'm unlikely to actually remove some of the old blogs since I appreciate the effort that went into them, and they certainly would be interesting reading if you're killing time.

But if you're a poker player, coach, media personality, work in the industry, or are just a fan of the game and you regularly write a blog please post in the comments.  I'll take a look at your blog and, assuming you put some effort into it, I'll add it to my blog roll.  I don't profit in anyway from writing this blog, so if you're just running an affiliate service or something I probably won't link up.  But it would be nice to get back being a little more connected to the community of people that are interested in the game.

hope to see you in the comments.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hand of the Day: waiting for the turn to raise with a value hand

poker - $1 PL Hi (6 max) - Omaha Hi - 5 players Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

SB: 49 BB (VPIP: 56.56, PFR: 35.67, 3Bet Preflop: 18.88, Hands: 551)
BB: 127.72 BB (VPIP: 20.86, PFR: 16.32, 3Bet Preflop: 6.93, Hands: 1,283)
UTG: 205.99 BB (VPIP: 25.28, PFR: 16.53, 3Bet Preflop: 7.69, Hands: 7,557)
CO: 176.41 BB (VPIP: 39.85, PFR: 24.10, 3Bet Preflop: 8.94, Hands: 2,008)
Hero (BTN): 100 BB

SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has K A 3 Q

fold, CO raises to 3 BB, Hero calls 3 BB, SB calls 2.5 BB, fold

Flop: (10 BB, 3 players) Q 4 K
SB bets 7.12 BB, CO calls 7.12 BB, Hero calls 7.12 BB

Turn: (31.36 BB, 3 players) 3
SB bets 29.8 BB, CO calls 29.8 BB, Hero raises to 89.88 BB and is all-in, SB calls 9.08 BB and is all-in, fold

River: (138.92 BB, 2 players) Q

SB shows 6 T J 6 (Two Pair, Queens and Sixes) (Pre 48%, Flop 38%, Turn 23%)
Hero shows K A 3 Q (Full House, Queens full of Kings) (Pre 52%, Flop 62%, Turn 78%)
Hero wins 0 BB
Hero wins 135.92 BB

This hand is being posted to illustrate a very simply concept, waiting to raise a vulnerable value hand in PLO.  I think one of the biggest mistakes I found myself making early in my PLO career was raising nut hands on the flop without redraws.  Things like dry top set on a two tone board with a possible wrap, or the nut straight on a two flush board without a redraw to a higher straight.  There are three major reasons why you don't want to always be potting flopped nuts when you don't have a redraw:

1)  on turns and rivers that aren't blanks (and in PLO blanks are rare) you will have very low visibility (visibility - understanding how your hand performs against your opponents range/hand).  That means you will be stuck either checking and turning your hand face up, or betting and hoping your opponents haven't sucked out on you.  Not a very +EV situation.
2) you will unbalance your ranges.  If you're always raising the top of your value range on the flop you will create turn and river ranges that are only medium to weak bluff catchers.  This will encourage opponents to correctly barrel you in lots of spots where you might have the best hand, or might have equity, but you certainly don't feel great about it.  Once you show up with a nutted turn hand that can raise a few times you will find that people slow down their betting and barreling frequencies against you.  Also when you do raise and an opponent continues they're likely to have a very strong hand or draw, thus you'll have a tougher time getting value on later streets.  You've essentially tightened your opponents ranges to hands with very strong equity, which reduces the profitability of your hand on later streets.
3) you may run into the same hand with a redraw.  This is obviously an equity disaster for you.

In the above hand I'm almost positive I have the best hand on the flop.  However I know that if I raise the flop any spade, 4, 9, T. J, or A is going to be bad for me on the turn.  If I flat my opponent will likely barrel a blank with hands like AA with the NFD, or wraps.  Then I can pot the turn and safely get the money in as an equity favorite.  If I pot the flop the only things that are going to continue will likely have a minimum of 38% equity against me and will be able to play perfectly on the turn.  If they miss or the board pairs they x/f, if they hit they can lead or go for a x/r and I'm effed.

for people coming from a NL background I think this is a pretty important lesson that will help you avoid putting in a lot of money only to see a turn card and start mumbling obscenities.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hand of the Day: potting the nuts to level your opponent

poker - €0.50 PL Hi - Omaha Hi - 5 players Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

BB: 431.66 BB (VPIP: 27.74, PFR: 19.09, 3Bet Preflop: 6.63, Hands: 4,762)
UTG: 101.5 BB (VPIP: 24.73, PFR: 18.03, 3Bet Preflop: 6.67, Hands: 1,245)
CO: 184.84 BB (VPIP: 23.93, PFR: 19.81, 3Bet Preflop: 9.79, Hands: 1,089)
BTN: 91.64 BB (VPIP: 22.72, PFR: 17.01, 3Bet Preflop: 7.64, Hands: 12,797)
Hero (SB): 116.42 BB

Hero posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has 3 2 A A

fold, CO raises to 3.5 BB, fold, Hero raises to 11.5 BB, fold, CO calls 8 BB

Flop: (24 BB, 2 players) J 2 J
Hero checks, CO bets 12 BB, Hero calls 12 BB

Turn: (48 BB, 2 players) 7
Hero checks, CO checks

River: (48 BB, 2 players) A
Hero bets 48 BB, CO calls 48 BB

CO shows Q A K 5 (Two Pair, Aces and Jacks) (Pre 32%, Flop 11%, Turn 0%)
Hero shows 3 2 A A (Full House, Aces full of Jacks) (Pre 68%, Flop 89%, Turn 100%)
Hero wins 138 BB

fairly simple hand here.  My 3bet pre is standard.  My flop check is also standard.  On a dry paired flop I tend to check all of my trips, AAxx, and rundowns.  my plan will be to bet blank turns and rivers when villains check back, and x/c flop bets.  These situations are WA/WB so I need to give my opponents room to bluff, and it allows me to balance the times that I check with nothing and no equity.

So I check to villain and he bets half pot and I call.  The turn brings a bdfd and some GS, and my plan was probably to call one more street but it depends on villains sizing.  When he checks back I'm almost positive my hand is good.  There is some small chance that he might check back J7xx or JJxx in order to let catch up or bluff the river, but in general I've repped some decently strong SD value with my line and I think my opponent is going to continue betting with most of his value hands.

On the river I obviously hit the best card for me as it gives me top boat, and if my opponent was slow playing J2 or J7 I've now moved ahead.  Normally in this spot I would check and let my opponent bluff.  But this player was a particularly good and intelligent regular.  If I check to him he's just going to SD all of his not great SD value hoping I have worse (ie he'll check back Ax hoping I have KK, QQ, or a worse Ax).  and if I check to him he's not going to just bet and call it off with an underboat.  At best I'm getting one street of value.  So after a little thinking I decide to pot in order to look as bluffy as possible.  My line is purely exploitative, and it's based on the idea that by making a bet and a sizing that doesn't seem optimal for our expected ranges I might induce curiosity calls from my opponent.  I expect when I make this bet that I'm getting max value from underboats trips, and Axxx.

Villain wrote in chat "what do you have, quad jacks?" before calling with TPTK.  I feel confident if I had bet an amount that looked like it wanted a call I'm either getting a fold or significantly less value.

this isn't a play to be done all the time.  Often when your opponents aren't repping much and you're blocking lots of weak value hands potting it just assures you get no value on the river.  But in this case I think I probably got significantly more value than most regs do in this spot.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hand of the day: Knowing when not to bluff the river

poker - £0.20 PL Hi - Omaha Hi - 6 players Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

BTN: 112.1 BB (VPIP: 24.19, PFR: 4.10, 3Bet Preflop: 1.44, Hands: 1,985)
SB: 113.35 BB (VPIP: 23.91, PFR: 13.04, 3Bet Preflop: 7.69, Hands: 46)
BB: 134.4 BB (VPIP: 57.14, PFR: 16.48, 3Bet Preflop: 5.88, Hands: 93)
UTG: 100 BB (VPIP: 20.63, PFR: 15.18, 3Bet Preflop: 4.95, Hands: 3,014)
MP: 211.2 BB (VPIP: 26.63, PFR: 21.60, 3Bet Preflop: 13.60, Hands: 1,435)
Hero (CO): 124.4 BB

SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has 6 T 9 J

fold, fold, Hero raises to 3 BB, fold, SB raises to 10 BB, BB calls 9 BB, Hero calls 7 BB

Flop: (30 BB, 3 players) K 6 5
SB bets 18 BB, fold, Hero calls 18 BB

Turn: (66 BB, 2 players) Q
SB bets 50 BB, Hero calls 50 BB

River: (166 BB, 2 players) 8
SB checks, Hero checks

SB shows 4 K K 7 (Straight, Eight High) (Pre 65%, Flop 93%, Turn 78%)
Hero mucks 6 T 9 J (One Pair, Sixes) (Pre 35%, Flop 7%, Turn 23%)
SB wins 157.7 BB

first off let me say that villain in this hand basically plays very well on every street, kudos to him.  I make a few debatable and somewhat loose plays on the flop and the turn.  I'm not sure if they're correct, and I don't think they are very instructive in improving your play.  But I think the river can be a valuable learning spot.

Preflop, this is a fairly standard open in the CO especially with a BTN that is never squeezing.  The SB 3bets and I have enough connectivity as well as a suit so I should defend.  Also is relatively tight 3betting numbers somewhat increase the value of my hand as I think he'll often not have a lot of board coverage on middle to low flops.

On the flop I basically missed, but I decide to float.  There are lots of turn cards that really hit my range that don't hit his that I'll often be able to bluff.  Most of those cards also give me some backdoor straight draws improving the equity of my bluff.  Villains range is going to be heavily weighted towards large pairs, and I think he'll check the turn on a lot of cards allowing me to bluff some times and take a free turn some times.  I would like my float more if I had a bd flush draw, or a GS.  This is definitely a loose peel, and I don't have a problem with someone suggesting I should simply fold the flop.

The turn card is very good for my hand in that it gives me a 13 card wrap.  Granted the flush draw definitely reduces the value of that draw, but if I hit my straight I'm going to be good quite often.  Despite this villain nearly pots it in what is obviously a committing bet as he's now put in 78 of his 114bb stack.  So I have no fold equity and no reason to shove.  I'm getting about 2.32-1 on my call, and I estimate my turn equity against villains range at somewhere between 20 and 30%.  So I'm not quite getting the odds I want to call (3-1 would be better), but the river is going to be relatively easy to play and we still have 36 bb behind.  So my implied odds if I play the river well are more like 3-1.  That makes it close, but I decide to make a loose peel given the relative high visibility of my hand (ie I'll be able to hand and board read on the river fairly easily).  I make another somewhat loose and debatable peel here. 

On the river I whiff, and villain somewhat quickly checks.  Obviously when you find yourself at the bottom of your range on the river the first thing you should consider is bluffing.  But I'm only going to be betting 36bb into a 150bb pot, so I really shouldn't have much fold equity.  More importantly this card is a relative blank.  While I'll sometimes have hit a gutter that I had a bdfd or something to go with, this just isn't crushing my range.  I expect when villain checks the river on this card he's planning on calling any QQxx or better.  So I check back, give up, and lose.  It sucks, but it saved me 36bb.

The old saying is "don't go throwing good money after bad."  and a bluff on this river would have been exactly that.