BLOG - Understanding Poker

BLOG - Understanding Poker

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

If you've ever watched a game at significantly higher stakes than yours - primarily the $40,000 to $200,000 buy-in ring games at Full Tilt - you will have seen players take lines and make bluffs or value bets that seem ridiculous; even bad. This is because they are not making plays based on the EV of their cards or their opponent's 3-betting range but on game flow, metagame and history with that opponent.

Allow me to borrow an example from Andrew Brokos, whose articles at got me... well, thinking. Suppose on the river of a J-8-Q-4-9 board Player B bets; Player A smiles because he knows that all Player B's hands made a pair by the river so he does not need to bluff. He knows Player A knows that so he will never bet less than a straight; Player A confidently folds a set of eights.

But Player B knows that player A knows this. He therefore turned his showdown hand of Q-J into a bluff to fold out sets and non-nut straights. It's a contrived example - or, at least, I hope it is because if that kind of thing occurs regularly in high stakes games then my mind is blown. It still shows that you have to adapt your plays on an opponent-by-opponent, hand-by-hand basis.

Say you raise KJs from early and get called by the button. The flop is J 8 2 with a flush draw and your continuation bet gets raised. Now what? The answer is always "it depends". Against some players you can be confident holding 86o on that board; against others you will be worried with three twos.

In short this is coming down to my resolution to play less tables. For months now I've fired up 8-12 at once and autopiloted the easiest games going playing a narrow range of hands and just value betting the hell out of idiots. I'm considering going down to six and basing my plays on individual players rather than standard lines and HUD numbers.

Shame to use that new 27" monitor for just six tables but with the EV I'll gain from reading players more accurately I'm sure I can cope. A +EV poker career can buy many monitors!

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