February 26, 2008

Deep Stacked Play - Part 1

The majority of online cash games are capped with a 100bb buyin - thus you rarely find yourself in deep stacked situations (200bb+) unless you and another villain have been sitting together and built up your stacks. Always be aware of a villain's stack size relative to yours...it can dictate both pre and post flop strategy.

Personally I feel as if most online players (including myself) do not have that much experience playing deep stacked poker and thus may shy away from tough/marginal spots out of position. The game dynamic changes quite a bit when deep stacked...implied odds go up and both position/EV of decisions on individual streets is accentuated because players may often have enough money to play the hand out to the river without having to go all in. Recently made it a point to put pressure on opponents when I have position with deep stacks. Check out the HH below from a recent deep stacked game.

Full Tilt Poker, $2/$4 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 9 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

CO: $89
Hero (BTN): $986.40
SB: $1,648
BB: $452.90
UTG: $96
UTG+1: $337.60
UTG+2: $888
MP1: $410
MP2: $483.10

Pre-Flop: dealt to Hero (BTN)
2 folds, UTG+2 raises to $14, 3 folds, Hero raises to $50, SB calls $48, 2 folds

Flop: ($118) (2 Players)
SB checks, Hero bets $100, SB raises to $256, Hero calls $156

Turn: ($630) [ ] (2 Players)
SB bets $1,342 and is All-In, Hero calls $680.40 and is All-In

River: ($1,990.80) [ ] (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: $1,990.80 Pot ($3 Rake)
Hero showed (a Royal Flush) and WON $1,987.80 (+$1,001.40 NET)
SB showed (three of a kind, Queens) and LOST (-$986.40 NET)

Preflop Analysis - The UTG+2 is actually a relatively tight player, but I decided to put some pressure on him with deep stacks and see how he would react. Much to my suprise, the SB (loose passive player) flat calls and UTG+2 folds. Didn't have much of a read on SB, his range here is a pocket pair...maybe 99-QQ?

Flop Analysis - Not a bad flop for me here, a OESFD. Not exactly sure I can ever fold J high in this spot. I get checked raised small and am CERTAIN the SB has a Q. Probably a KQ or QJ type hand. I eliminated QT from his range because I just do not see him CR'ing with a boat. RIght now I am confident that my all of my OESD and FD cards are live. Playing 100bb's deep I usually would just jam here, but we are deep and he is never folding a Q to a shove. I have position, so let's see a turn card.

Turn Analysis - not a bad turn card...turning a straight frushhhhhh! Before I am able to devise a plan to put all the money in over two streets he insta ships it!!!

River Analysis - how about adding some insult to injury, maybe my 3rd ROYAL FRUSH in 500k hands. It sure is nice getting paid with it!

SB's play here PF and on the turn is just TERRRRIBLE. Calling OOP to someone who has 3b a UTG+2 PFR with a one gapper is definitely questionble. The CR on the flop was fine, but he didn't price me out of ANYTHING - gave me 3-1! The turn SHOVE was pretty silly, it is a spot where he is likely ONLY going to get called by a boat or a flush (both of which have him beat).


Sorid post. Rike it. For those of you looking for the Cliff's Notes version of Brackchips's Guide to Deep-Stacked Play:

Problem: Playing deep-stacked is difficult, most regulars aren't good at it.
Solution: Turn the stone-cold nuts vs. a donkey with trips!!!

FWIW, I'm steadfastly against the call of the check-raise on the flop. I think 'eliminating' hands from a player's range and assuming he would NEVER do something with a certain hand (in this case, a flopped boat) is a bad idea. Furthermore, even if he does have just a Q, you don't know what his kicker is, which means that you could end up shipping in a whore rot of money drawing dead. For instance, what if the turn here is the Ac, and he shoves? Or the Kh? He could also have a bigger draw than you, like AcKc.


February 25, 2008

Sprit Pot! (Part 3)

Virrain is a very nittish regular....

Full Tilt Poker, $0.50/$1 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 9 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

UTG: $69.80
UTG+1: $147
UTG+2: $102.50
MP1: $18.50
MP2: $39
CO: $100
BTN: $159.20
Hero (SB): $104.05
BB: $198.80

Pre-Flop: dealt to Hero (SB) (Raising this every time, even though it's diamonds)
7 folds, Hero raises to $3, BB calls $2 (Not excited about this call. He's not just defending with trash, so I'm only putting in maybe one c-bet unless I...)

Flop: ($6) (2 Players) (...flop the nuts?? With a backdoor flush draw? Let's waste no time building this pot, hopefully he has slowplayed KK or something retarded like that.)
Hero bets $4.50, BB calls $4.50

Turn: ($15) (2 Players)
Hero bets $10, BB raises to $29, Hero raises to $96.55 and is All-In, BB calls $67.55 (Obviously the 8 isn't the best card because I no longer have the nuts. I think the better play here would actually be to flat call on this turn. The reason is that, even with one of the sevens already in my hand, I think it's very unlikely he has anything but a seven here. Which means, unless he has 67 of clubs, a club or the board pairing on the river is going to scare him, and I might be able to steal back half the pot. So I think flat-calling this turn and shoving every river is better than coming over the top on the turn.)

River: ($208.10) (2 Players - 1 is All-In) (Turns out it didn't matter, as he wouldn't fold to a shove on this river card....)

Results: $208.10 Pot ($3 Rake)
Hero showed (a straight, Eight high) and WON $102.55 (-$1.50 NET)
BB showed (a straight, Eight high) and WON $102.55 (-$1.50 NET)

February 23, 2008

Spy vs. No Spy

One of the things I've been thinking about recently is proper use of data in shaping play against a specific opponent. On Foucault's recommendation, I'm right now reading Chen and Ankenman's Mathematics of Poker. One of the points they make is that players often overuse information they have about a certain player's tendencies. This is an artifact of two general biases, which reinforce each other. The first is that people are often overconfident about their predictions, not just about poker but about random trivia, number of jelly beans in a jar, etc.. The second is that people often "over-update", that is, weight new information too heavily relative to their prior beliefs.

Increasingly I've been wary of weighting Poker Tracker's "Aggression Factor" too heavily in making my decisions, especially with anything less than 5,000 hands on the player in question. There are a few reason for this. First, it takes AF quite a long time to converge, because you have to either bet, call, or raise for the statistic to change, whereas every hand you are dealt factors into PFR and VPIP. Second, the variety of situations after the flop is so wide that it's impossible for any one statistic to capture anything but a very rough generalization of your opponent's tendencies. Finally, the interpretation of AF is kind of ambiguous - a player who is very tight preflop with an AF of 3 is a very different animal from a loose player with an AF of 3. Also you don't know whether a low AF is a result of infrequent betting or frequent calling. Here's a spot where I almost made a bad fold because this player had a sub-0.50 AF over the 1200 hands I had on him:

Full Tilt Poker, $0.50/$1 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 8 Players
LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

UTG+1: $133.35
MP1: $230.45
MP2: $18.50
CO: $151.95
Hero (BTN): $123.45
SB: $71.55
BB: $104.50
UTG: $100

Pre-Flop: dealt to Hero (BTN)
UTG folds, UTG+1 raises to $3, 3 folds, Hero calls $3, 2 folds

Flop: ($7.50) (2 Players)
UTG+1 checks, Hero bets $7, UTG+1 calls $7

Turn: ($21.50) (2 Players)
UTG+1 checks, Hero bets $15, UTG+1 calls $15

River: ($51.50) (2 Players)
UTG+1 checks, Hero bets $30, UTG+1 raises to $60, Hero calls $30

Results: $171.50 Pot ($3 Rake)
UTG+1 showed (two pair, Aces and Jacks) and LOST (-$85 NET)
Hero showed (three of a kind, Eights) and WON $168.50 (+$83.50 NET)

VPIP and PFR are more reliable, but even then, you DO see a 27/4 player showing up with AJo after an UTG+1 raise. Of course he can't be doing that every time he's dealt AJo UTG+1, but realize that you can't completely RULE OUT that hand. Even more noisy is just the summary of the last 17 hands, which is what Poker Spy gives you. Personally I think I overuse this information to such an extent (e.g., this guy hasn't played a hand in 2 rounds, his raise must really mean strength) that, along with the fact that it clogs up my screen, my computer's processor, and displays my net winnings for the session, which should be completely irrelevant to the correct play, that I'm better off not using it. I do think knowing what YOU have done over the last few hands is important for keeping track of your table image, but PAHud will display your total table stats for you, which give you a good indication of what your play at the table has been like. So I'll be trying some PokerSpy-less sessions over the next few days.


February 21, 2008

Sprit Pot! (Part 2)

This one certainly brought ress joy than the first sprit pot.

Full Tilt Poker, $0.50/$1 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 8 Players

LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

BTN: $116.75
SB: $35.90
BB: $45.80
Hero (UTG): $114.05
UTG+1: $158.95
MP1: $28.65
MP2: $156.40
CO: $40.45

Pre-Flop: dealt to Hero (UTG)
Hero raises to $4, 2 folds, MP2 calls $4, CO raises to $12, 3 folds, Hero calls $8, MP2 folds

(The CO was a little bit of a nut, and MP2 wasn't too aggro, so there's a good chance my hand is good, and I don't have much fear of being re-raised by MP2. Still pretty loose to call a re-raise with 99, but against this guy, I felt like I couldn't fold, and the possibility of MP2 calling meant that I might win a huge pot if I hit a set. I still might have folded if I didn't have the nine of SPADES though. That was really the clincher.)

Flop: ($29.50) (2 Players)
Hero checks, CO bets $28.45 and is All-In, Hero calls $28.45

(No reason to bet this flop. Check-call is the best play, I think. He's gonna shove overcards and pocket pairs smaller than mine, whereas he might not call if I shove. Given that I called pre-flop, I can't check-fold this flop. If I was going to do that, I'd have to fold preflop. When I call and see he has 88, I'm pretty happy. Just gotta fade the remaining two eights in the deck!)

Turn: ($86.40) (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

(No eight no eight no eight....)

River: ($86.40) (2 Players - 1 is All-In)


Results: $86.40 Pot ($3 Rake)
Hero showed (a full house, Fives full of Tens) and WON $41.70 (+$1.25 NET)
CO showed (a full house, Fives full of Tens) and WON $41.70 (+$1.25 NET)


I'm not a huge fan of the PF call. While I somewhat understand the logic behind the fact that you were confident that MP would not 4b, the fact of the matter is you were OOP. It is just so much more difficurt to extract varue when you frop a big hand. Hmmm...this actually has me thinking about position affects your implied odds...