Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Musings between the agonizing pacing of hands

I just got back from the Horseshoe. I played a little $1/$2 and had a paltry $23 loss. While I was playing like a complete nit, I had time to reflect on what the problems were with my 6-max game. The main things that I could focus on were that I were getting little to no action with pocket aces and constantly losing full buy-ins in with pocket kings and queens. A cursory glance at this so-called problem would reveal that I am simply overplaying my aces before the flop and my kings and queens as well! I think that I also believe that it is in my overall best interests to cold call re-raises with my aces, kings, and queens and thereby increase my post flop expectation. After all, few players at the stakes, where I reside are willing to put in that fourth bet (or call it) with anything less than pocket queens. The result? My fourth bets are generally acting like a filter that actually creates negative expectation on my most profitable hands.

Furthermore, while it is easy for most players to escape their middle pairs pre-flop, if they flop an over pair a typical player will often have a difficult time getting away from his hand, particularly because I failed to put in that last bet, now making it appear more like a bluff. After all, the players that tend to give me the most difficulty and annoy me the most are the ones who fail to tip off their big pocket pairs before the flop!

I feel that generally the correct play is highly dependent on stack sizes. If a player happened to start the hand with 60% or less of a full buy in now you can push with those good hands pre-flop if they are the ones who re-raise you.

Lastly, once again, I find myself getting stuck in the mindset of always having to bet two thirds of the pot. This is truly ironic, because the biggest strength of my game is playing to different stack sizes and finding ways to manipulate them into getting pot stuck. This effective bet sizing is precisely the reason why I have been so successful at tournaments lately. And since your typical player will probably fail to realize that the reason I am making the size bets that I am is due to all of the stack sizes involved, my selection of these bet sizes will probably take on a randomized appearance automatically.

Just for once I have to remember not to forget these things!


Anonymous said...

care to discuss how to choose bet sizes?

Lorin Yelle said...

Well, if you give me a scenario I can help you work it out, but I was basically referring to this:

I judge the relative strength of my hand and then determine how far I want to go with it. If I believe that I am either way ahead or way behind, I will be the amount that will tend to force a player to reveal their strength or fold. Say I have JJ and I raised and got called by someone behind me and the board comes A 4 4 rainbow. A bet of just over 1/2 the pot will tend to get "truthful" information a strong majority of the time. A 1/2 pot bet or less may look fearful and might get raised as a bluff, but making it slightly more ambiguous while also making it "appear" expensive to bluff at or call down will tend to get your typical to strong player to reveal their strength rather quickly.

Even though I would consider the option of checking and calling in a live game, I don't like doing this online where phyical cues are lacking.

Now for a better hand that I want to commit them to, I prescribe to the ideas expressed by Sklansky and Miller in their book No Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice- and idea called bet chunking. It is based on measuring the pot size to their stack and making certain bet sizes that appear non-threatening on the outset but might leave them 4:1 odds on the river but effectively putting them all in, making them very hard pressed to fold any hand that has any chance of winning. However, this has to be planned from the flop.

I also like to do this against certain stacks sizes preflop when holding a hand such as AA or KK. You can structure the pre-flop betting as such that they might be getting 2:1 or better odds to get all in on the flop, where it would be very difficult for them to fold top pair or a smaller overpair. Of course, when doing this you are just praying that you miss your set of aces! :)