Sunday, November 16, 2014

Student Hand Analysis: Hero Flops Nut Straight vs. Cutoff Limper

*Note: comments below have been paraphrased for ease of readability.


"Opponent plays a 29/5/2, and bets flop in position 75%.

What are your thoughts about the turn bet? On the river I was choosing between a shove or a check/call. What do you suggest is the better play here?"

I love the hand as was played, but let's start from the beginning.


Villain's stats are fairly fishy, but just as important, if not moreso, is the fact he open limped on the cutoff, which is the weakest spot to do so. Open shoving preflop is a profitable option, albeit marginally so with this specific hand, therefore completing the small blind is perfectly fine, while folding is clearly not an option.


The flop play is good, but it is probably very close when compared against the other two options of donking out or checkraising. This flop hits very well against both limping and opening ranges, so unless he has a small pocket pair, he is usually catching a piece of this.  

Of the three options of check/calling, donking out, or checkraising, I like check raising the least, since there are a lot of ways that he can catch a piece of this flop, yet still be far from being committed to it. When playing with small stacks, any checkraise is putting him to an immediate commitment decision that he may not be thrilled about, such as when holding something like T8 or Q9, which he would love to see a turn card with. By letting him see the turn by donking out or check/calling, you giving him a chance to improve in a way that is much more likely to suck him in and stack him. Of course, if he is ready to commit now, then taking the lines of donking or check/calling aren't going to change his decision.


I like the line of choosing to lead out, because this is a spot where villain::

1) Will likely check back and pot control with good/decent hands that have been ruined, such as two pair or sets, and the potential of pocket aces, which, given the fact that his PFR is very low at 5%, makes it more likely to be in his limping range than a guy who is open raising 100% of his cutoff range.

2) Is unlikely to barrel behind on both streets unless he has now caught up with you holding a single Q, or in the rare case, beating you with exactly AJ.

3) Facing a checkraise is highly unlikely to get him to stack off in a way he wouldn't also do vs. both a turn and river bet.

Leading out in this spot is also how the good mid and high stakes players play, as this type of board texture allows them to make very effective float/bluff lines vs. other regulars*, such as if you had Kx with a backdoor flush draw and chose to turn your hand into a bluff. Since you are representing a very specific hand on this board with the implicit threat of a pot-sized river shove, he is therefore only left with two options: call or fold, but never raise.

*This would be a situation where you were defending the BB against an open raise from a regular, as it is extremely rare for them to open limp the cutoff.


In my opinion, against all player types, a shove is the best play, even if there is now a reasonable chance you are beat, as the J is a very crappy card. Since you never intended to fold, and since he obviously had enough to call a potentially pot committing bet on the turn, he is either going to stack you with a boat or check behind a lot of hands he may have called with, like trip Jack's.

Furthermore, suppose he did have trip Jack's and thought it was worth a small thin value bet if you had checked to him. He would probably also make the same sized bet with a rivered full house, since the board has now gotten so bad that most players, both good and bad, should see that you have pretty much run out of hands that can reasonably call a larger bet.

The problem with this scenario is that if this situation had happened, you would be forced to only call with your one-card straight, since by checkraising you can only beat a bluff (which obviously won't call), or exactly trip Jack's. The logic, of course, is that if he were willing to bet and call a shove with trip Jack's then he certainly would have called the shove.

Well played, sir!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Recreational Player's Perspective on Rake Changes at PokerStars

I've been spending a lot of time recently on something very...special for this blog, so I just wanted to keep everything moving along (posting) until it's ready.  Even though this wasn't at the top of my list to put here, as I have plenty of other articles basically ready for print, I realized that I had been burning up all my time with the other project, so they will be rolling out more or less on schedule.  I also plan on releasing some in depth strategy stuff as's been way too long!


Not every fish fits the profile...

This was a notable post from a self-described recreational player, and even though he doesn't fit the profile of what we would consider to be a "fish", it was quite enlightening to see that they come in all shapes and sizes.

If you want to understand my reply in context, I suggest reading the full initial post and then the first few pages.  This is what I had to say on TwoPlusTwo:

Great read from OP. I only got to the third page, so pardon me if someone already pointed out this fact somewhere between pages 4 and 10:

I was thinking the same thing as many people here, that OP isn't really representative of the recs because he uses HEM, played 300k hands, etc., etc.

Perhaps the most important thing he pointed out was that he didn't realize how much rake he was paying to PokerStars until all this b.s. became such big news.

So in a sense, he still fits into a rec category, perhaps if nothing more than for the fact that he previously turned a blind eye to a very important factor in what determines a winning player.

However, this makes me wonder....

Does a player like this ultimately have more value than someone who loses 40bb/100? After all, the -40bb guy can dump it all in 50 hands and then everyone sits out. That means no more money for regs OR Stars. However, if a guy like this takes a seat, surely the game will run a lot longer, so now Stars gets the drop from all the regs as well, and maybe the game runs for 1,000 hands.

I mean, seriously...isn't this the ideal situation? After all, letting the fish hold on to their money longer to generate more rake is the reason the term "rigtard" exists :)