Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Every decision counts

Money is won and lost in the microcosms of poker. Making mistakes preflop and on the flop seem small in an absolute sense - after all whats another $3 to see the flop or another $8 to see the turn. But those mistakes not only add up, they also create a multiplier effect which inflate your losses on later streets. This is why a lot of instructors tell new players to the game to learn how to play preflop first. By making correct plays preflop, you eliminate a lot of late street difficulties by virtue of them never existing in the first place. But flop play is a lot harder to teach because there are so many variables. This is why you have so many marginal break even "regulars" at small stakes. They learn what cards to play preflop and get that magical "18/15" ratio. But since postflop can't be bottled and taught, they can't go any further.

Some examples of early round decisions getting bad players into trouble:

Seat 3: OkeyDonKy ( $548.90 USD )
Seat 5: tokenblak ( $400.00 USD )
Seat 6: maniac_054 ( $85.00 USD )
Seat 4: robin3596 ( $373.16 USD )
Seat 2: CheckUrNUTZ ( $400.00 USD )
maniac_054 posts small blind [$2.00 USD].
CheckUrNUTZ posts big blind [$4.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to tokenblak [ 2s As ]
OkeyDonKy folds
robin3596 calls [$4.00 USD]
tokenblak raises [$18.00 USD]
maniac_054 folds
CheckUrNUTZ folds
robin3596 calls [$14.00 USD]
** Dealing Flop ** [ 2h, 3c, 6s ]
robin3596 checks
tokenblak bets [$29.00 USD]
robin3596 calls [$29.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ Ad ]
robin3596 checks
tokenblak bets [$65.00 USD]
robin3596 calls [$65.00 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ Tc ]
robin3596 checks
tokenblak bets [$155.00 USD]
robin3596 calls [$155.00 USD]
tokenblak shows [2s, As ]
robin3596 doesn't show [6d, 3d ]

Can you count the mistakes this player "robin3596" made?

First, he limped with 63s, definitely a mistake - easy fold. By even playing this hand, out of position in a raised pot he is destined to lose money in the long run.

Second he hits gin on the flop and decides to slowplay. This is not the time to slowplay a hand like this. From his persepctive it is possible that I have a big hand myself and am ripe to pay him off (not this time but often) with a big pair. He should have raised for value and protection. Instead he got drawn out on and it ended up costing him $270.

Seat 1: turbostanz ( $400.00 USD )
Seat 2: trappedu23 ( $682.90 USD )
Seat 5: FinnStarr ( $989.30 USD )
Seat 6: johnyq4 ( $407.80 USD )
Seat 4: tokenblak ( $400.00 USD )
Seat 3: IshootmyWad ( $400.00 USD )
IshootmyWad posts small blind [$2.00 USD].
tokenblak posts big blind [$4.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to tokenblak [ 5s Qc ]
FinnStarr folds
johnyq4 calls [$4.00 USD]
turbostanz folds
trappedu23 folds
IshootmyWad folds
tokenblak checks
** Dealing Flop ** [ 3h, 5c, Qh ]
tokenblak bets [$8.00 USD]
johnyq4 raises [$16.00 USD]
tokenblak raises [$58.00 USD]
johnyq4 calls [$50.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ Ks ]
tokenblak bets [$125.00 USD]
johnyq4 raises [$337.80 USD]
tokenblak calls [$205.00 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ Jd ]
tokenblak shows [5s, Qc ]
johnyq4 shows [9h, Th ]
johnyq4 wins $7.80 USD from main pot
johnyq4 wins $799.00 USD from main pot

Aside from the fact this player won this pot, he definitely played it almost as incorrectly as possible, maximizing long term losses.

First he limps with 9hTh from utg+1. Again, I'm not the hugest fan of limping ever, especially from early position with a bunch of agressive players behind him, but I can see why he did it. IMO its still raise/fold here preflop.

Second, he makes a classic fish mistake of minraising a flop with a draw. This almost has no purpose other than to inflate a pot in which you are most likely an underdog in. Remember flush draws, while pretty, are only a 35% shot to win. Now obviously you can't immediately put me on 2 pair when I bet out at this flop, and it is true I will fold every now and then to your min raise, it is still a very innefficient method to achieving what you want me to do - which is fold.

His third mistake was to simply call the rather large reraise I make. For whatever information he was looking for with his minraise here - he got it. I love my hand and realistically most people are never reraising this big from the blinds without a monster. I mean I could have any 2 pair or set combination. Once he calls this bet he is really setting himself up for disaster.

Now on the turn he picks up a gutshot to go along with his flush draw and he decides to push over my bet. I mean my line is so strong that is so unlikely that I'm running a complete bluff, and therefore am very unlikely to be folding. But you see what has happened. By calling my big reraise on the flop he has committed himself to bluffing at this pot if he wants to win it, and since the pot is so big, he is now bluffing his whole stack to do so. Not to mention bluffing into an extremely strong line that is highly unlikely to fold. It worked out for him this time as he had 12 outs and hit, but 75% of the time it will cost him his stack. Had he simply either called on the flop or possibly raised larger he could have saved a lot of money (equity).

One more.

Seat 2: Pipati4Ever ( $637.10 USD )
Seat 3: tokenblak ( $996.50 USD )
Seat 5: dickestoast ( $602.30 USD )
Seat 6: Poh___ ( $80 USD )
Seat 1: KaYiCHi ( $208 USD )
Seat 4: gotshrimp ( $197.70 USD )
gotshrimp posts small blind [$2 USD].
dickestoast posts big blind [$4 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to tokenblak [ Tc Qs ]
Poh___ folds
KaYiCHi folds
Pipati4Ever folds
tokenblak raises [$12 USD]
gotshrimp calls [$10 USD]
dickestoast folds
** Dealing Flop ** [ Qc, 6c, Td ]
gotshrimp checks
tokenblak bets [$21 USD]
gotshrimp raises [$42 USD]
tokenblak is all-In [$963.50 USD]
gotshrimp is all-In [$143.70 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 3h ]
** Dealing River ** [ 6d ]
gotshrimp shows [ Jc, 4c ]a pair of Sixes.
tokenblak shows [ Tc, Qs ]two pairs, Queens and Tens.

This hand is similar. For whatever reason, this player decides to call my raise out of position with J4s. Then he decides to check min raise his flush draw on the flop. Again, this does have a % chance of working as I won't always have a pair to play back with, but the check min raise has basically the lowest chance of getting your opponent to fold, which is what you definitely want when you are out of position with only a J high flush draw. Here his check min raise got im into big trouble as it compelled him to call my push with his draw, all because he inflated the pot by calling preflop and raising the flop.

And heres one last one that isn't all that similar but there is an important lesson involved.

Seat 1: koomiss ( $400.00 USD )
Seat 2: Pipati4Ever ( $442.00 USD )
Seat 4: onkelpmx ( $274.80 USD )
Seat 5: unexplicable ( $406.00 USD )
Seat 3: tokenblak ( $400.00 USD )
Pipati4Ever posts small blind [$2.00 USD].
tokenblak posts big blind [$4.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to tokenblak [ 6d 3d ]
onkelpmx folds
unexplicable folds
koomiss folds
Pipati4Ever raises [$10.00 USD]
tokenblak calls [$8.00 USD]
** Dealing Flop ** [ 5d, 4s, 6s ]
Pipati4Ever bets [$16.00 USD]
tokenblak raises [$58.00 USD]
Pipati4Ever calls [$42.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ Jc ]
Pipati4Ever bets [$75.00 USD]
tokenblak calls [$75.00 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ 5s ]
Pipati4Ever bets [$255.00 USD]
tokenblak calls [$255.00 USD]
Pipati4Ever shows [7h, 4h ]
tokenblak shows [6d, 3d ]

Shameless brag: this was my first hand at the table, no reads.

The reason I made this call was this. By him calling the flop and betting the turn like he did on a complete blank (no reason for him to have a jack) he is basically representing (or trying to) a pair that is now protecting itself from the draws on board. Once he pushes the river when the flush arrives, what he is representing changes. Not only does he have to be concerned with me having the flush, his line also makes no sense for a flush draw himself. Sure he could have spazzed out with a pair higher than a 6, but more often than not his hand has no showdown value at all, and a pair of 6's is good.

Before making any move in poker, always ask yourself - "Why am I doing this?" And not just to the big decisions. Take time out after every marginal preflop and flop decision and analyze not only why you did your action, but also what other actions were available and what their potential consequences may be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

finally a good post...nice one Rikki. BTW ur goin down in Fantasy! JP

10:09 AM  

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