June 2006
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I must not talk back to my superiors. I must not…

Below is the transcript of a post I made to the UK Poker Info forums, which somehow actually resulted in me getting banned from the site and the entire thread being deleted – it was only my 3rd ever post!

Whilst there is clearly an element of smugness in my being able to find fault with the original poster’s strategy hints (notably, this is one of the players who used to come to our home game, and now thinks that he is too good for us) I really did enjoy writing this and found it very satisfying to be able to create what I think is a well-reasoned analysis.

I’ll let you judge for yourself.  I’ve colour coded this for your viewing pleasure – my response is in blue, original poster is red and too-good-for-home-game is in green.

The thread began with someone asking for advice on how to play a live satellite tournament, and initial responses advised her to play tight in the early stages…

knowing u always only play prem hands and if I had a good chipstack I would call your raise with anything like 67 suited

ok how come u would call my raises with 67 suited????

if flop comes low cards which gives me some str8 options it would be hard 4 u to call a bet or a raise with cards like AK A10 etc unless u had an overpair but even so if I had an open ended  str8 I would be 2 /1 to hit it.

There are just so many things wrong with this logic…

For starters, let’s face it – you’re calling a raise with garbage.  You know you are behind in the hand and are – at best – a 2:1 dog.  Assuming the raiser’s range from early or mid position is AK-AJ and pairs AA-99 then you are actually going to be a 4:1 dog about 40% of the time (36 ace-hands vs 24 pairs).  Therefore the preflop action is serious negative equity.

(Note: I’ve since realised I miscounted here, there are 48 ace-hands – 12 suited and 36 unsuited – making you a 4:1 dog 33% of the time.).

Then by smooth calling you just keep adding to your problems.  You not only don’t make any attempt to win the pot yet, or to define your hand, you also encourage other well-stacked players to join in and create a pot that becomes very difficult to get away from when you do catch some kind of donkey draw.  You might get the odds to keep going which would be great in a cash game when going bust is not a problem.  But in a tournament you could be risking your future with 4-1 shot after the turn, or have to make another mistake by folding when you actually have the correct odds to draw.

Once you are in this pot, suddenly calling with suited connectors starts to become attractive – but not for you, for the next guy to act, and the next one, and only because of your mistake.  You’re just stuck in the middle not knowing where the hell you are at.

But as you didn’t mention position at all, lets assume that you are on the button and have great reads on both the blinds and know they are going to fold.  So you smooth-called a raise from a solid player who only plays big hands, and expect them not to bet at almost any flop? Now you’re going to raise then back to try and find out how much they like their hand?  The price for this information just went up.

The times your opponent missed, if you’ve got the balls to raise you’ll win a fair pot, probably 3-4 times your investment pre-flop.  The times you’re wrong (I can’t see why we shouldn’t still use the 40% 33% number here) you’re making a huge mistake, spewing chips and digging a very deep hole for yourself on the next street.  You are investing much more than you can ever hope to win.

On the other hand if you are talking about a "first to the pot wins" move on a low board you are in much better shape to make this play out of position, which means limping in early position with a shit hand and then calling a raise, or stubbornly defending a blind.  Or maybe you know that the player is transparent and will bet if they hit the flop (or still like their overpair) and check if they miss.  This is about the only opportunity you will have to bet and make it hard for her to call.

The problem here though is that your implied odds are a big fat zero. Whilst no-limit poker allows you to play hands with a negative pre-flop expectation because of the potentially huge payoff you can get when you make a monster hand, calling a raise and playing heads up against a premium hand is not the way to do this.  Your pre-flop call is dead money, and then you’re having to make a large bet to win it back, along with the other player’s initial raise.  Net profit is what – 3 big blinds?

Finally, if your intention is to outplay Little Miss BigCards when the board comes low and you think she’s missed, the hand selection is irrelevant.  You don’t have to have a small hand do it – any two will do.

Basically, (original poster), don’t be afraid of getting calls like this.  You need ’em.

Apologies for the amazing technicolor dreampost – it seemed a better idea before I painted it up.  Hope it’s readable!

2 comments to I must not talk back to my superiors. I must not…

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