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Andrew (Balugawhale) Seidman ~ Easy Game Volume III (137p)

Caro's Book of Poker Tells - georgetownparanormalsocietycom

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(Balugawhale) Seidman ~ Easy Game Volume III (137p)

Description

Easy Game Making Sense of No Limit Hold ‘em

Easy Game is © 2009 Andrew Seidman Easy Game 3rd Edition is © 2011 Andrew Seidman

Introduction

Air Ratios

Shorthanded and Positional Protection

Live Money

Value-Owning

Preflop and Postflop

True Hand Values,

Practically Optimal

Bet Sizing,

Introduction (2011) When I first released "Easy Game",

it was with the aim to make things as simple as possible for both beginning and advanced players to grasp the concepts necessary to make money at poker

Since its first release (and subsequent update),

What I had thought was a comprehensive guide to all elements of poker now seems full of gaping holes

Students,

both through private coaching and public forums,

continually brought up questions both obvious and valid that are simply not covered in the first editions of the book

it is with this in mind that I have written more on a number of subjects previously covered,

as well as adding new content not originally discussed

While I will occasionally edit portions of pre-existing chapters (clarify language,

in general the original text will remain as unaltered as possible

I have added commentary on existing content—whenever I came across an idea that I now disagree with (or wish to clarify),

I have bolded the text and marked it with an asterisk

At the end of the chapter,

you can read my updated comments about that idea

Some of the chapters remain accurate and applicable to today’s games—those have been unaltered and left without comment

It’s important to note that this book is not math-centric

In wading through the math of poker,

you’ll find that concepts are either incredibly simple (the nut flush draw usually has around 50% equity) or incredibly complicated (my opponents range is divided into categories A,

Z depending on history,

then calculate my implied odds against that weighted range,

that math is so complex that it’s not reasonable to do it at the poker table

rather than dive too hard into mathematical proofs,

I’m interested in providing a conversational guide that describes those difficult math problems in easily understandable terms

but do expect intricate descriptions of difficult subjects

Additionally,

I have added new chapters where they are appropriate (or where a simple comment at the end of a chapter would be insufficient)

I don’t want to remove content—even content that is outdated or incorrect—because above all else,

I want to demonstrate the process of how I arrived at each new level of thought

This is far more important than the actual tactical conclusions I reach

If you can follow the updates from original,

you may be able to predict the next change in game dynamics,

the next play that seems "crazy" now but will be "standard" in six months

It is impossible to stay on top of the poker curve forever

Pretty much every nosebleed crusher has suffered huge losses at some point and fallen off the radar

Certainly,

far more incredible 5/10 and 10/20 players run significantly below EV,

prevented by bad luck from staying at the top of their game

Quite publicly,

I took a pretty savage turn at high stakes that had me running hundreds of thousands of dollars under EV

However,

I refuse to blame it all on variance—too many ideas that I accepted as "standard" I later came to discover were outdated

I'm quite sure that some truly elite players had come to those conclusions before I did,

and thus maintained a significant edge in the games we played

It was because of this realization that I often joked about renaming my book: “Actually,

This Game Turns Out to Be Quite Difficult”

Since that downswing,

I took a lot of time away from poker and focused on living

Being a travel addict,

I hit the road and tried to worry about poker as little as possible

I eventually came back to poker,

I’m passionate about solving puzzles,

and the intricacy and challenge of understanding poker continued to nag me even while I was doing other things

I booked a bunch of new students,

and quickly found myself learning,

It was at the exact moment that I felt on top of the game again that the news of Black Friday hit me

To stay busy,

I spent a lot of time coaching—and,

my students always guide the way to new theory discoveries

All of the new content in this edition of Easy Game comes from conversations I’ve had with students and friends as we set out together to solve the problem of poker

With that in mind,

I’m hoping that the 3rd edition of Easy Game can be a guide to help you understand the puzzles for yourself—and take them even further than I have

Poker is an enormous rabbit hole

the more we realize how much unknown territory there is still to discover

Let’s start exploring

Introduction (2009) There are a lot of books about poker,

particularly about the game that has become a modern phenomenon: No-Limit Texas Hold ’em

The legend Doyle Brunson described the game as “the Cadillac of poker” because the game’s structure allows for so much creativity

The ability to bet any amount at any time makes the game both attractive and dangerous—unlike Limit games,

where the wager is fixed and only a few bets can go in each round,

in No-Limit all it takes is one big mistake and suddenly you’re out of a stack of chips

The key word to focus on is “mistake”

David Sklansky’s The Theory of Poker spells out the Fundamental Theorem of Poker

It says,

that whoever makes the most (and biggest) mistakes loses,

and conversely whoever makes the fewest (and smallest) mistakes wins

It’s incredible how many poker players—even good players,

and some great ones—ignore this concept and constantly make suboptimal plays

To understand this book,

you’ll need to recognize some terminology

While we’ll discuss the important concepts in detail,

we can define some simple terms first: Flop Notation: a lower-case r implies a rainbow flop in which the suits are irrelevant (973r,

Similarly,

the same board may be written 973—this also implies that suits are irrelevant

Hand Notation: a lower-case s'implies that the hand is suited,

though the specific suits are irrelevant

A lower-case o implies that the hand is offsuit (e

UTG means under-the-gun,

or the position first to act Cut-off means second from the button,

or late position bb’s refer to big blinds,

C-betting means continuation betting,

or making a bet after being a preflop aggressor

NL refers to No-Limit (NLHE meaning No-Limit Hold’Em)

the blinds are considered the first bet

a second bet is called a raise,

and the third bet would be called a 3-bet

4-betting,

5-betting,

OOP means “out of position”,

while IP refers to being “in position”

c/f means check-fold (to check with the intention of folding to a bet)

c/r means check-raise (to check with the intention of raising a bet) c/c means check-call (to check with the intention of calling a bet) To Lead or To Donk-Bet means to bet into the last aggressor (rather than checking) To Flat means to call a bet or raise

To Float means to call a flop bet with the intention of taking the pot away on a later street

A Wet Board means a strongly coordinated board in which cards have some combination of highness,

A Dry Board means an uncoordinated board in which cards lack highness,

EV means expected value,

Implied Odds refers to our ability to win money once we’ve hit a hand (for example,

as it can win a lot if it flops a set of 2’s)

Reverse Implied Odds refers to our ability to lose money once we’ve hit a hand (for example,

KQ has high reverse implied odds when it flops a pair 200bb deep,

but low reverse implied odds when it flops a pair 30bb deep)

Thin means “slightly profitable

if I go all-in with KK and my opponent will only play AA,

my raise is “thin”—I still make money (+EV) but I’ll lose relatively often

VPIP is a statistical tool that measures looseness or tightness (Voluntarily Put money Into the Pot)

A VPIP over 30 generally implies looseness and a VPIP under 15 implies tightness (in full ring and six max games) 5

PFR is another statistical tool that indicates how widely somebody raises preflop (Pre-Flop Raise percentage)

Generally,

an aggressive player’s PFR will be only a few percent below his VPIP (indicating that he raises most of his hands)

A passive player might have a large gap between his VPIP and PFR (something like 44/12 would indicate a loose passive opponent)

This book will explain shorthanded No-Limit Hold ‘em to you in two steps—first,

I’ll give you the basic knowledge you will need to be a competent poker player and thinker

Mastery of this knowledge alone should be enough to earn you a significant hourly win-rate in online or live games

Second,

we will delve into advanced concepts that are the keystones to success at higher stakes

Do not skip straight to the second section

In the modern age of poker instructional videos and websites,

many small stakes players watch their high stakes heroes using advanced moves and playing in unorthodox styles

These smaller stakes players then try to mimic these plays without understanding the vital framework of knowledge that makes these moves profitable

In short,

if you skip straight to the second section,

it will probably cause you to lose money

Now that we’re ready to get underway,

just remember: getting good at poker is about learning and not winning

Many players emphasize winning only,

They’re quickly passed by players who are focused on learning and view winning as a nice side benefit

And indeed it is

Learning will occur one step at a time

Each chapter will outline an important poker concept—try to understand it before you move on to the next

They’re building blocks

Give them your time and focus— you’ll be a better player in no time

THE BASICS: VOLUME I A Note on Language (2011) I’ve always been fascinated with language

It’s impossible to really understand something without choosing the proper words for it

You’ve probably heard the saying,

“You don’t understand something until you can explain it to a two-year-old”

With that in mind,

I am very strict about what words I use and what I teach others to use

Knowing and using the right words is helpful in any nuanced debate,

but it’s even more helpful in the time-sensitive environment of a poker game

If you’re playing 8 tables,

you don’t have time to wade through a swamp of incomplete ideas,

reproductions of things you’ve seen in videos,

and irrelevant information en route to finding the right answer

No—you need the right answer now

To make that happen,

you need the path of least resistance to that answer

This is where language comes in

When your words are carefully chosen,

you avoid distractions and move smoothly from point A to point B to point C until you’ve found the answer you were looking for

Throughout this book,

I use a lot of terminology

Much of the terminology I’ve developed myself

Some I’ve borrowed from others

All of it is carefully chosen to describe specific elements of a complex game

I hope you’ll find this type of linguistic structure helpful on your quest to understand poker more fully

A Game of Information (2009) At the very beginning of our poker experience,

we have no idea what is happening around us

We don’t perceive information well

In fact,

we’re usually limited to two very basic pieces of information: the cards in our hand and the cards on the board

Other pieces of information are completely lost to us: our opponents’ likely hand ranges,

The point is this: the more information a player gathers and uses,

The less information a player gathers and uses,

In the following chapters,

we’ll talk about the ways to both gather and use information—what to look for,

The purpose of the first section of this book is to outline basic game strategies and theories that should allow you to deal comfortably with weaker players and will prepare you for playing against tougher,

Each concept builds upon the one before it,

so Chapter One is the most important chapter in this section

Welcome to the world of aggressive,

Chapter One: The Reasons for Betting (2009) I hope you’re ready for this,

because we’re about to define our entire poker existence

It’s a single word: why

? Poor players never question their decisions

Average players start to ask themselves “why” but have wildly insufficient answers

When I’m coaching students,

this is one of the first things I see that needs fixing

A student makes a bet,

and I ask him why he’s betting

Common answers include: “I’m pretty sure I have the best hand,” “I’m gaining information to see where I’m at,” or “I’m betting to protect my hand

” The problem is that those aren’t reasons for betting

Things like information or protection may be side effects of betting,

So what are the reasons for betting

In order to justify a bet or raise at any time,

we’ll need to rely on these three (and only these three) reasons

We’ll deal with the first two first: 1

This is defined as betting to get called (or raised) by a worse hand

Betting just because you probably have the best hand is NOT sufficient to bet for value

This is defined as betting to get a better hand to fold

Betting just because you can’t win any other way is NOT sufficient to bet as a bluff

These two are pretty simple

They rely on mistakes our opponents make—either calling too much or folding too much

It’s human nature to call too much

We’re curious beings and we want to see what the other guy holds,

whether or not we hit our flush on the river

People are more inclined to make the mistake of calling too much than the mistake of folding too much

Therefore,

Reason #1 for betting will dominate our bets

Value-betting is,

and always will be the best way to make money

At a micro-stakes game,

nearly everyone at the table will call absurdly often,

so Reason #2 for betting becomes more or less useless

At $5000nl,

nearly everyone at the table will be good enough to avoid paying off your value bets too often,

and thus reason #1 decreases in utility and reason #2 becomes more important

In general,

even regulars at high stakes games are more likely to make bad calls than bad folds as a general rule

So what about c-betting

? Let’s say we raised KQo on the button,

passive player who won’t fold ANY pair on the flop) calls us

The flop comes down A75r

He checks to us

This is a very standard bet

We can’t get called by any worse hands (QJ isn’t coming along for the ride)

Even a hand like 86 is roughly a coin-flip against us in terms of equity

So we can’t bet for value

Sticking with our assumption that he’s not folding any pairs,

we can’t bet as a bluff either as we have the best non-pair hand possible

Yet we still bet

Capitalization of Dead Money

This is defined as making the opponent fold,

whether his hand is better or worse,

and collecting the money in the pot

This is obviously a fair amount trickier than Reasons #1 or #2

What makes this mysterious third reason work

We make him fold his equity share in the pot

On the A75 flop where we hold KQ,

his six-outer still has a strong amount of equity to draw out

Making him fold that equity share is good

(One exception would be if the villain is likely to bluff AND our hand is strong enough to call a potential bluff

On this A75 board,

if we check behind on the flop,

villain is likely to check all of his air-type hands and bet all of his pair-or-better hands

villain is unlikely to bluff and our hand isn’t strong enough to be a bluff catcher,

More on this concept later in the chapter “Showdown Theory”

The dead money more than compensates for the times when we’re called and lose

I was playing at a high stakes table with a very famous,

extremely loose-aggressive player named Cole

He was deepstacked in the CO,

Cole raised,

The Button folded,

Cole obviously wasn’t raising all-in for value (hard to get called by nine-high)

Nor could he be confident about making the Button fold anything good,

as Cole is famously loose and aggressive—nobody folds anything good to Cole

Yet he still raised

there is a lot of dead money in the pot

Cole only needs the Button to fold a relatively small percentage of the time to make the shove correct

As games get more aggressive,

more people are bluffing and putting money in with weaker hands

That equates to the presence of more dead money in the pot

In small stakes games,

This is because people rarely get out of line and make plays without some kind of hand

In higher stakes,

you’ll need to capitalize on dead money if you want to turn a profit

Additionally,

Reason #3 is rarely (possibly never)** a primary reason for betting

Often times it is used as a complimentary reason for Reasons #1 and #2

For example,

let’s say we have the nut flush draw on a T♠8♠4♣K♣ board and we decide to bet the turn

we’re betting for Reason #2,

hoping for him to fold a hand like JT or A8

He may have a worse hand,

which we don’t want him to fold necessarily

However,

the fact that there is money in the pot,

and we might get him to fold a hand like JT means that it’s not so bad for him to fold a worse hand

Another example might be a situation where we have KT and the board is T♠6♠5♣J♣

Betting again might be slightly too thin

However,

getting him to fold straight draws,

and random floats is good for us,

especially if we think he usually takes a free card with his draws if we check

In general,

dead money compensates for the “thinness” of either Reason #1 or Reason #2

For example,

villain calls us too often) when the pot is 50bb

However,

a bluff has more value because there’s more dead money to make

Similarly,

a thin value bet might be too thin with a small pot size,

but with a larger pot the dead money compensates

In this sense,

we’re always betting for Reason #1 or Reason #2,

but Reason #3 is always involved

Even when we raise preflop,

we’re either raising as a bluff or for value,

but our raise is compensated by the dead money—dead money that we call “the blinds”

So what about protection

? Is this not a reason for betting

? The answer is no—protection is a consequence of betting

Let’s say our hand is red QQ on a Q♠T♠9♣ board

We bet for value—there are many worse hands that will call or raise us

The fact that we’re charging draws and “protecting” is nice,

but it’s hardly the original motivation for our bet

Now let’s say we hold 6♥6♦ on a Q♥9♥3♣ board

We can bet there to collect dead money,

but we’re hardly “protecting”

Most draws are either 50/50 with us or are a significant favorite (A♥J♥ comes to mind)

The moral of the story is that when we have a set of queens,

but it needs value first and foremost

When we have a pair of sixes,

our hand doesn’t really need protection because it’s not very strong

All we have is a pair of sixes

It seems pretty dumb to protect ourselves from A♥J♥ when A♥J♥ is a favorite over us

Instead,

we might bet 66 on the Q♥9♥3♣ board as a thin bluff (against hands like 77 or 88) or for thin value (against a hand like A♥4♥),

but mostly to collect dead money against a hand like A♣T♣ that will fold its 6-outer on the flop

What about information

? Let’s say we have QJ on a QT5r board against a very loose-passive player

We bet for value

If he calls,

we have the information that our hand is probably best and we can keep betting for value

If he raises,

we have the information that our hand is behind his range and we should fold

However,

the bet is still good even if that happens,

The real problem with betting for information occurs when someone bets a hand like KK on an A22 board

every time we’re called we’re behind,

so we lose some money (more on this later)

Every time he folds we were ahead

He plays perfectly

if he’s not making any mistakes,

If we’re betting for information instead of one of the three reasons,

we’re usually isolating ourselves with better hands and folding out worse hands

In short,

we’re making mistakes and our opponent isn’t

And that’s bad

However,

let’s consider the KK on A22 example again

Let’s start with a two assumptions: 1) if we bet,

villain never calls with a worse hand,

In this case,

it may still be correct to bet to collect dead money

Let’s say that villain holds a hand like 44

If he’s never bluffing when we check,

we’re simply giving him infinite odds to catch his 4

betting to make 44 fold there is a good thing,

because we make him fold his equity share in a spot where he only puts money in the pot when he’s value betting

Obviously,

these two assumptions are never this concrete—sometimes we can bet KK for value on an A22 board against smaller pairs,

and sometimes our villain will bluff us like crazy if we check

we need to remain conscious of dead money as it applies to these types of situations

So now we have the three reasons

Any time you’re betting,

?” Once you realize that there are only three answers,

poker will suddenly make a lot more sense

Reason #2 and Reason #3 describe the same thing and should therefore be rolled into one new definition

Chapter Two: Killing Reason #3 (2011) Without a doubt,

understanding relative hand strength is the first challenge of an aspiring poker player

Knowing how to think about value-betting is critical

Knowing not to bluff when your opponent won’t fold any better hands is also important

However,

Reason #3 always seemed difficult to put into words for me

I’ve always felt uncomfortable trying to explain Reason #3,

and eventually I boiled it down into a simple example

Here is the situation: 

I raise AQ,

I 4bet all-in,

and while he’s thinking he accidentally shows me that he’s holding 88

I want him to fold—this is a clear example of Reason #2

I want him to fold a hand with better pot equity than me

let’s look at the counterpoint: 

I raise 88,

I 4bet all-in,

and while he’s thinking he accidentally shows me that he’s holding AQ

What do I want now

I still want him to fold

sometimes I want my opponent to fold the worst hand

This caused me to redefine reason #2 for betting: Reason #2: Bluffing means betting to make your opponent fold a hand incorrectly

Incorrectly means that if he could see your cards,

Sometimes folding incorrectly adheres to the classic version of Reason #2 (we have J9 and he has QJ and he folds preflop to our 3bet),

but other times it simply means he folded a hand he had odds to call with (our opponent folds 6♠7♠ on J♠T♠2♣3♦ to our 2nd barrel with AK)

Lastly,

it could mean our opponent folds a hand that they could have re-bluffed us with (we 3bet J9o and he folds 76s,

but if he had 4-bet we would have folded)

This is clearly a much broader vision of the concept of bluffing

Not only does this help us avoid making bets to “capitalize on dead money” which end up being incorrect as either a value-bet or a bluff,

but it gives us much greater license to consider bluffing in spots that we might previously have avoided

Once upon a time,

raising a J83 flop with 66 might have seemed bad (no worse calls,

but when we consider the various pieces of equity he’ll fold (not to mention the things he might fold on later streets—more on this in the chapter “Street Projection”) we might be able to start justifying aggression

The words we use are important

When something takes too long to explain,

that means it’s probably too complicated to use in a time-sensitive environment

Any time you take an action at a poker table,

you should be able to explain it in 20 seconds worth of time—online,

that’s all the time you’ll get in the first place

Now that I’m done with Reason #3,

everything is either a bluff or a value-bet

My mind is clearer,

Killing Reason #3 makes a world of difference

The remaining content of Chapter One is still the foundation upon which poker understanding rests

Knowing how to quickly define value betting and bluffing is the first step to playing good,

Chapter Three: Preflop Hand Ranges and Postflop Equities (2009) and Addendum (2011) Preflop is undoubtedly the easiest street to play

The variables are greatly reduced—only two cards per person are in play

Unlike postflop where situations become extremely complex and difficult,

preflop is easiest to deal with

Yet every student I’ve ever coached has begun with one major preflop leak—they’re not thinking about postflop

To the average poker thinker,

preflop is a vacuum in which we can raise K2o on the button because our hand is stronger than the range of the blinds

How about this: If preflop were a vacuum,

it would be profitable to raise 100% of your hands on the button

The dead money from when the blinds fold easily compensates for raising 72o

why don’t we raise 100% on the button

? Oh that’s right… 72o is terrible postflop

K2o isn’t too far behind

The difficulty most players have with making money without going to showdown stems from their inability to play a well-formulated preflop game that is cohesive with their overall postflop strategy

There is a gap between their preflop plan and their postflop plan

In short,

they’re not thinking about equity

Let’s explain

We hold K8o on the button

Our initial thought is to raise because our range is ahead of the blinds and we can collect dead money

So let’s say we raise and the big blind calls

The flop comes down 9♠7♦3♣

The blind checks,

The turn card is the 2♠

The blind checks again

Boy-oh-boy do we have a conundrum

If we check it back,

we’ll inevitably go to showdown with a weak hand and we’ll lose a decent pot

Seems pretty weak on our part

we could bet… but the turn card isn’t scary and he’s unlikely to fold anything he called the flop with

Betting is often overly aggressive chip-spewy

The real problem with the postflop spot starts all the way back preflop

We chose a hand with poor postflop equity and thus we walk into unprofitable spots—situations where there’s simply nothing we can do right

There’s an easy solution though: choose hands that have good postflop equity

What kind of cards are these

Suited cards are a good place to start—they have great postflop equity

When I say this,

most people’s immediate reaction is to tell me that suited cards only make a flush a small percentage of the time

That’s true,

but let’s think about it in terms of equity: 

On the left we have A♠6♠

On the right we have A♠6♣

We raise the button preflop,

The flop comes down 9♠7♠3♠

With A♠6♠ we have 100% equity,

compared with about 50% with A♠6♣

About a 50% equity differential

That’s significant

But come on,

how often do we really flop a flush anyway

? Agreed… let’s change the flop then—9♠7♠3♣

On the left now we have 50% equity,

compared with about 15% on the right

A 35% differential… that’s significant as well

Most importantly,

let’s consider a flop of 9♠7♦3♣

We bet and are called

The turn is a Q♠

A6s now has 12 outs

A6o has 3

unlike A6o (where we have to choose between being weak or spewy) we can be appropriately aggressive with A6s

We’ll talk about this more in the next chapter

High cards also have great equity

Let’s consider AQo

If we flop an A or Q,

However,

on the vast majority of flops we miss,

we are guaranteed six overcard outs

that’s enough equity to continue aggression

Connecting cards provide equity as well,

although not as significantly as suited or high cards

They do have advantages,

as straights are among the most disguised hands in poker,

but they have plenty of disadvantages as well

If there is a flush draw on the board,

a straight draw’s outs may be tainted

A straight draw has only 8 outs compared with a flush draw which has 9,

or the nut flush draw which sits with 12

If we turn a straight draw,

usually it’s a card that makes the board more coordinated and thus harder to stay aggressive on

An example would be JT on a K75Q board

The draw is nice,

but we probably won’t be able to stay aggressive on such a strong turn card for our opponent’s range (KQ comes to mind)

might occur if the board was even lower and less frightening—say we hold JT on a 964r board and the turn is an 8

That’s a very difficult spot for us to continue aggression despite our hand’s strong equity

In understanding all of this,

we see that hands like A3s are extremely strong,

In fact,

A2s-A5s are generally stronger than A6s-A9s,

as the extra connecting card value usually more than compensates for the extra high card value (i

a six kicker isn’t much better than a 5 kicker,

but a straight or straight draw is a whole lot better than nothing)

Hands like 76s are strong as well,

despite having no high card value

So are hands like KJo,

despite having no suited value

Aggression comes with a lot of advantages: we win bigger pots with our strong hands,

we make our opponents fold the best hand,

we collect dead money constantly,

and it makes it difficult for our opponents to read our hand

Now that we know which cards put us in spots that let us stay aggressive,

we can start to consider common spots where we have equity and want to keep applying pressure

Addendum (2011) I have a lot to say about this chapter

Its basic premise remains incredibly important—you should be thinking about the postflop implications of your preflop play

For a beginning player,

understanding which types of cards will give you equity is a vital step toward knowing what to do with that equity throughout the hand

In fact,

this chapter is one of the most important in the entire book

However,

there are a lot of statements that are easily argued against

Some things I’ve come to realize are just flat-out wrong

I wrote this: “How about this: If preflop were a vacuum,

it would be profitable to raise 100% of your hands on the button

The dead money from when the blinds fold would easily compensate for raising 72o

why don’t we raise 100% on the button

? Oh that’s right… 72o is terrible postflop

K2o isn’t too far behind

I wish somebody would have slapped me in the face and said,

“So don’t put any more money in postflop unless you make quads

!” If opening 72o in a preflop vacuum is +EV,

and the only problem is that we’re losing money by c-bet bluffing or paying off with a pair of sevens,

then we should just open 72o and never c-bet or call any bets

It’s only moderately exaggerated to say that we should only put in money with quads—we’re making money from preflop only,

so we can leave our commitment there

Obviously,

if the flop is A22 we can feel fine value-betting

I’m probably just done

Many of my students worry tremendously about their red lines (showing the amount of money they win without a showdown)—a great way to make your red-line go up is to steal more blinds

If you 13

get called by somebody with a tight range,

If you’re opening 72o,

they’ll have to loosen up a lot to make your preflop plays come anywhere near

Of course,

remember that in small stakes games you’re still going to make the bulk of your money from value-betting

This means your red line will go down (as your opponents call you more) but that your won-money-at-showdown will rise

Chapter Four: Aggression and the Turn (2009) Let’s put ourselves back with A♠6♠ on the 9♠7♦3♣Q♠ board

This is an ideal time to continue our aggression

? The turn card is ideal for us in many ways

it gives us extra pot equity—we now have twelve outs as opposed to three (as with A6o)

Secondly,

the Queen is an uncoordinated overcard to the board,

giving us extra fold equity—the opponent is going to be more wary about continuing with a hand like 88

This combination of pot equity and fold equity is mandatory for us to stay aggressive on the turn

Here’s a little equation to (over)simplify things a little: POT EQUITY+FOLD EQUITY=AGGRESSION* Sometimes we’ll have so much pot equity that we won’t need much fold equity

Let’s say,

that we have Q♥J♥ on a T♥9♥2♣4♦ board

We draw out so often on the river that we only need our opponent to fold a very low percentage of the time for a 2nd barrel to be profitable

On the other hand,

let’s give ourselves 22 on an 843Ar board

Sometimes,

the Ace on the turn gives us so much fold equity that our lack of pot equity (2 outs) is compensated by the fact that the opponent folds an extremely high percentage of the time

Most spots,

What if we have A♠5♠ on a 9♠7♦3♣T♠board

but the turn card actually decreases our fold equity,

as it hits a lot of the opponent’s range

Even a hand like 88 is unlikely to fold to a turn bet because it picks up a straight draw

It’s the job of the poker player to weigh his own pot equity and fold equity to make these decisions in close spots

Once we’ve ascertained that we have a sufficient combination of pot equity and fold equity,

we can continue our aggression

Usually this just means that we continue betting,

as that would usually be our plan if we actually had a strong hand instead of our draw

However,

in some situations it is better to go for a check-raise on the turn

What sorts of factors favor a check-raise over a second barrel

It’s unlikely our opponent holds a strong hand

For example,

If we bet a wet flop—let’s say 8♣7♣4♥—and our opponent calls,

we can usually be certain he doesn’t have a really powerful hand (like 88,

or 87) as he would usually raise these hands

Most of his range for calling probably includes hands like T9,

and 55 for pairs and gutshot straight draws**

hands like A8 or 97 for weak pairs

hands like Q♣J♣ or K♣T♣ for flush draws,

and hands like AJ or KQ that called simply with the intention of taking the pot away on the turn

To categorize these hands respectively,

our opponent holds straight draws,

Each of these hands are “floating” the flop,

with the last category being considered more “pure floats” as they lack any pair or strong draw

It’s likely that our opponent will bet a wide,

The turn card comes a 2♦,

making the board 8♣7♣4♥2♦

Let’s consider our opponent’s likely action with his range after we check the turn

With his straight draws,

he’s going to bet the vast majority of the time—simply because betting is the most likely way he’s going to win the pot

He’s likely to check his weak pairs and pair+draw hands behind,

as he’ll probably want to get to showdown with his weak pair

Therefore,

the vast majority of his range is very weak,

this becomes a good time for us to check-raise the turn as a semibluff,

Sometimes,

our opponent will be tricky on the flop with a hand like 65 and just call the flop

Other times,

the turn card will help our opponent in a disguised way

Sometimes our opponent will hold a hand like TT,

or 86 and decide to bet the turn and get the money in if we check-raise

To compensate for these possibilities,

we need to make sure we have some equity before making this move

A♣5♣ on a 8♣7♣4♥2♦ board is perfect,

A♣J♣ would be fine as well

K♦Q♥ probably wouldn’t be as good of an idea

Board texture is critical in understanding when to bet out and when to check-raise

If our opponent flat calls a wet board,

his range generally doesn’t include monster hands like sets,

However,

if our opponent calls on a dry board (let’s say 8♣6♦4♥) check-raising the turn gets significantly worse

With fewer draws available,

a large portion of his turn-betting range now includes slow-played sets,

If I had A♣5♣ on an 8♣6♦4♥2♣ board,

I’d almost certainly bet the turn again and plan on folding to a raise as opposed to check-raising

Evaluating pot equity is easy: we look at how many outs we have,

and through simple memorization,

we know that the nut flush draw usually has between 40 and 50 percent equity

A gutshot has about 18% equity on the flop

Pretty simple

Evaluating fold equity,

What factors affect our fold equity

Player type

This is by far the most significant factor in evaluating fold equity

Against a bad player (whether bad-passive or bad-aggressive) our fold equity is greatly reduced,

simply because they won’t fold very much of anything

The response is easy—we have a wider value bet range,

but we can’t continue aggression with weak hands that rely on fold equity

Board Texture

is vital to understanding fold equity

If a T peels off on the turn instead,

This part is easy to read as well—overcards increase fold equity,

but low cards and coordinating cards don’t

Number of players

This is an obvious one

If there are more hands in play,

there are more cards that could’ve connected with the board,

and thus our fold equity goes down

We’ll go into this in greater detail in the Advanced Section,

but if we have a loose and bluffy history,

If we have a tight,

This is because our perceived hand range becomes either weaker or stronger

Sometimes,

these reasons play against each other

The board might be very scary on the turn when an Ace falls,

but the player type is loose-passive and thus we shouldn’t continue our aggression

Other times,

but the board will be dry and they’ll both be tight players,

so we’ll want to be aggressive

It’s the job of the poker player to balance these factors

you can think of Aggression as a constant—a magic number of combined PE and FE

if PE+FE don’t add up to the magic number,

then you can’t be aggressive

However,

sometimes you may have so much FE that you really need 0 pot equity

Bluffing the river is the most obvious example of this—there is no more pot equity because you can’t draw out on a later street

you’re only dealing with fold equity

if your opponent has a lot of those pair-plus-gutshot hands in his range,

I’d usually prefer to bet three streets

You’ll nearly always get a call on the turn and a fold on the river when they miss their draw

However,

if he’s aggressive enough to bet the turn,

and he’ll fold to a check-raise,

it’s still better to check-raise

you may be able to get them to fold better hands given the strength of your line

This is considered in the Advanced section in the chapter “Advanced Fold Equity”

Chapter Five: Bet Sizing and Thin Value (2009) Now we have a general idea of when and why to stay aggressive—pot equity and fold equity

? In No Limit Hold ’em we have a lot of options

For a while,

there was a standard mantra for bet sizing

The accepted standard was to make a potsized bet on the flop,

between 2/3 and 3/4 pot on the turn,

and between 1/2 and 2/3 on the river

The assumption behind these bet sizes,

was that a smaller bet would be called more often than a larger bet

The classic “don’t want to scare him away” thinking

This is dumb

Most players make the decision whether or not to call,

or fold based off two main considerations: 1) Their cards

Most players won’t fold AA on a JT9 board when facing a ton of action because hey,

they’ve got aces—even though they’re relatively unlikely to be ahead

QQ is likely to get a lot of money in as an overpair,

but shuts down as soon as an A or K falls

The size of the bet facing them,

Obviously,

if we bet $2 into a pot of $800,

if we bet $800 into a pot of $2,

nobody is going to call without the nuts

However,

If he’ll call a $35 bet,

? Even if he is slightly less likely to call a $48 bet than a $35 bet,

the extra money we make when he does call the larger bet more than compensates for the additional times he calls the $35 bet

when we’re trying to get value,

Sometimes,

our value bets will be less cut-and-dried

If we have JJ on a T54J5 board,

it’s very easy to bet for value

What if,

it’s likely we have the best hand,

and we may decide to bet for value

If we bet with JJ,

anything that calls us is worse so we can quite comfortably going for maximum value

With AT,

some hands that would call our value bet are better (AJ,

With T9,

there are very few hands that are worse that could potentially call a bet (T8,

if we bet large enough with T9 that our opponent is likely to fold hands like 88,

suddenly the bet becomes bad—we can’t get called by worse

we need to choose a bet size that makes us sure he is still likely to call with weaker hands

I might bet very small with T9 on that board—possibly as small as 1/5 pot

With AT,

I might bet as small as 1/2 pot

This concept is called thin value

Thin Value Betting means making a bet to be called by worse hands,

accepting that better hands will also call the bet and understanding that the value obtained from worse hands will be more than the money lost to better hands

The “thinner” your bet (i

the more better hands and the fewer worse hands that will call),

the smaller your bet size should generally be

Sometimes,

a bet will be so thin that you’ll need to make your bet very small—possibly as small as 1/5 pot at times

Other times,

you may settle for half-pot as a thin value bet

The idea is to retain the very worst end of his range—hands that are weak enough that they will actually be affected by our bet size

Sometimes this means trying to get value out of Ace-high or bottom pair

In order to accomplish this,

we usually have to reduce our bet size

Sometimes you won’t have a choice as to your bet size in thin spots,

I can recall one hand I played

I had a very wild image and had been 3-betting a lot preflop

I picked up QQ in the blinds and 3-bet a pro who had raised on the button

He called,

I bet for value,

because I thought that with my image he could call me with worse hands and that he didn’t have too many aces in his range for calling my 3-bet preflop (as he’d 4-bet with AK)

He called,

which led me to believe that I was probably ahead—I expected him to raise with an ace to try and stack me if I had a hand like KK,

The turn card was a blank,

and now I had a decision to make

If I bet for value,

it would commit my stack as I had only a pot-sized bet left

If I checked,

I could potentially miss value 18

I realized my bet was thin—he could certainly have an A sometimes,

But I shoved anyway,

I was called by 99 and won a big pot

However,

I accept that sometimes in that spot I will be called by AT,

or other hands that have me beat

I have reason to believe that the value I gain from worse hands is enough to compensate

Other times,

good opponents will be able to tell that you are value betting thinly and will respond aggressively once they perceive your weakness

I can recall one hand I played against a very good high stakes regular

He had raised in the cutoff,

and I called in the big blind with KQo

The flop came down K98r

I checked,

and I made a somewhat thin check-raise for value

As I check-raise a lot of flops,

I was pretty sure he could call me with a worse hand

He called,

and I put him on a range of pair hands (anything from AA,

and the somewhat unlikely KK),

The turn card came a T (one of the worst cards in the deck for me),

He checked behind

At that point I excluded AA,

as I’d expect him to bet all those on the turn for value

I felt his most likely hands were JT or QT that picked up a pair on the turn

The river was a 2,

and I decided to go for thin value

The pot was about $500,

He thought for a while,

It was another $1500 to me

I realized that my hand was perceived to be weak and that my opponent was very capable of applying pressure and being aggressive

Despite the possibility that he had slowplayed a big hand,

I was relatively confident in my read,

so I called and stacked his JT

After the hand,

somebody asked me if I had bet small to induce a raise

I said,

I bet for thin value

Inducing a bluff raise was just something that happened as a consequence of that

Value betting is the way to beat poker

The more value we can squeeze out of hands that are likely ahead,

the more money we’re going to make in the long run

Understanding how to change your value bet sizes depending on the “thinness” of your bet will help you get the maximum amount of value with your entire range

Chapter Six: Player Identification and Basic Hand-Reading (2009) A lot of players make hand-reading out to be far more difficult than it really is

They trouble themselves over extensive weighted range analysis,

Bayes Theorem,

and complex expected value calculations

At its most basic level,

hand-reading is much simpler than that

I tell my students to focus on one simple question: Is he aggressive or passive

hand-reading is a piece of cake

If he raises,

he has an extremely strong hand

That’s what being passive means

If he’s aggressive,

handreading does become more difficult

We’ll talk about that in the advanced section

But first,

how do we determine whether or not someone is aggressive or passive

? To the average online player,

this question seems simple to answer

The world of online poker has become dominated by statistical analysis programs,

hand history recorders and replayers,

For any given sample size of hands,

you can find out everything from broad,

easily used stats like preflop looseness,

to extremely specific statistics—fold to river check-raise percentage,

Worthless is a little bit too strong of a word,

but in my opinion most statistics are extremely unimportant

sometimes eight tables at a time,

without using any kind of statistical readout program

How do I get reads

? How do I know how people play

? Am I not at a huge disadvantage

Instead,

I look for the things that are really important

I call this player identification

Essentially,

it means that there are things you can look for which will tell you quickly and easily whether or not someone at your table is aggressive or passive

These things include:     

Stack size

If someone is sitting with less than a full buy-in at a table,

and they’re not a proshortstacker,

Limping

If someone calls the big blind preflop and doesn’t open with a raise,

This trend generally applies to their entire game,

Minraising

While an aggressive act,

this is generally an indicator of a passive player who finally has something worth playing—especially when he minraises postflop

Additionally,

a lot of passive players will minraise a wide range preflop and then play passively postflop

Number of tables

If somebody is sitting on 6 tables and sitting with a full stack on every single one,

If somebody is sitting on only one or two tables,

3-betting

If somebody sitting on your left has 3-bet you often and consistently,

If somebody has only 3-bet you once or twice,

and especially if they’ve made the 3bet unusually small or unusually large,

A lot of players make decisions with the rationale that their opponent is “bad”

While he may be “bad”,

“bad” isn’t a sufficiently accurate descriptor to be useful to us in many cases

I’m constantly seeing players bet QQ on a 8763 board and stacking off when a passive player raises them all in

They say,

I couldn’t fold” when they get stacked by a set of eights

They should have said “Oh,

I had to fold

” There are only three types of players: 1) Bad-Passive

This type of player calls all the time and only raises with an extremely strong hand

They’re easy to beat—you just value-bet them all the time and fold when they raise

This player is easily the most common type of bad player

This type of player still calls all the time,

but they sometimes make raises or bets at times that are inconsistent with any kind of strong holding

A great example is the flop 20

I raise preflop,

and a bad-aggressive player calls in the BB

The flop comes down 863,

and he leads into me for a pot sized bet

This seems unlikely to be a strong hand,

as he’d most likely go for a check-raise

I raise with any holding and he folds most of the time

I stacked a player l