I think I am more motivated to blog on winning days than losing days.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 15:49 | Filled in poker

Over the weekend, I dropped around $1,000 between tourneys, NL and limit. Mostly, I played good and had bad results, but I am running out of ways to say that. I will elaborate on the specific situation I’m in at the moment and how I’m dealing with it. But first, I wanted to post an amusing LOLCAT, poker style:

poker LOLCAT

I find this quite amusing. I’m usually only lukewarm on the whole LOLCAT phenomenon, but once in a while I see one that I find particularly pleasing. Since my wife makes up about a third of my readership and she loves the damn things, I’ll add one more just for her:

Civil Disobedience LOLCAT

This is much easier than thinking of clever poker sayings. My absolute least favorite style of the LOLCATs is the “Invisible XXX” ones, but I actually like this one:

Invisible Chess LOLCAT

Anyhow.

I have concentrated a great deal on three betting. In the 30/60 and 15/30 games, there is a great deal of raising. There are a number of regulars who raise as much as 17% of their hands. A ton of people raise in the 11-12% range. For the most part, people who raise in the teens are raising damn near everything first-in from MP3 to the Button. For sure they are raising pretty much any two face cards, any pair, any Ace. I’ve been trying to focus on one or two of the LAGgy regulars at a time and define the way they handle getting three bet. I’m concentrating on the following stats OOP:

1) How often do they CAP? Sometimes the answer seems to be almost never. I’m pretty much one of those guys.
2) How often do they check-fold, check-call and check-raise the flop? What do the check-raises mean? This is a particularly rich area. Not too many players at this level check-fold the flop after a raise, but you can often find patterns when they do. For instance, many players will check-fold only Ace high flops or monotone flops. A lot of players will check-raise medium strength hands like second or third pair or a pocket pair. Most of them will wait until the turn to raise really big hands like sets or two pair, but many will raise something like TT on a raggy board. Some will check-raise draws. It is very instructive to filter all hands where the flop was heads-up and a player was three-bet.
3) Do they ever check-raise bluff the turn? Do they often check-call the flop and check-fold the turn? Many players never check-raise the turn in a 3 bet situation (this makes sense, because they have to fear that the 3 better has an overpair, so a check-raise on the turn usually means a very strong hand). You also see a shocking number of players who check-call the flop and check-fold the turn a whole lot. This is a very exploitable pattern and a major leak, IMO.
4) Are they very showdown bound? Will they check-call small pairs and the like all the way down? When do they donk the river? For some reason, you don’t see a lot of donk bets heads-up except on the river.

There is one player that I consider especially exploitable. His pre-flop raising rate is right about 17%. He raises pairs from MP1 onwards first in down to 22. By Mp3, he raises about 25% of his hands first in. On the Cut-off, he raises about 33% of his hands first in. He is tenacious post-flop, usually calling down with Ace high or any pair. He virtually never folds the flop. He will check-raise any raggy flop where he has a pocket pair, but waits to check-raise the turn with any set. He’ll check-raise the flop with any pair if he was unpaired pre-flop and he check-calls with pretty much everything else. He check folds the turn pretty often with what I think is mostly weaker overcards like QJ or maybe unpaired weak aces on bad board textures. He is pretty aware of board textures and will check-raise the turn with pairs on paired boards that seem pretty nonthreatening. He plays normal draws pretty passively, but will go ballistic with a pair + draw. His main leaks (besides terrible starting hand selection) are that he check-folds the turn way too often relative to the number of flops he calls (the problem may well be that he calls the flop too often, but he plays so many hands he can’t give up too often on the flop either) and he donks the river way too often with way too little. I may be curing him of the river donk bet, because I have raising him relentlessly on the river. I do it light enough that he feels obligated to call, but I am getting a lot of value out of it. In the past few days his river donk frequency has gone way down both even against other players.

To analyze how to exploit people who raise too much, it is important to determine what the numbers mean about their range. First of all, I know that he raises about 18% of his hands from MP2 first in. I also know that he will raise any pair from that spot. Since pairs are 6% of the dealt hands, I know that he has a pair 33% of the time that he raises. Other useful numbers to keep in mind are that all aces are about 15% of hands. Someone who raises all aces and all pairs is up to 20% of their hands. Add in all two broadway hands and you get to 27% (broadway hands are about 12% of deal hands). If you throw suited connectors into the mix, you get up to 30% of hands. By the time he is on the cutoff, he raises 33% of his hands, so that means all pairs, all aces, all broadway, all suited connectors and probably K5s+ and 75s+ or so. That is a metric ton of hands. I’m trying very hard to sit to his left and 3 bet him ruthlessly. I’m pretty sure that I’m driving him crazy, since yesterday I three bet every raise he made from the time I sat down for seven straight hands. I won 5 of the 7 hands, including two very bad beats I put on him. After the last hand, where I turned a set to take down his Kings, he promptly sat out and didn’t come back for about 15 minutes. He was raising much tighter the rest of the night.

My advice to those of you who are serious players who are reading this is this: Take pokerstove and play around with the ranges. If you know someone raises 20% first in from a particular seat, figure out what that means in terms of his range. Check out what he shows down, pay particular attention to signal cards like 22-44, low aces (suited and unsuited) and medium connectors and one gappers. Then use the information you find on their range to estimate your position on various flop textures. When someone raises first in 25% of the time, they probably are playing any pair, any broadway, A2s+, A5+, J9s, 87s+ or so. Some people play all the aces and no suited connectors. Some people play lots of suited connectors and no weak aces or low pairs. The differences can be important. Anyhow, given that range you choose to 3 bet with A7s. This is -EV in a vacuum since his range is 53/47 against your hand, but maybe you think with position and momentum you can beat him.

The problem with this strategy is that I have to invest a lot of money in hands I play with him and I have to be prepared to go to showdown a lot. Over the weekend, there were two players between us at the 30/60 table and my approach didn’t work as well because I was in the blind when he is at his most spewy and he plays much better in position (don’t we all?) Last night, I was immediately to his left on one table and two to his left on the other and I just brutalized him. I got lucky when I was behind and used my understanding of his approach to maximize value when I was ahead so that I had really good results. I had a great night last night, winning over $1,000 at $15/$30 in a short time, but my results for the month are still flat. I’ve notched about 2,000 VPPs, so I’m track in terms of my hands played.

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4 Comments to I think I am more motivated to blog on winning days than losing days.

  1. Torch says:

    March 7th, 2008 at 11:13 am

    If Suited is 1/3 of your readership, where do I fall? ;-)

    I have to be honest – you’re analyitical discussions are really pulling me back and making me seriously consider spending my already limited “free time” on getting back into playing holdem online.

    Keep up the discussions.

  2. janeg says:

    March 9th, 2008 at 11:08 am

    It must be nice to see the same people again and again; that rarely happens at the levels I play.

    Is it +EV to pound on someone this hard? I mean, to the point where he alters his playing style?

  3. Nsidestrate says:

    March 10th, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Torch: I actually have no idea how many people read this crap. I write it for my own amusement and I believe that my readership is quite low, but it is impossible to know for certain. Typically about 20-30 people load the detailed single post view and a similar number load the main page (and possibly read from there). It is essentially unknowable how many read from the feeds, which go to a variety of different readers, including poker wonks. I imagine that most readers are either ITHers or friends and family, but once in while I get weird links from places you wouldn’t expect.

    Jane: I would guess that there are about 10 regulars that I see at the game often and a rotating crew of other players who fill the seats. Normally, I’d say I have a lot of hands against 3 or 4 of the other players at a full table. I think your question is “Should I reduce my EV in one situation to increase it in the future?” I will think about that — it doesn’t have a simple answer.

  4. The Shark Tank » Blog Archive » Cooking with Gas says:

    March 10th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    [...] asked an interesting question in the comments to my last post.  Jane is one of my favorite posters at ITH who has done a lot of interesting work with the [...]

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