Wednesday, April 18, 2007

6-Max NLH Cash -- Betting Tricks

For starters, let me say that I did not play the WWdN last night, the tournament that first got me interested in playing with the bloggers and that eventually led to me starting up this blog itself. And it feels goooood. Too good. Too good not to wake up remembering how someone who can't even spell poker made a horrendous call against me. Too good not having the memory of some rediculous set of cards hitting the board to take my better hand and make mincemeat of it in a key spot. Too good to have no negative feelings at all about what happened to me or how I played in general among the ghey little group of bloggers with whom I spend so much of my time online at the virtual tables. I know it shouldn't feel that good. But it does. All of which is to say that it is clear to me that taking the night off from the blogger tournament circuit was a good thing. No evening blood boiling = no morning mental hangover for Hoyazo.

And don't get me wrong -- I did play a bit of poker last night. After watching a good first-season X-Files episode on dvd with the Hammer Wife, I fired up the new laptop and surveyed the night's mtt scene on full tilt. I eventually settled on the 10:30pm ET FTOPS Main Event satellite for a $26 buyin, which ended up sporting I think 60 players, including fellow bloggers Kajagugu and NumbBono and awarding FTOPS ME seats to the top three finishers. Although I did not win the seat in this thing, for the second straight night I ran deep, only falling in a huge allin preflop pot against the chip leader when my JJ failed to hold up against his AK. Why people with chip leads persist in calling allins from significant stacks with just AK remains a mystery to me, but in this case it worked out for him and IGH in 12th place for the second straight night in an FTOPS satellite. So that brings the total spent on qualifying for FTOPS even up to $52 over two days, but frankly both of those buyins were won with tokens acquired in $13.75 heads-up token sngs, so it's really more like $27.50 spent so far to try to get in to the big-buyin FTOPS events.

OK on to today's poker topic, which is cash games, and some of the tricks I see and like to use myself at the cash tables. As I have alluded to on a few occasions on the blog recently, I've been taking some time almost every night to play some cash games, mostly focusing on $.50-1 6-max nlh as suggested to me by Raveen a few weeks ago. And it's been going well overall, with my only big losses along the way coming from suckouts and from horrible river cards that completely ruin what was otherwise a nice play building up by me. What I'm finding in my own play in these cash games, at least at this level, is that I am making the majority of my profits not from playing super-tight starting cards and by always folding one pair on the flop, but rather by playing my opponents far more than I'm playing my own cards (and also playing good starting cards, don't get me wrong). Today I wanted to show you guys two hands from my cash game play last night, review some of the potentially subtle trickery I see going on, and ask the question of the cash game regulars out there, is this how you guys are making your money playing cash?

Hand #1: We're about 30 minutes in to a session at $.50-1 6-max nlh. I'm in the big blind with A7o, and the action folds around to the small blind, who thinks for a moment before just limping. Now, early on in a tournament I might be tempted to just take a free flop with this hand, planning to outplay my opponent on a later street or hoping to flop an Ace and maybe play it slow enough to get another bet or two out of my opponent. But in cash games I've found it much better business to just play it fast when I have reason to believe I'm ahead on the flop, and when I can lose actual cash money if I get sucked out on later in the hand by just checking along in the earlygoing. So I raise just about the size of the pot, and my opponent calls my raise to see a flop heads-up:

The flop comes Q64 rainbow. So I've missed the flop entirely, but in all likelihood since my opponent called a near-pot raise preflop and thus probably has some kind of high cards, he has likely missed it too, and in my mind my A7 is likely to still be best here. My opponent thinks for a while and leads out a little less than the size of the pot. Now, this guy has watched me c-bet on several occasions when I was the bettor or raiser preflop, so I figure him for a steal here, at most with one of the lower pairs on the board but more likely with just two high cards that are overpairs to the lower two cards on the board. Thus, going with my read, I go with the reraise here:

My opponent then does something that I seem to see all the time at the cash games, at least at this level:

Yep. The dreaded min-reraise. But in my experience, while in tournaments the minraise in a sizeable pot often indicates strength and an attempt to elicit a call or a reraise, in cash games at the level I am playing them, more often than not I have found this to indicate weakness, and probably a steal attempt. If the pot or the raise from my opponent had been a bit bigger I might have felt differently, but in this case, I'm thinking why not raise it up to 45 or 50 bucks if he really has a good hand and wants to get rid of me right now. Raising me just the $15 on top of the $15 I had already put into the pot just smacked of weakness to me, of a guy who was putting me on a steal-raise and who wanted to get me to lay down my garbage and give him a nice sized pot. Think about it -- I raised the pot from the big blind only after he had open-limped from the small blind, and then the flop had come by all rights pretty dam raggy with just the Q64 rainbow. Unless I just happen to have a Queen in my hand here, which is not so likely given my preflop raise, then my opponent, whom I had observed to be a thinking kind of player, is fair to assume I might be bluff-raising him here. It's a bit of an aggressive move for me to be making, but at the same time it's not all that uncommon at a cash game in my experience.

So, still putting my opponent on a bluff-reraise here, I decide I am going to go ahead and re-reraise him to now make him think I obviously must have a hand. There's enough in the pot at this point that it's worth it for me to take down now, and since I don't possibly put him on a pocket pair, AQ or KQ due to his preflop open-limp from the small blind, and I don't put him on Q6, Q4 or 64 either due to his calling my preflop raise, I just don't see what he could have that would justify his calling another re-reraise from me here.

Plus, and you can see the beginning of this in the image above, I also two other semi-tricky moves that I have found very profitable and effective over time, both in cash games and in tournaments, but especially in the cash games (at least at the $100 nl level). I want this guy to think I actually have a good hand here. Unlike his preflop action, I actually did raise it up preflop, and I raised him right away on the flop as well when he led out with a bet, so unlike him, I've actually played this hand all along like I could have QQ, 66, 44, AQ or KQ. So, the first ploy I made use of is I let the timer click all the way down to just one tick left in the timer bar before I raise. As Don was just writing about the other day, the tick-down followed by a big raise almost every single time means the bettor is strong. So, I used this move while running a complete bluff, and I combined that with another form of deception that I also see commonly used in the cash game scenario: I reraised him big, but just barely not quite all of my chips. By leaving just a few chips in my stack -- not enough to seem at all like I'm leaving myself an escape hatch, mind you -- I've given the impression that I'm trying to appear a bit weakish, which along with the timer tick-down move, I am hopeful will give the overall impression that I am actually quite strong. So, I re-re-reraise my opponent with air here to $63, leaving myself just $7 left in my stack, after deliberately letting my time clock tick down to just one second left before acting:

And my opponent insta-folds, indicating to me that I was right all along. This guy had nothing and was just putting a move on me, which I thwarted by sticking with my read and by using some tactics that I often see used -- and more importantly, that I know my opponent often sees used -- by strong players who desperately are trying to elicit calls. That was a fun hand right there.

Hand #2: This hand took place on the same table as the above hand, maybe 10 or 15 minutes later, and I am once again in the blinds, this time the small blind, with JTs. UTG limps preflop for $1, and I call the limp myself for just another 50 cents with a great multi-way hand. Then the big blind makes a move that I have personally observed him do at this very table at least three times, which is to pot-raise a bunch of limpers preflop when he acts near the end of the action. Having watched him do this on multiple occasions and take down pots without even having to show anything down, to me this raise meant absolutely nothing about the strength of his hand, and I honestly believed from observing him that he would make this exact same move with 42o (forever called the "Waffles" in my mind) as he would with a nice pocket pair or whatever. So I like my JTs against that hand range, so after UTG folds for the raise, I make the call and see a flop with a little over $10 in the pot:

The flop comes K43 rainbow. Another non-threatening flop, and frankly another one where my read so far in the hand tells me I am likely to be ahead. But rather than get crazy betting out against a big stack at my table with just Jack-high, I opt to go for the check on the flop here, and see what my opponent wants to do with the hand, although I put him on nothing good and don't see it as likely at all that he has a King or any kind of a pocket pair based on my preflop read thus far in the hand:

My opponent on the big stack bets out $7.95 into a $10.45 pot. This bet struck me immediately was another example of a trick which I see used all the time at the cash tables -- again at least at the lower limits where I've been playing, maybe not at the higher limits because it's a recockulously ghey move -- but his bet of $7.95 seems to be sized at a number that happens to look like a ton of chips in the graphics on-screen. I've seen many doofuses online in cash games try to make use of the way certain bets appear, by betting a big-looking amount like something with 95 cents attached to it, so that the bet appears physically more intimidating on-screen and thus is more likely to elicit folds from one's opponents. 95 times out of 100, especially at this level, when such a bet is made it is often done out of weakness, in that if you secretly wanted your opponent to call, then unless you're some crazy level-5-thinking mofo stuck playing $100 nl, you would make a bet that looks smaller, and thus less scary to call, on-screen rather than a scary-appearing amount like $7.95 with its two large stacks of chips. So, I take his particularly-sized flop bet here as weakness, which goes right along with my preflop read of possible weakness with the meaningless, automatic raise-the-limpers move that I'd seen him using all night at this table thus far. Thus, acting on my read, I reraise him big right here, representing a nice hand here with a raise of a little more than the size of the pot. Again, a minraise here I think might be viewed as weakness by many players, especially with the pot small like it is so far at this point in the hand, and I want to clearly portray the opposite, like I have a King or a big pocket pair or something like that. So I reraise him solidly right here on the flop:

My opponent thinks for a few seconds, and then calls. No further reraise, which I definitely would have expected if he was actually strong, given the size of the pot getting up there after my good-sized raise. So at this point I am so totally not putting this guy on a King or any other good medium pair or anything. I'm not sure why he called, but again at this level you run into people all the time who can't lay down for just one bet or one raise when they're caught stealing, even if they have nothing. They just hope they will get one more chance to make a big steal later in the hand, or that they'll maybe hit a miracle card on the turn or river. So he calls, I'm still pretty sure I'm ahead here or at least that I have my six Jacks and Tens as outs, and then turn card brings me a pretty Ten♥.

Now I've got second pair decent kicker in a hand where I never thought my opponent had a good piece of the flop, and now in case he might have been sitting on a draw, or a 3 or 4 in his hand for second or third pair, now I'm fairly sure I've taken the lead here. The pot has $50.35 in it at this point, and I want to bet here and bet enough to get this guy to lay down whatever he has -- be it a draw, a pair and an overcard like A3 or A4, maybe a low King that he might otherwise stick around with to beat me. However, once again I want to use a tactic that I think makes it more likely that my opponent will fold what I believe is a weak hand, and in this case that means betting enough to scare him off, but also betting not-so-much that it looks to my opponent like I may be trying to suck him in to making a call. I thought it over, and here was my decision:

$37 into a $50 pot. It's clearly enough to easily price out any draws, and yet my goal here is to also make it look like to my opponent like I might actually want him to call, maybe because I've got top pair and a nice kicker, maybe I've made two pairs, whatever. But I think the bet sizing is key here, because I can't bet so little that my opponent can profitably draw a card to the river at either a straight or a flush draw (or both) or even at some kind of two pairs given what I'm holding, and I don't want to bet so much that my opponent suddenly thinks his K2 or whatever might be best because I'm clearly just trying to chase him out of the pot here. To me, a bet like $37 screams out that I am strong, and that's exactly the impression I want to leave my opponent with at this point in the hand.

He folded:

and I took down a $50 pot. Not a huge dollar amount in absolute terms, but a half a buyin is half a buyin, and I'm not complaining.

So what is my point of all this post today? Number one, I thought it might be interesting to show some of the betting tricks that I see other players using with some regularity at the $100 nl cash tables, and to show how I use some of those common bet-sizing and bet-making tricks against thinking players to my own advantage, be it whether I have a strong hand and want a call, or a very weak hand and desperately want my opponent to fold.

Number two, I would really like to get the opinions of the cash game regulars out there about these betting tricks. Although I've played a bit at $200 nl (mostly to little success, as I am forever The Man Formerly Known as Cash Game Donkey), in general I do not play at the higher limits in cash games. And, my strong assumption is that this kind of bullshit, while very profitable at the lower levels, is going to be absurdly useless and ineffective as the betting limits progress above the $100 nl level. Frankly I cannot even imagine someone sitting down with $400 at a no-limit holdem cash table online, and proceeding to make scary-looking bets like $9.99 in an attempt to freak opponents out into folding. Similarly, I assume that using bet sizes like I outline above, or even more, allowing the timer to click down right near the end before making a bet, will be picked off much more frequently at the higher limits than they seem to work fairly regularly at $100nl. Among the readers who play at these higher levels, is this your experience as well? Do you guys use your own little betting tricks like these, or do you see them with any regularity at above the $100 nl level? I would love to know your thoughts on this point. In fact, generally speaking, do you higher-limit cash guys find that you're making a lot of your profits on plays like the ones I've described above? Or, rather, are the majority of your profits coming from hands like the ones profiled often on Lucko's blog, where you've actually made very strong hands and are finding ways to get opponents to pay you off? Again, this is something I would love to know, as I've had a lot of success against $100 nl 6-max over the past month or so, and may contemplate moving up levels in the near future if I continued to experience the success I've seen so far in my cash game play.

Tonight is the next Mookie tournament at 10pm ET on full tilt (password is vegas1 as always), also the latest BBT tournament where the points leaderboard is really starting to take shape. Come by and try to knock down current BBT leader Miami Don, and try to take out current "undefeated" 7-for-7 BBT points-makers BuddyDank and jeciimd before they hit the point. And while I'm on the topic, make sure to check out Iakaris's blog and jeciimd's blog, as the two invisible writers have actually returned with some actual blog posts over the past few days, much to my enjoyment and probably to yours as well. If nothing else we want to send some traffic these donkeys' way to help encourage them to keep up the posting, for however long the recent trend can last. Anyways, so make sure to show up for the Mookie tonight and get your game on in the biggest blogger tournament week in and week out. Normally I would attack your manhood here and make some veiled threats as far as what you all are if you don't play the Mook tonight, but to be honest I don't think I will be able to make it tonight due to some other plans I already have going on for this evening. If I can get in there I surely will, but don't count on me for some easy dead money in the first few minutes of the tournament tonight because I doubt I will be back and online in time for the tournament start. But I should be there for the Dookie and maybe for some more FTOPS satellite action as well later in the evening if all goes as expected this evening. Best of luck to everyone in the BBT points chase tonight, and I should see you later at the virtual tables.

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Blogger Fuel55 said...

Hand 1: Personally I don't waste much time on A/rag IP or OP in cash games - just no value.

This worked here but in trickier higher limit games you are getting trapped here a reasonable percentage of the time making this play larger unprofitable.

You played it right and I liked your thinking I just dont think it is a lifetime winner.

Good players know that limping the SB induces a BB raise a large percentage of the time.

Hand 2: When that flop comes down it is wise to consider how your hand stands up against a really wide BB range (say 40% of possible hands: 22+, A2s+, K8s+, Q9s+, J8s+, T7s+, 96s+, 85s+, 75s+, 64s+, 53s+, 42s+, 32s, A2o+, K8o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o) which is that you are a 3:1 dog.

The read of weakness based on his bet size is bang on but the RR is a little small giving him 3:1 to call. When the turn comes you jump to a 2:1 favorite against the above range and betting is MANDATORY. He clearly was floating you on flop raise and was hoping to improve which he didn't.

Personally I think your opponent played this hand horribly.

1:03 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

I am a much more straightforward player than most people give me credit for. I am constantly jabbing at pots and trying to take them down. It has two desired effects. First to take down a decent amount of small pots. Second is that I give the image that I fold to pressure a lot of the time because I am playing nothing but junk. So, hopefully when I do have a big hand, someone is willing to play a big pot with me.

I just don't play 'tricky' very often. Doesn't mean I never make moves, but I do it far less often than others think I do.

1:05 AM  
Blogger NumbBono said...

It was nice sitting with you in the FTOPS ME qualifier...even if it was for just one hand.

Last night was a prime example why Jacks are shit.

I was busted from two FTOPS qualifiers with them, and sounds like you didn't have much luck with the either

1:06 AM  
Blogger cmitch said...

Hoyazo - You might find my post today interesting if you are getting into more 6 max cash game play.

Hand #1 - The preflop raise is good. I am either folding to the bet on the flop or re-raising like you did depending on the player. I would lean more towards folding to the flop bet without any read on the player. You have a small amount invested in the pot and can lay the hand down very cheaply. It will also work to your advantage on later hands. He will be more likely to believe your re-raises. I really HATE continuing further with the hand after he min re-raises you because I see a lot of min re-raises with big hands. The board doesn't have any draws and he may be hoping that you want to get all the money in on the flop with a big pair against his flopped set. The risk/reward is too slanted to the risk side at this point IMO. There will be much better spots to get the money in with against a player like this.

Hand #2 - I fold preflop or re-pop him preflop if you truely think that he is on a steal. I would rarely call. You said yourself that J10s is "a great multi-way hand," but now your are heads up OOP and don't have an idea if your opponent has a hand or air. The preflop raise would at least allow you to better define his hand and have a good chance of taking down the pot with a cont. bet on a non-scary board.

I think the main thing that I am trying to say about both hands is you don't have to bluff a lot against players like these. I think that you are risking way too much in these situations to be +EV in the long run. Surely some of the players are tricky enough to trap you, especially in the 2nd hand when your are oop. You can do it selective if they think you are tight and make them pay you off with your big hands. (Generally, if you image is too loose you are going to get called very lightly in both of these spots.)

Your questions
1. Do you guys use your own little betting tricks like these, or do you see them with any regularity at above the $100 nl level?

I sometimes see this, but it is not usually from a regular unless they make that kind of better every time.

2. Generally speaking, do you higher-limit cash guys find that you're making a lot of your profits on plays like the ones I've described above? Or, rather, are the majority of your profits coming from hands like the ones profiled often on Lucko's blog, where you've actually made very strong hands and are finding ways to get opponents to pay you off?

I would say that the majority of the profits are made from determining how to get the most out of each hand when you are ahead whether it is a monster hand or you just know that you have a better hand than your opponent. The type of plays that you made above are a small piece of the larger scheme. That kind of aggressiveness allows you to get more value out of your monster later.

IMO, this is a fine line between becoming too aggressive and too tight. You need to balance the two and do what is working with the players at your table.

1:08 AM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

I have to admit that it’s fascinating to read strategy from someone that plays so many MTTs, compared to cash game players. In the end, poker is poker; it’s about reads and aggression. Your game is altered by the constant pressure of increasing blinds, whereas in cash, it's a grinders game, where the only pressure comes from boredom and LAGs like Wes. (Boredom equals -EV).

In hand 1, compared to an MTT, I avoid blind fights. Without increasing blinds, there is no reason to steal $1 pots. You are wrong to make an assumption about what he is holding, he is just being aggressive since you raised his blind, and so it comes down to who has more balls. In this case, you won. But it is not worth risking half your stack to find the sb woke up with queens, and limped just to keep you in the pot.

Hand 2, love the move, some people, regardless of format, are so obvious. But he has to keep his bluff up and call your re-raise to make his story believable that you must have made your hand on the turn. If he folds to your re-raise, his game is relieved to everyone, and its time to leave the table.

My last note, unlike MTTs, suited and unsuited connectors and one gapers are great cards to play. With a raggy board, when you hit it, it looks like a bluffly bet and you'll get all the action you could ever want from over cards.

People like raven and fuel play so much cash, they are completely used to playing these types of cards against aggression and that is why they drive the MTT specialist nuts. So for a $4 raise, call a couple of hands in position with 6 7 and see if you hit a flop, that is solely where I make my money, and mining sets of course.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

I agree with the previous commenters.

I don't use many of those betting tricks, but I see my opponents use them all the time, and I am able to use their moves against them. I find that opponents who use these betting tricks often become addicted to them, thus making these types of players easy to read.

That said, I find that most of my profits come from value plays rather than bluffs and resteals.

In the two hands you posted, you went with your reads and got paid, which is exactly what you want to happen. The problem is that you built pots in marginal situations that could have easily gone the other way.

In Hand 1, I would have probably folded rather than risk my stack with Ace-high.

In Hand 2, I like your play given your read on the big blind. Firing again on the turn after the check-raise is mandatory, even if you hadn't hit second pair.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

OK so it sounds like the prevailing opinion from the higher limit cash guys is generally speaking to try to get value out of my made hands more than trying to bluff out guys where I am fairly sure they are weak. That is interesting to know, because at the $100nl level I find over an admittedly small sample size I am making most of my profit from reacting to other players and their weakness at the table.

And btw, I find at least at the $100nl 6-max level that the vast majority of the players do play the blinds for steals. I would estimate that probably 90% of pots that are folded around to the button or small blind are raised by that player, usually for an automatic pot-sized raise. Maybe this is more prevalent in 6-max than in ring games (probably). I'm not sure but I bet that is the case.

Thanks for the comments everyone.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Raveen said...


Glad to see your learning the ropes of the cash game well. Do you now know realize what Daniel was talking about in his book about not having to bet pot all the time, instead betting different amounts that achieve the same result?

Okay my imput on Hand 1: In the max 6's I'm constantly using AceHud in those blind versus blind situation and if u have it (i'm assuming you do) make sure you have percentage of times the person's attempted to steal blinds on there along with amount of times they've folded SB and BB. Those are my two main weapons at max 6's because from those numbers you can gauge who to steal from and who not.

Not a big fan of raising Ax in heads up situations even in position because more then not you will get called and rarely will you get paid off. I would recommend raising on occasion just to throw raises in there but not wouldnt make it a habit of raising the SB every 7/10 he limps or something like that.

Love the aggressive play on the flop and the resteal move. However at .5/1 a majority of player will not try to resteal there so in the long run I'd becareful on pulling resteals even though it worked in that situation. The min reraises at the upper levels are actually the opposite I think of what you said. In that players do min reraise knowing that they look weak and force the opponent to push over top of the min raise when in fact they are holding a monster. I personally love the min reraise because it gives my opponent a chance to misjudge my hand and hang himself.

Hand 2: I aggree fully with gnome in that I would RR or folded preflop because playing that hand out of position is tricky. But your point on the betting of .95 is true. I've noticed it myself but that stops around 2/4nl and disappears completely at 3/6nl usually.

My cash profit comes from alot of what lucko said in that I'm constantly stabbing at small points in order to make it look like I'm going after everything. That way when I get a big hand all of a sudden it looks like I'm really loose when in fact I actual have something. Resteals are profitable but most of your cash money wont come from that percentage wise. It will come from setting up a table image and using that image to get you paid when actually hit your hand (and of course big hands hitting against other people's big hands).

In the end the straightforward plays usually work out to be the most betting out trips when your first to act with 3 players behind etc etc..

2:54 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

I primarily play 2-4NL and I'd say it's a combination of both. I can't count on getting good cards every night or all night long so there are times I make a play in order to build my stack. That way, I'm hoping that when I do catch a good card, I get paid off because I appear active. I just wrote a post about playing your opponents as well... certainly not as eloquently written as yours and my thought process didn't go quite as deep but they were both against opponents I knew from playing every night and so it was part having the right hand and part making a good read.

I meant to ask you a question about the FTOPS satellite you played in. I caught the hand that you busted out on and that was actually an interesting hand because if I recall correctly, there were maybe 6 at the table and there was an UTG limper, a raise from MP, reraise all in by a relative short stack who had the slightly less than what you had. Now this relative short stack was still not a total shorty so you knew he wasn't pushing with garbage. So, when I saw you think about it and call, before the cards were flipped over, I knew you had a pair (no way you can call there with AK was my thought). And personally, I thought there's no way your pair is lower than QQ. I thought QQ at the worst case scenrio so I was shocked to see JJ (even though it ended up that you were on the better side of the coin flip against AK... stupid flop).

Why did you make that call? I felt like there was too much potential that your hand was beat. Having said that, I thought about that hand and thought that maybe because you thought the pot was big enough, you were short enough (not totally short but still, short enough), and that you weren't trying to make the money but rather hit that top 3, maybe that's why you called? Just curious as to what your thoughts and read was on that hand. Any insight you can give me will be much appreciated.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Littleacornman said...

I enjoyed your take on betting tricks in cash games.It's always good to read original well thought out stuff.

3:35 AM  
Blogger WindBreak247 said...

Now I'm no higher limit cash specialist, but I can tell you one either of those situations my opponent ends up having a hand slightly better than mine and isn't interested in folding it. Its .50/1.

All I ever read about limits even as high as 2/4 is that people are not willing to give up their top pair hands. While you did some seriously in-depth analysis and came out right on both counts, it kinda felt to me like you were wasting WAAAAAAAY too much effort analyzing these hands at a .50/1 table. The play is pretty straightforward, and much like the commenters before me, I have to reiterate that it seems like you're putting too much effort into what essentially comes down to battling over a blind, and in the long run you will either just drive yourself nuts when the first hand plays all the way out and you lose to a donkey w/K9o, or wonder how the hell you managed to lose half a buyin when a donkey is playing like a donkey and has a big hand. Its great that your read panned out on both hands and you scooped some damn decent pots, but if it goes the other way you're killing yourself because essentially you were fighting over $1.

All that aside, that's some great analysis, and I wish I could think to even 1/3 of that level before my time to act has expired.

3:41 AM  
Blogger jjok said...




I mean that most sincerely.

Examples like hand #1 is not as profitable over the long haul. There are calling stations everywhere at this level.

4:04 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

the moves you've posted here, resemble tournament moves. the blinds don't go up. so, there's no reason to get in constant battles for the blinds.

i don't like getting a bunch of chips in the pot with total air in a cash game. it's just not worth risking a big chunk of cash and getting myself in a sticky situation.

ur better off waiting for a real hand to get ur chips in there. small bluffs at small pots are ok. but, making bluff bets on 4th street can get u in a lot of trouble.

i do see those kinda of strange bets (7.95) on occasion and ur read is right. most of the time, it screams weakness. but, i've also seen players do it with monsters. same with the minreraise. it either means they're super-weak (maybe on a draw) or super-strong.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Yeah Alan you basically hit the nail on the head. My read was that there was no AA, KK or QQ out there, which I was pretty confident about, so I figured my JJ is best at the time. And, if I win that hand, I am in great position to win my FTOPS ME seat. It's really that simple. There are still 12 or 15 people left or whatever, and even though I think I was barely in 3rd place at the time, I am clearly going to have to win several more big pots and probably double and then double again my chip stack before the end in order to make it to the seat. Suddenly I'm being presented with an opportunity at a 50-50 shot to get that bigass doubleup-plus, and I decided in made sense to go for it. In particular because the semishorty was making a move that, when I called it, would likely fold out everyone else from the hand, and yet because he was a shorty, his hand is likely to be worse than your standard big raiser there preflop in that situation.

Here was my thinking: I figured maybe a 10% chance that I was up against AA, KK or QQ. If it is one of those two hands, I'm losing 80% and winning 20% of the time with my JJ, so my equity from that 10% of the hands is 2%.

I figured maybe a 50% chance that he was playing AK. In that scenario, I'm going to win 52% of the time, so in that situation 50% of the time, my equity in the hand is 26%.

And I figured maybe a 40% chance that I was up against a lower pocket pair, or the slight chance of a complete bluff-push by the shorty to try to get himself up to a nice stack all in one fell swoop. I wasn't so much expecting to see pocket 2s or 3s, but from a shortish kind of stack, pocket 7s, 8s, 9s or Tens often makes a move just like this. Against those hands I will win 80% of the time, so my equity from that 40% of hands is 32%.

This brings my total hand equity to 2% plus 26% plus 32%, or a total of 60%. 60% equity made this a great opportunity to call in my eyes, especially again since I figured I would end up against only the one opponent, whose short stack enabled me to lay some of the above percentages that I would never be able to lay against a huge stack making a similar move.

In the end, I was JJ vs. AK for basically the right to win an FTOPS ME seat, with me a 52% favorite in that scenario. All things considered, I would take that option again right now, although of course laying down the Jacks was a completely fine option as well. Not that I did all this math at the time in terms of actual computations, but it was more of a split-second estimate based on what I figured would happen after I called and what hand range I put the shorty on who got allin ahead of me. If my favored Jacks hold on to win that hand like they will slightly more often than not, or if he flips up pocket Tens, and I look like a friggin genius, and I'm basically assured of my seat given the relative chip stacks of the other players in the event.

Good question, that was fun analysis there.

4:39 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

I play $25-$50 NL, so you may not even think I"m worth a thought, but that has more to do with how much money I'm willing to put on the line for poker rather than my own skills. I usually win anywhere $200-$300 playing those limits, and while that's gonna pale to our favorite bloggers, it's still a decent chunk of change.
I rarely do anything other than play a wide range of pots, occasionally raising but limping a lot too, and I simply attack weakness. I don't go into 4th-level thinking online. That will get me into trouble. I'm with Lucko, I just stab at pots a lot so I can pick up the small ones to keep the big ones going. Then I wait for a big hand and hope it gets paid. It works quite a bit. If I sense weakness I will play at pots but mostly it's small hand, small pot for me and etc.
Again, nothing fancy, but I've found that fancy play can get you into trouble at the limits I play.
It's been nice to read your blog.

4:57 AM  
Blogger WindBreak247 said...

Hey Hoy...again, I don't mean to weasle in on your comments section, but I can't seem to find an email addy or anything for you so this is the best way I know how to contact you.

I was wondering if you'd take a peek at my latest post. You can skip all the early fluff about last night's results and stuff, but at the end I have sort of a request for posts on note-taking. Its something I've been thinking about a lot lately as I see your screenshots with notes taken on several players at your tables. This is something I struggle with how to get going on but think that the effort to reward ratio would be HUGE on, and I'd love for someone like you to post on note taking strategy. I think it would be beneficial to a LOT of bloggers, both beginning and advanced, and was just wondering if it was anything you would have an interest in sharing on. If not, I certainly understand how it might give a little too much away on how you form reads and whatnot, but I thought it was worth asking.

Thanks man!

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hate to bust your bubble, but basically in a nl hold 'em cash game, if you're playing well, you should have a big hand when the big money goes in.

there are ways to keep the pots small and bluff people. for example, with the a7 hand, you could have just called the flop and raised the turn.

good reads, but those are high risk plays you made. now for the run on sentence: maybe if you're that good at reading it will be profitable to continue making those moves, but there's a reason poker is a gambling game, and the .5/1 players tend to make horrible calls sometimes, so I think if you continue to make those type of plays in that game, they'll prove to be -EV.

9:38 PM  
Blogger WindBreak247 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:54 PM  
Blogger WindBreak247 said...

You're the man, Hoy. I think you would be my perfect choice to write something on note-taking, since I'm amazed by your screen shots just how many you take, you have good attention to detail, plus you have a good, detailed writing style to cover it. Thanks for taking it into consideration, and I hope you feel compelled to put something together soon!

10:55 PM  
Blogger Astin said...

I tend to play in the $1/2 cash games when I do. I figure it's what I play live, I might as well get comfortable with it online. It's the same sad tricks and bets at that level too. I assume that beyond that it thins out though.

One thing that those ridiculous bets do is catch me off-guard. Not because I think they're big bets, but because when I see a number like that I automatically think someone's gone all-in for their last few bucks. I've stopped myself from calling a few times when I see what's still behind.

I've never thought of it in terms of "trying to scare off with how the chips look", but "trying to look weak to take more on the next card." Then again, maybe I'm giving these guys too much credit.

2:16 AM  

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