Friday, March 23, 2007

Lost, March Madness, and Negreanu's Preflop Bet-Sizing Mistake

No rant for today (it's been a while since I had a good one of those, I'll see if I can fire something up for one day next week. Quick...somebody piss me off!), but I do as usual have a lot to get to, both inside and outside the world of poker.

For starters, yes I was always planning to comment about this week's Lost, but it just didn't fit in with the plan yesterday and, despite what you all may believe, I actually do try to keep these things relatively short (for me, anyways). Anyways, I have to agree with the general consensus that Lost on Wednesday was great. I won't quite say it was the best episode ever, as I have heard and read many other viewers say over the past 24 hours or so, but no doubt I thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems that the writers are finally really back in their stride this year, and almost week in week out the show is back to its old formula of interesting flashbacks, good storylines with actual meaningful plots, and Lost's particular brand of answering questions but raising five more almost every week. For example, it was great to finally learn how Locke ended up in that wheelchair. And what a phucking asshole that dad is, huh? Unreal. And Locke destroying that submarine was certainly interesting to see, although to be honest I don't see why he would do that in reality. I mean fine, maybe he doesn't want to go back, but there's no reason why he couldn't stay there with the Others -- Ben already seems to kinda like and accept him to some degree -- and yet still allow his friends to return to civilization. But wtf was Ben talking about with all that stuff about the box that opens up to reveal whatever you want to be in it? Huh? And what on earth (if that's even the right question) is Locke's father doing in that room at the end? And another thing -- is Ben or is Ben not the leader of the Others? At first when they caught him he kept talking about the leader. Then we see him barking orders in flashbacks and in the present. Then someone suggests there might be another leader ahead of him, and there is this other guy recruiting Juliette for Porject Dharma in the flashbacks, and seemingly ordering the murder of her ex-husband. Then we see Ben's power in even getting that judge lady Isabelle or whatever her name was to stop the trial of Juliette by overrulling her just by writing some orders down on a piece of paper, and it seems like he might actually be the leader after all. Then Mikhail a couple of weeks ago laughs when they suggest to him that Ben is the leader, and is clear that he's talking about someone who is above Ben in the pecking order. Now this week, Ben once again appears to be in charge. What the fug is going on with those people?

This is what I mean about what makes Lost so great IMO. They are just so good at giving you just enough information in most episodes to whet your appetite -- enough to keep you going and make you not be able to wait for next Wednesday night. Personally, I'm basically counting down the hours to the next Lost starting usually around Sunday evening, when the kids are asleep and I'm starting to think about the beginning to another long week of my "other" job (other than playing poker) in the office. In many ways looking forward to Lost is one of the things that gets me through the first couple days of the week, in that I probably think about it almost every day at some point and look forward to my next daily dose of just-enough-information-to-get-by. I'll tell you one thing that jeciimd pointed out to me in the girly chat that I think is just about the most on-point comment I've heard this week about Lost -- remember back within the past couple of months, when all anybody ever wanted was for the damn writers to get back to the old island and give us all our old characters back that we know and love? How long ago was that? 4 weeks? 5 weeks? Well look at it now. When I see the scenes from next week and see Sawyer yelling at somebody, Sun slapping Sawyer, etc., I have to admit, I'm kinda bored by that. I wanna get me some more of the Others! That's the interesting shit nowadays on Lost, don't you think? Great job by the writers on making that transition since the show returned to air early in February. Awesome episode this week, and it seems like mostly everyone agrees.

Well it's Friday in late March, and that means we had another batch of March Madness games going down on Thursday night, as half of the Sweet 16 turned into the Elite 8, with the remaining 8 teams playing down to 4 more to round out the Elite 8 after Friday night. Thursday saw Ohio State try its best to lose once again, this time going down by 20 points just before the end of the first half (its largest deficit at any time to any team this entire season before Thursday had been 9 points), before finally deciding to be ballas in the second half, quickly pour it on early and often and basically tie the game up with about 12 minutes left, after which time the teams battled it out, seesawing back and forth in what ended up being a really great game. In the end OSU pulled it out, sending a very disappointed but I think overmatched Tennessee team to the rail after a hard-fought loss, so OSU moves on to face John Calipari's Memphis Tigers, victors over upstart Texas A&M last night in a game that a whole bunch of bloggers were picking to go A&M's way. That was another great game (what else is new for March Madness?), which saw two free throws with just seconds left ice the 1-point victory for Memphis, running its incredible winning streak now to 25 consecutive games as they head into one of the great matchups of the tournament with Ohio State and monstrous "freshman" Greg Oden. And I put the quotes around the word freshman there because, and let's be honest here, Oden looks old enough and scary enough to be my phuckin grandfather, let alone my father. I can only assume he was held back 5 or 10 times in grade school or something, because that guy grows a thicker beard than me in about a 5-hour timespan, he's obviously about a foot and a half taller than me, and he just has the look of someone who's been everywhere, done it all, and is ready to kick some serious ass. Most 17-year-olds I know don't quite have that look about them that Greg Oden has. And what a block to preserve the victory last night for his Buckeyes.

In the other bracket, UCLA eliminated Pittsburgh in a matchup of UCLA coach Ben Howland against his former team, and he was able to lead the Bruins to an early lead that they just never gave up throughout the entire game. Pitt played admirably I think against a UCLA team that was undefeated for a while and was the #1 team in the country for a good portion of the season before faltering a bit at the end there, and so departs the last Big East team left in the tournament other than my Georgetown Hoyas who will play tonight. UCLA's win sets up another awesome matchup on Saturday, this one against regional #1 seed Kansas who held on for dear life for a 3-point victory against the Salukis of Southern Illinois. The Salukis put up a great fight and really put a scare into Kansas on a couple of occasions when they looked like they might be ready to take a nice lead in both halves, but in the end the all-around talent and tremendous coaching of Bill Self enabled Kansas to hold on to round out Thursday's slate of winners and set up two much-anticipated matchups for Saturday afternoon / evening. That's one good thing about there being very few upsets of the high seeds so far this year -- lots of great matchups of #1 and #2 seeds like Ohio State - Memphis and UCLA-Kansas to look forward to on the second weekend of the Big Dance.

Moving to tonight's games, first you've got last year's national champion Florida favored by 10.5 over midmajor darling Butler. I definitely pick Florida to win this game -- I had them beating Old Dominion in this round in my bracket because I had identified the sub-bracket with ODU and Butler as weak because the high seed, #4 Maryland, is one of these overseeded bloated ACC suckjob teams -- and I think the switchup to Butler will make it perhaps a little harder for Florida. But in the end Florida has the talent, the coaching, and after last year the experience to win this game tonight. That line is kinda big to me so if I had to pick a side I would have to go with Butler, but in reality I would probably avoid betting this game at all if given the choice (hopefully you have the choice). For entertainment purposes only, of course.

Next is a little team I like to call the Georgetown Hoyas battling it out with #6 seeded Vanderbilt, and as I mentioned earlier this week, this matchup looks fairly lopsided to me on paper. Of course that's why you always play out the games, but with Vanderbilt not even starting a center, and with their tallest player standing at just 6-foot-9 (on his tip-toes even), 7-2 Georgetown center Roy Hibbert ought to have a field day against this team. And the Hoyas have been real tough in almost every game this year when Hibbert was able to get his game on in the inside early. My Hoyas are favored by 7.5 in this game, and again I do think that is a fairly good line but if I had to pick it for entertainment purposes only, I would pick Georgetown to slightly best that spread and be one of the few teams to avoid a close game in this round of the Big Dance.

Oregon is favored by 3 points over surprising #7 seeded UNLV tonight in the first of the two late games, and even though the line opened at 2.5 and has now risen to 3 points, it seems to me that most people I know are jumping on the UNLV bandwagon, including several blogger types. Me, I'm sticking with Oregon. UNLV had a good little season this year, but Oregon quietly had a great season, not only compiling a 26-7 regular season record, but winning the Pac-10 tournament and winning its last 6 games heading into the NCAA Tournament in the process. And, they showed they can beat good teams, both at home and on the road, including big wins at Georgetown, Arizona, Washington State and USC, at and home against UCLA, Arizona and Washington State to boot. I see Oregon, another very well-coached team, ending the quasi-Cinderella season for UNLV tonight in a mid-single-digit victory, so I would lean towards a slight cover of the spread for UNLV in tonight's game.

Last tonight is UNC favored by 8.5 over USC, and this one is another real mismatch the way I see it. I think Carolina is better both inside and outside than an overmatched USC team that I am surprised has even made it this far in the tournament. Even though it's a fairly big line, I'm thinking Carolina is likely to win the game and cover this spread by the time the final whistle blows. I've had the feeling that Carolina and Georgetown have been set on a crash course to meet in the Elite 8 ever since the brackets first came out, and I don't see either team losing tonight in their Sweet Sixteen game as I think both teams are clearly better, stronger, faster and better coached than their respective opponents. And did I mention that if Georgetown wins the game tonight, I am going to the Sunday game at the Meadowlands, hopefully to watch that power UNC-Georgetown matchup live and in the flesh? Bring it on Tarheels. We'll break you just like Jeff Capel when he hit that halfcourt shot off the backboard to send the Duke-Carolina game into triple overtime back in 1994-1995 when Duke was so awful while Coach K(issmyass) was in the hospital and recovering from back surgery.

So that's it. After going 1-1 with my two picks last Friday, tonight I am giving up Butler plus 10.5 points, Georgetown minus 7.5 points, Oregon minus 3 points, and UNC minus the 8.5 points. So three favorites and just the one dog -- Butler -- on the entertainment purposes only picks for tonight, and even that dog I do think will lose the game overall, as all four favorites look to me to be poised to advance just like we saw in last night's games.

OK I did want to make one interesting poker point today before I sign off. You may recall me mentioning earlier in the week that I had recently bought a whole new spate of poker books. One of those was Daniel Negreanu's Hold'em Wisdom For All Players, a book I was hoping would be chock full of secrets and little tidbits as to exactly how Daniel reads other players so well and does what he does best, taking cheap flops with less than premium hands, and then making the best when he thinks he is ahead or his opponent his weak, and knowing when to fold 'em otherwise when he's just not feeling it. Instead, sadly, what I've found here about halfway through the book is largely a watered-down, thinned-out skin-n-bones poker text that barely even scratches the surface of anything that any of us would consider "advanced" poker concepts. I can't believe it. Why on earth would Daniel Negreanu bother writing such a lowest-common-denominator book on holdem like this? Having of all people Daniel Negreanu write a poker book on this simple a level is a bit like hiring Frank Lloyd Wright to design your kid's diorama-in-a-shoebox project for his second-grade class. I just don't understand it.

Anyways, one point Daniel makes in the middle of his book really struck me as downright bad advice, and I'd love to get your thoughts on it. In Chapter 13, Daniel basically advocates using bets between a third and three-quarters of the pot on the flop, and suggests that betting more than that will not likely change your opponents' decisions as to whether or not to call/raise or fold, but will just drain more money from your stack when you do end up losing the hand. To me, Daniel could not be more wrong about this. Now, as Sklansky points out very intelligently in his recent no-limit holdem book, bets on the turn can very sensibly be less (in relation to the size of the pot) than your bets on the flop, because on the flop you have 2 cards to come, and thus your opponents will have higher chances of making their straights, flushes and other drawing hands because they still have two chances to make them. Thus, Sklansky argues, your bets ought generally to be of a sufficient size on the flop to deter those players from drawing to their hands, in consideration of the fact that they still have two cards to come. On the turn, however, Sklansky correctly argues that now, with just one card to come, a much smaller bet (in relation to the then current size of the pot) is often sufficient to effectively price your opponents out of their draws, because your opponents will be facing much longer odds to draw to whatever hand they might be sticking around to try to hit. By completely ignoring this entire analysis and any mention even of this distinction between bet-sizing on the flop and bet-sizing on the turn, I think Daniel misses a key point here in the book and ends up giving advice that is truly terrible when applied to the most important situations in most holdem games.

As an example, imagine I have K♣K♠ and raise it up 3x. Two opponents call my 3x raise, and we see a flop of T♥9♥4♣. I like my hand here, and I'm fairly sure it's the best hand out there right now. However, with the Ten and 9 out there, a straight draw of some kind is not just possible but probably downright likely. And with the two hearts as well on the flop, anyone with two hearts in their hand is going to be tempted to draw at that flush as well. Now why on earth would I ever only bet a third of the pot here, or anything close to it even? As Erick Lindgren points out in his book Making the Final Table, draw-heavy boards call for larger flop bets than boards with no draws on them, and this is a perfect example of why. Let's say there's 1000 chips in the pot when the above flop falls and I've got the two Kings in my hand. If a player is on a straight draw or a flush draw, with two cards to come both of those hands are basically around 33% to win. That means they are 2-to-1 against filling if the players stay in to see both cards. At 2-to-1, that means that even if I bet the full amount of the pot here (another 1000 chips), then they will each be faced with calling 1000 chips to win 2000 chips, or 2-to-1. So, even by betting the full amount of the pot, I'm really only able to make chasing the draws here marginally inadvisable for them (it still is somewhat inadvisable because I am counting their odds of filling the draws over two cards, even though in reality I have the ability to bet again on the turn if no draws are filled by the turn card, but still). Now why in the world would Negreanu be recommending that I only bet, say, between 300 and 700 chips on this flop? That recommendation makes no sense at all IMO, and I can't believe Negreanu has allowed his name to be attached to that kind of a statement.

Now, you tell me that on a flop of Q72 rainbow, with 1000 chips in the pot, a bet of 500 ought to be enough to take it down when I hold pocket Kings, and I won't really argue that (though even still, his recommendation of the low end of a third of the pot is still I think far too low given what the donkeys out there tend to draw at on a regular basis in my games, and this is in both live and online play). But half the pot on a totally ragged, unsuited flop, that makes some sense. But recommending in his book that people just keep all their bets on all streets between a third and 75% of the current pot is generally terrible advice to be giving as far as I'm concerned. The much better advice the way I see it is a combination of Erick Lindgren and David Sklansky's from their respective books. Lindgren on flop bets, that draw-heavy boards call for larger, closer to pot-sized bets, while boards with no likely draws can be closer to 40-60% of the pot and should accomplish the same goal of chasing others out with less risk. And then Sklansky on turn bets, where he correctly points out that at that point in the hand, with only one card to come and therefore when players are facing just 17-19% chances of those straights and flushes filling on the river, you can bet more like a third of the pot, which itself is already enough to make those bad calls for your drawing opponents to chase. Think about it -- if your opponents are facing draws of less than 20% with one card to come, then their chances of hitting on the river are slightly more than 4-to-1, call it 4.1 or 4.2-to-1 for most straight and flush draws. So, if there are 1000 chips in the pot after the turn card is out, a bet of even 300 chips -- just 30% of the pot -- means they will have to call 300 to win 1300, which already prices them out of making the call if they know what they're doing. So that's the advice I'm giving on bet sizing in the poker book that I'll never write -- close to the size of the pot on draw-heavy flops, and closer to half the pot on no-draw flops, and around a third to half the pot on most turns. And to me that is far, far better advice than the generalized drivel that Negreanu includes in chapter 13 of his book. Does anyone disagree with this thinking, or think that Negreanu is right when he goes on about how "real professionals and those who aspire to make their games better" play small-bet poker, but the amateurs are the ones who bet close to the size of the pot on the flop? I think that's redonkulous, and for a guy of the skills of Danny Boy to makes those statements in print for all to see for all of time, I think he should be embarrassed.

Friday night. That means I'll be watching my Hoyas stomp all over Vanderbilt, while I hopefully satellite my way into the midnight bracelet race on full tilt. Wish me luck, on both fronts!

Oh and don't forget the latest WPBT event, Event #3 (Razz) is on the slate for this Sunday evening. Columbo's blog says this event is scheduled for 9pm ET on Sunday, but as of last night the thing was listed on full tilt for 8pm ET. Either way, make the time, make sure you check to see if it is changed from the current 8pm ET setup, and either way go get a token and play in this $26 buyin (tier I token) tournament for bloggers only. Come on, you know you don't want to miss Razz, easily the most frustrating of all the poker variations. This is an event that I won last year in the WPBT, and I plan to be there to take the thing down again on Sunday. Now if you haven't bought in yet, go play one of those $13.75 buyin heads-up sngs on full tilt and win yourself a token for half-price. See you Sunday night for the WPBT Razz tournament!

Labels: ,


Blogger slb159 said...

Gl in the satellites.

Hope you get some confused railers.


10:36 PM  
Blogger Rob1606 said...

About your first example. Are those the right pot odds to calculate with? I've been reading about this recently and I have seen several times that you should look at only the odds on the very next card. After all, if your opponents do not make their flush/straight on the turn (which is quite likely, 4 or 5 to 1), they will have to call some bet from you again to see the river.

I am sure that I am missing something here given that Sklansky argues otherwise, but I simply do not understand.

That said, I certainly do agree that you need to bet something like the pot to get rid of drawing opponents, but this is more because people (at least at the level I usually play at) call so much...

10:47 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Rob, I mention this briefly in my post, but I think the right answer is somewhere in the middle of the two ways of looking at the pot odds dilemma. I think only looking at the 20% chance of filling a straight or flush on the turn card, and thus betting just enough to price out those 4-to-1 draws, is clearly incorrect. You may not necessarily want to bet again on the turn depending on what you're holding. Or a card may fall on the turn that might complete some draws, and you won't know if it makes sense to bet again there or not. Or, you might bet so small on the river that it does at that point make sense for your opponent to pay for both draws on the turn and the river. I think the much more sensible answer on the flop is to bet closer to an amount that prices your opponent out of chasing that draw on both streets. If you want to bet slightly less than this amount like I advise in my post -- something like just the full pot or even maybe somewhat slightly less than the full pot -- for me this is where I come down as far as the best amount to bet. You just need to be willing to lay it down to reraises if your hand is not great, and need to be willing to back down if the draws appear to fill on the turn or the river.

I say again though someone who says you should only look at the odds of your opponent making their draw on the very next card is I think giving bad advice. Say you've got that KK on the T94 flop with the Ten and 9 the same suit. You bet just 300 into the 1000-chip pot on the flop, and of course your drawing opponent calls. Now the turn brings a King. Or a 6. Now what? Do you want to bet out again, knowing that either side of the open end straight draw just connected? Or might you want to consider checking here and see what your opponent does? If you're only betting 28% of the pot or whatever on a draw-heavy flop, I think you are basically inviting drawing hands to call, and then putting yourself in a bad position on a great many turn cards (in this example, any King, any 6, any third suited card, and arguably even any J, Q, 7 or 8 might scare you as well). In that situation you're almost forcing yourself to bet again when one of the great many draws actually hit on the turn, whereas using my recommendation you will avoid most of those situations from ever happening to you in the first place.

Just my two cents, ymmv.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

Draw heavy flops require bigger bets to discourage drawing hands - THIS IS A FACT!!!!!!

11:53 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

This isn't a defense of Negreanu's strategy, but I see some merits of this strategy under the following circumstances:

1. You're against an opponent that can't get away from draws even if they're not getting correct odds to draw

2. You're able to fold an overpair if a scare card hits

Considering the first point, I've followed this strategy myself. Say you have KK on the T9x board, two hearts. Granted I saw this more in the Party Poker days, but there are some people who think the flush draw is the nuts and can't get away from it. If you're confident on your read of the player, this style of betting will keep your losses small in the event that your opponent sucks out on you.

In regards to the second point, the idea is that you want your opponent to call with the draw. If you correctly put them on the draw, a small flop bet will help build the pot. If the turn is a blank, a bigger bet will take the pot down. If the turn completes the draw, and you have the ability to fold an overpair, you may save yourself some chips. If you make a bigger flop bet, you take down the pot, but maybe it's not as big of a pot as you could have won.

I'm not suggesting that his ideas are right, that these accurately support his strategy, or that I support them myself. Furthermore, I completely acknowledge the passivity of both of these ideas. But coming from Negreanu, I can see this strategy paying off for someone with his ability to accurately put his opponent on a hand and lay down hands that many other players couldn't.

Just some thoughts for discussion...

11:59 PM  
Blogger Rob1606 said...

Hoy, thanks for your quick reply. Now for my next question: what do you recommend in the opposite situation? if you have an oesd for instance, and you get pot odds of 2 to 1, do you call? After all, your opponent may price you out on the turn.

It seems that the main question here is: how often does it actually happen that an opponent bets high enough on the turn to make it wrong for you to continue? Because if this always happens, then clearly you must use pot odds based on only the next card.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Lost thoughts:

1. I mentioned before how Locke was annoying me, and the whole submarine thing is exactly why. I don't understand why he's sabotaging everything - if they were ever rescued, I don't think they'd force Locke to go.

2. Because of point one, I was more than just shocked to see Locke's dad in that room, I was ecstatic! Ben's little speech on how Locke did his dirty work for him, and how he knew that he wanted to blow up the sub because he never wanted to face his father, and then lo and behold, once the (supposedly) only means off the island is blown up - there's his dad, stuck on the island with him. I don't know if that's how it will continue to play out, but I thought that this twist was the best one this season to date.

3. I agree with your point about the Losties, but I think there's a chance for some interesting drama with them soon, especially with the Charlie\Desmond storyline. But considering that the only "main" character left in the camp is Sawyer, I think the next couple of episodes will be centered around the Others.

One thing I'm really looking forward to - a Danielle or Ben flashback episode.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Two quick responses to the comments:

Rob, to answer your question, I tend to subscribe to the TJ Cloutier theory of playing nlh tournaments. Since I'm basically a tournament guy, I very rarely chase draws in tournaments. Generally speaking, the only times I tend to chase draws are (1) when I am clearly getting the right odds to draw, like when the donk leads out for a minbet of 50 chips into a pot with 350 chips, or (2) on occasion when I have a strong read from my opponent that he is on a high pair, and I am getting somewhere near the right odds to draw. Because in the first situation the price is clearly right for my draw, and in that second situation, I basically know I have the implied odds I will need to really get paid off if I do in fact hit what I am looking for. Of course I will also happily draw if I have a huge draw, like the 14 or 15 out jobs, although even those I tend to try to stay a bit more passive than many other guys I know like to play them.

And Matt, your suggestions regarding the Negreanu betting strategy are interesting, and I think valid to a point. However, let me just say this. Even if you assume you are the best person who ever lived at getting away from big hands when the draws connect on the turn or river, I still do not see how following that strategy over time can do anything but lose money as compared to one where you bet enough to chase most of the drawers off of their drawing hands.

For example, if I have KK in the T94 two-suited hand example in my post, that hand right now is yours for the taking. That is 1000 chips that are basically yours, if you just bet enough to price the drawing hands out. Then if they call your large bet anyways, you are by definition profiting over time because your opponents are paying too much to draw at long shots against your made hand, which is a great situation for you. But, if instead you opt to just bet small, and wait and see if the draws do hit, then a third of the time you're going to lose that entire pot when the draws do fill. And the real problem with that phillosophy is something I covered in an earlier comment above -- you're not always going to know which draw just hit. Take again the T94 flop example. If a Jack falls, do you fold or bet (he could have 87 in his hand)? What about a Queen (he could hold J8 in his hand)? How about a King (he could have QJ)? How about if an 8 hits (he holds QJ)? What about when a 7 falls (J8 just made its straight)? How about a 6 (87 again)? And then what about all the other third suited cards that are not one of the above? The point is, that's way more than half the deck there that you have a legitimate reason to be potentially scared of if it hits on the turn or the river. With two cards to come (assuming we follow the strategy you described in your comment), one of those 30 or so outs is going to hit the board an exorbitant amount of times, and you will constantly be faced with tough decisions, often fold the winning hand, and even more often be forced to call off the losing hand in big pots. No way I could be convinced that that strategy is as strong as one which has you betting enough on the T94 flop to get yourself out of having to face all these difficult situations.

Thanks for the comments.

1:04 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

I'll give it a shot.
Flop bets do need to be significant, but I think it needs to be acknowledged that flop bets up to the size of the pot will do little to fold out draws. Would you fold a flush draw for a single pot bet? In most situations, the answer is no (at least for me). It's true that draw-heavy boards need larger bets to make draws pay a higher price, but I don't think those flop bets do much to get big drawing hands to fold.
On the turn, I disagree with the general advice that smaller bets are better. I like to bet more on the turn, usually between 3/4 pot and full pot. That's because the turn is where the big bets start coming out and where your opponents will be paying the highest price for a foolish call to see the river. It's also a better opportunity to get value for your made hands than on the flop.
The way I see it, the purpose of flop bets is to build large pots, take down small pots and find out where you stand.
Turn bets are used to pressure your opponents to make tough and incorrect decisions. Larger turn bets have more value when your opponents try to suck out. These big bets have a greater chance of taking down the pot against top pair. They reduce the chances of seeing what could be an expensive river. They more clearly define your opponent's hand.

1:39 AM  
Blogger steveray00 said...

I almost never make a pot sized C-bet unless there are a lot of people in the pot OR I have flopped a good set or a weak flush and I'm sure I am ahead on a scary board. The object isn't to chase out draws but to trick them into staying in at a bad price while not losing too much when you are behind on your bluffs. If you always make a pot sized C-bet when you are ahead and something smaller when you are bluffing, you have an exploitable leak. If you always make a pot size C bet even when you are bluffing you are paying to much when you are behind.

If you size your bets correctly you should be indifferent to a call or a fold.

Gnome, yes you ought to fold a flush draw to a pot size bet unless you thin others behind you are going to call as well or there are some pretty big implied odds.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

When it comes to tournaments I am listening to what Daniel has to say rather than what Sklansky has to say. Sklansky may be a math wiz, but he is a losing tournament player. The guy has 0 game in tournaments considering he plays pretty much every event and never ever ever wins. Cash games I might listen to him, but I think Daniel is way beyond most players when it comes to tournament strategy.

2:02 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Very interesting, Gnome. Now I know that you are mostly a cash game player, and that may be largely the reason for the discrepancy, but in general I have almost the exact opposite approach as I am mostly a tournament guy. Generally speaking, in tournaments, chasing draws is death. For example, to answer your question, yes I fold almost any 8- or 9-out draw to a bet on the flop that is the full size of the pot. You bet less than the pot and if I have some chips to miss and still play with, I may stay for a card or two. But all things equal, yes I fold almost every primary draw on the flop to a full pot bet. And in my experience most drawing hands will fold to a full potbet in the tournaments in which I play. Surely not everybody with a draw, but I will go on a limb and say probably 80-90% of drawing hands let it go when I bet the full pot in poker tournaments. You chase just a few potbets on the flop with just a primary draw in a holdem tournament, and you'll probably be out in short order, at least in my experience.

As far as your bigger bets on the turn scenario, I only think that makes sense if the donkeys are actually going to call your turn bet. If you're in the standard scenario we are discussing here, say with KK on a board of T942 with 2 of a suit, my only point is that, in order to mathematically price your opponent out of making that draw, you only need to bet slightly less than 30% of the pot to accomplish that goal. All things equal, I typically try to size my bets to accomplish the goal of adequately pricing out the drawing hands, but not risking too much more than that in case I do have to see a river card and lose. I accept fully that there may be other ways of approaching the same situations here, but this is the way I generally do it.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Cracknaces, your comment seems more just a commentary on the relative performances in tournaments of Daniel N. and Sklansky, with which I would not argue. Nonetheless, I think the advice Daniel gives in his book is far too generalized to be correct in poker tournaments. I just don't see how saying every flop bet and every turn bet should be just 30-75% of the pot, without regard to the texture of the flop, relative chip stacks, the preflop betting action, etc. is Just. Plain. Nuts. I don't even think Daniel follows that kind of silly-generalized advice, which is why he does so well in poker tournaments. In general if Daniel has the KK on the T94 flop with two suited cards, I don't think Daniel leads out for 30% of the pot there. That is just a terrible move in a tournament IMO, and I don't recall seeing even Daniel play this way in actuality.

Steveray, one other thing is just to point out that I'm not necessarily talking about c-bets here, which according to Harrington are bets when you miss the flop but want to try to take it down anyways in case your opponents all missed it to. Rather, I am talking more about situations where you want to protect a hand that is probably ahead from any draws that are outstanding that could beat your currently winning hand.

2:11 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:45 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

1. Daniel wrote and published this book because he is an opportunistic media whore who is exploiting the masses to gain financially from his "Poker Superstar" status. And since he can get away with it, as well as multiple other revenue streams, more power to him.

2. This book is a joke.

3. His next book is going to be the big kahuna. 600+ pages on his low-ball tournament strategy will probably shed more light in a better context on the issue at hand.

4. On the T94 board, what would you bet? 1000? More? I think part of the reason you get so frustrated with other players is that they don't think like you. Some fonkeys will call a flush draw no matter what the bet is all the way to the river. It also depends on what kind of draw they have. Is it a QJs or A4s? What happens if it's a loosely played T9s?

5. Obviously on the Q72 board you are going broke against a donkey's hammer...

Now I have two requests:
1) Long awaited SAT MTT strategy guide (I will bug you till you put one together).
2) I have a question about Omaha/8 that I posted and would love to see what you think.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

Another thing to consider is whether Daniel is talking about early stages where everyone has 100BB+ (cash game style) or later stages where stacks are in the 10-50BB range.

2:52 AM  
Blogger steveray00 said...

The point is that if you size your c-bets differently if your hand is good than you do when its not you are exploitable. So the optimum size has to factor in both cases.

ie. if you fire out a pot-sized bet post flop every time you have top pair or better after you have open raised and a 50% pot sized bet every time the flop misses you and you open raised you are going to get creamed by attentive players.

4:54 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Steveray, no doubt you are 100% correct on that point. If you've ever watched me play you will note that I never vary the size of any of my flop bets based on the strength of the cards I have (or on any street, including preflop, for that matter). You always need to take great care to randomize your actions against any kind of decent competition at the poker table.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

Reading some of the comments and the post I'm going to assume daniel is talking about cash games. His betting strategy is similar to mine though I haven't read his book. The strategy he is talking about is for a cash game purpose not necessarily a tourney. Now on a 1094 flop your not going to bed a 1/3 of the pot but your not going to fire a pot bet either because being up against a big draw he's going to call no matter what.

The point daniel is making is simply you dont need to risk alot of money to get the same result which is making someone pay improperly for a draw or getting information. He plays a get information type style and that type of betting allows him to hone on his strengths (reads) rather then on math.

Remember when holding AK you only hit the flop like 30ish percent of the time. So if your playing against this guy whom u called his raise with whatever two cards and a 1094 flop comes out betting 1/3 of the pot would probably take the pot down (at the upper limits in deepstack play). As opposed to firing full pot everytime cause the times he makes a play at you your losing more money in the long run.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

First - the book's aimed at beginners and will make him some good green on the sales. His big small-ball strategy one is coming next.

I think Negreanu's advice lacks context. This is a guy who plays in the biggest cash game in the world, and WPT tournaments, which tend to have a higher calibre of player than the WSOP. He's openly admitted his online game needs work. So, if you're playing against players who actually know something about getting away from a hand, a < pot-sized bet can easily take it down if they have nothing. Maybe he's not used to playing with donkeys.

It also has the advantage of strongly representing a draw of your own, which means you can take a shot at the pot if the draw "hits", regardless of your cards.

Also, what does he have in this situation? Is he ahead or just tryig to take the pot? What's his read?

Yes, it's bad advice in your cowboys vs draws scenario against calling stations, but is it still bad advice on a stone cold bluff? How about with top set? A nut flush draw of your very own? When you know your opponent missed the flop entirely? Cash game or tournament? Early stages or late? Average stack? Short stack? Chipleader? Lots of variables not mentioned.

9:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home