Friday, May 25, 2007

More Lost, and More Sklansky

Today I've got another item from Sklanksy's No Limit Holdem: Theory & Practice book that I'd love to get your thoughts on. I like it how some of you guys clearly hate David Sklansky as a poker author. I mean, it's easy to hate him as a writer. I hate him as a writer. He's arrogant ("The most skilled players in the world know that I am correct"), he's talk-downy ("Do you see why?") and he's over-analytical. All that said, his poker analysis, and the thought processes he goes through with respect to various aspects of the game, are IMO pretty awesome and a useful tool to anyone who plays a lot and/or wants to learn a lot about the analysis behind the game. That said, some of you guys really can't seem to stand Sklansky and generally seem to balk at most of his advice. So today I think I've got something good for you guys to chew on.

But first, a couple of quick points about Lost. I've got to hand it to Le Donkeypuncher. Not only is his blog one of the funniest around, but I think he made two solid comments on Lost here on the blog yesterday. First, I like his prediction that it's going to be Ben in the coffin where Jack flashed-forward to. Personally, I think it's either Juliette or Ben myself, I don't know which but I think they are the only two people I know who seem to fit well each of (1) the reaction that Jack had to learning of the death, (2) the fact that there was no one at the funeral and (3) Kate's indignant question of why she would ever go to the funeral. If it's Ben, Jack could be upset because clearly he wants to get back to the island and he might have viewed Ben as one of the only people who knows how to get him back there, and if it's Juliette, Jack might semi-like her or have some kind of weird feelings for her (despite telling Kate he loved her, inexplicably out of the blue in the finale). Similarly, Ben really fits the "no one at the funeral thing" since he hasn't lived back in the regular Earth for almost his entire life, and Juliette doesn't fit this exactly but it could easily be that everyone assumes she is dead already from a few years earlier when she disappeared and never made contact again. If her obit was in the newspaper then that isn't necessarily a great theory, but it's possible. With Ben it's more than possible, it's highly improbable that there could be anyone at his funeral outside of the island environment. And lastly, the way that Kate reacted viscerally when Jack asked her about the funeral, that's got to be someone who Kate has quasi-negative feelings for at least. In other words, she isn't reacting like that about going to Michael's funeral or Sun's funeral. She might not go to those funerals, I don't know, but she would not have that highly reactive, negatory reaction about the question of her going.

Anyways, the other point that Donkeypuncher made about Lost that I 100% believe is correct is that, starting next year, I believe as well that we will quickly realize that what we thought was a "flash forward" in the finale this week is really the present time, once they've already been rescued from the island. We will realize probably even in the first episode of Season 4 that all of the stuff we've seen for three years about the island has been flashbacks. All of it. We will be watching the story of Jack and Kate (and who knows who else from the island is out there in the world with them at this point) out in the real world, with Jack all depressed and desperately trying to get back to the island, and some portion of next season will be flashbacks to us of the rescue, picking up from when Jack called and those guys answered on Naomi's satellite phone. So we will get to see the rest of what happened with the rescue next season, but not as we have been as if that is in fact happening in the present time on the show. We will now appreciate that for what it is, and for what everything we've seen through the first three seasons of the show is, one giant flashback from the present time, post-rescue, first of how the plane crashed, how they found the hatch, met the others, and all the way up until the rescue. So I am looking forward to that, and to another 8 flucking months of waiting around, until we get to see what Season 4 brings. All in all, though, a good finale from a show with very high expectations. The second half of this season was top notch on Lost, you have got to admit.

OK back to Sklansky. Today's point comes in the "Concepts and Weapons" part in the back of the book, and in fact it is Concept #36 if you're reading at home. Here Sklansky says "Be more apt to slowplay very good hands that aren't quite the nuts than the nuts itself." In favor of this position, Sklansky argues that slowplaying a hand like K6 on a flop of J66 (but not slowplaying JJ on this same flop) is right because (1) it may induce a bluff from an opponent, (2) it may allow someone to make a hand on the turn and then lose some more money rather than having folded if you had bet hard on the flop, and (3) it may limit your losses somewhat if you happen to be up against A6 or JJ.

More specifically, and the example that I found really interesting, Sklansky goes on to say, "Likewise, you should be more inclined to slowplay A2 on a 543 flop than 76 on the same flop. With A2, you're happy to give a free card to someone who might make a big pair on the turn or river. But with 765 you don't want to lose your action if someone made a smaller straight against you or is drawing to something like a pair and a straight draw." This is the advice that I just can't quite jibe with my own view on things. I mean, I get Sklansky's overall point here, that all things being equal you would rather be betting early in the hands because that's how you eventually get by the turn or river to be stacking the guy who made the second-nuts against your mortal nuts. But, I think Sklansky overlooks a major piece of the puzzle in his analysis of this particular point.

With A2 on a 345 board, you have flopped a straight and are almost surely ahead here on the flop. This is where Sklansky advises it is better to slowplay than it would be if you flopped the stone nuts with 76 on that same 345 board. But if you check or fail to bet out solidly with the A2, then you already know that any 6 will basically kill your action, and in fact you are probably behind if you get any serious action from a hand like A7 that might have folded to a real bet from you on the flop. In fact, if even a 7 falls on the turn or river, you will basically have to give up this entire pot to any significant action on a later street. With the 76 you do not have this problem, in that not only do you have the top end of the straight, but you have to two-overcards version, so that even if a 6 does happen to fall on the turn or river then you've still got an overcard on the top end of the straight you've made. So the way I see it, that is at least as strong of an argument for slowplaying with the 76, where you're basically not worried about any card hitting the board except for something that makes a pair and could create a boat (or quads) for an opponent. But with the A2, you not only are in a bad position, but you most likely have to fold and lose the entire pot if any 6 or even any 7 falls on the turn or the river.

For this reason, I actually think slowplaying with the 76 is a perfectly acceptable response on a board of 345. I have done that before I am sure, and I would do it again I can tell you right now. The slowplay with 76 still accomplishes the first two objectives of the slowplay that Sklansky outlined above -- namely, that a check may induce a bluff into your mortal nuts hand, and that it may give someone a chance to pick up a big pair or two pairs or a hidden set and get you some extra action. And although the slowplay with 76 on the 345 board does not get you Sklansky's third objective above -- that you can save some money if you run into the mortal nuts (because you already hold the mortal nuts in this spot) -- it does carry the extra benefit not mentioned by Sklansky that you will give no chance to the guy who does hold A2 or 62 on that same flop to get away from the hand. So, I like the slowplay with 76, and for similar reasons I do not like the slowplay there with A2. You have a hand that is very strong and is almost surely ahead right now, but slowplaying the flop gives your opponent a free shot at winning the entire pot from you on any 6 or 7 falling, and makes for a very tough decision for you to boot in that situation where you could find yourself tempted to call off the rest of your chips with a flopped straight using both of your holecards where you are flat out drawing dead if you're up against the higher straight.

That, right there, is some baaaaad advice by Sklansky if you ask me. I'm all about slowplaying any hand where it seems that the best combination of a high chance to stack my opponent coupled with a low chance to allow free cards that cause me to lose the pot lies with a slowplay. But slowplaying ass-end flopped straights is, to me, a recipe for no-limit disaster and it is not a move I recommend. Anybody agree / disagree?

I read on Al's blog that the next WPBT tournament is this Sunday night at 9pm ET on full tilt. I also do not recall receiving the usual email on the WPBT list announcing this tournament, but Al found it under the "private" tournament tab on full tilt so here is the information for the 7-Stud contest for the WPBT this weekend:

What: WPBT POY Event #5 - Stud 7
When: Sunday, May 27th
Time: 9pm ET
Where: Full Tilt Poker
How Much: $24 + $2
Password: I guess we don't want to give this out on the blogs, but it is the initials of the organization that hosts the event followed by the numbers of the Hammer -- if you don't get that then hit me up on the girly chat this weekend sometime and I will surely tell you.
Restrictions: Bloggers only, please.

I should be around in the evenings this weekend as per my usual, probably hitting up a few tournaments as well as trying to pad those stats at the $400 nl 6-max cash tables. If you know how to play aggro poker and don't mind getting stacked, then come sit at one of my tables this weekend and we'll see what happens.

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Blogger StB said...

Finally got around to watching Lost last night. I think it is Sawyer in the coffin. He was always stand offish and made a point not to get too close to anyone, except Kate. I think we will see Sawyer screw (con) everyone over in the next season which will cause everyone to truly despise him more than before.

It cannot be Ben. Why would that be in the paper? It appears to be a news story obit, not a listing in the obits. Ben would probably not make the newspaper. He won't leave the island. But a survivor of a plane wreck with a sensational story would. Plus it fits into why no one is there. Who beside the people on the plane would know Sawyer or care to pay their respects?

No way is the time loop thing going to happen. Sorry Hoy but it would piss people off to no end if they pulled that out of their ass. Money is to be made in DVD sales and that would surely kill it.

One other thing. What is with cast members of NBC's Las Vegas showing up on Lost? Naomi and the new head doc were both LV people.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

I don't think Ben will have a choice but to leave the island. I don't think any of them will.

For my money, switching from flash forwards to flashbacks is a stroke of genius. The flashbacks had been mined for what they were worth.

And I do think that they will be switching to a flash-forward format, with occasional flashback as needed. Time has always been nonlinear on this show anyway.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the book you are referring to was written by Ed Miller and I think you need to mention that in your posts. "Miller said," or even "Miller and Sklansky said." Many of your readers probably think Sklansky is an assclown and by continually referring to Sklansky, inferences may be unjustly drawn thus watering down the book, and more importantly your analysis of the book.

As for the hand in question I'm going to agree with the author on slowplaying the A2 hand example. Probably moreso than most, I play a trapping and slowplaying style of poker, particularly live. Over time, to optimize your profits, you have to become able and willing to give your opponents cards that might indeed beat your hand.

You're an 80% favorite after the flop if your opponent is drawing to a 6 and your a 90% favorite to any overpairs greater than 77. Why do you not want to slowplay here? Why do you want to bet out and risk losing opponents to a fold? Quite simply you don't. If your opponent is drawing to a 6 and bricks the turn you're then probably a 90% favortite going to the river. Again fantastic odds.

What if your opponent only has two overcards and leads out with a bet, then hits one of those cards on the turn. Now he's drawing dead. He'll probably bet again now on the turn since he led out with a bluff on the flop and you're getting more of his money into the pot.

This hand IMO is a perfect example of how to make the most profit over time. Yes you take a small risk by allowing someone to make a higher straight, but you have to be willing to let go of the hand if a 6 comes and you're faced with pressure.

So my point is you'll make considerably more money over time slow playing this hand and letting opponents catch up with non-straight hands then you'll lose by either an opponent getting lucky at 20% and beating you with a higher straight or by betting too early and chasing them off whatever other hand they may have.

12:39 AM  
Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Hoy didnt you just tell me NOT to slowplay my weak holdings.. I am so confused. Please stick to lost.

2:03 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

slow playing the 2nd nuts is a very bad idea IMO.

also, i'm betting out my trips every freakin time. players have difficulty believing you have trips when you bet out. so they call many times thinking you're FOS.

value bet your made hands. overbetting the river just doesn't get paid as often.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

Slowplaying anything is pointless anymore. If you just fire away you will get called or raised for sure these days :) The only hand I even slowplay anymore is AA or maybe KK late in a tournament. Everything else I fire away. Flop a set, bet, flop flush, bet, flop two pair bet.... Slowplaying is useless in almost all situations of NLHE in my opinnion.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Blinders said...

Miller or whoever leaves out so much info about the hand it is tough to really analize in any way (what was the preflop action, what are the positions, what are the stacks/limits...) I agree on this one that I am more likely to slowplay 76 than A2 (though good arguments for can be made for slowplaying both). More Aces to turn/river if you have 76 and it is less exposed to being caught up with. 76 meets my slowplay criteria (i have listed before) more so than A2.

Don, you slow play em both right? The question is all being equal which one is a better slowplay? 76?

12:52 AM  
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5:53 AM  

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