8.09.2005

Double-Edged

Pride: it's what goeth before a fall. Or so I've heard. I've had it on my mind of late, because I've been getting back into the game and trying to think seriously about my style in the process. The first question I asked myself was: what's my edge? What do I do (though not "better than anybody else" or "as well as it can be done") well? I thought about the answer for a long time. And thought. And thought. Here's the problem: anytime I start thinking about something that's core to my game, it almost always exposes a corresponding weakness. Good: I have a reasonably-developed sense of when not to value-bet my marginal or vulnerable holdings on the turn. This often saves me two bets against a flush that was planning to checkraise, one that I'd probably call down. Bad: That means sometimes I give a free card... and sometimes it beats me. Worse: And what do you mean, you'd probably call down the flush? Don't you KNOW he has the flush when he checkraises you? And Last But Not Least The Bonus Round: Sometimes the free card lets me backdoor the nuts and get four bets out of someone who doesn't believe in redraws. This is what drives me nuts about leaks. The better you get, the more marginal the leaks in your game become. The inexact science of it all can make the short-run cure seem a lot worse than the long-run disease. For a long time I didn't understand the wisdom of not making bets with no upside. Passing up that river bet when the worst possible card hit the board was hard to do. Now I can pass it up easily - which results in a missed bet every once in a while. I used to want to be devilishly clever and rapaciously greedy, meaning that I'd almost always check when my draw to a monster came in. Then I noticed that even players I'd tagged as dunces were checking behind. Thus was absorbed the lesson about value-betting the nuts. Except that once you've done that a couple of times people start folding their hands to their river bets. Which leads to stealing opportunities, which leads to suspicious players, which leads to... and all of a sudden I've backdoored my way into being the kind of devilishly clever player I wanted to be in the first place. Except then the cards go cold. The lesson I'm trying to teach myself right now: Cold-Calling For Fun And Profit (Mostly Profit). (This is completely tangential. Bear with me.) I used to abandon a game immediately when there were no more fishies to be had. The edges get much more marginal when you're at a table of half tight-aggressives, one-quarter rocks and one-quarter tricky tight-neutrals. Mostly because every single one of them knows not to cold-call a raise, and all of them have at least some idea how and when to defend their blinds. Blind steals gone awry are a major leak for... well, anyone who likes to steal blinds, really. But there's a dirty little secret to the deep-seated aversion to cold-calling: it's mostly peer-pressure. On a really tight table I've come to the point where I'll happily cold-call a raise with a suited one-gapper or low-to-medium pocket pair... so long as I'm doing it from a disadvantageous position. Seriously. The more people waiting to act behind, the better. Because once you take the leap, once you peek down at 6h8h and toss in two small bets behind the uber-rock with a PFR of 2%, the rest of the table starts sneaking in with you. It's giving action to get action; it's creating pot odds for yourself. Yeah, you're giving up a significant amount of EV - but you're giving it up at the most fluid time, before the flop has been dealt. You've got to have some faith in your ability to make good decisions after the flop, but if you don't have that, what are you doing in the game in the first place?

3 Comments:

Blogger hdouble said...

I think cold calling with hands like 86h is actually a big step forward. And depending on the raiser, you're actually not giving up as much EV as you might think-- most likely you're 40% to win, and if the guy is going to call you to the river with overs... I like those implied odds. Good post.

8/09/2005 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger StudioGlyphic said...

Wow, a post. And a good one, too.

Casino this weekend?

8/09/2005 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

this is a concept that has started a lot of discussions around the office. unfortunately we haven't come up with any really good strategy for fully tight tables.

(also, if there's a casino trip this weekend count me in!)

8/10/2005 01:46:00 PM  

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