I remember a hand from a $25NL online game I played a few years ago. I was on the button and was dealt a pair of fives. A villain in the UTG+1 seat opened for a standard raise, and the cut-off cold called. Stacks were quite deep (over 150bb) and both players were bad, so I called with good implied odds as a set-mining play. Both blinds folded and we were three-way to a flop. What happened next can only be described as terrible play on my part…
You’re in a $5/$10 NL full-ring 9-handed cash game. Everyone has about $1000 stacks. You raise UTG with Js-Jh. It is folded to an expert player in the SB, who calls. The BB folds, and you see a flop heads up, which is: 2s-2c-Td. The SB leads for $80. You raise to $250, and the SB re-raises you to $650. Your image is tight-aggressive, very tight in EP, and you rarely bluff. What should you do?
- Raise all-in
- Call and fold the turn if he bets again
- Call and get all-in on the turn if no overcard hits
- Call and get all-in on the turn regardless of the turn card
A common leak among beginning poker players is incorrect bet sizing, especially when their bets are too small. You’re not one of these people, right? Right?!
I always shake my head when I see villains making tiny little bets ranging from 25-50% of the pot, and sometimes even smaller. I sat in a juicy online game a while ago where two of the players at the table treated the game like some kind of ersatz limit game, making min-bets that were never larger than the size of the big blind. What exactly were these guys trying to achieve with these itty-bitty bets? I believe they themselves don’t know. Do you? Let’s look a little more closely at this notion…
The staffer handed me a laminated card with 238 on it. Minutes later I was in action for the first time in months, and I wasn’t even excited about it. I didn’t have time for that. I had a movie to catch up on. That’s what it feels like now, every time I join a game in progress. It’s like coming in halfway through a movie. I’m desperate to figure out who these characters are, and what I missed. Who is winning? Who is losing? As the movie plays on, I watch every scene, and I send out my tilt feelers, because the main thing I need to know is: Who is content? Who is agitated? By constantly updating that information, I can make better reads, better bluffs, better calls.” – Tommy Angelo
Here are two hands in which I was dealt an identical pair of ducks in the span of 10 minutes: 2♥-2♦. Both hands took place in a tough full-ring, $100NLHE online cash game. Would you play these two hands the same way I did?
- Hand #1: I have a pair of deuces in the small blind and get open-raised 3xbb by a tricky and aggressive player in late position. He is purposely playing a short-stack of 30bb. He opens for 3x the big blind. The action folds to me. I muck.
- Hand #2: I have a pair of deuces in the CO seat facing a 3xbb raise by a TAg UTG player with a full 100bb stack. I call.
What? Deuces are deuces, right? And the first villain in middle position has a much wider (read: worse) hand range than the second villain in EP, right? Don’t I have the actions in these two hands backward? Nope. Let me explain…
The acid test for any starting hand is the Miracle Flop Test. Take any [hand] and imagine what the best possible flop would be for that hand: If you wish you’d much rather have something else, then your hand is probably trash.” –Jeff Hwang, Pot-Limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy
A few years ago I was showing a family friend how to play online poker. My friend dabbles occasionally at poker, but he doesn’t believe that the online games are beatable. It’s rigged, he says. It’s filled with ‘bots. And any kind of poker–live or online–is all about hot streaks and lucky runs, anyway. You can’t beat a random chance game in the long-term. So why study and read about the game? Worse, why write a damn blog about it?
My friend is so sure of himself, that he basically calls me a liar whenever I point out that I make a decent hourly wage at this online “hobby,” and thereby fund the occasional large discretionary purchase in my personal life through my winnings at the tables. Well, he doesn’t actually use the word “liar,” instead choosing the less inflammatory, “You’re so full of sh!t” term of endearment.
Anyway, in my long-running effort to convince him that he’s the one who is full of sh!t, I opened a couple of micro-stakes fast-fold “Zone” poker games when he had stopped by to visit with his wife. Here’s what happened:
You’re in the big blind of a cash game. The blinds are $1/$2 and everyone at the table has $50,000 in front of them. It’s folded to the button, who raises to $7. He accidentally exposes his cards in the process and you see that he holds Ac-Ad. He knows that you saw his hole cards. He did not see your cards. What range of hands should you call with? Which hands should you re-raise with?
- Fold all hands
- Call with any two cards (ATC), and re-raise with KK, QQ, and JJ
- Call with any pair or suited connector, fold everything else
- Call with ATC, do not re-raise with anything
- Call with ATC, and re-raise only with KK
- Call with ATC, and re-raise only with AA
The first step of the REDi system to thinking through a poker hand is Reading, and the first step to hand reading is, well, to actually begin paying attention. You can’t figure out what the bad guy is holding unless you are looking for clues and watching what’s going on at the table.
Okay, fine, this isn’t earth-shattering news, right? We all know that we have watch the action before we can decide what the villain is betting into us with. Ah, yes, but you also have to pay attention even when you’re not involved in a hand. In fact, I’d argue it’s even more important to ensure you’re paying attention after you’ve folded your hand. Let me explain…
I had pot odds, is also often heard at the poker table when a donk makes a bad call. Most of them wouldn’t know pot odds from a tuna fish sandwich.” —Dave “Memphis Mojo” Smith