Monday, November 5, 2012

Adjustments... Dealing with regs / competent players & moving up in stakes

Before I start, I want to share a hand that happened last Friday at the Chuck.  The hand involves 2 regs / competent players + 1 donk:

I join a host of 2 limpers with 98hh in middle position when the reg highjack bumps it up to $~14.  A supertight flats the $14 in the BB, a LAGbot flats, and I come along to see the flop, figuring I have good pot odds + great implied odds - oh yeah; I'm $1100 deep, the reg is $~200 deep and the supertight has around $900.  I make the call primarily for the supertight, but figure I can hook the reg and/or LAGbot if the flop comes right.  If not, I can get away.  The implied odds are simply too great though.

Flop, natch, comes 5c6h7c (ho hum... just the nuts...) and it checks to the orig. raiser who leads for $45.  I'm fairly certain that this is an auto-cbet, which I intent to flat if no one else comes along.  However, the supertight flats the cbet.  I'm faced with a dilema: do I get more money in now, or do I slow play and see a turn, letting supertight & reg have a cheap card?  I opt for more money, because I want to get most of the stacks in by the turn.  I raise $100 on top, to $145 clean.  I lose the reg, which is kinda what I thought would happen, but supertight flats once again.  I now know that he flopped a set and is looking to improve to a boat.  This is great information: I can *ABSOLUTELY* get away from any paired board, and I get to see the turn on my terms.  His implied odds are 0 and mine are $650.  Good situation indeed.  Turn is a Qh, giving me a backdoor flush draw + flopped straight.  He checks to me and I think for a little bit, carving out $400 at first then deciding on $300 (THIS IS A 1/2 GAME, AFTER ALL :-) ).  This truly paralyzes him and he talks through the hand.  By this point, I know exactly what set he has; 55 - he talks through 666, 777, 98, 84, 43 - all hands that beat him.  He eventually folds, face up, and I silently muck, much to his chagrin.  I let it be known that I flopped top two and he has a pained look on his face.

Moving onto the related topic today, I played my competent player somewhat incorrectly.  I didn't read him for as tight as he actually was; able to lay down a flopped set for a less than pot-sized bet on the turn.  I bet $300 into $390, trying to get stacks in, when I should have realized that he was not the type to go into call-down turtle mode.  I would have been better off putting out $200-250 and making a semi-healthy river bet, happy with partial stacks rather than full.  Obviously, this is a per-player adjustment, and also a per-stack adjustment; the reality is that if he has $200-400 in his stack, he's getting it in without a hesitation.  He has $900 and it's a much more careful decision process.

The point is this: I don't make a TON of money from regs or competent players.  My primary source of income at the poker table is the donk who calls down his top pair or whatever BS he may have, even so far as knowing he's crushed.  When I nut on the regs, I need to get out of the mindset of bet bet bet value value value as if they were the donks.  These players are aware, just as I am, how to play the game.  They can sense when they're beat.  I need to play a little trickier.  I need to check a street.  I need to make smaller value bets.

Realizing the above, I have come to the decision that I will henceforth be splitting time between 2/5 & 1/2.  I will be playing 2/5 on Thursday nights and 1/2 on Friday days until I have a good grasp of 2/5 and will move into 2/5 full time.  I have moved away from 99% value / 1% bluff lines to around 80/20 lines - and I pick my bluff lines carefully.  I am adjusting to all players.  My average $/hr yield has been ever-increasing (prior to February of this year, I was running around 10BB/hr average but have since moved to >15BB/hr, implementing bluffing and better lines).

In closing, I leave you with the following non-traditional line from Friday, where I did adjust for the player, rather than bet bet bet.  Admittedly, I get lucky more than once, but I still like my lines here:

I have KK UTG.  I look to my left and see a redbird ($5 chip) in the BB.  "Feigning ignorance," I throw out 3 reds, and "realize my mistake" by saying I thought that was a straddle...  I get called in 3 spots and action waits on the BB.  The BB pushes out his remaining $51 and I now have a decision: There's $45 in the pot + $51 that he just pushed out.  If I raise here, I'm basically isolating into a situation of what could be (doubtful though) AA vs. my KK.  If I isolate, I limit the pot to calling $36 to win $96, not a bad deal, but my upside is limited to $96.  If I flat, though, it will likely encourage at least one other player to come along.  I did not expect to see both the bad player flat the $51 and the LAGbot come along.  The flop, again the nuts (natch): Kc 4c 7h.

I look to my left and see the bad player readying a bet.  Additionally, there isn't too much that hit this flop other than random clubs draws and sets.  Therefore, I check and let the bad player lead $75 into the blossoming pot.  The LAGbot calls and I decide to call, not ready to blow out the big guns.  The turn is a blank 5d; the nuts are an unlikely 68 or 63, but I'm truly not that concerned because of the $51 PF raise.  The bad player dumps in his remaining $75 and the LAGbot calls.  LAGbot has $~240 behind, and I have him covered ($360).  I check / shove my remaining $340 and put LAGbot to the decision with my set of Kings...  There's $894 (including my bet) in the pot and it'll cost him $240 to call.  I'm obviously praying for the call, but he folds and I scoop a nice pot (bad reg gonna be a bad reg, called $51 second in PF with 45s for the turned 2 pair).  Oh yeah, K on the riv for the quads.

Again, these in-game changes to my approach make a dramatic difference to my win rate.  I'm ready to start adjusting to the 2/5 flow.


  1. Shocking - another great read! Love your hand analysis. Makes me realize how much work my own cash game needs!

  2. I look forward to hearing how this switch works out for you ... especially your interpretation of the different dynamics.

  3. Thanks guys! I'll definitely keep posting on my views of the differences. I'm expecting to have to change standard value lines into trickier setups. In the limited time I've had at those stakes, I've found the donks remain donks, but there are many more competents.

  4. Nice job! Do you notice bluffs are more successful as you move up because players become more capable of reading hands and being able to make folds, instead of just looking at their own two cards?

  5. I think it's a bit of both. I've found that I can't make a bluff against idiot players without making it "obvious." In other words, I find spots like this pattern:
    In position, K high flop from limped pot. I lead pot for $10-15 to take a stab (since it has checked around to me; dry board). Called in 2 spots. Figure I'm done with the hand now. Turn is a blank and it checks around. River pairs the bottom end of the board and it checks a third time to me. If I lead this spot for $30-35 (into the $~40+ blinds ~$10-12), I take it down quite frequently; the line makes sense for someone stabbing with bottom pair & tripping up on the river.

    I don't think I can rep sets and overpairs to these "knuckle draggers," unlike the players I think I'll experience at 2/5. They will simply go to the wall with any top pairs, etc.

  6. I still remember a hand I played at the Chuck about a year and a half ago where I tried to rep an overpair at a $1/2 table. I had 89 suited in the cut-off and raised two limpers to $12. Both called. Flop came out 2 7 6 rainbow. Donk-#-one lead out for $10 and I float. I figure donk hit the flop, but not hard. I put him on a random 6 or 7. Seems to be a great spot to see if I can hit my draw, or otherwise represent an overpair and push him off a weak pair. Turn is a J and donk checks. Now I'm more convinced donk has one pair, and not 76 or a set (which I still thought was unlikely based on his lead). I bet $30 into $50+. Donk Calls. River is another 6. Not a great card for me given my read. But, donk checks again. Obviously, there's only when way I can win this pot, and I decide its worth the risk to bet again (his check on the river was another factor against Villain holding trip 6's or a boat). I bet $60 into $110+. He calls. The guy tables T 7, and says, "flopped top pair - can't get away from that . . ." Obviously.

    At the time, I had only been playing poker for about 6 months, and I thought the guy read my soul (I guess a triple barrel bluff with A-high is going to be part of my range there). But, the more I thought about it, I realized they guy likely never even considered what I was trying to rep with my line. That hand reinforced in my mind the old saying, "you can't bluff a fish . . ."

    I'm interested whether the typical $2/5 player is more capable of level III thinking, or whether they just have bigger rolls or like to gamble more!

  7. Thing with that hand is that you can't represent rivered trip 6's. Why is this? You're generally only betting the turn and river with your monster hands. Bottom pair is not a monster and not worthy of betting the turn.

    You're repping sets (less likely because he has a 7), overpairs, two pairs (76), A7 (less likely because that's not a monster hand) and a random jack when you bet the turn AND river. Additionally, given your betting pattern (and I don't know how you had acted in prior hands), those idiots love to pick off bluffs for smaller pricing. I have no doubt that if you bet $80-90 there, he's folding. For $60, he called $30 on the turn - he's likely calling $60 on the river.

    In other words, I've kinda gathered that if they're calling off a $25+ bet on any street, then they're likely in call-down mode against most bets. If you bet a BIG amount, then he's likely to second guess his call down mode much more than 2x the turn bet. This is exactly why checking the turn with a rivered trips makes sense; you're never betting the turn with bottom or middle pair, but you'll try to get value on the riv with trips.

    Disclaimer: All of this is clearly villain dependent.

  8. Question for you. In each hand there were 2 clubs on the flop. If a third club comes on the turn are you going to go into check/call mode? What would be the approach under a third club circumstance in either or both the hands especially since the second one you have outs to a full house.

  9. In the first hand described: By the turn, I'm 100% positive that he has a set. By the flop, I'm 95% positive he has a set. A tighty oldy dude won't be calling a check / raise on the flop with a bare draw. He knows too well that he's not getting odds to make the call - especially knowing he has little or no implied odds because I'm check / raising the drawing hands for value. The whole reason I bet $300 on the turn is because I realize that a set is going to be DAMN hard to get away from given the texture of the board. Net result, I'm not sure that a club changes anything here; perhaps I bet $250 instead of $300, but I definitely don't slow down on the turn. Therefore, I'm not in check / call mode here.

    In the second hand described, I *DEFINITELY* slow down on the turn if a club shows. With the $75 the original bettor has behind, I'm never folding given the $$$ in the pot already. However, I'm reconsidering LAGbot because there are ton of draws in his range. I don't know that LAGbot is so good as to realize that a club on the turn would be a big scare card for me, though. In fact, I think that LAGbot actually believes whatever hand he has is actually good. Therefore, I'm in a semi-check/call mode in that type of situation, depending on the bet sizing. In this hand, I'm drawing to a "winner" 20% of the time. The pot is so huge at this point that whatever he bets is likely a call (if he has $240 behind and there's $~700 in the pot already, I'm getting around 3-1 to make the call; add in the chance that he's bluffing a good percentage of the time, I think this is a profitable call in general.

  10. its been so long since i played poker i wish i had the money to go back to it. but how can i make the right decisions with so little money? therefore ive got no outs, am drawing dead. u are lucky he bet, he mightve checked with what couldve been possibly a flush draw and took the free card.

  11. @sevencard2003 - The reality is that if you play solid, tight, tilt-free poker, you can set a standard hourly rate of between $10-30 / hr. You've shown that you can't play tilt-free though. Regardless, the hourly rate at poker is much better than what you'd do at slots or VBJ. You need to track your wins / losses and treat your poker game like a professional, as it is your job. With your current roll, $~2000, you have 10 buy ins. That's enough money to play.

  12. current roll is nowhere near $2000 its around $1300, and i would be so worried id lose if i played with this little money, couldnt play worth a shit, also id have nowhere to live, or the roll would be much less.


Blog Archive