Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bug on Harrington, Flyboy's Steals, and Monthly Results

Book Review, Take 2. In Dan Harrington's newest book, Harrington on Online Cash Games, he talks about player types. Specifically, he says there are two ways to look at players. First there is the standard two-axis plotting of VPIP vs PFR. This separates the players into TAGs, Nits, LAGs, and calling stations.

Harrington then goes on to say that players can be further subdivided into "Tricky" and "Straightforward" players. The former are players that re-steal with air, bluffs more than average, likes to check-raise with both monsters and air alike, etc. The latter plays just an ABC style, betting strong hands and checking or folding weaker hands.

I believe there is a third category that is equally important to note: Non-Thinking vs. Thinking players. A non-thinking player is one who is playing level-1 poker. Whether he's a TAG, LAG, Nit, or ATM, and whether he's a tricky or an ABC player, a "non-thinking" player (let's call 'em "OCMs" for Only (My) Cards Matter) are mostly just playing their own cards. OCMs are not thinking about their opponents' hands, nor are they considering flop or game texture. If they have a hand they deem playable, they play it. Now, they may play it in a tricky manner, or they may play it straightforward, but regardless, they're not really considering what their opponents have.

A Thinking player, in contrast, is more concerned with what his opponent holds than what his own two cards are. He's also interested in stack sizes, how the opp is going to react to different flop textures, and so on. In other words, a Thinking player (let's call 'em "CDMs" for (my) Cards Don't Matter (much)) is a much harder opponent to play against. He's the player who 3-bets with air from the small blind because he suspect the player who raised from LP is on a steal and, based on his stats, is likely to fold. He's the guy who will take a raise with AQo against one EP raiser and fold it against a different type of player. He's the guy who will float a villain in position for two streets, and then bet an ace on the river because he's narrowed the opp's range down to point where he knows the guy can't have the wired rocket. In other words, he's playing level-2 and -3 poker, where his own cards are secondary to making decisions.

Guess which type I'd rather play against?

Flyboy's Grand Theft Larceny, Take 2. In my last post I mentioned the nearly 100% steal percentage of Flyboy in LP in FR games. Intrigued by this notion, I played 700 hands of $10NL, raising to pot every time it was fold to me in the last three seats, regardless of my two hole cards. (I also just played my normal game in all other situations). I then played 700 hands of $25NL and tried the same thing. The difference was remarkable.

In the $10 games, I got away with a lot more steals. People simply gave up and went away unless they had a real hand. If I got 3bet, I would invariably fold, because, invariably the opp had a real hand. Okay, I sometimes adjusted depending upon who the villain was in the blinds; I.e., I looked at the stack sizes, IOs, and whether my cards were live or not. I also evaluated the opp on his stats and tried to factor that in. In the end, I made about $6.50 in steal money from the 700 hands I played.

In contrast, trying the same at the $25NL games led me to barely breaking even on the steal attempts (I made about $2 total). The opp was much more likely to 3-bet me, both IP and OOP. They also were more likely to float me IP if I raised, say, from the hijack seat. In other words, moving up from $10 to $25NL pointed out just how much better than players are at the higher stakes. Further, I noted that the longer I played, the more likely I was to get 3-bet. In other words, the opp was more likely using poker tracker at the higher limits than at the lower limits. I bet you'd get even less respect for your steals at $50NL and above.

The lesson learned is that at the higher levels you have to be more selective with your stealing hands. I'm still thinking this through, but there are probably some reasonable ranges of acceptable stealing hands to employ as a function of position and table stakes. Of course my sample sizes are relatively low, but there was a marked difference in opponent skill level in reacting to steals. Keep that in mind, Flyboy, when you decide to move up.

July Results. In my last post, I forgot to give my cash game results for the month. Unfortunately, I've been having trouble with PT3, on both my computers, so my July data is missing about 5K hands. That said, the results are not really affected much. Bottom line is I ran at a pretty steady 8BB/100 in $5, $10, and $25NL games for the month for a total cash game profit of $367. About a third of the games were 6max (early in the month), and the rest full ring. My average VPIP was 18% in all games combined, PFR=14%, AFQ=45%, WTSD=25%, W$SD=60%, ATS=35%, and fold to steal attempts were 70% and 80% from the big and small blinds, respectively.
Now the bad news: Unfortunately, I gave a fair bit of these profits back at multi-table tournaments (Rush, mostly), SnGs, and, of course, Omaha. Sigh.

I'll keep you posted on how the month of August goes....
All-in for now...
-Bug

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