Sunday, August 28, 2011

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • Thinking on the Fly. I was called out by Mr. Multi on my Poker Quiz Questions. Specifically, he pointed out that often my "E is for Estimating" step in the RED-I hand analysis is done by me via PokerStove. As MM rightly points out, trying to run 'Stove in real time during a hand is absurd; there simply isn't time to do it. Further, it's crazy to think that you can calculate an exact hand strength equity in real time and then make a decision based precisely on pot odds, especially if the theoretical difference is just 3-4% or so. This is all completely true. I never actually assumed that someone would use 'Stove in the heat of battle. Instead, I've assumed that a serious student of the game would run PokerStove for a wide variety of different hand-vs.-ranges away from the poker tables to see how different hands stack up against different villain hand ranges. Then, when a similar situation does arise, you can make an educated estimate as to how you stand. In contrast, when working through the theoretical Quiz Questions, there is plenty of time to make these calculations exact, so that is what I do. In a real poker hand, obviously, I can't do this; instead I'm trying just to get as close as I can. This is why it's called "E is for Estimating" and not "PC is for Precisely Calculating."
  • Video Poker. I talked a little with Flyboy this week about his game. He's playing a lot of small buy-in double-or-nothing sit-n-gos on Black Chip. He's had very good success (ITM of 60% and ROI of 6%). These are excellent results, but he did say something that struck me as a potential future leak, especially as he moves up in stakes. Flyboy remarked that within a few laps of a SnG, he has tagged all the players and then can put them on ranges. While this is excellent, I don't think it's enough. Specifically, I worry about him slipping into auto-pilot mode once he's done an initial read on a player. The key to beating the higher stakes games is to start with these basic "cow tagging" that Flyboy is doing, but then really work on a hand-by-hand basis to narrow starting hand ranges down given specific, instantaneous game and hand information. Flyboy may well be doing this already, but it bears repeating in any case: to win at poker, you have to be constantly Reading, Estimating, Deciding, and Implementing. And then Adjusting accordingly. Going into auto-pilot mode is just not going to cut it in the long term. A term I've heard recently about autopiloting at poker is "playing the video game." In other words, you're simply running from room to room in a first-person shooter game, zapping the zombies without really giving it much thought and moving on. In contrast, winning at poker means you have to start putting your head into the mind of the zombie (!) and then adjusting to his (its?) tactics.
  • Rubber Band Folding: A few years ago, I picked up a copy of Tommy Angelo's book "Elements of Poker." It was an excellent read, chock-full of solid advice and entertaining prose; I recommend it highly..... Now, fast forward to last week, when Tommy A's latest poker book, "A Rubber Band Story", showed up on my front doorstep from Amazon. This new book is a collection of anecdotes, poker stories, and old blog posts from Tommy A, and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to my expectations. Some of the stories are semi-amusing, but the vast majority simply elicit a "uh, okay, that wasn't anything great" response from me. Further, he harps on one basic concept throughout the book, over and over: fold. He beats you over the head with this concept, page after page. You're not folding enough. You should fold more. He once folded pocket aces preflop just because he could. He folds a lot. You should fold a lot, too. Fold. Fold. Fold. Oh, and don't forget to fold. Sigh. My advice? Fold the idea of purchasing this book.
  • Tiny Bets. I heard an interesting piece of advice on a podcast from a high-stakes cash game player the other day. This guy said that unless you have a reason to think otherwise, when a player bets very small into a big pot, you should just treat it as if they had checked. Depending on the player, this could mean weakness or they want to check-raise, but in any case it's functionally equivalent to a check. Don't let the tiny bet confuse you; simply think of it as a check and then act accordingly.
All-in for now....
-Bug

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