Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When 50% does not equal 50%

"They say of Texas Hold'em that it takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. This is not true. It takes about ten minutes to learn and it cannot be mastered, ever." - Pat Walsh, "How to Win the World Series of Poker. (Or Not)"

The quote above is the opening line from an entertaining little read I picked up at a local used bookstore this past weekend. I've only gotten about ten pages into the book, but I've LOL'd three times thus far....

...which has absolutely nothing to do with today's topic on c-betting, but what the hell, it's my blog, and if I want to non sequiturize my way to the the topic du jour, well then así es la vida.
A few posts ago (here) I discussed a couple of weekly podcasts I listen to. Well, yesterday was a good example of why I do this; Bart Hanson's podcasts make me think. Specifically, in this week's podcast (on the topic of light check/calling situations), Hanson made a comment about opponent cbetting stats. I didn't write down his exact quote, but it went something like this:

"A loose player's cbet range is wider than a tight player's range, even if they're c-betting at the same frequency."


Or, maybe that should that be written as "Ah.... duh!"

Let's consider two opponents: Player A plays a TAg style preflop (e.g., 15/12), and Player B plays a LAg style preflop (30/25). Everything else is identical about these two players, including HUD-displayed postflop stats. For argument's sake, let's assume that they each continuation bet the flop 50% of the time (i.e., when they were the preflop aggressor).

Now, let's say you're in the big blind with a medium pocket pair. Call it 88♣. Preflop, they raise in EP and you decide to just call. Everyone else has folded, so you're heads-up.

The flop comes out Q-7-2♣, which is as dry and light as a calcified bone. You check to the raiser. Your opponent fires out a 2/3-pot sized bet. What do you do?

The standard answer here is to look at their post-flop aggression numbers, focusing on their cbet stats, and then make a decision. But both of these players are identical, right? Both have 50% c-bet numbers, so how you react to Player A should be the same as how you should react to Player B's c-bet, right?


They may have identical HUD stats, but the two players are definitely not playing the same way. Player A is much more selective preflop with his starting hands, so the 50% of the time when he cbets he still has a very strong hand and/or connected to this flop. Player B, however, has a much wider opening range, and therefore there is a higher chance that he missed this flop. Flopzilla can show this better than I can explain it; here's how hard the flop hit the two players:

Player A is twice as likely to have hit a set than B, and 25% more likely to have top pair. They both have ace-high an equal percentage of time, but B missed the flop completely 32% of the time, while A only strikes out one out of eight times, or 13%.

Said another way, I'd be much more likely to give up against A in this situation, but against the Player B I would strongly consider check/raising the flop and then leading the turn if he hasn't gone away.

Remember, there are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics. Be careful what you read into your HUD display numbers. The numbers aren't wrong, but your interpretation of them might very well be.

Alles klar, nicht so?

All-in for now....
PS: So, Mr. Multi, is this post more to your liking?

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