Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hand Chart Construction, Part 1: Assumptions


As I mentioned in my last post, I'm a--heaven forbid!--believer in starting hand charts for beginners. If you take a few minutes of googling (or yahoo'ing or bing'ing or whatever your preferred means of web searching is) you can find a plethora of hand charts. But which of these should you use? Good question. There are undoubtedly fine charts floating around in the virtual ether, but there are also some bizarre one, and others that, frankly, are dangerous to use. So rather than try to work with someone else's existing chart, I'm going to build one from scratch and create a basic guide to illustrate how it's done. This will serve the double duty purpose of providing a chart, while helping discuss and understand individual hands and how they should generally be played. Let's start with some assumptions:

The first step to creating a chart is to decide what the game type and various conditions are. As I mentioned in a recent post here, even at Level-1 there are a large number of factors that affect whether and how you should play that ATo you just picked up in MP. Playing at a shallow-stacked LAg high-stakes 6-max table is going to be very, very different than in a deep-stacked nitty micro-stakes full-ring game.

For purposes of this initial exercise, I'm going to assume the following:
  • Game Type: Online cash, or ring game. Cash is simpler to understand than tournaments, in which the rising blinds, and stage of the tournament, strongly affect which hands you should enter a pot with. Therefore, we'll keep it simple and start with good 'ole fashioned cash.
  • Table Size: Full ring, 9-handed table. When we get around to creating a short-handed 6-max table chart, we'll start by simply truncating the first three seats of the chart for 9-handed play.
  • Resolution: I'm going to stick with general categories for position; for practical purposes at L1, there is not a lot of difference between UTG and UTG+1, or between the CO and the Button. Therefore I'm going to just stick with four positions in the chart: EP, MP, LP, and the blinds. 
  • Stack Size. For this first chart, let's assume a "normal" buy-in effective stack size of 100bb. Shorter stack sizes will skew the hands we play more toward big pairs and face cards, while deeper stacks than this will shift us into more drawing- and bust'em-type hands. One hundred big blinds is a good middle ground, and it also represents the typical max initial buy-in at most online cash games.
  • Table Dynamics. Let's start with a table filled with decent TAg players, who are playing a very ABC style. Once we nail this down, we can make adjustments for looser or tight games, and eventually for specific players.
  • Game Size. Even if you're Warren Buffet and can afford to sit at the big-boy's tables, I'd suggest aall beginners start  at the micro-stakes games, where the competition plays in a simple, mostly straightforward manner. Ergo, let's assume we're at a $10NL ($0.05/$0.10) online table, which is equivalent to a $0.50/$1.0 live game.
In the next installment, I'll talk about the format and layout of the chart. Then we'll jump into the actual creation of the the hand recommendations.


All-in for now...
-Bug

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