Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Non-Linear Starting Hands by Position

I'm currently reading an intermediate-level poker book called No Limits, by Chris Wallace and Adam Stemple (click here to see the book on Amazon). It's a pretty good read, with an emphasis on quality over quantity, and it does a nice job of covering the basics and what separates the pros from the amateurs at mid-stakes levels.

In the chapter on pre-flop play and hand selection, the authors presented a graph that I found interesting. It's a plot of so-called "profitable" hands as a function of table position. The data were collected from the combined databases of seven winning professional online cash game grinders. I re-created the graph in Excel here:

Two things struck me about this graph. First, the pros clearly play much tighter than almost everyone else I run into at the low- and mid-stakes tables. The authors write, "The graph...represents the hands that a solid player can get a profit from in online non-limit games.... remember that [these data are from] long term winners in tough online games. If you aren't a proven long term winner then you can't play as many hands as they do... [This serves as] a nice visual representation of how important position is and how tight you should be in early position. If a bunch of working pros can't make Ace-Ten profitable from early position, then [you shouldn't play it either.] Muck it without a second thought."

The second thing that stands out is the non-linear nature of plot. Again, the authors write, "Notice how the graph starts off with a mild slope and gets very steep at the end. This is a function of... the larger effect when there are less players remaining [to act after you.]"

The first point about playing snug at a full ring table isn't really anything new; this is just a visual representation of winning TAg play. Dump your trap hands in EP, obey the Gap Concept, wait for profitable situations, and so on...

The second point is one that bothers me a bit. Why is the graph non-linear? I.e., shouldn't your playable hands simply be a linear function of how many players are left to act? Why the exponential shape to the curve? I don't actually have an answer to this, but I'm going to spend a little time noodling around with the math.  I'll report back on what I find out.


Non poker content: Just how fucked up can the "greatest nation's" government get? Holy cow, is this shutdown a fubar. My own job is going to be significantly affected if it continues longer than a few more days; we've been instructed by our funding agency to start shutting down all of our on-going construction contracts. This is over $100M worth of work, most of which is going directly into US businesses. And let's not even get into the fact that I'll personally be out of a paycheck by the end of the month. Arghgh. Throw every single last one of the damn bums in Washington out. I don't give a crap if they're Democrat, Republican, or Independent-- a box of brain-damaged monkeys could do a better job working together than our current lot of idiots. Arghgh.

All-in for now...

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