*Special 1k post* : Getting most value in poker (long)
It's that time in every cardschater's life when a milestone is reached and a special post is required. I'm not much for fancy introductions so that's about it, going to get right into it.
First of all, please don't take any of the following as gospel, since I'm a micro donk myself, playing 20nl, so this post will obviously be mostly valuable to 25nl and below players although there will be some principles which hold true for any level of play. I will address some common mistakes I see most micro players make and also some widespread fallacies about poker.
As the title suggests, I want to talk about getting the most value in poker. Every one of you has heard 1000 times that the way to beat micros is to bet for value and not bluff, to the point where you want to strangle the next person that says it when you look at your results and they're not what you wanted. I'm going to attempt to show you what that means, and in more areas of poker than just playing a particular hand.
1) Getting most value out of your good hands
Let's first talk a bit of how we define a good hand. There is absolute hand strength and relative hand strength.
We all know a set is a very good hand. That is absolute strength. However a set on a flush board when a passive regular shoves over your river bet isn't worth much at all. Medium pair top kicker you are happy to fold when a tag raises you, but you may be very happy to stack off with it against an aggro maniac or a very loose passive player.
I once won a 3 buy-in pot vs 2 super fish stacking off KTo on a T96 2 diamonds board. It was definitely marginal but the point is my top pair, second kicker was a way better hand than it would be against tighter players in the same spot. That is relative strength. You should always think of the relative strength of your hand, since you're playing different players and different spots and not video poker.
To get the most value out of your good hands all you need to do is bet the highest size they will call with a high enough frequency. More on this later, now let's look at some examples :
Hero (SB): €20.00
Hero posts SB €0.10, BB posts BB €0.20
Pre Flop: (€0.30) Hero has T♠ T♥
fold, CO raises to €0.70, BTN calls €0.70, Hero raises to €3.40, fold, fold, BTN calls €2.70
Villain was 49/12, 50 hands on him. I 3-bet to isolate myself with him in the pot.
Flop: (€7.70, 2 players) K♥ K♣ 8♥
Hero bets €4.00, BTN calls €4.00
Turn: (€15.70, 2 players) 5♦
Hero bets €12.60 and is all-in, BTN calls €12.60
TT on a KKx board is a mediocre hand in absolute strength, but a very good one vs a loose passive guy. I wouldn't give him credit for folding any 8, any FD, lower pp etc. So slowing down simply means losing value.
River: (€40.90, 2 players) 9♠
Hero shows T♠ T♥ (Two Pair, Kings and Tens) (PreFlop 81%, Flop 92%, Turn 95%)
BTN shows 6♥ 6♣ (Two Pair, Kings and Sixes) (PreFlop 19%, Flop 8%, Turn 5%)
Hero wins €38.86
Now let's look at another TT hand vs a 75/2/1 guy (3-betting here may have been a mistake btw, but maybe I had a read that he calls 3-bets wide)
Hero (SB): €20.00
Hero posts SB €0.10, BB posts BB €0.20
Pre Flop: (€0.30) Hero has T♦ T♥
UTG calls €0.20, MP raises to €0.90, fold, fold, Hero raises to €3.40, fold, UTG calls €3.20, MP calls €2.50
Flop: (€10.40, 3 players) 2♠ J♣ 8♣
Hero bets €5.40, UTG calls €5.40, fold
Turn: (€21.20, 2 players) 2♥
Hero bets €11.20 and is all-in, UTG calls €10.36 and is all-in
River: (€41.92, 2 players) 3♣
Hero shows T♦ T♥ (Two Pair, Tens and Twos) (PreFlop 88%, Flop 85%, Turn 95%)
UTG shows T♣ 8♠ (Two Pair, Eights and Twos) (PreFlop 12%, Flop 15%, Turn 5%)
Hero wins €39.83
Pretty much the same stuff. I want you to get one thing out of those 2 hands : forget you ever heard the term "pot control". It simply doesn't apply vs someone that plays 50 or 80 percent of their hands. Who cares there is an overcard on the board? Or you only have medium pair top kicker? Get stacks in and don't think twice about it. Yes, sometimes they will have that top pair and you lose, but that's ok since you will make much more when you stack their 2nd/3rd pair or even worse (of course stacking MPTK doesn't apply against all the passive fish, but the ones that stack off worse are very easy to spot).
Now that we took care about the pot control fallacy, let's look to bet sizing :
In this hand villain is a weak tight TAG, 19/13/2 but not too positionally aware, raises 17% UTG the same he does in late position.
Hero (BTN): €19.70
SB posts SB €0.10, BB posts BB €0.20
Pre Flop: (€0.30) Hero has 7♥ 8♥
UTG raises to €0.70, fold, fold, Hero calls €0.70, fold, fold
Here I just called because I didn't see too many hands that would call a raise. Plus a turn bet if he checks (he only cbets 36% of turns) looks more bluffy.
Flop: (€1.70, 2 players) 8♦ 7♣ 2♠
UTG bets €1.27, Hero calls €1.27
Turn: (€4.24, 2 players) 7♦
UTG checks, Hero bets €2.00, UTG calls €2.00
I probably made the mistake of not betting more here actually, since I can get calls from A8s, T9, overpairs and FDs.
River: (€8.24, 2 players) 7♠
This is why I showed this hand. The pot is $8.24 and I have $15.73 behind, so almost double. He checks, we obviously have to bet here, but how much? Nothing but a shove would be short of burning money. He isn't going to call without a full house, and Zeebo theorem teaches us nobody ever folds a full house, so betting 1/2 pot or pot is simply stupid.
It may seem quite evident that shoving is our only move, but I see so many micro players auto-clicking the 1/2 pot or 3/4 pot button in every situation it's sick how much money they leave on the table.
Hero bets €15.73 and is all-in, UTG calls €15.73
Hero shows 7♥ 8♥ (Four of a Kind, Sevens) (PreFlop 22%, Flop 75%, Turn 95%)
UTG shows Q♠ Q♦ (Full House, Sevens full of Queens) (PreFlop 78%, Flop 25%, Turn 5%)
Hero wins €37.72
Ok, enough hands for now, I think you're beginning to get the picture. Andrew Baluga keeps saying "double your bet sizes, double your win rate".
Of course, you can't pot-pot-shove every hand you think you're ahead, but what you can do is think what parts of their range will call a standard 3/4 pot bet, what part will call a pot-sized bet or a shove, and with what frequency. This is why betting more is so profitable, it doesn't have to work as often to make you more money.
Say you're on the river with a passive fish and you have TPTK with a pot of $10 and $10 behind in your stack, and you're thinking do I bet 1/2 the pot or shove here? Well if the fish will always call a 1/2 pot bet but call a shove only 60% of the time, it's still more profitable to shove $10 because 60% of $10 is $6, and 100% of $5 is $5. So don't be too upset when you bet a lot and he folds, it was probably still the right move.
I have one more thing to say about value betting and why I think so many people - at least in the micros - aren't doing it properly. It's because they win a pot, big or not, and they're happy about that. They don't lose sleep about the fact they could have gotten a bit more out that pot.
But in reality, betting $5 less than you should have is exactly the same as making a bad call for $5. The mistake is just as important profit wise, we just tend to remember the bad call much more and assign a lot more importance to it because hey we lost the pot. It's basically just a different form of being results oriented.
2) M.U.B.S - Monsters Under The Bed Syndrome
Another specific micro players trait is MUBS. And it's probably where the pot control concept gets misused the most. I'm not going to dwell that much into it because it's pretty self-evident, but here's a quick hand :
Villain was 67/19/1
Hero (CO): €25.53
SB posts SB €0.10, BB posts BB €0.20
Pre Flop: (€0.30) Hero has Q♣ A♠
UTG calls €0.20, MP raises to €0.90, Hero raises to €3.60, fold, fold, fold, fold, MP calls €2.70
Flop: (€7.70, 2 players) 8♥ A♦ Q♦
MP checks, Hero bets €6.00, MP calls €6.00
Turn: (€19.70, 2 players) 2♦
I can see a ton of people here wetting their pants that the "flush card" is on board so they would better "pot control" in case he has "it", while in reality what they're doing is letting the fish save his money with his Ax hands, draws, most or any single diamond that would call a bet.
MP checks, Hero bets €15.93 and is all-in, MP calls €15.93
River: (€51.56, 2 players) 6♠
MP shows T♦ K♥ (High Card, Ace) (PreFlop 37%, Flop 20%, Turn 27%)
Hero shows Q♣ A♠ (Two Pair, Aces and Queens) (PreFlop 63%, Flop 80%, Turn 73%)
Hero wins €48.99
3) The "better spot" fallacy
Yet another common fallacy I see every day is people wanting to wait for a better spot to bet/call some guy with their marginal hand. I'll say it again, there is no such thing in cash games. If you think a spot is +EV then bet your house on it (assuming you have at least 20 other houses as good BRM of course ).
No, that fish isn't going to give you his money later, he may give it to the other 4 regs at the table, he may quit next second, your internet may go down, he may win a big pot and quit, or 1000 other scenarios where you still don't get the $. And even if he gives it to you it will be different money, money you could have taken from him if he reloaded, from another player sitting in his place, from another table if that table was not good any more and you table select well, etc.
4) Getting most value out of grinding
This is a really important part of poker that I feel is overlooked by many players.
We all started out thinking hey, this shit is easy, look at all these donks calling me with everything, I'll just play a few hours when I feel like it and make tons of $$$, then it's hookers and blow / new car/laptop/cell phone/whatever and I'll laugh at all these 9-5 office donks. EZ game.
The reality though if you want to succeed in poker is you have to treat it like a job, and I can guarantee that reality will hit you soon if it hasn't already. You have to grind 4-6 hours / day just like you would do in a job. You have to study it a few hours / day just like you do before you get a job. You have to play when you don't feel like it / aren't in the mood just like you do in a job.
In many ways it can be worse than a job, because it's really frustrating, causes massive suffering you have to deal with somehow, if you slack off on it you may not have money to pay the rent next month or you can get on that huge downswing and wonder wtf are you going to do now.
You simply have to accept that, forget about all the glamour and Rounders lifestyle and just think of it as your job. You have to love poker, because you will hate it many, many times too. In the end, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide if grinding is for you, or you want to be a recreational player that's breakeven/slightly winning at best.
If you really want to advance in poker and go up in stakes at a reasonable pace, you also have to grind mindfully. That's not playing 12 tables auto clicking, that's playing 4 tables or less, thinking about people's ranges, watching their patterns, taking tons of notes, noticing your own mistakes and thinking how you can improve in this spot or that spot.
5) Getting most value out of thinking
The mindful grinding concept leads us to thinking. There is good thinking and bad thinking however. What to think about, and how much? The answer is not as hard as you think : just keep things simple. No M.U.B.S., no levelling yourself against other regs, no fancy playing. Just think do I want to bet, and why (the three reasons for betting can be found here (http://www.cardschat.com/f11/why-you-betting-189182/)) and how much. Keep it simple.
6) Getting most value out of mistakes
Mistakes...we all make them. In micro/low stakes, we make a ton. That's a good thing if you want to learn poker though. Want to know why? Because mistakes is the way adults can learn new things/concepts. It's how our brain works, you can't learn and perfect a new concept without making repeated mistakes applying it.
So instead of kicking and tilting yourself when you make a bad play, know that it's a necessary part of the learning path, you will probably make it again and again but that's OK, just actively look for it and eventually you will stop making it in that situation.
Well, that was quite a wall of text. If anyone was crazy enough to read my ramblings down to here, thank you and I hope this helps you even a little bit.
See you at the tables!