From Chris Wallace at RealPokerTraining.com
Almost every one of my no-limit students lately seem to be playing too many hands. And they aren’t just loose, they are loose in the same way, and they are all quoting some of the same books and articles as justification for their plays. What is causing this problem? They all overestimate their implied odds. So here’s the real scoop on implied odds.
Stop believing everything you read. Give it some real thought, even if it comes from an expert, and decide for yourself if it is actually sound advice, or just something some poker player wrote who may win money without knowing why or being able to teach what he does. Once you start thinking for yourself you can …
Learn to break down hand histories and use PokerTracker to check your own statistics. We’ll do a hand breakdown in a moment, and PokerTracker just isn’t that complicated, get it and use it, so that you can find our for yourself if 66 is profitable in early position (in most games you’ll find it’s not) or if you should be limp reraising with QQ (maybe…). Once you have PokerTracker recording your stats so that you can test these things out, you’ll want to do a few complete hand breakdowns like this
In this example we will look at a sample hand I just ran through with one of my students a few hours ago. The student (we’ll call him Jim because, … well because it’s actually his name) Jim, thought that he was quite justified in calling a raise from a middle position player with 66 in the cutoff seat. The following conversation illustrates some good points about implied odds, and also points out how unpleasant it can be to take lessons from me if you are stubborn and can’t stop folding small pairs.
“So tell me why you called that raise.” I asked him.
“Because I thought I could stack him if I hit a set”
“How many chips did he have?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, but he wasn’t super short stacked.” came the reply.
“He had $129, a little more than half a buy-in.” I told him “Not nearly enough chips for you to be calling that raise to $14. Even if you are absolutely certain that he has aces, AND that he will put his whole stack in every time you hit a set, you can’t make money against him calling that raise.”
“Ok, kick my ass” came the slightly forlorn reply. I did.
Jim was calling almost 11% of his opponent’s stack. If he gets all of his opponent’s cash every time he flops a set, which will happen a little more than 13% of the time, then he should make money on the play. It isn’t very much, but it’s something right?
You see we are chasing a thin edge without considering all the negatives that make it a terrible play. Even if I concede that the opponent will always give you his stack when you flop a set, which is ridiculous (half his stack on average would even be a lot) you still have a bunch of factors taking money out of the play.
Let’s start with the rake. You are paying at least $2 in rake on a $260 pot on most sites, and that comes right out of your profits. Now you are winning $130 when you flop a set, if you include the blinds.
Let’s play a game many of my students know as “One Thousand Hands” And remember that I’m being very generous with many of these assumptions. Actual numbers are probably even worse for the 66.
Of the 1,000 hands, Jim will flop a set 133 times. He wins $130 each time, because apparently his opponent is clueless and I’m generous enough here to allow it, so his profit is $17,290 on those hands.
He will not flop a set the other 867 times, at a loss of $14 each time. This loss adds up to $12,138, and leaves him with a net profit of over $5,000. Sounds great right?
First of all, we can guess that about 4% of the time, Jim will be raised off his hand by one of the two blinds who are yet to act. We also know that when he gets all his chips in on the flop, he’s only 90.7% to win the hand. A nice favorite to be sure, but not that 9.3% is going to mean a lot. So we adjust the numbers to read –
Raised and forced to fold – 40 times for a loss of $560
Of the remaining 960 trials Jim misses the flop 832 times, for a loss of $11,648.
Of the 128 times when he flops a set, Jim will actually lose $129 seventeen times, for a net loss of $2,193. Ouch, that’s expensive. (that number came from a card calculator, with a 6 on the flop and the rest of the cards being totally random).
That leaves Jim down $560 + $11,648 + $2,193 = $14,401
And how much is Jim going to make on the times he flops a set AND wins?
Jim will flop a set and win 111 times. He will win $130 each time, for a profit of $14,430. If we did our math correctly, Jim makes $29 per thousand hands, or a total of $0.029 per hand, three cents per hand. If the guy will always pay him off with all his chips when Jim Flops a set, and if the flop doesn’t contain two or three of a suit that matches on of his opponent’s big pair. And a thousand other “ifs” that I ignored to get this thing to come out to almost exactly even between the two decisions.
When we added in a reasonable estimate of all those “ifs”, Jim and I discovered that he was losing nearly a dollar per hand when he played the 6’s this way. All because someone had told him that he should play pocket pairs to a raise because he can flop a set and win a big pot. And sometimes that statement is true. If.
The moral of the story?
Use your head, do your own research, think about all the possibilities, and don’t believe something just because a poker icon wrote it. Oh and we checked Jim’s Poker Tracker database of over 60,000 hands and discovered that he had lost $4,000 in the last 6 months calling raises with small pairs. Seeing that money as a wide screen HDTV that he had cost himself was the final straw for him, and his stubborn streak finally gave up.
Now we’ve worked out a reasonable thought process for Jim to use when dealing with small pairs facing a raise, and he can identify the profitable situations and muck them the rest of the time. He says I can come over in six months and watch the new TV I helped him earn. I’ll bring a six-pack Jim, see you in April!