Misleading Assumptions in this Forum

F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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This forum is getting a lot more use lately, which is awesome. This is the place where we can all really learn things, and the more posts in here, the better. But I've noticed something that is a bit worrying and I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about it:

The hands that are posted are often of the kind "I lost; could I have played it better?"

Here's the problem with posting these hands: They're extremely results-oriented. Chris recently posted a long rant about the dangers about this, so I won't go into the details about why results-orientation sucks, but I want to talk about a secondary problem that arises because of how common these threads are:

Many posters seem to presume that a hand posted is a hand that was lost.

Statistically, they are probably right. As humans, we tend to be more critical of hands that we lose than hands that we win, and we post in this forum to get others to criticize our play. But the kind of paranoia that I see when people make estimates about hand ranges here are sometimes bordering on insanity.

"He probably has a set. Fold." WHAT?!

The words "probably" and "set" should very rarely be in the same sentence without a big fat negation in there somewhere. No-one is likely to have a set. There's always a risk that someone does, but putting that sort of read on a player based on four actions in a hand history is ridiculous. We can't dismiss the risk that the set is there, but presuming that he does is awful. I have a hard time believing that you're this paranoid when you're actually playing, so my only possible explanation for these lines of thinking is that you figure that the OP lost the hand and you then figure out which is the most likely hand to have beaten him.

To combat this, I'm going to urge you all to post more hands where you didn't necessarily lose. Find a hand where you made a tough laydown on the turn, ask if the fold was correct. Never state the outcome of the hand (if he happened to show his cards afterwards or so) in the post.

My own criteria for which hands I post, and I can recommend it, is that whenever you're playing a hand where you find yourself pausing for more than two seconds before making a decision, is a hand that's worth posting. The decision wasn't automatic for you, so it must have been difficult. Post the hand. It's analyzing and learning from difficult situations that help us grow the most as poker players. As always, remove the results from the hand, and post them. Even better, remove all of the hand that comes after your difficult decision.

Anyway, having said all that, I want to make another point:

Playing expert poker, in my definition and I'm willing to argue it extensively, is playing your hand as well as you can given the opposition you're playing. If you know that your opponent is a complete donk, you can't give him credit for having a monster hand. Practising hand reading on aggressive maniacs is difficult, but we can't skip it totally. These are the people we win the most from, and we must properly learn how to beat them.

Look, if Dan Harrington checkraises you on the turn, you are likely to lay your top pair, bad kicker down. This is probably a good play. But that doesn't necessarily make it the correct play when the same thing happens at a $.50/$1 NLHE cash table. Figure out your opponents, and adjust accordingly. "Expert play" isn't the play that is best suited against experts, it's the play that is best suited against the people you're actually playing. This is why including what limits you're playing and any reads you have is so vitally important.

Phew. I feel better now.

/FP
 
Kenzie 96

Kenzie 96

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Boy, I see what Totally Toadly was talking about:D. Another excellent post FP. Last couple of weeks I have noticed myself thinking about the destination instead of the journey & my bankroll shows it. Thanks for the reminder.
 
Stick66

Stick66

Legend
F Paulsson said:
Statistically, they are probably right. As humans, we tend to be more critical of hands that we lose than hands that we win, and we post in this forum to get others to criticize our play. But the kind of paranoia that I see when people make estimates about hand ranges here are sometimes bordering on insanity.

"He probably has a set. Fold." WHAT?!

The words "probably" and "set" should very rarely be in the same sentence without a big fat negation in there somewhere. No-one is likely to have a set. There's always a risk that someone does, but putting that sort of read on a player based on four actions in a hand history is ridiculous. We can't dismiss the risk that the set is there, but presuming that he does is awful. I have a hard time believing that you're this paranoid when you're actually playing, so my only possible explanation for these lines of thinking is that you figure that the OP lost the hand and you then figure out which is the most likely hand to have beaten him.

OK, FP. In the scenario above, how much value do you (FP) put in online reads? I value them quite a bit, but maybe I shouldn't. IMHO, if the guy above is a TAG or weak-tight and is betting hard, the set presumption might not be far off. I crave to be able to read like that and be correct.

I bring this up because I was watching the PPT last night and I saw a guy laydown a pocket pair of Kings to a TAG player betting 2/3 the pot on the turn with a board of 2-10-7-4 (or something). The TAG player held 44 and hit his set and I thought it was so awesome how the other guy laid down that KK. I thought his read was perfect. Now in retrospect, the KK-layer looked almost weak tight before & after this play and could have just made a lucky, paranoid decision.

I know live reads are much, much different than online reads. But again, what is your opinion on how much value one should put in a good read in a situation like this?
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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MrSticker,

I didn't mean that online reads are useless, not at all. In fact, I rely heavily on them to make certain plays. What I mean, and perhaps I could have been clearer on this, is that the person who responds to the OP usually only has one hand to judge what a player has, and that's when presuming it's a set (or some other monster) is ludicrous.

The example you give about the PPT is somewhat analogous to my Dan Harrington example; it's possible that he had a very good read on the player, but he also knew that he was playing a solid opponent. It's a mistake of abysmal proportions to presume that a similar bet in a low limit online game would be anywhere near as likely to represent a strong hand.

As a sidenote, I'd be very very cautious, even with an extremely solid read on a low limit player, to think that a set is the most likely holding. And in limit, I don't think I'd ever lay down two pair on the suspicion that my opponent has a set. The likelyhood of him having a set is virtually always small in comparison to the pot odds in limit.

Edit: I perhaps didn't actually answer your question, MrS, sorry about that. Let me qualify a bit more.

If I have a read on a person that he donks the flop with top pair, but checkraises the turn with trips, how often am I willing to fold the turn with an unimproved AA? I only have solid enough reads like this on limit players at this point, so my answer goes for limit: Not often. I will fold weaker hands (second pair, etc.) if it happens, but if the board is Q-T-5-2 and I bet the turn with AA and get checkraised, I'm not likely to fold, even if I know that he will often have me badly beat. And I don't consider it a leak in my game. Let me explain why:

1. My read is often going to be wrong. People don't get trips very often, and the fact that he checkraised me twice with trips is not conclusive evidence that he does it everytime with trips, nor that he only does it with trips-or-better.

2. Everyone bluffs. Not everyone checkraise bluffs (I have a favourite opponent on Stars that never* does, which is kinda cool to know), but there's still some probability that this is the case.

3. You usually can't really tell the difference between a two-pair-hand and a set. Someone who limped in with T2s is as likely to checkraise this turn as someone who flopped a set (if not more, since there's some portion of the time that a flopped set will checkraise the flop). And against two pairs, I have outs, and virtually always enough outs to make a checkraised turn profitable to call (with AA, there will be at least two bets in preflop, one on the flop for each player, so if it's heads-up, the pot is 3 big bets on the turn, then I bet and get raised, so now it's 6 big bets and one back to me. Against any two pair hand, I have 8 outs, so I can't fold).

Reads are important, and they should be used to narrowing hand ranges. But the overwhelming amount of evidence needed to support a theory that states that someone's hand is most likely to be a set (when no flushes or straights are possible) is virtually impossible to reach online. pot odds very often makes up for the uncertainty in hand reading, so folding two pair is very often a mistake in a situation like that. IMO.

* This read is probably not foolproof either, but it's pretty damn close. I have about 1000 hands on this person, and it hasn't failed me yet.
 
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Schatzdog

Schatzdog

Visionary
I don't think it's ludicrous to assume a villain has a set when examining a hand posted by a reader. Opponents make sets against me when I play online.

In reading your thread though it does raise the following two points:

1. When posting a hand for analysis, more information about the table dynamics and particular opponents needs to be included. How long have you been at the table? Loose or tight table? What types of opponents am I up against? etc....In regards to this is there any type of template that could be created for people to use when posting hands? This would prompt more information that isn't being provided at present.

2. When replying to a hand analysis posted on the forum the person who is responding should include more reason/evidence for their stated opinion or course of action. For instance in posts I have replied to, I have commented: "Fold out, you're opponent has setted up." I haven't mentioned that I think this because he limped, called down you pot sized flop and turn bets and then moved all-in on the river.

What do you think?
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

euro love
Schatzdog said:
I don't think it's ludicrous to assume a villain has a set when examining a hand posted by a reader. Opponents make sets against me when I play online.
They make sets against me too (and I hate it everytime). But to assume that they have, is going waaaay overboard. Two pair is so much more common and is so rarely played differently from a set that being certain of a set is... Well, "ludicrous" is a harsh word. But it's close.

In reading your thread though it does raise the following two points:

1. When posting a hand for analysis, more information about the table dynamics and particular opponents needs to be included. How long have you been at the table? Loose or tight table? What types of opponents am I up against? etc....In regards to this is there any type of template that could be created for people to use when posting hands? This would prompt more information that isn't being provided at present.

There are several templates. Two are stickied at the top of this forum, and I included one in the Guide: https://www.cardschat.com/poker-strategy.phphands

2. When replying to a hand analysis posted on the forum the person who is responding should include more reason/evidence for their stated opinion or course of action. For instance in posts I have replied to, I have commented: "Fold out, you're opponent has setted up." I haven't mentioned that I think this because he limped, called down you pot sized flop and turn bets and then moved all-in on the river.

Absolutely. No one who posts here is doing it in real-time and hoping that they'll get a response before they can time out, so that they can take the advice of the CC people. We post here, because we want to learn more about the thought processes that govern proper poker decisions. Not sharing the thought process for why a certain action should be taken makes the advice, if not useless, at least fairly invaluable.

Now, I want to clarify something: I'm not saying that putting someone on a set is never right. I'm simply saying that no read is accurate enough to make that blanket statement. You can argue that a set is more likely, for instance, than just TPTK because of the way someone played a hand, but you'd be hard pressed to convince me that the combination of all other possible holdings (TPTK, two pair, bluff, semi-bluff, etc) is less likely than my opponent having, specifically, a set. The combination of hands that beat me can still be much greater than the hands I can beat, though, so a fold could still be in order. But we should be working with ranges, not hands. Phil Hellmuth may claim to have a sixth sense, but not even such a sense will work on a copy/pasted hand history.

I feel I got cornered with taking the set as an example (and I don't mind - I always encourage discussion) but I feel the need to stress the greater problem that was the core of my opening post: People seem to assume a hand that was posted was lost (unless specifically stated otherwise) and are therefore a whole lot more paranoid than they should be. Either that, or they're just paranoid in general and then that's something we need to fix. :)
 
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