Ferguson's NLHE Betting Strategy

The Shrog

The Shrog

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Online Poker at Full Tilt Poker - Poker Tips: Tips From the Pros: 10th April 2008

I just finished reading this and am interested in the opening raises at a full table. Chris Ferguson suggests in early position coming in for two times the big blind, two and a half times the BB in MP and 3x in LP. I sort of like this idea for the early position raise, so that if someone comes over the top, making a laydown with something like AQ may not be as difficult. My question is: When he suggests opening in early position with two times the big blind...this is a min-raise...unless I'm misunderstanding...how can being first to act and opening with a min-raise be a good play?

(I decided to post the link, rather than copying the whole article...if it doesnt work I can always post it.)
 
A

Aleeki

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I read this yesterday and wondered the exact same thing so will be interested in peoples thoughts on this
 
c9h13no3

c9h13no3

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Yeah, maybe in a higher stakes game where people understand that you're raising stronger hands from EP, then maybe it makes sense to make the raise smaller. But even then, you're just giving off reverse implied odds like omfg.

At lower stakes, this is pure insanity.
 
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bustme

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ONly point I can see is to make your opponents confused.
 
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transientemotion

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According to him its a good play because a lot of people arn't going to play the suited connectors, or j10o and what not...so you limit the playing field of players, usually to those with the premium hands or rags.

{quote by chris} Why, you ask? Simple. By raising, you put pressure on the blinds and the other players at the table, making them consider just how strong their hands really are. Chances are that by raising, you'll force marginal hands to fold before you even see the flop, limiting the number of players you have to beat through the rest of the hand.
 
bob_tiger

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ok hold on i better read this before i assume anything. bustme i dont see how this would confuse your opponents, most people know you are most likely not going to min raise from early position with a bad hand. I want to read the article because i think chris ferguson might be talking about late stages of tourney with bigger blinds. But i really don't see how for example with 50/100 blinds you would confuse anybody or make a good play by min raising lets say with AK utg. You are basically letting the bb see a flop if there is no raise after because most people will call that extra 100 just to see the flop. This will make it tough for you to put a read on the bb.
 
c9h13no3

c9h13no3

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Yeah, only in the late stages of a tourney would this make any sense, when players have an M of about 10-20ish.
 
bob_tiger

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Ok i just finished reading his article and I guess I see what he is trying to say, but at the level most of us play I really don't believe this would work very good. 1-most people dont pay attention at all. 2- for small raise you will get a lot of action and sometimes people will just smooth call and not raise, and you usually want to be heads up in a pot. 3- i disagree with tranise about a lot of people not playing suited connectors etc etc. At mid to lower stakes most people will call those small raises with medioker hands just to see a flop. I personally don't really like this tip much, but it prolly would work at higher stakes, no idea.
 
Four Dogs

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Online Poker at Full Tilt Poker - Poker Tips: Tips From the Pros: 10th April 2008

I just finished reading this and am interested in the opening raises at a full table. Chris Ferguson suggests in early position coming in for two times the big blind, two and a half times the BB in MP and 3x in LP. I sort of like this idea for the early position raise, so that if someone comes over the top, making a laydown with something like AQ may not be as difficult. My question is: When he suggests opening in early position with two times the big blind...this is a min-raise...unless I'm misunderstanding...how can being first to act and opening with a min-raise be a good play?

(I decided to post the link, rather than copying the whole article...if it doesnt work I can always post it.)
If you read the Full Tilt poker strategy Guide, he recommends the same thing. His logic is that just by opening in early position your representing a strong enough hand so that rags like A8 and suited connnectors should respect you. Therefore you don't need as large a raise to achieve the desired results. This may be true of the higher limit live games, but it certainly is not true at the limits most of us are used to playing.
 
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mjd5228

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a min raise is definitely not what ferguson was portraying as "something you should do".......... with sufficient funds this would be a cool, tempting bet, but the fact is that the min raise is just a spontaneous move that he felt was instinct. that is my opinion. thanks
 
royalburrito24

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a min raise is definitely not what ferguson was portraying as "something you should do".......... with sufficient funds this would be a cool, tempting bet, but the fact is that the min raise is just a spontaneous move that he felt was instinct. that is my opinion. thanks

You're welcome.
 
aliengenius

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Phil Gordon is a big proponent of adjusting your raise size based on position. I like his amounts a little better (no min raise) From here:

Pre-Flop Raising Strategy

Phil Gordon
September 28th 2007

To limp or not to limp − that is the question. I'm not going to name any names here, but there are some big-time pros who will argue that it's OK to limp into a pot before the flop. They reason that the more flops they see, the more likely they are to hit something big. If not, well, then they're pros and they can outplay their opponents after the flop.
I tend to land on the other side of the fence in this debate. My pre-flop strategy is this − its raise or its fold, there's no in between. I'm not injured − I don't have a sprained ankle or a broken leg − so why would I limp? There's nothing wrong with seeing flops, but why let your opponents get in cheap with an inferior hand?
I like to size my pre-flop raises based on my position. A lot of inexperienced players raise based on the strength of their hands, but good players will pick up on this play before too long. If you always raise four times the big blind with pocket Aces, Kings, and Queens, but only three times with everything else, skilled opponents will notice these patterns and exploit them later on.
If, on the other hand, you always raise a predetermined amount based on your position, your holdings will be much better disguised. By adopting this strategy, it doesn't matter if you're holding pocket Aces or 7-8 off-suit (which is the kind of junk I highly recommend you don't play), your opponents will have a much harder time putting you on a hand after the flop. Cards aside, here's how I like to play before the flop:
  • From early position − including the blinds − raise two-and-a-half times the big blind. You are more susceptible to a re-raise from this position, so it's best not to risk too many chips. Still, this raise lets everyone know that you mean business.
  • From middle position, raise three times the big blind. Hopefully a couple of people will already have folded to you, so there's less chance of being re-raised. Hence, you can afford to make a stronger push and possibly steal the blinds.
  • From middle/late position, raise three-and-a-half times the big blind. You really want to encourage those last couple of players to fold so you can go heads up with the blinds or just steal them outright.
  • From the button, raise four times the big blind. You either want to steal the blinds or make it really expensive for them to re-raise you.
Now, obviously when you play this raise or fold style before the flop, you can't be afraid of action. A lot of players − especially when they raise with a hand that they'd rather not see called − get that internal dialogue going that says “Please fold, please fold, please fold.” But here's the thing; you should want action and welcome a call.
The fact is your opponent is going to miss the flop such a high percentage of the time that it shouldn't matter whether you hit or not. You're the one who raised and you're the one in the driver's seat. Every chip that your opponent put into the pot before the flop is, in all likelihood, coming over to your chip stack. Even if your opponent does hit the flop, chances are they might not hit it very hard. If your opponent has A-8 and the flop comes K-8-4, the pot can still be yours. Steel those nerves and fire off a continuation bet − you're going to get them to lay down their hand a good amount of the time.
At the end of the day, it's all about how many chips are coming back to your stack. The more you put in pre-flop, the more you should get out of the pot when it's all said and done. Forget about limping, it's time to go full speed ahead.
 
AlexeiVronsky

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I've tried this and it works fairly well against decent opponents, against bad opponents they read the min raise as you having a weak hand and you get a line of callers, which generally isn't the best situation when you're out of position (though thankfully they don't know how to use position well.) Against reasonably good players though it has about the same effect as a 3xs bet. When I'd try this in tourneys when antes kicked in I'd raise it a little more to 2.5, 3, and 3.5 to offset the increased odds to call because of antes. The reasoning behind it is game theoretical, your raise is an attempt to make the big blind neutral to calling your better range and position which makes it a tough call for the big blind. On the plus side it makes it cheaper to get away from raise/fold hands and lets you play hands that are more for implied odds then pair value as you're getting an increase in implied odds over standard betting amounts, on the negative side you're also giving your opponents better implied odds and all except the blinds will have position on you later. It's definitely a style that requires you to be good at playing postflop if you have dangerous opponents after you.
 
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bustme

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Most of the time people do this raise they have a bad hand. And only intention is to steal the blinds.

If someone would take this raise on the button on me and I am in the big blind and he is low in chips say 1000 and the blinds are 50/100. I would instantly reraised him allin with almost any hand if not SB had called.
 
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TwoGiantEggs

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I too prefer Gordon's synopsis. Ferguson's play would need very definite circumstances to work or else it is too easy for weaker players to call with weaker hands.
 
narizblanco

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Ferguson also advises raising on the flop with the nut flush DRAW. This does not seem mathematically sound to me. Any comments?
 
AlexeiVronsky

AlexeiVronsky

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Ferguson also advises raising on the flop with the nut flush DRAW. This does not seem mathematically sound to me. Any comments?

That's not an unusual semibluff. With the fold equity added to the chance to outdraw it can make what would be an unprofitable call become a profitable raising situation. Also if you get called and hit it makes it more likely that your opponent will pay you off as if you normally just call with draws and wait for it to hit to bet/raise it's pretty obvious you either hit your draw or you're on a bluff, and it often dries up your action on the turn and river. You've also often got draws to at least one overcard to the board, sometimes two.
 
Lo-Dog

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I could be wrong but when he says raise 2X the BB maybe he means to raise 20 to 30 if the blinds were 10?

This always confuses me. To me when you say 'raise 2X the BB' it means like I said above.

When you say 'raise it to 2Xbb' that would be a min bet.

Like if you were raised $100 and you say 'I raise to $200' or say ' I raise 200' is there a difference?


/hijack over.
 
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