Is balance important in poker

xOneCoolHandx

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This is kind of a continuation from a facebook discussion. Do you think balance is important in a poker game? Personally, I feel it is very important to have a balanced range (depending on stack size and position) when you are taking any action at the poker table. If you are balanced then you are going to make it hard on your opponents to figure you out. The is with opening ranges, continuing ranges, bluffing ranges and every other decision point. Some people think that being balanced is overrated. So, I bring it to the the people to decide. Is being balanced important or overrated?
 
VikyGia

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Hi

A good balance and mastery of our emotional intelligence is important, because they help us make good and bad decisions and that can be important and the difference between winning or losing a tournament.
 
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fernandofcp

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Balance is as important to poker as it is to life in general. Without balance, disharmonies, instabilities and conflicts prevail.
 
CheezeWiz

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I Will Contribute My Two Cents, Mark...

If by balance we mean "mixing it up a bit" in terms of of all the poker decisions points you mention, then yes I think it is important and it is a part of my game that I have been working on and constantly have to remind / force myself to incorporate into my play. It definitely does not come natural to me.

I think the challenge is to Not To Stretch it Too Far, So Frequently, that your play just becomes Stupid and it becomes Counter Productive. As long as you can do it with purpose and in moderation and with some desired outcome in mind, I think it Can Be A Very Good Thing and perhaps Even A Necessary Component Of A Winning Play! Of course, there will be times when it seems to have achieved the desired objective, and I Smile With Satisfaction at the End of The Hand! And, inevitably there are times when it does not work out and I Say To MySelf, What An Idiot! Why did I play that hand like that!

It seems to me that varying your "decision / action" range up a bit is also important when you tend to play frequently against the same people. Just when they think they have you figured out, you toss them a Change-Up, lol! Sometimes the change-up if successful will go unnoticed, as I do not often voluntarily show my cards. Other times when unsuccessful, your "Change-Up" may ultimately be exposed. I used to try to avoid this situation at all costs, as I found this to be embarrassing, and did not want to be viewed as an idiot. As I have gained a bit more confidence in my game, I actually take much less offense to being Criticized at the Table when one of these "failures" is exposed. Obviously it was not the intended outcome, but at least I take some satisfaction in knowing that they noticed, and perhaps the next time, my cards will be different and a better outcome will be achieved.

Also, even if you are playing against unfamiliar opponents, each action you make tends to generate a certain general perception from your opponents, so even this can be very valuable and work to your advantage within a game.

I guess my current thinking is that Adding Balance To Your Game Can Be A Big Positive, but the Trick is Deploying it in Moderation both in Terms of Frequency and Variability and Having A Purpose In Mind, When You elect To Do It! This is coming from a recreational player that is still stuck on Page 7 of my Poker Bible, "Poker For Dummies", but give me some time to work through the content, as I just bought it approximately 15 years ago, lol!

Anyway, please give me some feedback where my thoughts may be off base!

Great Seeing You Back At The Tables and In The Forum, Mark!

Teddy
 
IADaveMark

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In game theory, it's called "mixed strategy". A simple but effective example is, if you were playing rock-paper-scissors, and someone played rock every time, what would you do?
 
Tigroslav

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Against strong opposition its important.
Against your run of the mill fishdonks it's overrated.
 
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77ecos

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balance is essential and very important to be aware of the movements of others, our way of playing is the main thing but always be aware of what is happening around us so that our balance is at the moment and not just by strategy:jd4::jd4::jd4::jd4:
 
Luvepoker

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This is kind of a continuation from a facebook discussion. Do you think balance is important in a poker game? Personally, I feel it is very important to have a balanced range (depending on stack size and position) when you are taking any action at the poker table. If you are balanced then you are going to make it hard on your opponents to figure you out. The is with opening ranges, continuing ranges, bluffing ranges and every other decision point. Some people think that being balanced is overrated. So, I bring it to the the people to decide. Is being balanced important or overrated?


Is being balance important or overrated? I love this question. It is very important. People will use any excuse they can to not work on this part of there game and its a mistake. While you may not need to be perfectly balanced especially at lower stakes being balance is an important value to our game.
 
Ketienne

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I always pay a lot of attention to balance and the resulting image that reflects the way I play.

It may be unconventional but I personally sometimes even produce a fishy or loose image to get my premium hands called when it matters. The important thing is to find the right balance and not overdo it.


Always playing only the best hands and folding everything bad makes you much too transparent in my opinion.
 
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dregan

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Always playing only the best hands and folding everything bad makes you much too transparent in my opinion.


You can create an image if you play at the same cash table for a long time. And then it does not work for a long time, since the truth will soon become clear. I, too, at the beginning of my poker career thought the same way as you, but then I came to other considerations. Since there are often transfers of players in tournaments and freerolls, this does not always work. Sometimes this leads to the loss of a significant part of the stack and this is also bad. Therefore, I have no illusions about imposing an image and purposefully use only a good card. In the end, this is more justified than trying to impose a different image on the enemy.
 
ObbleeXY

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I think it depends on the game you are playing and the types of opponents you are up against. Generally, you have to mix it up a bit or your play becom,es predictable and simple adjustments by your opponents will degrade your earning potential.

It also depends on what point in the game you are. Early on in a large freeroll for example, you need to play very tight and put bluffs back in the toolbox as you cannot bluff a call station...and these tourneys are FULL of call stations/any two cards/any ace type hands.

But even these types of tourneys will have a different profile in early, mid, bubble/late game.

The big thing here is that you don't just follow a set formula but you adjust according to the game you're playing and the table you're on. I ALWAYS keep notes on what people are playing from where, what the SPR is, and leverage HUD stats such as VPIP, PFR, 3B, CB, FCB. I'll be more likely to widen my range a bit when opening a pot from later positions, particularly with only Nits left to act (e.g. <20 VPIP).

But it will also depend on how many hands I've been playing. If I've played a lot of hands, then dropping a marginal hand in there is more likely to get called. However, If I've folded 10 hands in a row and folks think I'm TAG or Nit, it's an ideal time to open up with a wider range.

I don't really like multi-way pots and will avoid them if possible, but with a large effective stack size, suited connectors (or even one/two gappers) may be worth a punt from time to time. When the effective stack size is small, there is no point playing a wider range. Straights and flushes often need to be chased. You only want to do this when you can get paid off for the monsters you manage to catch. If effective stack is small, you get all of the risk for little reward.

I also like to adjust based on what my table image is. Some days, I'll be tighter than a drum...and discover people folding whenever I get involved. The answer? Play more hands, widen range, add in some bluffs. If you're never getting caught out when you bluff, you're probably not bluffing enough.

Other days, I'll establish a LAG reputation at the table, then tighten up and then play strong starting hands very aggressively.

If I've been tight-tight-tight, not getting called, I'll throw a couple marginals in and then show when everyone folds.

Basically show a crap hand if you're really only playing strong starting hands...or show a strong hand when playing wide.

I only show if I think that maybe my reputation/table image is not how I want to come across, given my tactics for that game and stage.

So all in all, balance to me, means that I need to adjust my play in order to control table image and behaviours and increase EV. It necessarily needs to take opponent behaviour into account, exploiting opponent weaknesses.

Cheers,
JT
 
Rahatis

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Best poker compliment is half the table to say that you are a bluffer and the other half that you are a nit.
 
dreamer13

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The player tries to arbitrarily balance his game without asking himself why he needs it, and whether he has an incentive to do so.He is quite happy with using-EV lanes if it makes him feel more secure in terms of his overall strategy.We can call it balance for its own sake.No strong player has ever cared about balance unless he had an incentive to do so to increase his expected value. The poker elite live by the golden rule of poker-play every hand with the highest possible EV.
 
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Joselmb31

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Balance is essential in poker, but not to pay more in situations that are not correct or bet when the situation is not for the best.
 
TeUnit

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I think the trick is finding balance between exploitative play and GTO. Say for example everyone folds to you in the SB and the correct GTO play may be to raise to 3x, but you have reads on the villan that they fold their BB more than they should under this exact scenario- and the best play may not the GTO play, but the exploitative min raise play.



 
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BetterThanAvgButNotByMuch

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What does "balance" mean??? If it means playing questionable hands to keep your opponent guessing then that depends on who you're playing.

But you don't need that against the majority of folks playing poker that include a majority of rec players. Nope, that's not needed in the poker skill set box for those players.
 
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IADaveMark

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Sure it is specially on bubble time
Not sure I agree with this. But it depends on what you mean by balance. As you approach the money, you are going to want to play more rigid and less likely to play out of the ordinary in order to widen the perception of your range.
 
Igor G

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Balance is always very important. Balance is important not only in poker, but also in our daily lives. If life is not balanced, it gradually turns into chaos. In the same way, our game must be balanced, because otherwise it will become chaotic.
 
sulzerrt

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I'm fascinated by the number of people in this thread who don't know the term "balanced" in poker. This is not about living a zen life, folks. It's about playing a mixed strategy.


What kind of "balance" we are talking about???

As I understood, if we play in some typical spots in the same way over and over, it means that everyone know what we represent, correct? And the point is, to play same spots in different ways? Ok, maybe there is some logic, but we are not playing with same people everyday, so what is point to play balanced?
Your action also is depends on your opponent action, so game already balanced without our intention, my opinion. Who else can add something, maybe I`m totally wrong.
 
IADaveMark

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What kind of "balance" we are talking about???
As I mentioned above in a comment, a "mixed strategy" is so that you don't become predictable. If you were playing rock-paper-scissors, and the other person was always throwing rock, the game would get pretty easy, no? You just always play paper and you are good.

Same in poker. If every time situation X comes up, you are doing Y, then people can reverse that. "Oh... he's doing Y. He must have X."

However, if over time sometimes you do Z in situation X. Or better—sometimes you do Y in situation A, now they aren't as sure. In the former, "Well he can't be in situation X because he didn't do Y" or, in the latter, "Hmm... he did Y... does that mean he has X or A?"

Obvious poker example:

If every time you flopped a monster hand (top set, straight, flush, etc.) you slow-played it and checked, when it goes to showdown, they now see this. People tuck it away that you slow-play monster hands. However, let's say a while later you flop top set and do not check it but bet 3/4 pot instead. Well, they may now dismiss the idea of you flopping a monster hand because you are not slow-playing it. i.e. "Did he flop top set here? Nah... if he did, he wouldn't have bet. He always slow-plays it."

Mixed strategy to keep them guessing FTW.

Similarly, having a "balanced range" even for what cards you are playing is important. If you only played a certain tight range of hands, simply by being in the pot starts narrowing down what people think you have. The other side of that is playing any 2 cards like some players do. Someplace in the middle is "balanced". Sure, mostly play your normal range, but mix in some different ones from time to time. Also, sometimes do not raise your monsters like AA, KK, AK, QQ, etc. call with them, limp with them, etc.

Again, mixed strategy to keep them guessing FTW.
 
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