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article on the call 15/call 20 rule

    • helemaalnicks
      Joined: 21.09.2007 Posts: 7,195
      How to limp in for setvalue?

      Pokerstrategy has some great articles for us to read, and starting hand charts which we can use. Some articles are for beginners, some are for advanced players, but all of them are strategy articles. They give us a way to play, and we are supposed to play according to the SHC, and learn more about the game by playing this way, and experiencing where it brings us.

      One of these static "rules" is the call 15 rule, recently changed into the call 20 rule. But this is a typical example of a play you shouldn't make a static rule about. If you hit a set on the flop, the potsize at showdown or when you take it is often determined by a couple of things, which aren't taken fully in account by the pokerstrategy articles. These things are:

      1.Which position is our hero in?
      2.Which pocketpair our hero holding?
      3.What does the flop look like?
      4.How good is the postflop play of our hero?
      5.How good is the postflop play of the other players at the table?
      6.How good are the hands of the other players at the table?

      1. Position

      Position is very important for limping for setvalue, since it's often easier to fill a pot when you are last to act, then it would be when you are not. How can we adjust our play to this?

      In a cashgame, we can limp any pocketpairs from any position. We are very deepstacked, so we can call a raise of 5xbb, since we have enough odds to call. However, if your effective stacksize is lower then 100bb, or if a lot of short stacked players and avg. stacked players are at our table, we should be compelled to fold the low pairs. We simply don't get odds to call if someone raises behind us, and if we fold now, we know that we aren't giving money away. So folding 22-77 from early position can be quite good play, if the circumstances are right for it.

      For playing shortstacked, my advice would be to play medium pocketpairs strong, and fold low pocketpairs, because you mostly don't get the right odds to call. Don't look at just your stacksize, look at the pot odds. They are often not good enough to call with any hand.

      In a s&g, we can't rebuy, and our money is at the end of a long road. We don't want to spend our chips wrong, so we don't limp 22-77 from ep. It's simply not worth it. You don't want to see a raise behind you, ev0 play is -ev$ play, and we can wait for a better spot. Thereby, if a tight player limps ep, I can almost smell his pocketpair, and won't be stacked easily if he completes his set.

      We also fold 22-77 if someone raises in front of you. The danger of calling is in 2 things.
      1. He might have AA-JJ, and might also hit his set (set over set happens 1% of the time) and we will have to go broke on our second best hand.
      2. He might have Ak-Aj/Kq, and we can't stack him if he misses the flop completely.

      Those are such important factors, that I would advice you to use a call50(!) rule for 22-77.

      2. Which pocketpairs do we play?

      The other pocketpairs only hit on higher flops, and have some playability on rag flops, so with solid postflopplay, we can play them after one raise. Don't commit 10% of your stack+pot with them though. With TT, I would commit 7% max. We can't only look at our stack when deciding whether or not we should call. We also have to look at the money that is already in the pot. We count our stack as it was before the flop began, and are more compelled to call in multiway pots. Hence we look at the potsize first, and then see how much money on avg. we could get in the pot if we would hit our set.

      As said, the higher pocketpairs are often playable in an aggressive manner if you play sss, hence different rules apply there.

      In a cashgame, I wouldn't exceed the call20 rule with 22-99, and even fold 22-77 sometimes from early position in a call100 situation, but you can play TT-QQ with more liberty. Don't overplay tens or jacks though. Call11 is the ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM. This is the rule you use in late position, a big pot (so a small stack relative to the pot, and 3-4 opponents). If the circumstances aren't that good (and they hardly ever are), you have to be able to fold. From early position, I would only call tens and jacks in a call 15 rule, since hitting a jack or 10 is not always good enough, and even if you do have the best hand, it's always harder to get your money in from EP.

      3. The flop.

      The texture on the flop is an important factor that determines how much money we get into the pot. We don't want them too dry, and we also don't like them too scary. Low pocketpairs often bring us dry flops, while pairs like TT or 55 often bring us drawy boards. We can't put a preflop aggressor on a drawing hand or high pair, hence we can never determine whether they have hit either a made hand or ace high on a dry flop, or an overset, underpair, or Top pair on a scary flop. This is the only reason why we don't use a call11 rule, and no call15 rule anymore. If you are a cheater, and see someone has aces, you use the call11 rule, since your postflopgame is not as difficult as it normally is.

      4.5. How good is your, and how good is their postflop play?

      Be critical with yourself. If you own pokertracker, check your statistics to see how much you win with a set on avg. Otherwise, you have to make an estimation. Don't be to liberal. Call15 is normally too liberal already. In multiwaypots, on tables with way too much action, we can use call15 for almost any pocketpair. However, we mostly don't get more liberal then call20. Most people think they are better then the rest, which makes them call for setvalue with more liberty. However, human beings more often overestimate then underestimate their own skills. Go for safety, and remember that you don't HAVE to play deuces for setvalue. It's often better to fold them then to hold them.

      6. How good are your opponents' hands?

      We want to see aces, or kings, since they aren't folded as easily as AJ on a missed flop. Hence we don't call for setvalue while playing sss. When we do that, we often win the pot, and don't get any more money in after the flop, which makes our limp a mistake. We want to be able to bet on all streets, and we call a bit more liberally if our opponent showed strength, since it will often be harder for him to fold his hand. In a s&g, when the blinds are 50/100, you don't call with ANY hand. For 50, you only call on very passive tables, higher pairs (55-88, the rest you raise), and in later position.

      Conclusion: Blend it in.

      You can't make a calculation every time you get a pocketpair. Make an estimation. Learn from your mistakes, and see whether you made enough money on a hit, and remember your wins and losses. This way, you will at some point see/feel the difference between a call in EP and a call in late position, and you'll see the difference between the different pocketpairs. Let me know whether this was a help.

      I'd like to see statistics and individual hands of different players in the limp for setvalue category of hands. Reactions please. :D
  • 6 replies
    • Kaitz20
      Joined: 02.02.2007 Posts: 27,343
      How I can filter pokertracker, that he would show me, how much I´ve won with sets.
      If I only see my pairs, then even poketpairs JJ and TT results are negative:D , regarding 55, 44, 33, 22.
      Here are my NL 25 SSS, BSS fullring and BSS SH pairs results (total hand 35951):
      JJ -0,39 BB
      TT -0,47 BB
      99 +0,34 BB
      88 +0,65 BB
      77 +0,26 BB
      66 +0,22 BB
      55 -0,19 BB
      44 -0,43 BB
      33 -0,03 BB
      22 -0,62 BB

      So my sets aren´t working so efficiently and quite often are outdrawed.

      Had also one interesting hand today what came:

      Known players: (for a description of vp$ip, pfr, ats, folded bb, af, wts, wsd or hands click here)       

      0,10/0,25 No-Limit Hold'em (9 handed)
      Hand recorder used for this poker hand: Texas Grabem 1.9 by

      Preflop: Hero is BB with J:heart: , J:diamond:
      5 folds, CO raises to $1,00, BU folds, SB raises to $3,00, Hero folds, CO calls $2,00.

      Flop: ($6,25) 4:spade: , J:club: , 9:heart: (2 players)
      SB bets $4, CO raises to $16,00, SB folds.

      Final Pot: $26,25

      Thought about calling the 3$ re-raise. If I hit my set I would probably stack on of these players, only price is quite high and can´t be sure that CO isn´t 4-betting. The other thing that I could win with jacks, anyway fold on that spot seemed right.

      I think that you sometimes could win with 22 and you call also the flop bet, if you believe that turn didn´t hit him or making check/raise without a pair. Since I play cash games, theory of S&G is a little different.
    • helemaalnicks
      Joined: 21.09.2007 Posts: 7,195
      but a call would've been wrong in this spot (according to my theory), because you can't go more liberal then call11. The negative stats might tell you to be somewhat less liberal, and fold more often, especially these low ones...

      The negative stats on JJ and TT are probably caused by some overplayed overpairs, but i'm just guessing here...
    • Yoghi
      Joined: 10.09.2007 Posts: 14,387 to see how many sets you got and how much profit with them and so on :)
    • helemaalnicks
      Joined: 21.09.2007 Posts: 7,195
      Found an example of a well played medium pair. I got lucky, but everyone gets that sometimes.

      PokerStars Game Tournament, $15+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20) -

      BU (1500 in chips)
      SB (1500 in chips)
      BB (1500 in chips)
      UTG+1 (1500 in chips)
      UTG+2 (1500 in chips)
      HERO(MP1) (1500 in chips)
      MP2 (1500 in chips)
      MP3 (1500 in chips)
      CO (1500 in chips)

      *** HOLE CARDS ***
      Dealt to HERO [8 8]
      2 folds
      HERO: calls 20, medium pair, cheap call, and middle position are good circumstances
      MP2: calls 20
      MP3: calls 20
      CO: calls 20
      BU: folds
      SB: calls 10
      BB: checks
      *** FLOP *** [J 5 8]
      SB: bets 80
      BB: folds
      HERO: raises 220 to 300, it's a good flop, since I hit my set, but I want to protect against a flushdraw.
      MP3: calls 300
      3 folds
      *** TURN *** [J 5 8] [5]
      HERO: bets 540, great news for me, I hit a boat! No reason to represent the boat by checking though. If I do that, it'll be suspicious and I win small if the flush doesn't hit. I would've made the same bet without the boat! There, I give him the implied odds, and deny him the pot odds, and I play as if I do that here. A set I would fold on the flushcard, this one I check/raise.
      MP3: calls 540
      *** RIVER *** [J 5 8 5] [7]
      HERO: checks
      MP3: bets 280
      HERO: raises 360 to 640 and is all-in, seems weird to do this, but he commits himself by betting (i knew he would bet), and he can't fold, since it could be just frustration why i checkraise.
      MP3: calls 360 and is all-in
      *** SHOW DOWN ***
      HERO: shows [8 8] (a full house, Eights full of Fives)
      MP3: shows [K Q] (a flush, King high)
      HERO collected 3160 from pot
    • SonicXT
      Joined: 15.06.2007 Posts: 4,736
      I agree with helemaal nicks, there's no static rule whether or not to call pocket pairs preflop. It's just there to avoid having the unexperienced players having to take too many details into account while their basic play is the thing they oughta be working on.

      Too make a good judgement about whether to call or not, you need to take a whole lot of things into account :
      - Table size, position, your image, implied odds at the table, bluff probabilities, showdown value unimproved at what boards, ...
      It's just too much for a beginner to cope with.

      Personally, I prefer to play my pockets rather loose and I tend to go a long way with them, not adhering to any callX rules per se. I think I do well with them, but there's still room for improvement as always :
      JJ -0.51 (VPIP 96)
      TT +0.08 (VPIP 95)
      99 +1.46 (VPIP 88)
      88 +0.11 (VPIP 85)
      77 +0.34 (VPIP 81)
      66 +0.09 (VPIP 83)
      55 -0.53 (VPIP 80)
      44 +0.80 (VPIP 74)
      33 +0.50 (VPIP 67)
      22 -0.11 (VPIP 63)
      Total 22-JJ : +0.23 BB/h
      I guess that figure could still go up, but I like to see the flop with them, you're rarely behind PF, just gotta feel when you are.
    • Gungunhana
      Joined: 26.02.2007 Posts: 429
      Nice post.

      I´ve been playing accordingly to SHC/call15/call20, but lately I´ve also made an adjustment . I don´t play 77-22 from EP. It is really difficult to play profitably from these positions, as you are OOP making it difficult to get payed enough when you hit the set, to compensate for the times you lose.
      My pp results, for 76+k hands are: