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Advanced gameplanning outside the tables, NL 30

    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      Hello community,

      I've been here for some time, but not very active.
      I am a student from Slovakia, living in Brno and playing poker for my financial independence :)

      Currently I play at Ongame NL 30 SH and I plan to move up as soon as I will be confident enough with my game.
      I am a winning player at this limit but to move up I need to understand the game a little more, otherwise I would be break even at best. Will take shots at higher limits as soon as I finish my article which will be presented in this blog. This blog is therefore going to be about game plan developed outside the tables and about applying it to play.

      I also hope to help some starting players with this article that have problems with basic concepts and get confused during their play or get into situation in which they don't know what to do or not think enough about situations. Although sometimes they have (as I had) poker education necessary for those situations, they cannot (as I couldn't) apply it to their game.

      Here is my graph for this month. Not enough volume due to only 4 tabling and studying more than playing.

  • 14 replies
    • BigOVERBET
      Joined: 23.11.2010 Posts: 433
      Gl with your goals!
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      I started this article yesterday and it's main reason is to help me play better, but as it could help also other players at low limits I found it will be useful to share it. This way even more people can make it worthy reading by commenting on it.

      * This article is in testing condition and therefore is not completed and will be modified upon my next play and study as well as your suggestions. I will not complete this article in one post as it would be too long. It will consist of many parts which can (and probably will) be modified during the process of writing it.

      Here is the basic structure of how will the article look like:

      Advanced game planning outside the tables, from preflop to river

      This article is based upon playing micro stakes and can be applied up to small stakes, where there are a lot of fishes and regs are not very good and attentive overall. Money on this limit comes mostly from fishes, even if you’re able to exploit the regs weaknesses.

      Many times during the play, I make a move I completely don’t understand or I don’t know if it is the most +EV. I don’t think too much about the hand, about the opponent, about the situation, about the stacks and so on. I have some background knowledge of poker theory to know if the move is +EV or – EV, but sadly, that is not enough to bring to poker tables. Therefore, I figured that if I am can’t evaluate a hand while it is being played; I need to have some game plan for the hand even before it is played. The goal of this article is therefore to carefully analyze different scenarios I can get into during a session. By doing this, I will be able to better understand and reasons behind the actions. Besides that, I also hope that it will improve my game by recognizing situations in which I will find myself in. By recognizing situations, I hope I will be able to choose the most +EV line instead of blindly pushing buttons and hoping for the best.

      Every situation in which you find yourself during a play is unique. Therefore, to be able to play the most +EV, you have to adapt to every situation. ABC players can make a profit on micro stakes and can also move up to certain limit, where they grind and stop to evolve. At this point, they aren’t able to move up until they change their game, as they are grinding and not playing poker. To be able to move up and play poker, you need to play ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVXYZ style. This article will help you to play that style and will explain, why is A-Z style better than playing ABC style. ABC player knows what to do in most situations, but when he gets into new situation, that is not standard, he gets confused and doesn’t know what to do. In conclusion, he turns into a nit or a spew monkey and chooses the less +EV situation or –EV situation. This is due to his lack of postflop skills, hand reading skills and not paying attention to opponent’s lines. (There may be more, feel free to add your thoughts.) Whereas if you play A-Z style you not only know which line is the most +EV, but you will be able to tell why it is more +EV than other action. Your choice of actions is based on many more factors than multi tabling reg doesn’t even take into consideration. You are a thinking player and not a grinding player. That is the reason you should play 2-6 tables according to how well you are able to follow the game, at micro stakes it means mostly your opponents and their lines. Later on higher limits with better opponents things as image and metagame will come into play. The reason why metagame and image is not so important at low limits is because player like to play their own cards and don’t play their opponents.
      As I wrote earlier, the reason why playing poker is difficult is that every situation is unique. Every situation being unique doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare for the situation, it only means, that you can’t fully prepare outside the table to be able to play the most +EV in every situation. But luckily, even if every situation is unique, there are many situations that are very similar. They can be categorized in groups based on many factors you take into consideration, to be able to choose the most +EV action.

      Factors coming into consideration are:
      I. Your hand (strong, medium, weak, junk)
      Strong hand is a hand you want to go all in with.
      Medium hand is a hand you want to get value with.
      Weak hand is a hand you want to get to showdown cheaply or turn it into a bluff.
      Junk hand is worthless hand that has no chance of winning other than by bluffing.

      II. Your position (absolute and relative)
      III. Action in front of you and behind you (limp, raise, reraise, minraise, oAI…)
      IV. Your opponent(s) (fish, nit, reg, station, aggro donk…)
      V. Stack sizes (short, medium, full, deep)
      VI. Image and metagame (on low limits only seldom)
      VII. The board (not preflop)

      These factors together construct a unique situations and these factors are responsible for situations being similar, as factors constructing situation are similar or the same.

      Different scenarios preflop:
      1. Open raising
      2. Isolating a limper
      3. Calling a raise
      4. Checking behind in limped pot in BB
      5. Completing in SB
      6. Isolating raising fish by 3 betting
      7. Value 3 betting
      8. Bluff 3 betting (including squeeze 3 betting)
      9. Calling a 3 bet
      10. Fold to 3bet
      11. Value 4 betting
      12. Bluff 4 betting
      13. Fold to 4 bet
      14. Value 5 betting
      15. Bluff 5 betting
      16. Fold to 5 bet
      17. Calling a 3/4/5 bet AI

      edit 1: I plan to finish the preflop part today, which will be the PART 2 of this article. The PART 3 will be Flop, then PART 4 Turn and PART 5 River. Other possible parts will be about concepts like hand reading, constructing and applying ranges for your opponents and value betting thinly.

      edit 2: Although I know that there is many study material, that is better than this blog will ever be, as I am not skilled poker player, I find that this is the only way that I will improve my game by putting it all together in organized fashion.
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      Before I continue to writhe the article, I wanted to present you the hand that made me think deeper about my play as I realized that I didn't have the proper game plan for the hand from preflop to river.

      No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

      saw flop | saw showdown

      MP ($48.98) 73/29/17 60 hands
      Hero (CO) ($30)
      Button ($67.40)
      SB ($36.76)
      BB ($15) 72/26/4 160 hands
      UTG ($29.10)

      Preflop: Hero is CO with T, Q
      1 fold, MP calls $0.30, Hero bets $1.35, 2 folds, BB calls $1.05, MP calls $1.05

      Flop: ($4.20) Q, 5, 3 (3 players)
      BB checks, MP checks, Hero bets $3.15, BB calls $3.15, MP calls $3.15

      Turn: ($13.65) 9 (3 players)
      BB checks, MP bets $3.30, Hero raises $7, 1 fold, MP calls $3.70

      River: ($27.65) 2 (2 players)
      MP checks, Hero checks

      Total pot: $27.65

      MP had 9, J (one pair, nines).
      Hero had T, Q (one pair, Queens).
      Outcome: Hero won $26.27

      So what happened in this hand?
      I raise QTo to isolate the fish because it is a good hand to isolate.
      Another fish calls and I am 3way with 2 fishes.
      I hit a top pair on a drawy board and decide to c-bet to get value.
      Both players call so they perhaps hit a piece of the board.
      On the turn a player small donks into me with 7/9 bet OOP and I min raise him because I would make a cbet of that size.
      He calls and the other player folds.
      The river comes 2 which completes some draws and villain checks and I am happy to take free showdown as I don't see value in betting.
      I am happy that I won and go to next hand.

      And now, what should happen in this hand?
      A fish in front of me with high VPIP and high PFR decides to limp, which means that he has a weak hand with which he wants to see a flop, because he likes to see a flop and hitting a part of it.
      I decide to isolate him with QTo, a hand that is fairly ahead of his limping range.
      Another player calls but that doesn't concern me much, as I am ahead with my hand against their calling ranges and I have position.
      The flop comes very nice for me, giving me top pair with good kicker and giving my opponents some draws which I can get value from. Now I look at their stacks and I choose appropriate bet sizing to get AI by river if the conditions are right. Therefore I cbet as I expect to get called with many worse hands and I expect at least one of them to call.
      The turn comes pretty good card for me as it brings another draws which I beat. The player in front of me decides to bet 1/4 of the pot. The 33 and 55 are still possible but less likely as he should bet bigger with them - but that is not certain. The only hand that beats me and I had beat is Q9 and that is not as big concern as it looks. The bet size tells me he has a weak hand most of the times, like all kinds of draws and middle pair he wants to get to river cheaply. The worst thing I can do now is to fold and second worst to call and give a good price to the other player. All in all, my hand is too good not to play for stacks at this moment - against his range almost as strong as AQ or KK, which I would definitely want to get AI by river. The question is raise size. If I make it minraise, I give him very good price to catch his draws as well as the other player. If I put the other player AI and raise to 10.5 and he calls and then the other player calls, the pot will be 45$ and I would have to call any card if he decides to bet river all in. Therefore the best way to continue this hand is to raise all in his turn bet and wait to get called by many draws and get fold by many weak hands which give up their equity. Sometimes I get called by hand like QJ or Q9 or 35 but that is poker. I play against ranges and not hands :)
      End of a well played hand, next hand incoming.

      Conclusion: This hand shows how I had poor game plan for the hand. I didn't read well into villains limp/callling coldcalling ranges, I din't read their ranges on flop well, I didn't have good stack management and I didn't value bet thin enough and I let them draw cheaply. I need to be better prepared for the next time with a better game plan on which I am working right now :)
    • inlovewithamsterdam
      Joined: 08.07.2009 Posts: 671
      great idea with the article. will follow.
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      What is game planning and why is it important?
      In order for you to play the most +EV it is always necessary to have a good game plan. A good game plan consists of actions that bring you the most profit out of a certain situation. Your actions must be based on good and valid reasons. You must as well know why your chosen action is better (more +EV) than another, which you didn’t choose. You must as well know why you didn’t choose it and why is it less + EV or even –EV.

      Every situation has many options you can choose from. First, you have to see all the options and second you have to understand them. Only when you see the options and try to understand them, you will know why one option is better than another and why is it more +EV to choose it. Even if you used to choose a +EV option, you maybe never thought about other options and there may be times, when other option is even more +EV.

      When you have a good game plan, you are prepared from preflop to river. Otherwise, you only play street by street, which is not a good thing, because you will be prone to make more mistakes that way. You want a game plan to eliminate as many mistakes as possible from your play and get the most out of your hand.
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      I figured that if I want to write detailed analysis of every preflop scenario, I have to divide PART I. into a lot of sub sections. This way, part I. will be longer, as well as next parts, but also better because of detailed explanation. It will also take more time to write and read, but hopefully will bring better understanding.

      Preflop is the easiest street in NL Holdem and can be learned pretty well in few days/weeks. Preflop is the street where players make the cheapest mistakes and therefore the smallest mistakes. If you only make small mistakes preflop but play well postflop you will be better player than a player who doesn’t make mistakes preflop, but makes big mistakes postflop. Nevertheless, preflop is very important street because it is preflop where you initialize your game plan and it is preflop where you set up your victim for value bets coming next streets and possibly a river shove. And if you don’t have a proper game plan already preflop, you will seldom play your hand profitably on next streets. If you want to play poker, you can’t play your hand preflop only to see what happens later and then decide what to do. You play your hand preflop because you know what to do with it on later streets if they come and are prepared to face any actions, opponents and boards, because you know how to act accordingly. Your game plan from outside the table is your edge against your competition behind the table.

      I advice you to watch all three theory videos by mbml concerning preflop play if you haven’t done so or if you haven’t mastered the theory behind preflop play. Among others, you will find there useful information about ranges.
      Here is the link to first one:

      1. Open raising
      Open raising is your basic move. You have a playable hand and raise with it. You choose your hands depending on your hand strength, on your position and on players behind you. You can find some hand charts and stats for each position. In EP you have for example 16/16 in MP 19/17 in CO 28/24 in BU 35/30, in SB 15/12 in BB 18/14.

      The more aggressive or loose players behind you in positions are, the tighter you want to play, because you don’t want to get 3 bet or you don’t want to play weak hand out of position against calling station or floating regular. However if you have loose and weak players in the blinds, you can loosen your open raising range with speculative hands that play well postflop and multiway, like suited connectors, suited aces, broadways. The reason, why open raising is better than open limping is, that you take initiative before the flop and you signalize to your opponent that you have a strong hand. So even if your opponent calls you with stronger hand than yours, you can win the pot postflop unimproved against his better hand by continuation betting thanks to initiative. With raising you also get more value than with limping, in case you have strong hand, because you get more money in preflop and have better Stack to pot ratio(amount of money in your stack compared to amount of money in the pot) than when limping.

      Your goals based on your hand strength when open raising are basically three – value (strong hands), semi-bluff (medium), bluff (weak).

      Your goals based on your position are two – you want to play as many pots in position as possible and the least out of position as possible.

      Your goals based on your opponents are two – you want to play as many hands with fish as possible and very small amount of hands against good opponents.

      These three factors combined should guide you when you decide if you should open raise your hand or not. These three factors are responsible for the difference in your preflop stats – notice how in BU you can play double amount of hands compared to EP and still win a lot more in BU than in EP.

      Conclusion: You can have standard open raising range for each position and deviate from it according to position of your opponents behind the table.

      Examples: If you have position on fishes in the blinds and you are in the MP, you can loosen your range as if you were CO. If you are in the CO and in the BU is loose aggressive opponent who 3 bets and calls and floats often, you can tighten your range as if in MP. If the blinds are also tight and 3 bet a lot preflop, you can tighten your range even more, as if in EP. If the blinds are tight players and don’t play back often, you can open raise any two cards in the button to win the pot preflop. If the blinds are loose and passive fishes, who play fit or fold, you can open all suited cards from BU plus your ordinary open raising range.
      Example hands on open raising:
      1. Here I raise with weak hand that I will fold to 3 bet, but will steal the pot often to make it profitable.
      No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (5 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

      saw flop | saw showdown

      MP ($35.88)
      Hero (Button) ($30)
      SB ($29.25) 22/17/6 fold to steal 77
      BB ($39.40) 15/12/1,5 fold to steal 92
      UTG ($32.59)

      Preflop: Hero is Button with 5, 4
      2 folds, Hero bets $0.90, 2 folds

      Total pot: $0.75

      Hero had 5, 4.
      Outcome: Hero won $1.35

      2. Here I raise more because there is a fish that doesn't have a full stack in SB
      Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (3 handed) - Party-Poker Converter Tool from

      saw flop | saw showdown

      SB ($12.07)
      BB ($29.70)
      Hero (Button) ($33.06)

      Preflop: Hero is Button with Q, A
      Hero bets $1.05, 2 folds

      Total pot: $0.75

      Hero had Q, A.
      Outcome: Hero won $1.50

      3. Here I raise to 4BB - otherwise I raise 3, 5, because fish is in CO and BB and they like to see flops.
      No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

      saw flop | saw showdown

      Button ($36.25)
      SB ($12)
      BB ($23.78)
      Hero (UTG) ($34.02)
      MP ($36.81)
      CO ($19.73)

      Preflop: Hero is UTG with A, Q
      Hero bets $1.20, 5 folds

      Total pot: $0.75

      Hero had A, Q.
      Outcome: Hero won $1.65
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      I forgot to mention bet sizing, so here it is.
      Bet sizing when open raising
      You want to raise more when OOP and less when IP. With bigger raise size OOP you decrease your positional disadvantage by forcing him to pay more to see the flop. The other reason is, the later the position, the looser your range is and the more you have to give up if you are faced with a 3 bet. So it is cheaper for you to fold your hand. So in EP you can raise to 4 BB, in BU 3BB and in between 3,5 BB. You can vary your bet size depending also on table. If there are tight players, you can raise to smaller amount and if there are fishes you have position on, you can raise more. That means, that you can even go as low as 2,5BB against TAGs and as high as 5-6 open raise against fish who will call anyway. You of course do it depending on your hand as fish like to see the flop for all kinds of prices.
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      2. Isolating a limper
      This is your favourite move. You see a weak player limping in front of you and decide to isolate him, because you see easy money on the table. You have a position on a weaker player and you want to play a pot against him (possibly heads up – therefore isolating him for yourself and not sharing him with other players what would happen if you only limped) as he has a weak hand and is weak overall. This is often true, but you have to pay attention to certain factors. Position of the fish, your position, players behind you, your cards, stack sizes and mostly what kind of weak player limped.

      Stats to look at before isolating
      VPIP – the higher VPIP is, the better it is to isolate the player by raising
      PFR – The higher PFR of a limper is, the better for you, as he would raise his strong hands
      WTSD – This stat will tell you if he likes his hand so much, he takes it to showdown often or gives it up easily once he miss the flop 30 and higher is high WTSD
      limp/call or limp/fold and limp/raise – this will tell you how often villain calls when he limps. Some players only call 40% of their limps but some call close to 100% of their limps. The more they call, the better your hand should be. If villain often limp/reraises and almost never limp/calls and limp/folds, you shouldn’t isolate him without knowing what his range is and rather limp behind if table allows it.
      fold to c bet – this will tell you if he plays fit or fold postflop. If villain folds to cbet 55% or more, he is a good victim to isolate and win the pot by cbetting if called. If other factors wouldn’t come to play, you would show profit by isolating him with any two cards. But why you shouldn’t isolate with any two cards should be clear to you by reading the rest of this article.
      samplesize – for VPIP PFR 50-100 hands can give you pretty good picture about players tendencies, but you need more for WTSD – at least 500 hands, which you often won’t have – but you can always watch villain play and see what hands he shows at showdown and go from there

      Types of limping players
      There are a few weak Tag regular players that limp first in with weak pocket pair (22-66) and call a raise OOP hoping to hit a set. Other than that, most limping players are weak players, possibly fish who are more or less fit or fold and are loose and passive. Loose means that they play many weak hands preflop hoping to hit a piece of the board postflop. Fit or fold means that if they don’t hit anything, they tend to fold. And passive means that they don’t like raising or betting, but they call instead. These weak players are not positionally aware, meaning that they play the same amount of hands in EP as in CO and BB. They don’t understand the significance of position, but they somehow know that BU is the best position, because if they limp, they will see flop often.

      But there are various kinds of these limping and calling players. Typical example is a 40/10/2 (VPIP/PFR/3bet) players. It is a straightforward fish. He open raises his strong hands like 77+, AT+ and limps with other hands that he likes – many suited hands, somehow connected hands, any hand with Ace, connected hands like 8To or 45o. When he 3 bets your raise, he has QQ+ or AK, maybe JJ. He also likes to go to showdown with his weak hands if he calls them on flop. On the flop he may hit his top pair with 78o, but he can’t understand that his hand is weak by the river if Q and K come the board now has 3 cards of the same suit. These players are good to value bet but bad to pure bluff, as they like their hands more than they should.

      But there are a lot more fishes and this was only one example. There are player that like to play even more hands – like 70/20/10. This is somewhat aggressive fish when it comes to his hands preflop. He raises a lot but he limps or cold calls even more. He 3 bets with good hands as well as weak hands. You can isolate this player even more because when he limp he certainly tells you that he has weak hand, because if he had somewhat strong hand, he would raise himself.

      There is then a fish with stats like 30/4/1. This player doesn’t play as many hands as fish above, but he raises even less than them. So when he raises, he has 99+ or AQs+. This means he limps even with strong hands as 88, 77, AJ, AT. Sometimes he even limps AK, but he decides to raise with 33. He can play very fit or fold postflop but he can also call 3 streets with his bottom pair like 55 just because he had a pair preflop. You should proceed with more caution against player like this and choose your hands better not to value town yourself against him with dominated hand like JTo.

      There are then players who like to limp/reraise AA or KK, mostly in EP or MP. If you see someone limp/reraising make not of it and if he shows his cards, write it down. Some players also limp and then raise with 88 and will even call an all in preflop.

      As a rule of thumb, the sooner the player limped and the sooner your position, you isolate less than when you are in BU and limper in CO. The reason is, that if you are in MP and isolate an EP limper, CO and BU have position on you and can call or 3 bet. If players behind you are prone to call, you should adjust your range to hands that play well in multiway pots, like suited connectors, suited aces, pocket pairs. If there is an aggressive 3 bettor behind you, you should tighten up your isolating range or consider 4 bet bluffing him sometimes with hands that have blockers. But this won’t happen too much in low limits, as regular players are not paying attention as they tend to play many tables and don’t like 3 bet bluffing a lot based on action in front of them. They rather 3 bet bluff according to their cards.

      Stack sizes
      Other key factor you have to take into consideration is your stack size and stack size of your opponent. You should have always at least 100 BB, but your opponent can have more or less. If he has only 40 BBs, you should leave out speculative hands and raise more with broadway hands. If you and your opponent are 150 BB deep, you can add more speculative hands like suited connectors, suited aces, all pocket pairs, suited broadways, suited one gappers. Against short but loose opponent you want to hit top pair but against player with which you are deep you want to hit stronger hand than top pair good kicker to get all in happily – trips, two pair, straight, flush, full house.

      Isolation raise size
      When you choose a raise size preflop you already have to think about getting all in by the river (if conditions are right). Therefore, if you isolate a smaller stack (around 50 BBS), you can isolate to 3BB + 1BB for limper. If there are two limpers, you can also use this 3+1 formula as it enables you to get AI by the river safely (without overbetting pot) even if stacks are 100 BB. If there is a player that is limping with very wide range, let’s say the 70/20 player and is also limp/calling 90% of his hands, you can raise to 5, 6, 7 +1 and he will most likely call. If he has 100BB, the standard size is potsize(3,5+1) or 4+1. If he folds to cbet 60% or more, you can raise more even with weaker hands, but if less than 50% of times, then raise to bigger amount with stronger hands (like TT+, AJ+, KQ).

      Isolating OOP
      There will be situations, where you see a weak player limping in front of you, you are in SB or BB, meaning you are OOP to the player and still want to isolate him by raising. Even if there is no other player in the pot, so you could safely check behind and be heads up with the player, it is more +EV to raise preflop. You want to take initiative in the pot and build up the pot so you could get AI by the river if conditions are right without overbetting the pot. You obviously want to raise with hand like AA even from the BB, because you want to get value. But against 70/20 player, you can also profitably raise hands like KTs, QJo, 88, A5s even out of position and play against him as preflop aggressor. By raising preflop, you force him to pay more with his weaker hand and he is willing to give up more easily if he doesn’t improve postflop with his weak hand that is potentially better than yours. The same thing applies here as before – if he folds a lot to cbets, you can loosen your range and if not, tighten. But anyway, the isolation raise preflop OOP is still more profitable than check behind or complete in SB.

      Example hands:
      1. Here I isolate when OOP his weak range, possibly small suited connectors or suited gapers, maybe small suited ace.
      No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

      saw flop | saw showdown

      BB ($67.41)
      UTG ($47.60)
      MP ($27)
      CO ($29.67) 31/15 60 hands
      Button ($29.55)
      Hero (SB) ($29.70)

      Preflop: Hero is SB with T, K
      2 folds, CO calls $0.30, 1 fold, Hero bets $1.35, 2 folds

      2. Here I isolate a weak player with decent hand, but my range here is a lot wider, as he limp/called only 30% of his hands and folded to cbet 80% of the times so far.

      Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (6 handed) - Party-Poker Converter Tool from

      saw flop | saw showdown

      MP ($30.15)
      CO ($28.35)
      Hero (Button) ($29.55)
      SB ($29.70)
      BB ($32.30)
      UTG ($14.72) 50/14 60 hands

      Preflop: Hero is Button with A, 7
      UTG calls $0.30, 2 folds, Hero bets $1.20, 3 folds

      Total pot: $1.05

      Hero had A, 7.
      Outcome: Hero won $1.95

      3. Here I isolate 3+x two fishes with mid stack with high vpip. It is a good hand against them as it is high and connected. Sometimes it is dominated by KJ but more often I dominate their hands with jacks and queens.

      No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

      saw flop | saw showdown

      SB ($60.34)
      BB ($30)
      UTG ($13.80) 50/18
      MP ($16.57) 50/11
      CO ($34.05)
      Hero (Button) ($32.77)

      Preflop: Hero is Button with Q, J
      UTG calls $0.30, MP calls $0.30, 1 fold, Hero bets $1.50, 4 folds

      Total pot: $1.35

      Hero had Q, J.
      Outcome: Hero won $2.55

      So long
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      Another quick update about isolating situations that can be considered as special.

      Isolatin an open completer in BB
      There is yet another case of isolation that is profitable for you. It is when you are sitting in the big blind, everybody folded to the SB and he decides to complete the blind to see the flop. In this case he shows weakness and wants to see the flop for the good price. Your task is to charge him for his foolishness by raising preflop. Often raising to 3+1 is sufficient as you have a position against good player, but when you have a good hand against a player that likes to see the flop, you can make it 5 or even 6+1 and he will call. You can raise any two cards here, but you have to be sure he plays somewhat fit or fold postflop.

      SB ($19.28) 41/11 after 40 hands
      Hero (BB) ($39.49)
      UTG ($40.27)
      MP ($3.90)
      Button ($52.49)

      Preflop: Hero is BB with 6, 9
      3 folds, SB calls $0.15, Hero bets $1.20, 1 fold

      Isolating when there is a poster in the hand
      There is a special case of isolation in low limits, when players decide to post a blind rather than wait for it to come. In this situation even dead money lies on the table waiting to be taken away. Your ranges should be wider now as if you were sitting in one position later. Therefore if you are in BU and the poster checked, you can raise with any two cards if the blinds are not extra loose or aggressive. The extra money is worth the extra risk.

      UTG ($34.47)
      MP ($26.07) a Tagish weak player with 24/19, probably limping with suited ace or low suited connector he doesn't want to play OOP against me
      CO ($26.04)
      Hero (Button) ($30)
      SB ($24.70)
      BB ($29.89)

      Preflop: Hero is Button with K, 2
      1 fold, MP calls $0.30, CO checks, Hero bets $1.50, 4 folds
    • staktas
      Joined: 28.03.2011 Posts: 1,346
      Very nice blog. I'll follow it.
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      3. Calling a raise
      *First I want to warn you, that I am not so sure in this area and I am still developing an understanding of good calling play.

      This is the trickiest play preflop because you give up initiative and you signal to your opponent, that you don’t have a very strong hand with which you would 3 bet most of the time. The reason why you are calling is because you see yourself ahead and want to play the pot either in position or with card or skill advantage when you call OOP. And although your hand is not strong enough now to raise, it can be strong enough postflop to get your stack all in.

      So let’s look again at our favourite factors that influence our play of the hand – our absolute position, our relative position, our hand, player who raised in front of us and his position, other action in front of us, players left to act and also a raise size and stack sizes.

      Hand strength
      Hand strength is the easiest thing to figure out, because you know it as you look at your hand. Then you only need to adjust it according to other factors. Basically, you want to call in position with medium strength hands – a hand that is too weak to 3 bet for value but too strong to fold. If you 3 bet with this hand, you turn this hand into a bluff, meaning you won’t get called by worse and you won’t make your opponent fold better hand. (This may not be true entirely, as you make your opponent fold hands like 22-88) which can be better when you 3 bet with hand like 9Ts. We will talk about 3 betting later. Hands with which you call preflop construct your calling range. Your calling range number can be calculated by subtracting your PFR from your VPIP. Let’s say, that you have 25 VPIP and 21 PFR. Your calling range is therefore range of 4%. In your calling range there will be hands like suited broadways, suited connectors, low to medium pocket pairs and offsuit broadway hands like AJ, KQ, KJ. What is interesting here is, that against some opponents, hand like QQ will be a medium strength hand and should be called, while TT strong hand and should be 3 bet for value, especially in position. It depends on how loose your opponents are and how often they fold to 3 bet, 4 bet and call 3 bet.

      You want to call in position more than out of position and therefore can have wider range in position. You want to keep an eye on position of your opponent, as it influences his raising range and therefore should influence your calling range. It is easier to play in position, as you can float more and bluff more profitably. It is also easier to get value postflop when in position, as well as control the size of a pot. While you are out of position, you should have card advantage against your opponent who has positional advantage. You call with tighter range and let him play with his wide opening range postflop.

      Players in the pot
      You will find yourself in different situations preflop as you can’t say how players behind you will react when you call. They can fold, call or even raise and that changes your game plan when deciding whether to fold, call or raise yourself. Therefore, the later you act, the better it is for you to call, because less players have chance to raise or call. If there are loose passive fish left to act behind you, you can loosen your calling range with speculative hands that play well postflop like suited aces, suited connectors, high suited gapers, suited broadways and pocket pairs. When you see a player isolating a limping fish and are in BU, it is always nice to call in position with good speculative hand, as it is likely, that you will play multiway pot against fish in position. You can also 3 bet the isolating player with speculative hand, but he has to fold often enough to 3 bet or c bet to be profitable. Against fishes in multiway pots your plan should be to play mostly for value and try to hit a big hand, while against regular players, you cannot play fit or fold and have to float, bluff and semi-bluff sometimes to be profitable. I can tell you, that you bluff, call, float and fold, when you see, that conditions are right, however I cannot specify the conditions as they are really specific and they belong to postflop game. Either way, you can have a plan for your game already preflop that depends on your opponents weaknesses. So if you are able to find your opponents weaknesses, you can have plan for your hand preflop. Some players give up easily once they miss on the flop against which you can float or bluff raise or fold if they are aggressive and you don’t have a good hand. Some are overly aggressive against which you can profitably bluff catch with your medium made hands. Some are loose passive, who don’t bet but call almost every little piece of board. Against them you have to value bet hard with your big hands if you hit them. And in multiway pots, you mostly call for high implied odds, meaning that if you hit your big hand, you will get paid with it often.

      Raise size
      Rise size can also influence your calling range. If someone open raises to 10BB, you will only call or raise with a very strong hand or a very good reason. Other than that, you can call a min raise with a very wide range of speculative hand, but you can also take initiative by 3 betting him defending on his open raising and calling range. If you think, you can raise for value, go for it, if not, then just call with a speculative hand with a good change of playing multiway pot in position. Other than that, it is common to call a raise between 3-5 big blinds depending on situation. If someone isolates a limping player, he raises more. If someone raises in EP, he raises usually more than in BU. Although some players vary their raise size according to their hand strength, it is not easy to spot it. But when you do, you should use it to your advantage by adjusting your calling, folding and 3 betting range.

      Stack sizes
      The same applies here as with isolating fish according to stack size. The lower the stack, the less you call with speculative hands and more with high cards to hit top pair and stack them. The deeper the stack, the more profitable is to play speculative hands in position.

      Trapping with strong hand
      You sometimes get into situation, where you hold a strong hand like TT+, AQ+ and you don’t want to 3 bet for value even if you could and your play would be +EV. You decide to call, because the player behind you is overly aggressive and 3 bets and squeezes a lot –more than 10%, preferably more than 20%. It won’t happen often, but when you see a chance, you can go for it. You will get All in preflop this way with some extra money, possibly against dominated hand that is overplayed.

      Example hands:
      1. Trapping with strongsaw flop

      CO ($2.89) 69/11 after 140 hands
      Button ($26.43)
      Hero (SB) ($30.64)
      BB ($27) 75/19 with 34% 3 bet and 56% squeeze after 250 hands, 3bet 3 times before
      UTG ($54.94) 59/14 after 23 hands
      MP ($31.28)

      Preflop: Hero is SB with K, K
      UTG bets $1.50, 1 fold, CO calls $1.50, 1 fold, Hero calls $1.35, BB raises $2.70, UTG raises $53.44 (All-In), CO calls $1.39 (All-In), Hero calls $29.14 (All-In), 1 fold

      2. Calling in position to play multiway pot with good hand with fish and weak tight player

      No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

      saw flop

      Button ($41.30)
      SB ($32.77)
      BB ($31.51) 81/29 14% 3 bet bud 0 squeeze out of 12 320 hands.
      UTG ($26.37) 19/15 30 hands
      Hero (MP) ($29.85)
      CO ($30)

      Preflop: Hero is MP with 6, 7
      UTG bets $0.90, Hero calls $0.90, 3 folds, BB calls $0.60

      3. Calling with a speculative hands in multiway pot with weak players.
      I try to hit set or better and get money in, otherwise I am folding

      No-Limit Hold'em, $0.30 BB (6 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

      saw flop

      Hero (SB) ($30)
      BB ($30)
      UTG ($43.14)
      MP ($30.38) 26/20 600 hands
      CO ($46.93) 75/13 30 hands
      Button ($34.87) 66/9 30 hands

      Preflop: Hero is SB with 2, 2
      1 fold, MP bets $0.90, CO calls $0.90, Button calls $0.90, Hero calls $0.75, 1 fold
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      4. Checking behind in limped pot in BB
      Sometimes when you are in BB you will get a free play by players limping and nobody raising. When you don’t have a good hand you don’t want to raise against calling station OOP and rather take a flop for free. Sometimes you will hit a big hand which you will get paid by the loose passive player, but often you just miss the flop as your hand had little potential preflop. There are then times when you hit a piece of the board but your hand is weak and vulnerable but can be the best hand right now. And even if you miss a dry flop, there is a chance your opponent also missed and you can take the pot right down with a little bet unimorpved. There certainly is a profit to be made in limped pots, you just need to proceed with caution and don’t try to win every pot or don’t overestimate your hand strength in multiway pot.

      Your preflop plan should be simple – you check with weak hand against weak players that will be able to pay you off when you hit big or you will be able to take the pot down unimproved if the weak player shows fit or fold tendencies and you are heads up with him. Other than that, you don’t plan to do anything fancy in limped pots, like betting 3 streets with weak hands without potential to improve against calling station.

      More to this in postflop play in multiway pots.

      will add hands later
    • inlovewithamsterdam
      Joined: 08.07.2009 Posts: 671
      you sure have a lot of time on your hands
    • Kokaroc
      Joined: 21.04.2008 Posts: 432
      Originally posted by inlovewithamsterdam
      you sure have a lot of time on your hands
      If I want to improve I need to have time for my game :)