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Poker Theory - My Head Hurts

    • metza
      Joined: 28.01.2012 Posts: 2,220
      Today I've just been looking at equities on different flops etc and the frequencies at which different ranges hit monster hands, strong draws, weak draws, air etc. It all seems extremely complicated and subject to massive generalizations because of the ridiculous amounts of combinations and possible actions.

      It makes me wonder how you can apply game theoretical type stuff to the game when so much is speculative.

      Let's say I have "x" UTG range: 22+,ATs+,KQs,ATo+,KQo, or whatever, it's not important really, just an example. Of course depending on table dynamics this will change, and that's just one of many to follow variables)

      and the flop comes lets say

      A :heart: Q :diamond: 5 :club:

      We can say this flop hits this range "well" and calculate equity. But this is only vs a percieved range. How accurate we are in our perception of this range of course leads to increased profit.

      In terms of hands we will get 15% monsters (2pair+), 23% top pair, and around 62% other pairs. I choose UTG range to simplify, other range such as BTN is more complicated.

      So, now we have to decide whether to cbet a specific flop. If we do equity training enough we can guess eg. we have 60% equity with blah blah blah hand and so forth. We can simplify this to, we have over 50% equity vs range so we want to get money in (I know this isn't strictly true eg. we have weak top pair and want to pot control but its just a grounding point) , but then opponent can select which hands he calls and folds with so its not enough.

      With a "value hand" we want weaker hands to call us, and with a bluff we want better hands to fold out their equity share. To do this we'd need to see how well this flop hits our opponent, how often they will call, what amount of this calling range beats our betting range, how often they will raise, how often we can call this raise and how often we fold to this raise, whether or not their raise frequency contains more hands that have us beat or that we beat. All of this would theoretically need to be known for us to even gather whether or not our hand is a "value hand" at all.

      Then of course different turn (40 in 6max) and river (39) combinations dramatically alter this equity, such that there are 40x39 different sequences, some of which can turn a monster hand into relative trash.

      And different actions dramatically alter ranges.

      It just seems like way too much to keep track of and to be honest makes me wonder how exactly you can be sure of this without having thousands and thousands of hands on opponent (and observing carefully) it just seems like generalizations. Of course when your opponent makes glaring errors in relation to your range, such that the answer is so clear its obvious even without mathematics is nice eg. someone calls down 3barrels with any pair, so you can very comfortably barrel away with top pair. As is often the case at micros.

      But lets say there's a spot (I know this is oversimplifying but I'm doing so on purpose) where opponent will call down with either A) top pair medium kicker or better and top pair low kicker and we don't know which. we have top pair with a slightly better than medium kicker (in this oversimplification, range A will beat us in long run vs 3barrel, but range B will be +EV to 3barrel against when they calldown). but they will also call down with top pair strong kicker regardless. how do we assign this range when we don't know if this player will call down with range A or B? It seems we can only speculate. If they have range A and we barrel we're losing, if they have range A and we don't barrel we're winning in relation to 3barreling. And vice versa for range B. Then we don't even know for sure if they're playing range A or range B. They may have had to hero fold AA last hand and are feeling like they're being bluffed etc and now have range C (super loose), or range D (super nitty) and there is no way of knowing this. Even in a deliberate oversimplification there is this much complexity.

      At the same time, in thinking about this sort of thing it feels like there is some sort of solution to (or concept behind) this, but at the moment beyond my comprehension and what is stopping me from becoming a strong player. I'm not sure what exactly I'm trying to get at but there's something there. Hopefully someone gets what I'm trying to say, since I don't understand it entirely I can't articulate it that clearly.
  • 5 replies
    • metza
      Joined: 28.01.2012 Posts: 2,220
      I guess the tl;dr is, can you really know for sure what the "optimal" play in any specific situation is, or are there too many (largely unknown) variables? If so, then is the process by which anyone makes poker decisions far too generalized?
    • bennisboy
      Joined: 11.04.2011 Posts: 711
      I think it comes from experience and "feel". Once you have a gut feeling of ranges etc, then I think addiing the maths in can be less confusing.

      Although nothing about my game is optimal :f_cool:
    • GraemeDR
      Joined: 19.01.2011 Posts: 156
      It comes down to the importance of bankroll management. All that you're saying about unknowns is true. Ie there are lots of them. And even the so called knows are educated guesses.

      But if we are making mathematically educated guesses we are not trying to rule out the possibility of losing the hand. Or even our stack. All players lose hands, all players lose stacks. But if we win more than we lose over the huge infinite long term, which is what older theory helps to achieve, then spunk bankroll management will keep you in the game for the long term. And slowly but surely you make your profit margins.

      Bankroll management is the most important starting block.
    • speed208
      Joined: 14.02.2013 Posts: 6
      Great, nice briefing..
    • Kyyberi
      Joined: 09.07.2010 Posts: 11,157
      There is always a lot of things you don't know, you just need to estimate. And that's part of the poker skills. The better player you are, the more accurate estimations you make. And therefore you win more money.