why is initiative important?

    • yegon
      yegon
      Silver
      Joined: 23.02.2012 Posts: 3,045
      both pleno1 and mbml mention this a lot in videos/seminars

      I wonder, why exactly is initiative important?

      For example if we call pf BB vs BTN what does prevent us from playing postflop as if we had the initiative???

      Is there any objective advantage of having pf initiative or is it just how it usually is because the pf caller is expected to check and the pf raiser is expected to cbet? Does it have to be this way?
  • 14 replies
    • pleno1
      pleno1
      Coach
      Coach
      Joined: 19.11.2010 Posts: 5,596
      Just from a very basic point of view. If 2 people have no pair no draw the guy with initiative wins. If one has bottom pair and other had nothing initiative wins.

      It's hard to make pairs in Holdem.
    • Beuaaaaaaaah
      Beuaaaaaaaah
      Black
      Joined: 08.07.2009 Posts: 267
      And f you have initiative, you are the last preflop raiser, and so, most of time, you rep a stronger hand. So getting the pot is gonna be easier.
    • yegon
      yegon
      Silver
      Joined: 23.02.2012 Posts: 3,045
      Originally posted by pleno1
      Just from a very basic point of view. If 2 people have no pair no draw the guy with initiative wins. If one has bottom pair and other had nothing initiative wins.

      It's hard to make pairs in Holdem.
      but why? is there a law that says that only the guy with pf initiative is allowed to bet postflop?
    • yegon
      yegon
      Silver
      Joined: 23.02.2012 Posts: 3,045
      Originally posted by Beuaaaaaaaah
      And f you have initiative, you are the last preflop raiser, and so, most of time, you rep a stronger hand. So getting the pot is gonna be easier.
      this is clearly not true, If someone raises on the BTN a 50% range and you call from the SB with 8% the BTN can not rep a stronger range and to get the pot for him should be significantly harder in fact
    • tadcka
      tadcka
      Black
      Joined: 29.07.2011 Posts: 511
      when you steal from 8% with weak hands, if villain calls, then you just don't go out of line too much, because you know that his range is very strong, but still you can force out him of a pot sometimes.

      Initiative doesn't mean that you will win the pot always, but still when you are pushing your oppponents since preflop, then it's very likely that you will take down the pot and especially when you are in position, sometimes you don't need to know your hand, you just think what you logically can represent, look at his stats, other tells and try to force him out of the pot if it's not your value hand.
    • mbml
      mbml
      Black
      Joined: 27.11.2008 Posts: 20,694
      you probably have a wider, but uncapped range. When you call preflop, you are probably going to be doing it with a range that has the PFR's raising range beat on average. HOWEVER, your hands are mostly closer towards the median hand, but the PFR has more weaker and stronger hands and can rep much more.

      And pretty much what pleno1 said, when both miss the guy with initiative wins. With that said, initiative is more important at lower limits than it is at higher limits. At higher limits people aren't going to fold their A/K/Q highs just because they miss, so a stronger player playing as the preflop caller and win a lot more pots even when he misses.

      Thanks.
    • yegon
      yegon
      Silver
      Joined: 23.02.2012 Posts: 3,045
      yes it seems to me that the fact that its capped vs uncapped range is the only reason why initiative is important - its like the caller has bluffcatchers vs a polarized range of the opener and thus the polarized range should do the betting

      that said I wonder how big a deal this is, especially in the BTN vs blinds situations where the huge SPR due to the small pf sizing that is used today does not favor the hands that are strong pf so the fact that the opener has AA-JJ/AK and the coldcaller does not (or has much less of them) should not matter that much if the pot is 5 and theres 97 behind.
    • retic
      retic
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.08.2006 Posts: 268
      i like the idea of thinking about uncommon scenarios. i dont know i u are thinking about doing it or if it is just hypothetical. but one thing i think u also should take in consideration is that if u betting without initiative u are donkbetting. and without knowning how ur opponet reacts to donkbets handreading will become much more difficult.
    • mbml
      mbml
      Black
      Joined: 27.11.2008 Posts: 20,694
      Basically if the PF caller is super balanced and he can make perfect decisions (at least based on ranges, bluffs vs value bets ratio etc), I think PF caller having capped range doesn't matter so much cos he just needs to look at his pot equity vs pot odds to make his decision.

      Problem is when there is imperfect information and PF caller doesn't have good balance. He is probably going to make mistakes way more often and thus lose more money. This is probably the case all the way until high stakes. At the nosebleeds everyone is probably so much stronger and more balanced and they can defend super wide from BB vs BU minraise etc, so I think that is going to be less of an issue.
    • mbml
      mbml
      Black
      Joined: 27.11.2008 Posts: 20,694
      Originally posted by retic
      i like the idea of thinking about uncommon scenarios. i dont know i u are thinking about doing it or if it is just hypothetical. but one thing i think u also should take in consideration is that if u betting without initiative u are donkbetting. and without knowning how ur opponet reacts to donkbets handreading will become much more difficult.
      donkbetting is just significantly harder to balance. And it doesn't make sense especially when people's overall cbet % is 70% on average. And this number is significantly higher on dry Flops, and significantly lower on wet flops.

      So it makes more sense to only develop a donkbet range on boards where the PFR is expected to check back on the Flop more often.
    • bartjuh
      bartjuh
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.09.2007 Posts: 55
      I'm not up to date with today's games, but I believe in PLO it is much more common to have a donking range. This is because equities change significantly on a lot of turn cards, while in NLHE this is not the case. In PLO certain type of hands benefit a lot from seeing a free turn in position. In NLHE this is much less the case.

      Maybe it could make sense in BB vs BU to have a significant donking range vs players that fold too much or spew. But you would have to experiment with it.
      Most of their vs donk stats are from hands against fish, so you can not be sure how they react in a reg vs reg dynamic.
      And as mbml says it is much harder to balance so against tough players I wouldn't try it.
    • mbml
      mbml
      Black
      Joined: 27.11.2008 Posts: 20,694
      Originally posted by bartjuh
      I'm not up to date with today's games, but I believe in PLO it is much more common to have a donking range. This is because equities change significantly on a lot of turn cards, while in NLHE this is not the case. In PLO certain type of hands benefit a lot from seeing a free turn in position. In NLHE this is much less the case.

      Maybe it could make sense in BB vs BU to have a significant donking range vs players that fold too much or spew. But you would have to experiment with it.
      Most of their vs donk stats are from hands against fish, so you can not be sure how they react in a reg vs reg dynamic.
      And as mbml says it is much harder to balance so against tough players I wouldn't try it.
      true, also in PLO there are a lot more "medium strength hands" which are better off betting 3 streets, but don't really want to check/raise as it may be overplay (maybe two pairs)

      In NLHE, a Medium strength hand that falls into this category is usually something like TPGK, but people usually 3bet AQ/AK/KQ preflop in late positions so you can't really have those hands in your preflop calling range too often to donk the Flop for value.
    • jakelamotta
      jakelamotta
      Basic
      Joined: 11.01.2013 Posts: 10
      Initiative is a meninagless concept which doesnt describe the state of the game in any concrete way. If initiative is so important, take it by donking (which in these days is more important given the small pf sizes which leads to more flatting). Aggression is important, not initiative but having said that you cant just go ahead and donk without any thought behind it. Mostly the caller wont have nearly as wide vbetting range as the PFR and hence will be playing less aggressively. So in a sense it has to do with the capped range vs non capped range. But initiative in itself lacks meaning and thats probably what makes this discussion somewhat confusing.
    • grrgrrbla
      grrgrrbla
      Bronze
      Joined: 31.05.2010 Posts: 421
      absolutely agree with jakelamotta. Quoting Skates (used to be a high-stakes HUSNG-Crusher) who put it in the best way i read so far:

      Real quick, "initiative" is a made-up concept. Expected bets (like cbets) are largely due to the previous street's aggressor being the player claiming to have the polarized range or the stronger weighted range. When we talk about initiative in the hand it is usually because people have resigned themselves to taking certain lines with certain hands, so after playing a certain way up to a point, they are unable to represent the hands that would "take initiative".