How to play against an opponent who...

    • kavboj84
      kavboj84
      Gold
      Joined: 16.06.2011 Posts: 2,005
      Howdy ho everyone,

      I have opened this thread to discuss about the correct counter strategies against certain moves / behavior of various opponents who can make your life difficult at the tables.

      First I'd like to know how to play against an opponent who completely randomizes his pre-flop play. He uses almost every possible line, open/overlimps, limp-reraises, overcall -rerasies etc with all possible hand in his preflop ranges.For example on time he raises A9 from MP2 other time he limps sometimes he limp reraises wiht TT+ otheretimes with complete air. In top of that he plays very wide and agressive play like 57/25/15 but the stats seem to be useless cause these ranges arent scaled. So whe he raises it can mean anything it can be 53s as well and when he limps it doesnt mean its 53s , it can be AJ too, and there is no pattern in his play like he raises trash and limps with strong hands, cause he mixes it up all the time.

      Then it would be good to discuss about playing against free-card raisers. I'd like to know how should you adjust your bet-3bet range if you should or should you donk the turn playing OOP preventing him to take that free card and loose value. There are some players who make this move only with draws, some guys add weak made hands too, and some try to balance somehow and make this with strong made hands as well speculating for getting a river bet which they could raise with made hands and busted draws as well . What part of your range is bet-3bet, and what is that you donk out with on the river when it bricks off.
  • 6 replies
    • datsmahname
      datsmahname
      Global
      Joined: 23.11.2009 Posts: 1,366
      Just some thoughts here..

      Players who mix it up a lot are very unlikely to be using a well thought out strategy and so he's losing money everywhere vs. solid play. Because he can have a lot of different hands its going to be higher variance in the short run and sometimes (like perhaps in this case) you will question whether or not your doing the right thing. Standard, solid play will get the money.

      Avoid making exploitative adjustments until you have a much bigger sample and a well thought out plan. For a player who changes their strategy often, exploitative play is a moving target. To stay one step ahead you need to know where they're going, why, and what to do about it. Personally I find this challenging, but heads-up experience helps.


      vs freecard raises, the weaker their range becomes the more you want to 3-bet. Its easy to 3-bet stronger made hands and strong draws, but if your up against a guy who raises bare overcards and GSSDs you need to include re-bluffs with decent/marginal draws and value raises with stuff like a decent 2nd pair.

      It depends on the player, but often times a freecard raiser misses thin value raises with marginal pairs and so he's polarized on the flop but his range usually doesn't contain enough made hands to match his freecard plays. Even if it does, hes still horribly unbalanced in other areas.

      I would aim to 3-bet vs his flop raises way more often, perhaps as often as I would check/raise an 80% flop c-bettor (just as a rough estimate).

      This guys flop calling range is very narrow: usually weak/marginal SD value is a big part with some slowplays. Keep in mind, a freecard raiser expects you to barrel turns if he does not raise the flop. So delaying strong hands might seem like a profitable line.

      When he does raise, his range splits on the turn. He checks back with nothing and bets if he had something or improved. That's what freecard plays are typically about. So on the turn his range is well defined and he will not usually make much money from us.

      Also, when he has initiative, you can expect him to barrel turns more OOP. His raise is designed to avoid that spot. He's likely to put other players in it.

      fwiw, I've never bothered to use a donk-turn strategy vs. freecard raisers since they're giving up so much information when I check turns.
    • kavboj84
      kavboj84
      Gold
      Joined: 16.06.2011 Posts: 2,005
      Hey Dats,

      thanks for your answer and sorry for the late reply I just have been thinking on this a lot, and I didnt want to say anything hasty. Finally I concluded that if we define GTO play a strategy that is unexploitable than the the first player type I mentioned plays GTO, because you cannot make an exploitative adjustment against it. I didint mean leveling that you mentioned about this type of play, but a play based on randomized ranges. The point is that to be exploitative you need information about the opponents tendencies to make the adjustment , but he doesnt give out any information because his ranges are 'encrypted' by randomization. However I dont think that this is a profitable play, so if this is ture, either my definition of exploitable or my definition of GTO has to be re-tought/expanded.

      Meanwhile other thoughts came across my mind about other player types. I began to title them just to make shortcuts to make it easier to talk about em. If found these entitlements also useful because they are not bound to the statistical backgound of poker (like LPA,TAG,LAG atc..) but to the personality of the players and can also be combined with each other. Im gonna specify some of these(marked with bold font) in the next few lines, and what I'd like to know is ofc the best counterstrategy against them, somewhat detailed if possible , like how much you would you show down /fold against them, when do you need to be passive/agressive etc.


      So there is a player type that I call a light capper and another a barrel monkey, but what Im interested in is the combinations of both, so a guy who isnt a maniac but still caps a huge amount, say a range that you would 3bet a CO raiser TAG, and at the same time he also cbets around 90% of hands on each street if he does not encounter resistance.

      Another one I call an actor. This can be a maniac a loose passive player whatever ... what he does that he acts and tries to represent something. For example calling stations with 0,5 AF and 0-2 PFR/3b can easily rep stong hand when they put in intense action, and from time to time I encounter such LPA players who are aware of this, and do weird bluffs, and play trash like they had the nuts.

      The next type is that I call a trickster. He is similar to the previous one but he doesnt only over or under rep his hands he prefers to use the element of surprise. For example sometimes(not by a pattern or any recognizable event, so we can say randomly) they do limping with premium hands,limp reraising with premium and then with trash hands, or capping and checking back in position, and when you bet they snapraise you, so they are trying to do something unexpected and making utterly weird lines all the time.

      These last two do leveling to a certain degree, but there is a different buddy (rare tho) whose strategy is built upon leveling completely. I named him the chameleon. He can play in various styles, but he plays like maniac or calling station in most cases, and builds up an image to use it as a deception, a decoy, and when you adjust to him he switches his play and exploits you. You mentioned before that GTO play is the answer, but I wouldnt be afraid from going into a leveling war with him, if I could improve enough in pre-thinking. Isnt there a way to develop yourself towards that ?

      Ahh and also I wanted to ask about donksters. By them I dont mean the average loose passive player who donk because they have some hand but more of those somewhat thinking players who donk/redonk a hell of a lot with the intention to create unconfortable situations, for example there are players who flat their entire range from the big blind just like a good player, but donk and 3barrel a lot of flops when they know that you missed or you can call down with a weak ace high on a wet board because they know that they are supposed to donk with draws so they vbet you down with AK-AJ. So they have a somewhat balanced donk range if there is such, which contains bluffs-strong made hands. How do you find the leaks in their donk range, if they have a donk range similar to a balanced x/r range ?
    • datsmahname
      datsmahname
      Global
      Joined: 23.11.2009 Posts: 1,366
      You were right to question your definition. First guy is not playing GTO. GTO is the best possible strategy vs the best possible opponent. As yet, no one has publicly proven this capability. Computers are getting close.

      It may be hard to adjust vs fancy guys who switch it up a lot, but vs GTO the best strategy is GTO. Deviations would cost you. Exploitative play is exploitable.

      Heh thats quite a post. glad to see you hashing out these ideas. I'll have to read it another time though.
    • Boomer2k10
      Boomer2k10
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.09.2010 Posts: 2,551
      GTO's is an attempt at a mathematical solution of the game not "randomizing your range so you cannot be read". He may be "balanced" in a wierd way but he's certainly not playing GTO and I think it's important we make the distinction between the two. Balance is an attempt to make your opponent indifferent to certain lines (be it call or bluff), GTO is an actual attempt to solve the game.

      Additionally you are correct that no human being, and currently no computer either, is capable of playing perfect GTO, in fact when Polaris was put up vs a learning exploitative AI in Sonia, Sonia defeated Polaris by what what agreed upon by both sides to be a relevant winrate (0.18BB/100 I believe) due to finding a hole in Polaris's GTO game at the time

      What "GTO-Style" players actually do is balance their ranges as best they can rather than aim for perfect GTO, that's impossible, so the best thing most players can do is employ "pure-style" strategies rather than an attempt at a GTO mix. (Best example of this is always opening with a raise preflop. This is actually a balance style play but Polaris has been known to open-limp preflop as was Sonya who had an ungodly winrate vs most humans) Ironically this mimics the shortcuts that are often taken in GTO-bot design which reults in "bucketting" of certain hands in order to try and reduce the complexity of the calculations.

      Vs your players:

      Vs LightCapperBarrellMonkeyDude

      This guy initially can be difficult to play against until you realise what happens when he DOESN'T cap preflop. If he's capping super-wide this means his calling range preflop is massively capped and therefore on A-High and other such boards you can attack him extremely hard.

      When he does build the pot preflop the explotative move would be to take your standard "balanced" range for calling down/fighting back and expand it a little since his range is theoretically wider than it should be. Additionally you should often delay action since he will barrell when it's not profitable to do so and to be honest this applies to A LOT of players. Just last night I had 4 people barrell off A-High vs me on the turn when it was just hideous to do so and in fact this behaviour continues all the way up the stakes, people just hate giving up the initiative.

      Vs Actors

      Whether they know it or not they are unintentionally balancing their range when they spew bluff in a situation where the vast majority of the time they have a value hand. If their frequencies accidentally happen along the correct lines (and for a 3-bet bluff on the turn that's not often) the best you can do is just make sure you don't make the incorrect exploitation and overfold vs their 3-bets. You can still probably fold a little more than is "optimal" but you just have to make sure you don't make an extreme exploitation.

      vs Tricksters

      Usually these guys are just FPS machines and they end up with some very readable ranges and it's up to you as an observant player to spot them. If you can't (i.e. he limps everything) you just have to exploit their range as best you can because it will still be weak on the whole. The occasional premium hand won't make up for all the money he's losing by playing incorrectly.

      vs Chamelions

      The big advantage of balanced play is that you don't end up in levelling wars and making the incorrect decision just because someone's trying to project an image. Additionally if he makes poor-playing deviations you will profit anyway becasue your play is just more solid.

      Of course it's not as profitable as if you could perfectly exploit him but if you are not confdent enough in your read that you feel you can act upon it, the best thing to do is make sure you, yourself, are not exploited and that his deviations from good play will end up benefitting you long term anyway.

      vs Donksters

      Again, if their balanced there's not much you can do other that play your ranges accordingly and thank them for saving you a bet. You will have to be a bit more SD bound because their bluff is cheaper than it would be otherwise.

      In theory your ranges should not be so readable that they "know" you are weak and really the players they are taking advantage of are the ones who over-fold the flop. One tactic I've used in teh past in HU pots is to never raise a donk bet because my peeling range is going to be massive and OOP the odds are he's going to fire again so that's definitely a potential adjustment but my general advice would be to stick to a balanced bluffing and value-raising range until you can get a read on what he's donking. If it's balanced, stick with what you know and if it's weighted in one direction or another then you can exploit based on that.

      Hope that's helped some
    • kavboj84
      kavboj84
      Gold
      Joined: 16.06.2011 Posts: 2,005
      Thanks for the comments.

      @Boomer: do you have any material on these bots ? It would be nice to see their hand histories.

      also there is a new player type that I'd like to discuss . This one is called light 3better. As the name suggests he 3bets wide, his 3bet is around 16 or even higher up to 19-20. He may 3bet even with 35-40% equity from any position, so on the long run Im just gonna own him due to my equity edge, but sometimes its still hard to play against these players, especially OOP. Some have kinda 'balanced' preflop range, and may 3bet medium SC-s and S1G-s as a bluff, so they can represent on more flops, and sometimes I found it hard to determine my x/r range on the flop and my b3b range on the turn, cause I dont wanna lose value and at the same time I dont want to overplay a part of my range. Also when this kind of an opponent has some maniacal tendencies , so can play back and rebluff you he can make your bluffs more difficult to carry out, not to say when he is also showdown bound, now that can make your life miserable.

      I wonder if you could give some advice how far should I loosen up my calldwon and my raising ranges postflop, or some tips how could you exploit him the best.
    • Boomer2k10
      Boomer2k10
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.09.2010 Posts: 2,551
      Phil Newall's "The intelligent Poker Player" focuses quite a bit on the Man vs Machine challenge

      A lot of my knowledge basically comes from following it while it was happening and doing a little research of my own on the now defunct stoxpoker, I was also fortunate enough to chat to Bryce Paradis regarding it and get his insights

      The hands should be stored somewhere if you look up "man vs machine challenge".

      Regarding the light 3-better, this is usually a good player although occasionally getting over-zealous. The best adaptation would be to make sure that you're not folding too easily to his flop and turn c-bets.

      These players tend to take advantage of players who are weak in 3-bet pots so you have to make sure that's not you. Specific ways you adapt will be based on his post-flop tendencies like whether he has a huge turn c-bet or other such tendencies