Zooming from NL2 to ...

    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      2008: Played full time for a few months. Went from the lowest stakes to making a reliable and increasing monthly income (1.5k $) in 6-max on Party Poker. Won 5k in a tournament through a 1-dollar satelite, went on a weekend trip, then didn't open a poker table again until now.


      2013: Starting all over again, this time on Pokerstars with a 70 dollar deposit. The goal is to make more than 4k a month, if possible.

      I will post here my thoughts as I progress. I will probably mainly post in order to internalize random thoughts and insights, and if somebody else finds it interesting, all the better. All comments are welcome.


      So far in 2013 (June-July): Been playing a lot of 6-max Zoom, a bit of regular 6-max, some 50-50s, a bit of PLO Zoom, some MTTs.

      Eventually I would like to test and master all games at some minimal level. In particular, I want to get experience with HUNL once I have the bankroll for it, and I want to practice SNGs at some point in order to have the basics in place for MTTs.

      I seem to beat NL2 and NL5 Zoom at the moment, but I haven't had success at NL10 yet.


      NL5 Zoom graph (July 29):

      https://img841.imageshack.us/img841/2307/xi4f.jpg
  • 46 replies
    • VorpalF2F
      VorpalF2F
      Super Moderator
      Super Moderator
      Joined: 02.09.2010 Posts: 8,910
      Originally posted by Mbuto
      Eventually I would like to test and master all games at some minimal level. In particular, I want to get experience with HUNL once I have the bankroll for it, and I want to practice SNGs at some point in order to have the basics in place for MTTs.

      I seem to beat NL2 and NL5 Zoom at the moment, but I haven't had success at NL10 yet.


      NL5 Zoom graph (July 29):

      Hi, Mbuto!
      Welcome to PokerStrategy.com !

      It's good to see that you have clear goals, and a plan to get there!

      I see you're still basic level. Be sure to check out the quiz. When you pass it, you're bronze, and there is a lot more training material available to you.

      Oh -- and a tip of the Vorpal Hat to your graph!

      Best of luck!
      --VS
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      Hi Vorpal, thanks for the welcome.

      I took the quiz, but when I click to choose my poker room, it tells me to choose an offer from "the list below", but I don't see anything listed.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      About playing flush draws aggressively.

      An idea about thinking about a made hand as an anti-flush draw.

      I sometimes see people on NL5 Zoom donk-bet flush draws from the BB. There is of course some merit to this. You have some FE, and you may get a check-check on turn, or you may barrel the turn as well, or you can check-raise turn, or whatever. And then there is some implied value as well, if you hit your flush.

      So, if you just look at it from BB's point of view in a vacuum, probably it can be +EV. But is it optimal play?

      Let's look at it from the other side, say, UTG. Two situations, we have some kind of hand, or we missed the flop.

      1) We have a hand in UTG. The point here is that just as the BB donker can count on some 19% chance to improve even if called, the UTG can count on even more outs, namely 81%, to have the BB not improve! So if we think of our made hand as an anti-flush draw with 81% outs, suddenly the donk bet becomes a super easy call!

      We can maybe also raise the donk bet, but for balance reasons, probably just calling is also fine. We might even have a flush draw ourselves in similar situations, and we don't reopen the betting.

      2) We don't have a hand in UTG, and we fold to the donk. Well, the BB made us fold some equity then, but on the other hand, we didn't waste anything on a c-bet that might have been check-raised by the BB, or just called.

      So I don't think I like this donk-play too much. Another issue is that the BB would ultimately need to balance it with some made hands as well. So very soon, we have the BB donking a whole lot of his good hands into UTGs uncapped range from OOP, which probably can't be such a good way to play from the BB with normal stack sizes.

      A somewhat similar situation is when you get called pre-flop when OOP. Should you c-bet a flush draw? Well, maybe, or you can check-raise it, or check-call it; I think Janda recommends putting some flush draws in each line (either in this or a similar situation).

      However, let's again look at it from the other side, let's say we called BTN vs. MP and we get c-bet into on a two-tone board. Should we raise our strongest hands (say, sets) in order to "charge" flush draws?

      Again, I think it helps to think of our hand as an anti-flush draw. Calling with 81% outs just simply can't be too bad a play!

      Janda discussed a wet flop like this in a video about betsizing:

      Tc8c4d

      He assumed that if we c-bet into this board and don't get raised, probably the villain will have a capped range on a blank turn (no sets or made draws), and we can then vary our turn bet based on this information depending on what we hold ourselves.

      He did mention that at more advanced levels, probably you can have villians slow-playing sets here, but that it wouldn't be normal on lower levels.

      I think I like just calling sometimes on this flop, even with a set, to keep our range uncapped. Obviously, the drawback is that we may lose desirable action due to scarecards. But essentially, I just don't think we should be too afraid of flush draws. Come on, we have 81% outs or better!
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      Playing NL5 Zoom.

      I saw a Janda video about betsizing yesterday. Now I am experimenting with various betsizes, mainly smaller c-bets than I usually do (50% rather than about 2/3), and overbets here and there. I hope it helps me get simply more experience on available options, how people react, how things balance out etc.

      One thing I notice is that many people seem to spazz out when they see these 50% c-bets due to reading things into them that probably shouldn't. An example hand from just now:

      [I hold QsQc, Flop is Qd9s7d, turn is Jc, river 7c.]

      Poker Stars, $0.02/$0.05 No Limit Hold'em Cash, 6 Players
      Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager - The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

      BTN: $11.48 (229.6 bb)
      SB: $5.14 (102.8 bb)
      BB: $5 (100 bb)
      UTG: $8.16 (163.2 bb)
      MP: $5.17 (103.4 bb)
      Hero (CO): $6.53 (130.6 bb)

      Preflop: Hero is CO with Qhttps://pokertools.holdemmanager.com/images/emoticons/spade4.gif Qhttps://pokertools.holdemmanager.com/images/emoticons/club4.gif
      2 folds, Hero raises to $0.13, BTN folds, SB calls $0.11, BB folds

      Flop: ($0.31) Qhttps://pokertools.holdemmanager.com/images/emoticons/diamond4.gif 9https://pokertools.holdemmanager.com/images/emoticons/spade4.gif 7https://pokertools.holdemmanager.com/images/emoticons/diamond4.gif (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero bets $0.16, SB raises to $0.35, Hero raises to $0.84, SB calls $0.49

      Turn: ($1.99) Jhttps://pokertools.holdemmanager.com/images/emoticons/club4.gif (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero bets $1.28, SB calls $1.28

      River: ($4.55) 7https://pokertools.holdemmanager.com/images/emoticons/club4.gif (2 players)
      SB checks, Hero bets $3.18, SB calls $2.89

      Results:



      I think villain's problem came from thinking:

      "He doesn't c-bet much into a drawish board. Hence he is on a draw or air or weakish hand."

      So, like I have seen other times, he raises the c-bet, maybe thinking he has to charge my draw, get value, fold out my equity, or whatever.

      I 3-bet his raise, not sure about my sizing here.

      Not sure what villain will put me on OTT, perhaps mostly air and draws. He checked turn, I bet, and he thought for one minute before calling. He just about has odds to call with an OESD.

      He check-calls river as well. He could believe I still had enough missed draws or total BS hands to call.

      But probably he should never have been in this river spot. Calling pre-flop with QTo in SB is dubious, and raising flop and then calling my 3-bet is probably overplay due to an unwarranted "read" on my c-bet sizing.

      Maybe it's not optimal play to c-bet 50% here, but so far, c-bets like these seem to yield good results.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      Blind vs. Blind battle.

      I have two suspicions about blind vs. blind battle:

      1) Optimal play is to play bigger pots "than normal"?

      Obviously, ranges are wider than normal (like 50% vs. 50% or whatever), so relative hand strength is higher than in normal hands (say, CO vs SB).

      But, apart from that, does wider ranges mean that pots should simply be bigger than normal?

      Let's imagine how "optimal play" would distribute how much you would put into the pot on an average board post-flop, in big blinds, say:

      0-5
      5-10
      10-20
      20-40
      40-70
      70-100

      What would the distribution look like if we played "optimally"? And would it be more skewed towards bigger pots than in other positions?

      2) BB vs. BB play is silly important, relatively speaking?

      The obvious problem is that I also find it terribly difficult postflop...

      In general, if we are too tight pre or post-flop, we will bleed money slowly from the blinds.

      If we are too reckless, likewise, probably...

      I am curious about what other people have thought about this as they have progressed as poker players.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      Last couple of days:

      1) Took another shot at NL10 Zoom. Ended up +3 bins after ~3000 hands.

      Good things:

      i) Didn't feel uncomfortable, outclassed, money scared, imbalanced. Was able to pretty much just play my 5NL game without too many interrupting thoughts. Succeeded in being somewhat aggressive here and there without too much spew.

      Bad things:

      i) Was anyway a bit spewy here and there, got stacked twice with AK for instance, one time in a 4-bet pot with KQX flop, I KNEW his range crusched me (also QQ), still I called all-in on turn after flop went x-x, and yes, he had QQ.

      ii) Even though results were slighty positive or break-even-ish, I can't help but think that 3-4-5 of my bins came from spewtards. If not for them, I may still have negative results against regs (post-rake, anyway), indicating that my game is still not too good for this level. Yes, break-even is a milestone, but I would be much happier about +5bb/100 that can be interpreted as even with other regs, while taking advantage of worse players.


      2) Deposited 10 dollars at Ladbrokes to get bronze status here, played a few NL2 anon tables, level was mega fishy, won 3 bins 2-tabling for a little while. But, damn I dislike the slow rate of play and unclear table layout (where is the fucking button, for instance). Things are much more clear in my PS setup where I understand the situation at a glance.


      3) Forced myself to play a few NL2 PLO Zoom hands. I try to play 50-100 every day in order to build "PLO muscle" and a bit of experience before more serious study. My results in PLO are horrible so far, I managed this session to get stacked pre-flop with some AKKx hand (I was BU vs. UTG raiser and short stack BB), I thought to myself that AAxx hands were unlikely since I had one A-blocker, but UTG had AAxx anyway. Apart from that, pre-flop all-ins just can't be too profitable due to rake and evenish equity, probably better to focus on outplaying post-flop, so I should just have called rather than 3-bet pre-flop.


      Plans for next few days:

      1) Grind 5NL or 10NL zoom, depending on mood.

      2) Get started posting hands here after getting bronze status. I am curious to see how the discussions will compare to the 2+2 forum.

      3) Exercises to build general poker muscle.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      July month recap, August goals

      My results from July here:

      https://img825.imageshack.us/img825/6416/wyzw.jpg

      I am not sure if I think it is a good idea for me to set myself specific targets, but I will try and see if I like it.

      August goals:

      [] 15000 NL2 ZOOM hands
      [] 15000 NL5 ZOOM hands
      [] 15000 NL10 ZOOM hands
      [] 3000 NL2 hands
      [] 3000 NL5 hands
      [] 3000 NL10 hands
      [] 3000 PLO2 ZOOM hands
      [] Post 30 hand evaluations
      [] Avoid going bust
      [] Avoid burnout
      [] Avoid shaken confidence
      [] Reach all of the above before August 20 to allow me to feel I am not making too slow progress

      My two favorite motivational videos:



    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      August 2 recap.


      https://img15.imageshack.us/img15/8030/ih2o.jpg

      I was 2-tabling 5NL Zoom and played a bit on Ladbrokes 2NL reg.

      A bad day. I was down 3-4 bins for most of the NL5 Zoom session and felt horrible, unsure of my play, doubting myself. I felt I should be crushing or breaking even, since I have been doing so recently. I was not afraid that I had just been lucky recently, more afraid that I had lost the sauce that made me play well recently.

      I also couldn't shake off bad beats in this poor mind state.

      I tried to stay focused and rational, despite the bad mood and self-doubt. Don't know if I succeeded in that (would require a session review).

      Verdict:

      1) Too result oriented in terms of mood. I am unsure how to cure this apart from keep on playing and develop long term perspective and justified confidence (based on knowing I play well still, if I do).

      2) In some sense it is rational to doubt yourself if you are doing poorly (how else to decide on tilt, for instance). The challenge is to "doubt in a good way", so it results in good decisions (stop playing, for instance) or adjustments (stop spewing, stop being scared, etc.) rather than counterproductive behavior.

      I want to make a note of this day and try to compare my reaction the next times I am in a similar situation.

      I know the standard advice is to stop playing in a situation like this. On the other hand, I want to learn to avoid "tilt" in other ways than just stop playing.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      The fundamental decision making process in poker.

      I want to make a note about a good, fundamental habit that I want to keep and improve and improve. Hopefully this note will make me keenly aware if I begin to stray away from the habit (by playing too fast or inconsiderate).

      It is especially relevant on turn, I feel (but in principle on all streets, but flop and river are somewhat more straight forward).

      The good habit is simply thinking:

      1) What is the situation? (my hand, his range, mutual perceptions, stacks) Things like my range and previous action and table dynamics can be mentioned as well, but it is in some sense part of "mutual perceptions".

      2) What are my options, and what are the possible events after each option in view of the situation (ultimately, which option is more +EV). Short term you can think of the hand in a vacuum, but you also have to keep long term effects in mind, trying to avoid opening yourself up for being exploited.

      When I perform the above and sense that I made a somewhat good analysis in both 1 and 2, not missing something obviously relevant, I feel great.

      On the other hand, I often know I perform very poorly. For instance, I often put far too much weight on some possibilities in the opponent's range.

      One of my best memories is a hand I lost. During analysis at some point during the hand, I figured out that I seemed to be mostly good here, except if the opponent had JhTh, which his actions were consistent with. He did indeed have that hand at showdown.

      That may be something trivial for more experienced players (where they pretty much have thought of all possible villain hands before deciding on their action), but for me it felt great, almost like a milestone event. Because often, I feel like playing totally in the dark about what villain may or may not have, with far too many possibilities to make a perfect, systematic analysis and judgement.

      Anyway, the important thing is to keep on improving my thinking process and to notice if I am slacking.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      Two simple exercises for me to keep in mind:

      1) Deep breaths against stress.
      2) Deliberately smiling to improve mood.

      I consider these the absolute low hanging fruits of mental therapy or what you would like to call it (before more demanding stuff like visualization, yoga, self-suggestion, physical exercise etc.). Both are well documented to work.

      I didn't use 2) while having a tough day yesterday. I shall try to keep it better in mind in the future.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      August 3 recap.

      https://img839.imageshack.us/img839/6857/vdy1.jpg

      I was 2-tabling NL5 Zoom, 2-tabling NL2 Zoom, 4-tabling NL2 reg. Also played a bit on Ladbrokes, won 1-2 bins. I still need to play there a bit to be 100% sure I qualify for one strategy point, I guess.

      On Ladbrokes, I got a bit of practice with HU when the 6-max tables were breaking up.

      Overall: A good day.

      Mental state: Very good, relatively speaking. I was having a lot of energy for thinking about lots of things in an enthusiastic way. Mood good.

      Gameplay: Good. I avoided overconfident spewing when running hot. I was thinking a lot about my decisions. Recently, I have been leaving tables when hitting 140BBs, but last couple of days I have stayed with the deeper stack, despite the increased risk. Felt confident about it this time.

      Physical state: So-so. My right arm/hand hurt in second part of session.

      Other notes: Playing NL2 on Ladbrokes, it is reasonable to think in terms of "how to get the stack in good" because of the whales. In NL5 Zoom, I probably have to be more conservative, patient and cautious. The shove is a weapon, but just because I hit a set or hold AA, it doesn't mean I should be thinking mainly about how to get the stacks in. I think this is a key difference to keep in mind when changing from format to format.

      Hands: One of my favorite hands in NL5 Zoom was this (sorry, no HH before I get bronze status):

      I have AA on BTN, 3-bets an UTG opener for a two-way flop. UTG tanks a while before calling. Flop comes 345 rainbow. We check-check flop and turn. Turn is an 8 (another heart), river a 4, no 3-suits. Villain bets out for 70% pot, I call. He had 67 suited and had flopped the nut straight.

      What I liked: That I didn't bet on flop and turn. There are lots of villain hands that I can only get value from by not showing strength here, and then there are a few villain hands that I lose badly to and don't want to show strength to. The "in-between hands" are PPs that I beat, but I will get 1-2 streets of value from them also by slowplaying. The problem for villain (when he is holding a nutty hand) is that I could easily have missed the flop (with, say, AK), and he is inclined to slowplay his nutty hands against these, while he will usually bet his PPs for protection.

      The problem with me not c-betting flop? That my c-betting range becomes more bluffy. Advantage? That my check-behind range becomes stronger. I am not experienced enough to know what is more important, and probably it is heavily context dependent.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      Entitlement tilt.

      I saw this term "entitlement tilt" in another blog here. I think it's a great term and realize that this is what I am often having.

      Example:

      You do poker work (like posting here or doing session review etc.), and you then open up the tables with the expectation of making some quick money, "just like yesterday!". You are "entitled" to it because you are a great player and just did good poker work. Instead, you begin the session by losing and you begin to chase those rewards that you feel "must" be there for you because you are entitled to them.

      If there are whales at the table sucking up all the money that "should" have been yours, you can become even more tilted.

      The final stage of tilt here can be when you begin to think that some of the other players are now considering YOU the fish. How unfair!!!

      The last part is something like "ego tilt" that I have been thinking a lot about recently because I clearly suffer from it. At some point I will have to think of a good term for this and wrap up my thoughts about it more systematically.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      Getting nervous.

      A quick note after starting today's session.

      I opened up two NL5 Zoom tables. Before the session, I had been thinking about lowering expectations, something like, hope for the best, expect the worst, be happy about a break even session etc.

      What happened is I quickly became nervous in relatively trivial spots. It culminated in this hand:

      I have QQ in BB and squeeze an UTG raise and BTN call. UTG calls, BTN folds.

      UTG has about 75 BBs stack before hand start.

      Flop: 6d 7d 7s
      Pot: 1.75$
      Villain has 2.97$.

      I check and he checks back (yes, maybe I am a stupid nit or fancy slowplayer here).

      Turn: Th

      I check again, villain shoves 2.97$ into 1.75$ pot.

      I didn't think his shove made much sense. Would any good hand of his play this way? Usually not, unless he is crazy whale.

      I call and he shows KsTs and I hold up.

      But... What happened is I became very nervous during the hand and when making the call.


      I want to write a bit about this as therapy.

      Possible reasons?

      1) I have been thinking and writing and playing a lot last few days. Maybe some kind of overload of emotion. (The following reasons can be specific parts of this, just spelled out.)

      2) Was getting shit scared of paying off a fish or a reg that leveled me. Probably an ego/respect thing.

      3) Was desperate to get a good start to the session, having thought a lot about this issue in the last couple of days.

      4) A probable leak in my game is making too light/spewy calls. I was perhaps afraid to lose here and get confirmation, spoiling all my positive thoughts before the session (even if the call may be correct).

      5) I have been a slowplay fancy player recently, because it simply seems to get the best/good results at NL5 Zoom (and maybe as overadjustment for spewy play). At the same time, I know this kind of game is probably not optimal, and I am probably scared of "being found out" and see my results decline.

      6) Maybe my psychological state is bad, like, maybe too tired/dizzy/whatever, apart from stuff mentioned in 1.


      Ideas to prevent this?

      1) Maybe start off sessions in another way than with 2-tabling my default game. I can maybe play mechanical stuff like multi-tabling 50-50s, or I can play some NL2 stuff (but the same problems might arise here or just be delayed).

      2) Start off with only 1 table until I feel confidently in the zone.

      3) Accept is as a somewhat natural consequence of the reasons above, take a break or slow down my action (like playing only 1 table).

      I am gonna take a 10 minute break and settle on a further course.


      Of course, the risk of doing stuff like writing this post is that a possible problem of emotional overload is only getting exacerbated, but the hope is that it will give relief. Writing down your thoughts is standard advice when, for instance, being nervous before an exam.

      The problem in the first place here is probably that I might have been feeling it like an exam when I opened up the tables today.


      Anyway, awareness is first step towards cure.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      August 4 recap.

      https://img827.imageshack.us/img827/5976/jcnl.jpg

      Summary:

      1) Played first a bit of Ladbrokes 2NL 6-max to rake for bronze status here on PS. Won about 1.5 bin by misreading the board while holding AA in 4-bet pot (thought turn gave me straight, but it paired the tens rather than complete the straight...). Rivered an Ace to beat Villainss nut KKKTT house... Investigated and found out I easily had raked enough for one strategy point already, so no special need to play any more on Ladbrokes for now. My initial 10$ are now 25$ there. At some later point I may build the roll up further, but the same can be said about Party Poker and Betfair. Mainly I like to play on Poker Stars because of the software advantages.

      2) Started off on Poker Stars 2-tabling 5NL 6-max Zoom. Got very nervous for some reason, see post above. Adjusted after a break by playing only one table. I think this was a good idea in the situation. I can more easily feel in control when playing only one table. It's like, my thoughts encapsulate the situation rather than the other way round. Later I can 2-table when I feel in the zone.

      But this day, I just kept 1-tabling on and on....... Sunday, I should be making millions and millions from the fish....... But I just couldn't catch a hand and get action.... Spewed 2 big pots myself, and some 20-30-40 BBs in other spots, but that must be weighted up against when my bluffs succeeded (but I did call 3rd street too lightly a couple of times when a fish hit trips or two pairs with his garbage from BB).

      Got into the negative (1-2 bins) and got stubborn, wanting to break even before calling it a day. Finally, finally got there when some guy floated me IP on Ac Qd 7d two-tone flop with 88 (I had Kc 7c). Turn 6c gave me a flush draw, I checked after tanking, he checked back. River was 8c, completing the flush and giving villain a set. I bet pot, and villain.... Raised big?!?!?!? Why? I shoved and he called. Oh, now I understand, villain probably wanted more value from broadway hands in my range, but still.


      Overall: A Sunday marathon horror grind, struggling to break even.


      Mental state: First very nervous, then adjusted and was feeling good and confident for several hours, despite results. Second part of session, I was very tired and frustrated, while still trying to be rational. Was definitely not playing A-game by then and noticed several lapses in my thought processes. Willpower was probably not enough here to make up for my fatigue, and I should have called it a day earlier than I did (but all the FISHESOMGZ!!!).


      Gameplay: Unsure. I spewed a stack in horrible fashion. Made other questionable plays/calls. But also stayed quite disciplined overall. During session, I was beginning to doubt if my style was right for the whole "Sunday Fish Gathering" environment that I presumed. Basically, I couldn't get good action. Some variance/bad luck probably did play a part here. But maybe it is better to play regular tables on Sundays?


      Physical state: Fairly OK. Despite playing for long hours, my arm didn't hurt much, probably because I was playing low intensity on one table and could rest mouse hand by using short cut keys with left hand mainly (but I will maybe pay the price today).


      Other notes:

      Hands:
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      The fear of having a bad Zoom strategy.

      First, I wanted to call this post "the fear of being exploited" (by GTO good or perceptive players). But I think it's more general than this.

      Basically, what happens is this: I gravitate towards some strategy/repertoire of lines that I think/hope is good for the current Zoom environment. Then...

      1) When running good, I feel like a baws.
      2) When running bad, I question my way of playing.


      Now, we shouldn't be result oriented, they say, but I actually think this is a rational way of thinking if we ever want to attempt playing in an exploitative style (which I definitely think we want to at NL5).

      The overall (rather than against a specific villain) exploitative thinking process is something like:

      1) Figure out the environment.
      2) Figure out ways to exploit this environment.

      Now, we can rationally (or by experience) analyse if what we decide in 1 and 2 is warranted. But... Surely the pure results is a fairly good metric/evidence for this as well!? Apart from the variance noise, of course...


      Apart from this, a fear that creeps in when running bad is that:

      1) I am being exploited by perceptive regs with notes and stats on me.

      2) That I am being exploited by the environment that has, generally speaking, adjusted well towards my style (say, 1/2 pot c-bets or low c-bet frequencies or whatever may show up in stats) rather than the other way round.


      It's probably an endless discussion. I think the challenge here for me is to figure out how to settle on good analysis/judgement on situations rather than bad judgement (say, too emotional and rapidly overadjusting)... Nothing more, nothing less.
    • TinoLaan
      TinoLaan
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.10.2011 Posts: 6,411
      Looks like a nice blog!

      I've only skimmed through so far, but I'll read all of it later today most likely :)
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      You're welcome :-)
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      What is aggression?

      I will try to analyse aggression and its general consequences in this post to clarify my thoughts on this. I will consider only situations where we are IP heads up postflop.


      So, what is aggression? I don't know how the HUD stat us defined, but here I will put it like this:

      Direct aggression:

      1) We bet rather than check behind.
      2) We raise rather than call.

      Indirect aggression:

      1) We check with the intention to possibly bet or raise on later street.
      2) We call with the intention to possibly bet or raise on later street.


      Note that I do not think of aggression as like, we have to go bananas already on the flop, or we have to c-bet 100%, or 3-barrel this or that much, or that we have to overbet or shove every other hand. For now, I will simply define it as above.


      What are the advantages of aggression?

      1) It allows us a bluffing frequency.
      2) It can give us value.
      3) Bets or raises on flop and turn carry the threat of later bets.
      4) Bets or raises on turn and river protect calls, bets or raises on earlier streets. (In other words, Villain will have to think twice before calling or betting/raising for value or bluffing.)


      An example:

      Flop goes check-check.
      Villain checks turn, we bet, villain calls.
      Villain checks river.
      Should we bet now?

      It is often said that we should not bet if we will mostly get called by better hands. However, if we always play it safe on river here, then villain can float much more easily on turn. By betting river here, we protect our bet on turn. This allows us to bluff more often on turn, or to make villain fold out more of his equity.


      What are the disadvantages of aggression?

      1) By betting or raising (rather than closing the action), we allow villain to take counter aggression measures by raising or re-raising for value or as a bluff.

      2) The situation in a vacuum may not warrant it (we may value-own ourselves.)

      3) It's difficult to balance well.
      - On flop and turn: if we are always aggressive with good hands and some bluffs on flop and turn, then our passive range can become far too vulnerable.
      - We may end up bluffing too often.
      - We may value-own ourselves too often.
      - If we "always" bet or raise on later streets, we may give villain too good implied odds with some types of hands/draws.
      - etc.


      Balance is of course the fundamental difficulty and challenge in poker.


      The motivation for me to write this post is that I have been thinking a lot about especially river situations, where I suspect I have a leak in not betting often enough for value. The ultimate way to be exploitable here is of course to only bet your air :O

      Another thing, it is often said in hand evaluations that you should play bet/fold. I guess the idea is that you want to have some aggression in the spot (and, of course, simply bet for value or as bluff).

      Obviously, if we play bet/fold too often, this is also an exploitable leak. This is an example of how aggression can be successfully met by counter-aggression if we do not balance things well.
    • Mbuto
      Mbuto
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.06.2013 Posts: 56
      List of planned posts.

      I write this to make a record of things I want to write about. I can also use it to add new things on my mind.

      1) Learning to love patience.
      2) Rate the bluff.
      3) Things to focus on when starting a session in order to optimize chance of hitting the zone asap.
      4) Random stuff that annoys/tilt me and that I must love to learn instead.
      5) Various villain leaks and how to exploit them.
      6) Reasons for betting.
      7) Full description of thinking/decision process at a decision point. Shortcuts. How to identify slacking/misses and how to practice/strengthen the process. Ways to improve/add to/make more efficient the process as you rise in levels.
      8) Playing OOP against a 100% c-better. ("He knows that you know he c-bets 100%, so he need not respect your check-raise" and consequences.)
      9) The double check-raise (flop and turn) OOP, where does it fit in (flop, hand, opponent)?
      10) Ego tilt.
      11) How hard your range hit the flop --> whether you should be overall aggressive or defensive. + the nature of changing hand values and its implications.
      12) The "how do I proceed on various cards, which cards do I like to see here" heuristic and its effect on guiding your more principled thinking process.
      13) Some common simple "holistic heuristics" and their use and deficiencies (for instance, "how big a pot am I willing to play with this hand?")
      14) How to decide when and what to slowplay and when and what to fastplay. (No idea.)
      15) Escalating vs. decreasing betsizes, effects, when and with what to use it.
      16) Grinding poker vs. grinding other types of games.


      EDIT (August 7): Added 8 and 9.
      EDIT (August 8): Added 10-16.