Identifying mistakes and plugging leaks in 5CD

    • Karl1977
      Karl1977
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.08.2014 Posts: 10
      I am only playing fixed 5CD since October and to be honest, I'm struggling; 5CD is not the 'easy bankroll builder' it is said to be
      I do 'okay' at 0.10/0.20 but as soon as I move up (0.25/0.50) I am failing. Part of this is probably due to the tougher opponents nowadays and to the high rake, but also I think I am making lots of mistakes, my game has some fundamental leaks and is not good enough. In short: I am a donkey but I know it and I am determined to work harder, study more, discuss hands etc. to improve.

      Going critically through my hand histories of the first few months, here are a few characteristics I identified in my play which I think are probably big leaks/mistakes. It would be interesting to have other players' thoughts on this: is it a leak/am I handling the situation incorrectly ? And is my 'solution' or the way I think I should plug the supposed leak correct ?

      This 'list' of mistakes I identified in my play can probably be useful for further discussion or to help other beginning 5CD players who are probably making similar mistakes.

      For all these 'supposed' leaks, suppose we are playing unknown opponents i.e. you haven't played with them yet (or not often) so you do not yet have sufficient or conclusive notes on them, and we would like to work out a 'general strategy' that should be correct against the average opponent and his ranges:

      1. Openraising correctly based on position but then calling too often when reraised

      Suppose you open raise UTG with AA (or maybe KKA), but then it gets 3-bet or 4-bet behind you. I would call the 3-bet but fold to the 4-bet. Suppose you open raise in the hijack with KK (or QQK), but then it gets 3-bet. A call is probably a mistake. Suppose it gets 4-bet. A call then seems like an even bigger mistake because with two raisers predraw, my (limited) experience leads me to think that in this situation you're always up against at least either a higher pair, a two pair or trips. Also, I open raise in any position with any two pair, but if you do not win the blinds, you always seem to be in trouble postdraw, definitely if someone 3-bets (in which case a low two pair is probably useless and needs to be folded) but even if someone simply calls the raise.

      2. Not giving up enough when open-raising in the SB and the BB 3-bets

      I know that in the SB the optimal opening frequency would be slightly less than 2/3 which means you can open as light as 22 or AK. What if the BB 3-bets? You should probably fold anything below AA or KK at that point. Can you still call with lower hands? Also, My fear is that if you fold too much in this scenario, the BB will learn this and start 3-betting lighter to exploit this. However, when you openraise correctly in the SB with say 77, and the BB 3-bets, if you call, you are almost always behind and are probably making a big mistake.

      The following 3 are related and all come down to 'probably not playing correctly after the pot has been raised':
      3. 3-betting light when not justified and only thinking "reraise or fold, never call" in hold'em-style
      4. 3-betting too tight after an UTG-raiser?
      5. Not calling enough with 'lesser' hands in the blinds or even outside the blinds

      My 3-betting ranges are very likely incorrect: against an unknown UTG-raiser (i.e. no notes on his ranges yet) I would 3-bet two pair AA-XX or better and fold everything else, against a hijack raiser two pair QQ-XX and fold anything else, against a cutoff-raiser every two pair and maybe something like AA985 and fold everything else, against a button-raiser every two pair and AA, against an SB-raiser every two pair and AA.

      You should probably 3-bet with lower two pairs than what I am playing against UTG (maybe TTXX or better) and HIJ to play optimally and call with AA (especially in the SB and/or BB) rather than 3-bet as AA is not strong enough to 3-bet for value. Also, the way I am playing this up to now is far from the optimal theoretical frequencies where you should defend the BB 30% of the time against a BTN raiser and the BB 50% of the time against an SB raiser. You probably need to call raises with many lower pairs against BTN or SB-raisers than what I have been playing thus far (probably also KK, QQ, JJ, TT and simply call with them, not reraise)

      In short, I think my 3-betting and cold-calling ranges are probably downright wrong against unknown opponents.

      6. Not value betting enough/properly when it is correct

      I learnt in the meantime that when heads-up against another player and you have position, you both draw 3 and he checks, you should value bet any two pair for value. I only value bet high two pairs (say QQXX or better!) for value in this situation

      Also, I never value bet one pair heads-up against another player who draws 3 after he checks. Should this hand be bet for value in this scenario? If so, that's another leak

      7. Overplaying hands postdraw

      I have been working on this mistake already. When I started playing, I overplayed/overvalued hands that looked good to me but that weren't really that great. Lower or medium trips are great predraw when you would cap the betting with it, but postdraw in a multiway pot, they are to be played more carefully and are not strong enough to raise, and definitely not to cap.

      Value betting hands postdraw that are not strong enough to value bet is a mistake related to this.

      8. Misplaying the semi-bluffing hands

      I will open and even 3-bet with open-ended straight flush draws or ace high flush draws predraw. And if the pot gets heads-up, I would always make a continuation bet postdraw if I miss, which will often win me the pot nonetheless. But if the pot ends up multi-way, I would check and fold if I miss because I consider a continuation bet to be hopeless in this case. Or should you still c-bet against 2 players? Against 3 players? Usually at least one of two players seems to call if you try it. Obviously the more players in the pot, the less likely your c-bet is going to work.

      Any thoughts on the above would be most helpful.
      Thanks!
  • 6 replies
    • bigpooch
      bigpooch
      Basic
      Joined: 16.01.2012 Posts: 44
      Such a long post! I'll break down reply according to the numbering in the original post. I'll assume this is for fixed limit and this could be for any limit.

      1. Openraising correctly based on position but then calling too often when reraised

      First off, I think it's important to look at any hands involving the 3-bettor that have happened at the table previous to this situation; any information about how this player has played may prove useful.

      I think it's pretty standard to fold to the 4-bet in most situations with a pair; the only exception might be when on the BTN against two very aggressive players when playing at ~$10-20 or higher, in which case the SB might only have ~QQ+ or a semibluff and the BB might be just trying to knock out the BTN with a high pair or two small pair.

      I think you should still call a 3-bet in the hijack with KK until you get a sense of how tight the 3-bettor is; with QQKxy or QQAxy you could fold, but with QQAKx you may as well treat like KK and call. Again, if you open with any pair, even AA in the hijack and the action is capped when it gets back to you, a fold is normal except maybe in the case when it's a family pot with AA so it costs 2 small bets for a pot that will have ~20 small bets ( of course, sometimes making AAA will be insufficient ).

      It's important to always open raise with any two small pairs since the primary goal is to win the antes with these hands. If you get three-bet, you generally fold two small pairs because the range you typically face has two small pairs crushed and quite often the equity with two small pairs in this spot is about 8% unless you break it and draw to the highest of the pairs, which may or may not give you better equity depending on the 3-bettor's range.

      I think it's important to set a boundary on how often you can't fold to the 3-bet, i.e., if you fold this often, players are apt to try to exploit you in the future. Roughly 3% of hands will be trips or better, so assume players in the blinds or players left to act after you open UTG or from the HIJ won't fold trips+. Let's say you open UTG and the CUTOFF 3-bets; how often MUST you at least continue ( includes when you open and 4-bet ) ? The CUTOFF is risking 3 small bets to win 3.5 small bets. About 91.3% of the time, none of the other 3 players will find trips+ and fold, so they find something to play about 8.7% of the time; the other times, you'll have to defend the pot and for the 3 other players and you to defend without the CUTOFF immediately making any profit ( say, with "garbage" ), you need to play ~49.4% of the time. So if you fold more than half of the time to the 3-bet, someone might have a bright idea of 3-betting you with not very much just to attempt to steal the pot. You need to defend with much more than 49.4% of the time because the typical 3-betting semibluffing hand will be a flush draw which has some equity postdraw and there is also postdraw fold equity. Of course, at the microlimits, many players are not semibluffing very often if at all, so you basically don't have to give some of these players any action and folding about half of your range is okay and folding more often isn't a crime.
    • bigpooch
      bigpooch
      Basic
      Joined: 16.01.2012 Posts: 44
      2. Not giving up enough when open-raising in the SB and the BB 3-bets

      Yes, this is one area where sometimes I feel that I'm not folding enough, especially at the smallest limits; however, folding to the 3-bet from this spot is something I'd hate to do at any limit higher than $3-6 because players are sometimes semibluff reraising not just with flush and straight draws, but with small pairs and AK. In this spot, you shouldn't fold 40% or more to the 3-bet; otherwise, astute players will exploit you in the future. Because of the typical equity for the BB's semibluffing hands, you really don't even want to fold 30% of the time. OTOH, I'd probably fold any AQ ( or worse ), 22 and 33 and any AK(unsuited) and have always folded 44X32. OTOH, no matter who the BB is, I'll continue with 77+ and usually with 66; even if I feel there are spots where I have the worst of it, I have to think about all of those blinds I picked up in the past when I didn't have a hand that was as good as 66 or 77. If the BB's hand is seen after the showdown, at least you can make a note and move on.

      The other idea is that you may want to open ~2/3 of the time against a BB that doesn't seem to defend his blind about half of the time. Although it's clear you should open with AQ+ against such a player, what is not so clear is what kind of criteria to have for the "garbage" you want to try to steal with. I'd say AJ suited and KQ suited are fine and any AJ(T/9/8) or KQ with a T/9/8 or KJ suited with a T/9/8 together with any flush draw and any openended straight draw ( excl. 6543 and 5432 ) with at least a Ten ( even if it's just a discard ) make up a fairly healthy range. Then, if you are 3-bet, you might give up on the weakest straight draws and 4-bet with some draws with good hand texture to make a successful postdraw bluff.
    • bigpooch
      bigpooch
      Basic
      Joined: 16.01.2012 Posts: 44
      3. 3-betting light when not justified and only thinking "reraise or fold, never call" in hold'em-style

      This is important to think about in the CUTOFF and HIJACK because if you were to cold call instead with a hand that you might play such as two pairs, you probably do want to 3-bet or fold because you often don't want a third party in the pot. On the other hand, if you decide to cold call with two pairs, you probably would like to balance that with some hands like quads and high trips to cold call with too. When the BTN opens, 3-betting light from the SB makes sense, especially if the BTN has a high opening frequency from that spot; you may as well try to knock out the BB since the BB with just about any hand better than a medium pair will usually be taking some significant equity out of 3-way pots.

      Still, there have to be some cold calling hands from the SB: with KKA, do you really want to 3-bet an open raise from the CUTOFF? What about a hand like 33229 on the BTN when a player ( who may have just KK or AA ) open raises from UTG?
    • bigpooch
      bigpooch
      Basic
      Joined: 16.01.2012 Posts: 44
      4. 3-betting too tight after an UTG-raiser?

      I often see players that don't 3-bet predraw with a hand like JJ88+ outside of the blinds when the player UTG open raises which I think is a mistake; they let the BB play a hand like QQ/KK or AA or flush draws for just one more small bet. From the BB, things are bit different and depends on whether the BB wants to not be easily exploitable by failing to reraise if the UTG happens to draw one card; I don't think the solution of how the BB plays against an open raise from UTG is trivial.
    • bigpooch
      bigpooch
      Basic
      Joined: 16.01.2012 Posts: 44
      5. Not calling enough with 'lesser' hands in the blinds or even outside the blinds

      This isn't talked about much because in practice, we usually play according to the opener's perceived range; however, the actual range that the BB ought to defend with is much wider than is often used in practice: e.g., if the SB open raises, the BB really ought to defend with 22 and sometimes AK if the SB is open raising close to correctly. When the BTN open raises, the BB needs to defend with 88 most of the time and hands like AK(suited) and weaker pairs and some flush draws may be worth calling if the BTN is playing anywhere close to the optimal range. The SB is a difficult spot to play from, even with a high pair; being first to act postdraw, it's hard to extract much value and it's easy for the other players to peg your range given your action. The BTN is an interesting spot to play some hands in case the open raiser is on a steal or semibluff, and I don't think it would be incorrect for the BTN to cold call with just AA against a HIJ/UTG open raise as long as the opener has shown some semibluffs; however, against players that are tight and don't have many semibluffing hands, you have to give up AA because you don't want to be caught in the middle when one of the blinds finds a hand to play. When the open raiser is the CUTOFF, you'd really want to 3-bet from the BTN almost anything worth playing, but with a hand like KK without an ace, you'd prefer the opener to have a wide range.

      I think because of the higher rake ( and more aggressive competition ) at Poker Stars compared to ~4+ years ago, you can't complete in the SB after limpers with hands you could have in a rake free environment ( say there is no rake if you were to complete ). Even if the BTN open limps, you probably can't complete with a weak openended straight draw if the BB is fairly aggressive predraw; and even at $2-4 ( with the current 3% rake ), you probably can only complete with AK(suited) when you have another "blocker" ( Q or J ) and 66AXY and 77AX+ ( X,Y>=J) even if you know the BTN can't be trapping. At the micros, although the BB is typically passive, the rake is 4.5%, so you probably still need some "blockers" if you want to complete from the SB.
    • Karl1977
      Karl1977
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.08.2014 Posts: 10
      Thanks :) I'll split the questions into different posts next time :)

      Only now I realize how much in my game was simply wrong when it comes to 3-betting properly, cold calling when needed, value betting properly after 3 card draws etc. I'm going back to the 0.10/0.20 donkey limits while further studying the game and fixing some leaks :)