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A game plan is a guideline for your play in specific situations against different opponents. In this video, you will learn the overall approach when developing a game plan for a concrete situation.
Welcome to this video: Game Plan - Introduction
In this video you will learn what a game plan is, and how to approach the creation of a game plan. all this will be done by giving an example of how to create a game plan for a 3-bet range from the small blind against an open raise from the cutoff.
With a game plan, you not only plan the course of a specific hand, but you also think about how you would like to play your entire range in this situation. Thus, a game plan is an effective way to construct your entire range in a specific situation.
For which situations should you prepare a game plan? If you try to create an elaborate game plan for all possible situations, you would need to have a game plan for all combinations of: your specific position, the positions of your opponents, every possible starting hand, all possible boards and all possible types of opponents. Of course, this would be too complicated. If you decide to go to the other extreme and settle with a fixed starting hand chart, your game will be too rigid. For this reason you should have a game plan for the most relevant standard situations.
Your criteria are: - your position - your opponent's position - and the preflop action [Note: Please speak slowly while the animation is shown.] Characteristic situations which you should have a game plan for are, for example: - As The Button against Small Blind, call 3-bet - As The Big Blind against Under The Gun: Call an open raise - As The Cutoff against Middle Position: 3-Bet vs an open raise
In this video we will give an example of the creation of a game plan. While doing this, the emphasis will be on the procedure and the general approach to this task, not the actual result. This will help you to create your own game plans in the future. In this example you will see what the creation of a game plan for 3-betting from the small blind playing against an open raise from the cutoff, at No Limit 200, could look like. So let's see how you create a game plan:
You start with an analysis of a typical opponent at your limit. After that, you define your ranges and, thereby, establish your own basic game plan. In the third step you must think about the adjustments you can make for different kinds of opponents in your basic game plan. In the last step, you check your game plan for weak points and think about the consequences of these weak points. Let's start with Step 1.
First, you must get a general idea of the situation and find out how a typical opponent at your limit plays against you. This is why a typical opponent is the starting point of your analysis. This raises the question: Who or what is a typical opponent? A typical opponent is the type of player who you find most frequently at your limit. In most cases, this will be a TAG who is playing multiple tables. You should always search for the typical opponent at your respective limit, since the typical opponents on higher limits will often play a lot more aggressively than those on lower limits. Their playing style could also differ from poker site to poker site. In order to analyze your typical opponent, you could use your tracking software with all of its filter options. When doing this, you should always have a sample size of more than 4,000 hands from your opponent. If you don't have 4,000 hands from a single opponent, you could combine several typical opponents from your database to one alias which can be analyzed afterwards. Be careful not to mix too different types of opponents when doing this. In case you don't have a tracking software, you could also follow the steps by estimating the ranges of your standard opponents with your own experiences.
After choosing your standard opponent you create a preflop profile of him. You start by defining his preflop ranges. In our example the standard opponent plays his ranges from the cutoff as follows: The blue colour indicates his open raising range Yellow shows all hands he would call against a 3-bet, and, as you can see, he is willing to play 4-bet/call with Pocket Jacks Plus and Ace-King preflop. Of course, your opponents won't play their ranges the same way 100% of the time. Even so, you should define fixed ranges. In the event you experience problems when assigning a certain hand to exactly one line, you can split the respective hand combinations and distribute them to several lines.
After getting a general idea of your standard opponents' preflop ranges, you should be looking for other distinctive features and in his preflop game. You can do this by: - clicking through individual hands of your opponent - using different filter options of your tracking software - counting the hand combinations in specific ranges for associating them with one another later. This is how it would look with the standard opponent from our example: He open raises this range from the cutoff. This range includes 382 hand combinations. His standard open raise size is 2.5 Big Blinds. His 3-bet calling range consists mostly of broadway hands, and includes 104 hand combinations. You may have also noticed the interesting fact that this opponent adapts his play to very tight 3-bettors by calling less 3-bets. His 4-bet/call range includes 40 hand combinations, while his standard bet size against a 3-bet of 9 Big Blinds from the Small Blind is 21 Big Blinds. His 4-bet/fold range is hard to determine but the analysis with tracking software has shown that this range must consist of approximately 25 hand combinations. This opponent presumably varies his 4-bets according to the table dynamics and other parameters that cannot be determined exactly. Now our opponents' preflop profile is completed.
You can draw many important conclusions from the preflop profile and the useful information it provides. The following conclusions could include: How much fold equity do you have when 3-betting? Your opponent folds 213 out of 382 hand combinations. That means you have 56% fold equity. The conclusion is that your 3-bet does not show an immediate profit. This would only be the case if you would have a fold equity of more than 66%. How often does your opponent 4-bet as a bluff? Your opponent 4-bets a range of 65 hand combinations 25 of which are bluffs. This results in a bluffing frequency of 42%. Now we can conclude that a preflop all-in as a bluff with hands such as Pocket Fives or Ace-Deuce suited is not profitable. The first hands with a positive EV of a preflop all-in against this opponent are Pocket Jacks and Ace-King. But the most important aspect is: What do we know about his 3-bet calling range? Your opponent 4-bets Pocket Jacks Plus and Ace-King. These hands can therefore not be in his range anymore when he calls a 3-bet. We call this a "capped Range". This means that when you 3-bet Pocket Jacks Plus and Ace-King, you will hit stronger hands than your opponent on the flop and have the best hand most of the time with Top Pair Top Kicker or an over pair. How does your opponent adapt against other player types? Most of your opponents adapt against specific player types and change their game accordingly. Regarding the opponent in our example, you can see that he calls less hands against 3-bets from tight opponents. Therefore your preflop profile becomes invalid when you 3-bet too tightly against him.
You will face important decisions on the flop when your opponent calls your 3-bet. This is the reason why you need information about his postflop tendencies in addition to the preflop profile to make a good game plan. You can get this information by analyzing hands from similar situations and draw your conclusions from them. The analysis could look like this: How does your opponent play with showdown value? Since the typical opponent in our example has a capped call-3-bet-range, it is especially interesting to observe how he continues with his many marginal pairs postflop. What we see is that he tends to call down marginal hands and tries to realize his equity by checking behind when he gets the chance to do so. The conclusion is that you have to bet your value range against his showdown value range! The next thing you must consider is what your opponent will do if he doesn't have showdown value and if he tends to float. In regards to our typical opponent, we can see that this is exactly what he does. He floats – at least sometimes – overcards, any pair and gutshots. We now can conclude that his calling range on the flop is weak in two different ways. On the one hand he 4-bets Ace-King and Pocket Jacks Plus preflop, so these hands are not in his range in a 3-bet pot, and on the other hand he floats many weak and marginal hands. Let's now take a closer look at how your typical opponent reacts to checks by the Pre-Flop Raiser. What we see, is that he bets a lot when checked to, especially on low boards. The result is that you should also check your hands with showdown value to induce bluffs.
Now it's time to determine your own basic game plan. This means that you define specific preflop ranges and develop strategies for the most important postflop lines. You have already created your opponent's preflop profile, analyzed his postflop game and drawn your conclusions from these points. On the basis of these findings, you can now create your own basic game plan.
You start doing this by searching for possible weak points in the game of your opponent: Possible points of attack are ranges or situations which allow you to precisely estimate your opponent's hand strength and his tactics. Based on these points of attack, you define your ranges in a way that allows you to easily make profitable decisions. You can experiment with different approaches when designing your own ranges and try to predict the possible consequences. In our example we were able to identify our opponents call-3-bet-range and his respective postflop tendencies as a point of attack.
His call-3bet-range is capped and your opponent tends to call too many flop bets. Now we design our value range for 3-bets from the small blind accordingly so that it dominates the calling range of our opponent. From your anaylsis in step 1 you know that the opponent adapts his play against very tight players and folds more hands preflop. This means that you will need a bluffing range to make sure you will get paid with your value range. Beyond that, your analysis has shown that your opponents sees checks from the preflop aggressor on low flops as weakness and bets a lot of the time. Now you can use this information for the creation of your bluff range, which should contain hands that hit these kind of boards well.
Unfortunately it is impossible to create flat postflop ranges. Your game plan postflop is your basic understanding of why and when certain lines are most profitable. The more hands you analyze for designing your game plan, the better you will be able to recognize certain patterns at the table. In our example – as preflop aggressor in a 3-bet pot from the Small Blind vs a Cutoff open raise you should be thinking about the bet/bet/bet line and then think about how to design this range in certain situations. Since your opponent likes to float a lot, you would not want to always check/fold on the turn, but to have a check/call range from time to time as well. Again, you will have to determine in which situations the line bet flop, check/call turn is most useful and which range you should use for playing this way. Finally you should analyze the possibility of deceptively checking as the preflop aggressor. The question is when to check/call or check/raise which range on the flop.
Let's start with the line bet flop, bet turn, bet river. In this situation: your opponent open raises from the cutoff, you 3-bet from the small blind with your new 3-bet range. This range contains value hands that dominate your opponent's calling range and a bluffing range that hits low boards. And this is how it looks like. For your typical opponent you assume the following 3-bet range. Let's remember: as you can see, this range is rather broadway heavy and capped, which means that your opponent does not tend to call strong hands like Pocket Queens and Ace-King against a 3-bet. Regarding your opponent's postflop tendencies you know that he likes to float and call down light. On a flop like this you will consequently not have a lot of fold equity against his range. This poses the question: Which hands do you want to bet on the flop? And what is your plan for this turn? And finally: which hands do you bet all-in on the river? In this scenario you don't have much fold equity at any point of the hand, so your range should contain many value hands and only a few bluffs. Your strongest draws should be amongst the few bluff hands you bet. In the event your bluff gets called, this won't be a big problem at all. Your opponent will overestimate your very small bluff frequency and call you down more frequently when you have one of your strong hands. This means in practice: Choose your clear value hands like overpairs, sets and Ace-Jack suited and your strongest draws as bluffs for the line bet flop, bet turn and bet river.
Let's now consider a typical bet flop, check/call turn scenario: Preflop action and the ranges are the same, but the flop is different. Now the question is what should your bet flop, check/call turn range look like? In these situations your check/call range on the turn should consist mostly of hands that are too weak to value bet, but still ahead of your opponents bet turn range. His range contains many floats that will bet when checked to but fold when you bet. It is also often proper to check parts of your value range on the turn as well with the intention to call a bet. This way your opponent won't be able to read you easily. This is what it could look like in our example Hands with marginal showdown value and a couple of strong hands like aces to protect this range.
Let's consider our last example: check/call and check/raise as the PFR. Your opponent tends to attack your checks as the preflop aggressor on low boards. Because of this, your checking range on this flop should also contain the hands from your bluff-3-bet-range that hit this flop hard. The biggest part of your checking range is, of course, still the hands you will give up on this flop. In this example your opponent's call-3-bet-range doesn't hit the board at all, so that a check/raise with your good hands will be useless. As a consequence your check/call and check/raise strategy could look like this: A good combination of marginal bluff catchers and very strong hands.
Now the basic game plan represents an elaborate strategy against a typical opponent. In reality, you will be playing against numerous different types of players. In the next step you will have to think about how the peculiarities of your opponents' game affect your basic game plan.
For doing this, you have to compare your other opponents with your typical opponent, find the differences and think about how these differences affect your ranges. Here are a few examples: Your opponent folds only 41% to 3-bets and fights hard for every pot postflop. Since your opponent's range on the flop is weaker than the standard opponent's range, you can 3-bet more hands for value preflop and forgo your 3-bet bluffs. another example Your opponents folds more than 66% to 3-bets. Every 3-bet is profitable. You should 3-bet a very wide range against this opponent. Please keep in mind that you should give up many hands when called. Your intention was to make money preflop, not to 3-barrel-bluff against a stronger range than those of your standard opponent. one last example Your opponent folds 59% to continuation bets. Since your opponent rarely floats and folds his marginal hands on the flop, you are able to bluff bet more hands on the flop. This means that you will keep your 3-bet range from your basic game plan, but change your postflop game plan. Compared to your basic game plan you will now make more bluff continuation bets on the flop and slow down on the turn.
You are ready to test your game plan on the tables! However, you will have to always be aware of the fact that your game plan has some weak points. You should know these weak points so you will notice when your opponent starts to exploit them. Try to see your game plan from your opponent's point of view. What are your weak points? How would you play against yourself?
Let's now think about the weak points of our basic game plan. First of all, your calling range in the small blind is capped, since you 3-bet all your strong hands preflop, your opponent knows which hands you cannot possibly have on the flop. As a consequence he can read your hand on many boards and play aggressively against your range. Your bet flop, bet turn, bet river line contains mostly value hands. If your opponent loses too often against this range, he probably won't pay off your good hands any more. When your opponent sees you checkraising a lot as the preflop aggressor, he will start to check behind marginal hands on the flop more often, not allowing you to checkraise anymore. These problems are not as serious as they might appear to be at first glance. Your opponents won't know your exact ranges and you can always adjust your game plan to their changed style.
You created the first version of your game plan for a specific situation. This should be the basis from which you strive to improve it continually. Additionally you should always ask yourself: What are the results of my bluff-3-bet-range? Are small pairs in my 3-bet-range optimal if I don't have a 5-bet-bluff-range preflop? On which board textures do you get the best results? And on which boards do you get the worst results? You might already see that your game plan helps you to make your session reviews more effective. You only need to remember your game plan when analyzing an interesting hand and put the hand in this context. The analyses you make will become better and better over time.
That’s it! Let's summarize all the information at the end In your game plan, you always consider your whole range, not a specific hand. The way to your game plan consists of four steps: You start with the analysis of a typical opponent You define your basic game plan You determine adjustments to different types of oppon ents And finally you search for the weak points of your game plan to be able to notice when you get exploited by your opponents. Thank you very much for your attention and good luck with creating your own game plan!