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Comment | DirtyD commented on Thoughts of the Week

All these responses are getting me fired up to write some more! I've got some ideas for this week :)

Jan. 18, 2017 | 3:54 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Check-Raising Flops

Yeah I just don't want guys to get the impression they'll be printing money by check-raise bluffing ;) The video is very good on the opponent types and situations where it's important to mix in bluffs.

For me personally, I play on Ignition where the player pool is extremely sticky. Additionally, it's anonymous, so there's not really any need to establish an image to get paid on value hands. So for me I very rarely check-raise bluff. Still, it's good to have those skills in the toolkit for when they are appropriate.

Jan. 16, 2017 | 6:31 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Check-Raising Flops

Kudos on making a theme video, they're harder to make but also more valuable for viewers.

Is there a reason you chose 100% hands where you won the pot?

Jan. 16, 2017 | 2:40 p.m.

In this spot I wouldn't be too excited about going for the blocker bluff if the flush hits. It's pretty likely at least one of your opponents will have a smaller flush, and I wouldn't trust them to fold. Psychologically, many people really don't like to fold after "making" their hand.

At low stakes in particular - and really poker in general - I'm very wary of plays whose maximum upside is bluffing. If you think about poker theory and where money comes from, most of your money comes from value bets. Unless you somehow know your opponents are massively overfolding in a certain spot, a line whose upside is an opportunity to bluff is rarely going to be profitable.

Jan. 12, 2017 | 3:59 p.m.

As far as calculating EVs of strategies - it's quite easy to calculate EV of simple strategies, like BB shoves range on turn, but somewhat more difficult and requiring more assumptions to calculate EVs of complex strategies over multiple streets, right? (because we'll have to make assumptions about how each side plays their range)

Jan. 12, 2017 | 3:25 p.m.

Thanks, I will take a shot at calculating some equities. Was that range vs. range equity graph you posted from Odds Oracle?

Jan. 12, 2017 | 3:06 p.m.

I think folding flop is a good idea because his range should be stronger than normal here, having raised pre-flop from the BB against a UTG limp and bet into two players on the flop.

Jan. 10, 2017 | 3:55 p.m.

"On the flop I didn't feel comfortable c/c because my hand is so medium"

Medium hands are exactly the ones you're supposed to call. I would prefer to check on the flop. It's not the sort of hand where you want to force money in, and as you can see it plays kind of awkwardly with initiative.

On the turn this kind of looks like a good check-shove combo, but I have a feeling that might be suicidal against a lot of opponents.

Jan. 10, 2017 | 3:53 p.m.

Why not check-call turn? Seems like the natural play when we have good-not-great showdown value and outs to the nuts.

Jan. 10, 2017 | 3:50 p.m.

I like betting the flop. At these stakes I expect SB CC ranges to be more random garbage than anything else, so I expect we're pushing a lot of equity.

Jan. 9, 2017 | 9:59 p.m.

Maybe he's a successful NL player switching over?

Jan. 9, 2017 | 9:59 p.m.

Thanks for the detailed reply. If I understand correctly, you're saying

check range < check/shove < bet small

How did you arrive at your conclusions here? Logic, software, experience with similar spots, something else?

Jan. 9, 2017 | 2:50 p.m.

For example, we have 82.5% turn equity against QJT9, which is a very strong draw on the flop. Of course there's some distance between 82 and 100, but I'd still count that as way ahead. Our exact hand is somewhat unusual in that it's sort of a "medium" combo hand, but a lot of our range will be more polarized towards boats or draws without much showdown value.

Blocker effects:

T965 has 22% turn equity, button has a boat ~45%
K986 has 88% turn equity, button has a boat ~30%

Just copy and pasted that from my notes, not sure why I chose K986, but you can see there's a huge difference in how often button has a boat depending on our holding. I expect the difference will be even pronounced if we give ourselves, say, KK32. (I would 3bet most, but not all, KK at this stack depth).

The ranges I was using for the flop action were

K8+,T96+,K+:T9+,8+:965+ for BB


965+,K7+,K+:J9+ for BU

These definitely aren't perfect. For one thing, with my small flop check-raise size I am saying I have some bluffs, but the range I used there is basically all strong value/semi-bluff, no real bluffs. So I should probably be including a few bluff combos.

It's also fair to point out that with our exact hand, check-potting is probably a very good and simple way to play the hand. But the turn spot I got myself into is still interesting.

Jan. 7, 2017 | 3:47 p.m.

Try not to let the actual flop influence your decision, any hand is capable of flopping well. The question is whether it does well enough, often enough, to make raising profitable. This particular hand I would usually open in CO.

Jan. 7, 2017 | 3:34 p.m.

What I'm thinking is, with our actual hand, we're in a way ahead/way behind situation, because we're drawing dead against boats, but need very little protection against draws. We'll also have many boats, which are in a similar situation but even more extreme. Blocker effects are extremely important here: if we have a boat, it's much more likely our opponent has a draw, and if we have the draw, it's much more likely they have the boat. So I think much of our range wants to check: boats because they don't need protection and can't get action with a bet, and wraps for fear of running into boats. I'm sort of talking myself into checking, but I'm still confused by the whole situation.

Jan. 6, 2017 | 7:29 p.m.

Why is betting better than check-calling?

Jan. 5, 2017 | 3:26 p.m.

It's really important to think carefully about these weird structures (probably away from the table) and develop a sound gameplan. I think the appropriate adjustment to the "Dallas straddle" is to play extremely tight in every position but the button. You have virtually no pre-flop fold equity and a player who is hugely incentivized to play against you in position, plus he always has the option of 3betting. So while KJJ8ss is fairly normal open from CO, your position here is so different from "cutoff" in a normal game that even calling it that is somewhat misleading.

Of course, everyone else will most likely ignore the structure and gamble with whatever hands they're dealt. This can be a huge advantage for you, but you also have to consider how tight you can get away with playing before you get kicked out of the game. It all factors into the equation.

Jan. 4, 2017 | 10:42 p.m.

Hand History | DirtyD posted in PLO: Board-pairing turn with SPR 1
Blinds: $1.00/$2.00 (5 Players) CO: $191.80
BN: $115.90
SB: $216.53
BB: $197.00 (Hero)
UTG: $261.18
Preflop ($3.00) Hero is BB with 9 K T 6
2 folds, BN raises to $7.00, SB folds, Hero calls $5.00
Flop ($15.00) 8 K 7
Hero checks, BN bets $11.25, Hero raises to $32.00, BN calls $20.75
Turn ($79.00) 8 K 7 8

Jan. 4, 2017 | 3:37 p.m.

Yeah, raising this pre-flop is basically throwing up a nice alley-oop for him to dunk in your face. If your opponent never folds (and often re-raises) there's no reason to raise when you don't have a good hand.

Jan. 3, 2017 | 10:32 p.m.

I think min-raising premium hands is leaving too much money on the table against a villain like this. He's made it pretty clear he doesn't give a shit what you have or how big you raise, he's just going to shovel the money in anyway, so you might as well bet big when you have the goods.

Jan. 3, 2017 | 10:30 p.m.

Yeah, not very useful. At best it corrects for one kind of luck in a game that has all kinds of luck scattered all over the place. Additionally, people tend to use it selectively when they're running under EV to feel sorry for themselves or convince themselves they deserve to win more, but ignore it when they're running over EV.

EV-adjusted results are slightly more telling than raw results, but they're nowhere near an "objective" measure of your skill.

Jan. 3, 2017 | 10:26 p.m.

I think Doug Polk's recent 10k challenge was really interesting for this topic. He was trying to grind up $10k starting with freerolls. I'm not sure where he's at now, but last I checked progress was pretty slow, and I know he had downswings of at least half his roll at least twice. Think about that: how many guys are going to be able to weather downswings like that without tilting, losing confidence, etc? It's somewhat easier for Doug because he's regarded as one of the best players in the world and that money doesn't mean anything to him, but I think even he was feeling it a little. Imagine how much tougher it is to get through a downswing like that when you don't even really know if you're any good. One big mistake people make is thinking it should be easy to grind through low stakes. Grinding up a roll is no joke, even for very good players.

Jan. 3, 2017 | 10:21 p.m.

Raising turn looks somewhat suicidal as you get it in quite bad when called. I definitely prefer to call and see a river in position.

His river sizing doesn't make much sense to me. Given the tightness of his preflop range, when he bets this river he should mostly be representing big flushes, nuts or second nuts, which want to bet big. He shouldn't have many middling hands like low flushes or straights, and I don't think it makes much sense for him to bet sets or two pairs.

Given the price you're getting and the fact it's a backdoor flush, I have to think folding this would be a pretty big hero fold/over-fold in game theory terms. Combined with the read,

"He seems to have sizing tells, betting cheaper as bluff or non-nutted, so I don't expect to see a lot of nut flushes in his hand."

I would probably find a call. Having said that, game theory is clearly not the most important thing we should be thinking about here, and if you just don't think he has the cojones to three-barrel, it's definitely okay to make some big folds on the river.

Jan. 2, 2017 | 4:35 p.m.

"But then the downswing happens and alotugh I manage not to tilt in a manner that affects my game. In fact, I even play tighter when I lose, rather make tight folds than loose calls and usually play a lowvariance style."

From personal experience I would recommend taking a very long, hard look at statements like this. You say the downswing isn't affecting your play, but then in the very next sentence describe how you play differently during a downswing. I've found that when I've gained some distance and can evaluate my play more objectively, it was often the case that the downswing did impact me in subtle ways that were hard to see at the time.

Jan. 2, 2017 | 4:27 p.m.

Yes, tempo is a familiar concept in chess, it can refer either to the concept of time in general, or the unit of time, a single move. The thing is, in chess there's a lot of stuff you want to do that takes time, especially bringing out your pieces early in the game. I'm not sure what the comparison would be in poker. You're allowed to bet however much you want on any street, so there's not an obvious thing you want to do but don't have time for (at least, not obvious to me). The closest comparison I can think of is building a pot: if you miss a street of betting, in a sense you don't have time to build as big of a pot as you want. You could try to compensate with an overbet, but that has problems of its own.

Tempo is also commonly referred to in Magic, although it seems to mean something different than in chess, and it's even become a bit of a running joke recently that no one actually knows what it means in Magic.

So tempo is familiar in Magic and chess, but to mean different things, which may not be very well understood. As far as I can tell it's not a commonly used concept in poker. I can't remember ever hearing anyone other than Ben use it and a quick google search I just did as a sanity check didn't really turn anything up.

Dec. 30, 2016 | 11:31 p.m.

Hi Ben, could you define "tempo advantage"? I've heard you mention it a few times, but I'm not sure I understand what it means. In this particular case you seem to be referring to the idea that, if we bet flop and OOP calls, he will probably then check turn, allowing us to take a free card if we want. Is tempo different from initiative?

Dec. 29, 2016 | 4:10 p.m.

I think we can have a donking range on this turn because we should have more 43, but this doesn't seem like a great hand for it. We're in between value and bluff.

Dec. 26, 2016 | 4:32 a.m.

I'd guess because, even though it was theory-oriented, it dealt specifically with a typical spot, so it seemed immediately relevant for a lot of people. It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to see how you can use this video to make more money.

I'll say for myself, the theory videos are by far the most valuable, so I hope you keep doing them!

Dec. 13, 2016 | 12:02 a.m.

I don't think that enough people take advantage in the button's spot here to make it a strong 'default' exploit though. You need to make sure you're playing against an aware/focused opponent.

Or, an opponent so naive he will automatically bet when checked to without even realizing how bad this board is for his range. So oddly enough it seems good to check to very good or very bad opponents, but against medium-good opponents you want to lead.

Dec. 8, 2016 | 4:47 p.m.

Even more so in PLO! Similar deal, people think way too much about having a good bluffing hand, not nearly enough about whether it's a good bluffing spot.

Dec. 8, 2016 | 1:13 a.m.

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