DirtyD's avatar


720 points

If you bet the turn I think it has to be with the intention of betting rivers like this. Like you said, he won't fold AA to a 2/3-pot bet on the turn, but he might fold on the river when a lot of straights get there.

March 4, 2017 | 2:03 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Third Ball

Congratulations on finding a way to fight through. I've been going through something similar to this in my own poker career, although not as bad as yours. Good to hear a story of someone seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Feb. 23, 2017 | 5:47 p.m.

Feb. 16, 2017 | 9:36 p.m.

PJ is for PLO only.

Feb. 11, 2017 | 10:23 p.m.

PokerJuice will be immensely useful for your PLO game in a direct way. PIO is very cool, but takes a ton of work to see results. Unless you've decided you're transitioning to NL full time I'd start with PJ.

Feb. 11, 2017 | 9:57 p.m.

Jonna, if you have an example handy of a counterintuitive flop spot with a hand like this - either looks like a stackoff and isn't, or looks light but is a stackoff - could you post it? I think that would be super helpful. Thanks!

Feb. 9, 2017 | 4:41 p.m.

Was wondering if anyone knows of software for Ignition with functionality like Table Ninja (table stacking/tiling, hotkeys, preset bet sizes, etc.). The only one I can find that looks like it might support Ignition is StackAndTile but their website looks super sketchy.

Feb. 6, 2017 | 7:09 p.m.

I don't think image is too important here. We're not really trying to rep a stronger hand than we have, nor do we expect anyone to fold anything good. It's just a question of whether we have enough equity to get the rest in. My guess is that we do and we may as well bet-call it off on the flop, but this is exactly the kind of situation where PokerJuice tells the tale. Reasons to play passively could include wanting to get away from the hand given certain action, or inducing opponents to put in money with dominated hands. I don't really see those coming into play here, but you could maybe argue for a check-fold if the deep stack pots, for example. As played I think you have little choice but to shove turn.

Feb. 3, 2017 | 4:21 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Thoughts of the Week

Prioritization in Decision-Making

Pro Magic player Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa recently wrote a "What's the Play?" about a turn one decision. You know you're going to cast two cards, the question is which way it's best to sequence them. I won't dive into the specifics of the situation, since many of you probably don't play Magic. Suffice it to say there are many factors in play, but ultimately it comes down to a binary decision. What I really want to talk about is what this example reveals about many people's decision-making process.

The comments section of this article gives us a nice window into how people approach a decision like this. What I found so interesting is that almost everyone answered the question in the same form; and that form, in my view, is clearly inadequate to answer the question.

Let's say there are 10 potentially relevant factors in this situation, but ultimately we must choose A or B. Almost every answer was some version of

I would choose A because factor 3 points towards A for reasons x, y,
and z.

For the most part I agreed with these answers. That is, factor 3 really did support decision A for the reasons they said. However, this answer is missing a piece that is absolutely essential for making a strong case about the ultimate decision. At this point I'd like you to do me a favor: pause for a moment and consider what this answer is missing. From my perspective, this answer is obviously missing something really important. But clearly there exists an informal consensus that this answer is appropriate, because this is how most people chose to answer. I'm curious if you guys will see it the same way I do. Okay, leaving some blank space now...




















In my view the key thing this answer is missing is a case for why factor 3 is more important or relevant than all the other factors. Sure, factor 3 points towards A, but what about factors 1, 2, and 4-10? Why did you ignore all of them? Were they less important than 3? Did you somehow figure out they all came out in the wash and and it all came down to 3? I think an appropriate answer should look like this:

Factor 3 is the most important part of the question because of reasons
d, e, and f. Factor 3 points towards decision A for reasons x, y, and
z. Therefore I would choose decision A.

The second part of the answer is almost useless without the first part. Yet, the first part is usually omitted. Additionally, most readers don't seem to see this as a problem. If someone is going to disagree with an answer in the first form, the one that omits prioritization, they're more likely to disagree with the specifics than the form. That is, they'll say something like, "I don't think factor 3 actually supports decision A for reason x." It's more rare for them to say, "Sure, factor 3 supports A, but you ignored factors 6, 7, and 8."

In poker the ability to key in on the most relevant factors is one of the biggest things separating great players from everybody else. Through forum posts and coaching sessions, I've found one of the biggest things holding back less successful players is they will base their decisions on a reason that is correct so far as it goes, but is far from the most relevant factor in the hand.

For example, they might identify a reason why their opponent's pre-flop range is weaker than normal, and use it to justify a 3-barrel bluff for stacks. And the pre-flop read might be legit as far as it goes. But why was it more important than the additional information we got about opponent's range based on his actions later in the hand? Why was it more important than the board texture? Why was it more important than our own range, blockers, or image? It's not that the player gives incorrect answers to these questions, it's that he doesn't think to ask them at all.

By contrast, great players seem to have a knack for zeroing in on the most important elements of a hand. Their analysis is rarely incredibly complex, it's just a correct evaluation of the most important factors.

I think it's a good idea to think away from the table about what factors in a poker hand are most important. If you can develop a hierarchy of importance, or a structure to your decision-making, it's less likely you'll feel lost in a hand. Otherwise, you're likely to grab onto the first idea that floats by, whether or not it's actually important in the hand.

Feb. 3, 2017 | 3:26 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on NL5 63o in 4bet pot

This adjustment seems way too extreme and assumptive given the evidence. Namely, he's a more aggressive than average (but not crazy) 3bettor, and you perceive it as a good 3bet spot for him. There's some truth to those observations, but it's usually better to adjust your strategy at the margins, rather than adopt an extreme and unsound counterstrategy such as 4betting 100% of your opening range. He may not even be aware of BB's tendencies, or may not see them as a good reason to adjust his standard strategy.

Feb. 2, 2017 | 9:59 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Analysing my results

Running well above or below EV over this small of a sample is quite normal for PLO. You'll get more mileage out of focusing on more specific stats, than trying to figure something out from the overall graph.

Feb. 2, 2017 | 4:30 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on My turn bet. 200bb deep

I would prefer to check-call the flop. We have great equity against the parts of his range that fold to a bet, but not-so-great equity against his range that continues vs. a bet. Also don't want to force money into the pot with a non-nutty hand.

As played, I like betting again on this turn. We pick up nut outs, which makes building a pot more attractive. I don't think most people will stab light when checked to on the turn, so betting seems like the best way to put money in good.

Once raised I think we should probably call and navigate rivers as well as possible. I think it's extremely rare for him to raise with hands we dominate. Most people almost never start playing a draw passively, then shift into aggressive mode vs. continued aggression on a later street. Therefore I think our two pair is almost always dominated.

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

Comment | DirtyD commented on A Truthful Conversation

First of all big thanks to the student for agreeing to share this very sensitive material. I think it will help a lot of people.

I've struggled with similar kinds of mental leaks, and when I look inward, what I find is this: alongside the part of my brain concerned with maximizing EV, there is another part concerned with minimizing pain. And the pain-minimizing part is making a calculation that the pain of making an incorrect fold and losing a small pot will be relatively minor and easy to forget or trivialize, whereas the pain of calling and losing a big pot will be much more severe and stay with me for a long time. So it's when that pain-minimizing function wins out over the EV-maximizing function that I make the fold.

Feb. 2, 2017 | 4:17 p.m.

Just posting so I get the automatic update in my feed when this becomes available again.

Feb. 2, 2017 | 3:28 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Thoughts of the Week

I remember hearing something similar in an old video, I think it was Peter Jackson. He said when he looked in his database at the guys who were most annoying to play against, who gave him the most trouble, they were usually around breakeven. The thing is, the guys who make it really hard on you, also make it hard on themselves, and they're doing it on every table all the time. Not many have the skills to consistently handread and outmaneuver their opponents all the time. In my experience winners are usually applying a fairly simple strategy with clarity and consistency.

Jan. 30, 2017 | 10:51 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Thoughts of the Week


The sexiest way to win a chess game is the "sac" - that is, sacrificing pieces for an attack. Chess players of all levels love games where one player goes all-in on an attack, giving up piece after piece to stoke the fires, finally delivering checkmate with their few remaining pieces.

The only problem? These games are extremely rare in practice. A much more common and reliable way to win a chess game is to take all your opponent's pieces. Hence the saying, "It's always better to sac your opponent's pieces." But in general chess players focus far more effort looking for sacs than would be merited simply by their utility in winning games.

The reason is that most people don't really play to win. They play to prove how special they are. And it's not just in chess, I've seen this in every game I've ever played.

The poker equivalent to the sac is the bluff. Poker players love to bluff. There's a sense that if you win with a value hand, your cards did the work, but if you win with a bluff you did it all on your own. Your sheer brilliance overcame all the other factors in the hand and triumphed. A successful bluff gives a much stronger sense of superiority over your opponent than a value bet.

Now obviously bluffing is an important part of poker strategy, but I think bluffing occupies a larger part of the attention of most poker players than would be indicated just by how useful it is in your strategy.

Imagine if I could teach you an idiot-proof strategy that would allow you to crush your games for a much higher winrate than you have currently. Imagine this strategy were so simple I could explain it in a few sentences. Would you be interested in such a strategy? Would you use it?

To be clear, since this is starting to sound like some sort of weird sales pitch, I don't actually have that strategy. But I suspect such strategies exist more often than people think. For example, in many NL games, buying in short and playing a fold/shove strategy with a predetermined range of top X% of hands would probably achieve a higher winrate than most of the field.

The reason people don't apply strategies like this more often is that they can't give them what they want, which is not to win, but to prove how special they are. If your only goal is winning, the simpler the strategy the better, because it can be applied more consistently. But if your goal is to prove how special you are, a simple strategy is useless: anyone could do it! Thus people are often drawn to complex and convoluted strategies, even if they don't produce great results.

If you see this trait in yourself, I wouldn't consider it a character flaw. It basically just means you're human. In my experience, almost everyone has some degree of this. The people who have less of it have an enormous advantage in games. One player who comes to mind is Randy "nanonoko" Lew. If you watch his Twitch stream, you can see his understanding of NL is not as nuanced as other players with similar success. He has remarkably little ego invested in his game. He just finds something that works, then does it over and over.

For most of us, we'll never be completely rid of the desire to feel special, nor would it be a good thing if we were. But it's worth spending a little time to think about, "What would my game look like if my only goal was winning?"

Jan. 30, 2017 | 3:20 p.m.

Sort of... SPR determines how much equity you need to stack off, so for example if SPR is 1 you need at least 33% equity vs your opponent's range to stack off regardless of how many bbs are in the pot. The difference is in how the prior action informs flop ranges. You need to put a lot more $ in to get SPR 1 with 300 bbs than with 100 bbs, so that has a big impact on the ranges in play, which is of course very important.

Jan. 30, 2017 | 1:59 p.m.

So flop SPR is almost exactly 1 right?

I think you will be forced to just shove many flops. Exceptions could be, I would check-fold the very worst flops, for example KQJ mono and you have no cards of the suit. In that case you have very little equity to protect because you're probably already screwed in the main pot anyway. Against this opponent I might also check my most nutted flops, such as flopped nut flush, to try to get him to spazshove drawing dead. It's a bit transparent, but might work on a guy like this. Finally, on very dry flops where we're usually way ahead, I'd consider betting small and calling it off. For example K22r. Sounds like he might be the type to just shove KQJT or something.

Jan. 29, 2017 | 3 p.m.

It feels awkward to just call when the board is this dynamic, but when you're crushed by his value range (1 out vs AA) you usually need to call and take rivers as they come.

Jan. 29, 2017 | 2:56 p.m.

Comment | DirtyD commented on Thoughts of the Week

In Search of New Heuristics

I think you need less M.O.P and more computerpoker. However, if you
insist on "reasons" then I'll do my best...

A heuristic is a simplified approach or rule of thumb that, while not technically correct in every situation, usually helps you arrive at a good solution. Heuristics in poker can be simple, like, "Don't play weak starting hands," or relatively complex, like, "Bet a polarized range of strong hands and some very weak hands, but not middling hands." One way to see the process of poker improvement is as the learning of more and more nuanced heuristics.

In my opinion the biggest development in poker strategy in 2016 was the widespread availability of solvers like Piosolver. These gave us something closer to an objective "solution" to poker situations than has ever existed before. And, as happens so often in poker, a lot of what we thought we knew turned out to be wrong. In other words, the old heuristics turned out to be farther from the truth than we thought.

Here's the catch: while solvers were great at overturning old ideas, they turned out to be a lot worse at suggesting new ideas. Solver solutions often display an alarming lack of any apparent order, recommending what looks like a grab bag of mixed strategies with virtually every holding. On top of that, seemingly small changes to the situation can sometimes cause drastic changes to the equilibrium. So while these programs are certainly fascinating, it's far from obvious how to use them to improve your in-game performance.

The hope was that reviewing equilibria would produce new insights into the game, but this has proven to be more difficult than we might have expected. In the quote I led with, we have Sauce, one of the sharpest players in the game, basically throwing his hands up and saying our puny human brains can't understand poker.

Okay, it's not quite as bleak as that. There have been some good attempts to conceptualize lessons from solvers. For example, check out Sauce's Responding to Various C-Betting Strategies and Daniel Dvoress's Intuitive GTO. And some new heuristics have emerged. For example, "When you have a range advantage, it often works well to bet small with a high frequency."

However, my impression is that such attempts are still in their infancy. The biggest challenge facing poker players in 2017 is using solvers to develop new heuristics that are comprehensible and useful.

Jan. 21, 2017 | 8:44 p.m.

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.

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