JoINrbs's avatar


319 points

This has been something I've been wondering for 10+ years at this point and I wanted to come back and ask now. Understanding of the game has advanced a lot so I figured someone might have an easy answer for me.

Super simple situation: SB and BB have small stacks, ICM considerations make them both strongly disinclined to get that money in.

My understanding of this situation is that SB has a very strong shoving spot because BB can't call very wide - it would be an ICM mistake even with some relatively good hands. So that's the equilibrium we play; SB shoves a lot, BB folds most of the time. This is an equilibrium, it results in SB winning a good amount of bbs and BB folding lots of hands. It's an equilibrium because neither player, on their own, can change behavior to improve their results.

What about if BB expanded their calling range though? BB could call with a tremendous number of hands if desired here. Now all of a sudden SB doesn't get to jam as often and (unless I'm way off?) this ends up being more profitable for BB because the ICM considerations that used to be stopping BB from calling now stop SB from shoving (once SB understands that BB has a wide calling range).

If there are four possible situations:
1) SB shoves a lot, BB folds a lot
2) SB shoves a lot, BB calls a lot
3) SB shoves a little, BB calls a lot
4) SB shoves a little, BB folds a lot

It seems like:
#1 is standard, equilibrium, best for SB, somewhat good for both.
#2 is nonstandard, nonequilibrium, and terrible for both SB and BB. HOWEVER the only way SB can adjust from it is to move to...
#3, which is good for BB and somewhat good for both. SB cannot improve their outcome from this strategy, but BB could by moving to...
#4, which is best for BB, somewhat good for both, but now SB can improve their own fate by increasing jamming frequency.

("somewhat good for both" just means the money isn't going in too often).

So basically I don't get why people who play tournaments regularly against each other don't establish #3, since I'm pretty sure there are ICM situations where BBs establishing #3 improves their profit.

I also just find the whole theoretical discussion surrounding this really weird, which is why I keep on coming back to thinking about it. BB could, at any time, stop calling as wide and start profiting more without SB catching on immediately. SB could, if they wanted, just go scorched earth and keep jamming wide even though BB was calling wide, which would be terrible for both players and could maybe force BB to stop calling wide. A pair who ended up in #3 strategy space would be playing a non-equilibrium strategy which had a better BB outcome than BB's outcome in an equilibrium strategy because ICM burdens were placed on SB in the non-equilibrium instead of BB in the equilibrium. Etc.

Anyway. Did anyone write a book or make a video which explains this all yet? Let me know please xD.

May 18, 2020 | 12:21 a.m.

I stopped playing ~5 years ago, curious how much has been attempted to make it +EV for individual regs to play in ways which are positive for recs. f.x. it sounds like seating scripts are still allowed? Don't understand why Amaya would allow those if they think regs getting seats in their games is bad for them. And it's not like regs who love poker want their edge to be coming from a seating script anyone can buy, surely?

As a reg I always wanted part of my job to be to act in a way that promoted enjoyment of the game for everyone involved, because that's an obvious requirement for bringing the most new players into the game (which is good for me as a reg!). But it was always difficult to work out how I could do that without my competitors reaping essentially all of the benefits I was sowing without actually changing their behavior themselves. Would love to see some creative approaches to solving that problem from someone someday.

Feb. 24, 2018 | 7:50 a.m.

No problem, glad you're using it!

Jan. 17, 2015 | 2:58 a.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on Top pair v river bet

Your Kh blocker doesn't actually do anything here because it's very unlikely villain would x/r a hand with Kh in it on the flop.

Jan. 13, 2015 | 3:19 a.m.

I'd want positional stats on the BTN before I 3bet a hand this weak. 89% 3bet is just 8/9 and I think often people who play looser at these stakes will have much higher FT3BET % in earlier positions than they do on the BTN. I do agree that it looks likely we can 3bet a lot of stuff against him though.

I think you can argue for doing just about anything with this hand postflop. It's just a 7-high semibluff which is improving to the effective nuts (in that it can stack off almost always) when it hits. My default would be just to bet bet bet unless a turn or river came which made me think I wasn't getting enough folds.

I think you can definitely bluff river. I think betting massive to rep 98 sometimes makes a lot of sense. You can also just try to check through against something like QT though and that would be my default play against a passive opponent.

Jan. 12, 2015 | 9:01 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on Q3o BB in limped pot

I'd call and hope he did something dumb OTR. You can jam when a club rivers, I don't know if it's good but it's a lot of fun.

Jan. 11, 2015 | 6:58 p.m.

I would just jam turn like you did. Imagine what a disaster it is if he has 98dd and we call and miss. We're ahead of a good amount of the hands he might be semi-bluffing with and just about anything he's choosing to pure bluff so we're getting good protection value out of a jam.

Jan. 10, 2015 | 10:08 p.m.

I think you should be jamming or folding turn, if you think you're in good enough shape to continue you're almost certainly getting enough value from protection for the jam to be better than a call. Other than that everything looks reasonable although none of it is like, "woohoo slam dunk" etc.

Jan. 10, 2015 | 10:02 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on bet/fold R?

I don't think it's meant to matter a whole lot if you call or fold to the river x/r, I would try to work out whether I thought my opponent was likely to be bluffing too much or too little and make my decision based on that (I would typically fold against opponents at these stakes).

I think your betsizes are a little abnormal; usually people bet more like 1/2-2/3p on a flop texture like this and I'd expect around 2/3p against on the turn. That said I don't think they're bad. I think typically opponents won't fold much more to the difference between a 2/3p bet and full-pot bet, so if you're going to formulate betsizes based on that belief it might be better to 2/3p flop, pot turn, and 2/3p or so river.

Jan. 10, 2015 | 9:54 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on ATs might be tilting?

My population analyses have basically suggested that people bet way too much in 3-way pots and that the results of them doing so are that they light money on fire because their opponents also fold too seldom in 3-way pots. I think calling pre is fine as is your decision to 3bet.

Jan. 10, 2015 | 9:49 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on QTs flops flush

I think x/r'ing flop with this hand is extremely normal. You want a x/r range on this board and it makes sense to put your value hands which benefit most from protection in it and this is one of the best of those. An A-high flush needs less protection because it doesn't lose on a fourth diamond, a set needs less protection because it benefits from board pairs and also it is less clear value than a flush. I would have a x/r range on this board with a variety of value hands and bluffs but this would be one of the highest frequency value-type hands.

As played raising turn is fine too and I don't think we can fold to the jam. Or rephrasing I think folding to the jam would be extremely exploitative.

Jan. 10, 2015 | 9:47 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on ATs FD+GS

UTG's open range is just 1/12 looks like to me, it probably doubled just from playing this hand, it's not a significant datapoint to be making decisions based on.

I think squeezing and overcalling should both be fine but neither is much better than folding. I'd often let BB's stats make the decision for me because I don't really know which is best. My guess is an overcall here will show somewhere between [-0.2,0.3]bb profit if we play postflop with equal skill to our opponents but I also assume that these opponents will make many postflop mistakes so if we back ourselves to play better than them the call becomes more clear for me. OTOH rake sucks and I wasn't including it in my estimate. With R = 100 and the assumption of BB folding we make 0.37bbs before rake.

Postflop I would just fold the turn.

Jan. 10, 2015 | 8:19 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on NL 100 River Hero Call

I think this hand should be checking flop almost always. I'd be worried about villain bluffing with better or with 98 when we call down so I wouldn't consider doing so unless I thought he was waaaay waaaay bluff-heavy.

Jan. 9, 2015 | 5:42 a.m.

I'd be folding this on the turn I think. The Ad is good on the flop because it gives us equity but becomes bad when we miss a turn diamond because we're blocking villain's AdXd combos. This approach is basically just simplifying how far I call with a bluffcatcher based on which streets its attributes as a bluffcatcher are good on and which streets its attributes as a bluffcatcher are bad on.

I'm sure if we had clairvoyance of opponent's strategy we'd find out that we were not facing 0EV calls on some of the streets and could easily call or fold based on whether it was +/-EV. I tend to think people aren't bluff-heavy enough in these spots so I tend more toward folding but it isn't like I'm certain of this.

Jan. 8, 2015 | 9:07 p.m.

I think this is a spot where the 1-A concept is very useful for adjusting. If you can work out how much you need to defend to make his bluffs breakeven you have a good starting point and then against this villain who is doubtlessly far too heavy on bluffs you can simply defend wider than 1-A. Now all his bluffs lose him money and all his valuebets make him extra money, but he's heavily weighted to bluffs so he will be losing a ton of money overall.

Jan. 8, 2015 | 9:03 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on AQo pure Bluff oop

I think someone you have 200 hands on betting 1/2p when you expect 2/3p is a really bad reason for putting 13x the pot in with ace-high. Especially since I'm guessing that read was skewing you toward him having JT more than AA and then the turn made JT better than AA.

Jan. 8, 2015 | 8:58 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on AA calling river raise

Betting gets us more value from hands like 99 as well because these hands are extremely likely to check back and less likely to call a river bet.

He doesn't really have a lot of hands in his range that aren't like QQ or 99 in my opinion. He has 3 TTs we care about and he may have some AK sort of stuff which is pretty comparable to 99. If he has more lower pps he's increasing how many hands like TT he has but also how many hands like 99 he has.

He may have a few hands like KQ which are the only hands it's exciting to check turn against imo.

Jan. 6, 2015 | 8:48 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on AA calling river raise

I wouldn't expect this villain to bet turn and river with JJ/QQ, I'd be expecting him to bet one street and check one. If he bets both we certainly have less incentive to be betting but still tons of hands to get value from.

Jan. 6, 2015 | 9:44 a.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on 98s call 3b IP

We can bet smaller on the flop to accomplish what we want with our bet. I would have trouble folding but it's probably right. Even if villain only has AsKs, AsQs, and 6 combos of AA jamming is only -5bbs and I don't typically like giving villains credit for being that tight in a spot like this. The breakeven point for a jam is 1 flushdraw for every 2 overpairs or 1 air hand for every 3 overpairs. Hard to get dealt overpairs.

Jan. 6, 2015 | 9:41 a.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on AA calling river raise

On this board in these positions AA is very strong, not just because hands like 22 and 33 are unlikely to be in ranges but also because hands like JJ and QQ make up a much larger portion of villain's range than they would in other positions. Especially against someone who I had a read was calling a lot I would be going for three streets of value here. While we make a lot of second bets against villain's floats with this line we lose a lot of third bets against villain's JJ QQ stuff and I consider that to be a bigger deal here.

Jan. 6, 2015 | 8:54 a.m.

I think it's a good spot for a 3-barrel, yeah. This hand is a nice one to do it with too because it blocks a lot of hands which could call, 98 and T8 in particular.

Jan. 6, 2015 | 12:32 a.m.

I don't understand what you mean when you write, "you will always end
up with zero percent of your top pair hands in every line except one".
What if you bet your strong top pair and checked your weak top pair?
Mixed strategies are usually the result of blockers / hiding

Kicker is a good example of a practical way of mixing how you play hand groups, which again implies a mixed strategy. If you aren't playing a mixed strategy with a hand group you will always have all hands of that type in the same line.

I could have been more clear with what I meant by top pair in this exact situation; I was thinking specifically of AQ, KK, AA on this board, which isn't even what a poker program would give you if you asked it what top pair was. KQ/QJ get much hazier if we have them, and if we have Q9s or something I would not be considering that in the same hand group. So yeah, that was very unclear on my part.

Jan. 5, 2015 | 10:55 p.m.

GTORB doesn't need the turn ranges to be GTO if you're only solving for one turn situation onward (obviously such a solution would make no claim to have solved flop or preflop, nor that such a turn should ever be arrived at), other than that the only simplification it requires is betsize limitation afaik. A natural way to extrapolate to the flop is to take a flop situation and add a brick turn-card, then extrapolate that your flop strategy will need to be at least as complex as an analogous board with the same ranges but one less card to come.

I think that this hand's frequencies will fall somewhere between 35-65% for bet/check on both flop and (turn | flopbet). Generally if I think a mixed strategy is heavily-weighted toward one option I will specify. I also think AxAx, AcAx, AcQx, AxQx all have relatively similar frequencies in this spot, though they all have different reasons for arriving at those frequencies. I haven't plugged this exact spot into anything but this is a tendency I've noticed from analyzing a lot like it.

A GTO-approach to calling the river requires us to construct a calling range which makes a significant number of different blockers villain can have indifferent to bluffing, so if you are not playing mixed with your bluffcatchers on this board it's probably because something wrong is happening or because you are trying to exploit villain imo. There are definitely other boards which are simple enough that some bluffcatchers are obviously always better than others, but on this board you're balancing across at least three axes (set/2p blockers, flush blockers, straight blockers, hand-strength...) so you can't skew your range such that you're always calling AcAx but not AxAx, or always calling AA but not AK, etc. without making some of villain's bluffs better than others or giving away too much to some of villain's valuebets.

Jan. 5, 2015 | 10:46 p.m.

What makes you think this is the case? I don't think this is an
assumed truth by any means.

This spot is solved to considerable accuracy for the turn, I'm extrapolating to the flop in a way I think is reasonable but can't prove to you.

Following your logic to its end would mean that typically you could
play all your top pair hands on the flop and turn by only betting them
1% of the time which would mean that on the river you'd have .01% of
your top pair hands. And that it wouldn't effect our EV. I think that
this would be a clear mistake and easy for our opponent to exploit.

While it's true that you could end up at that strategy by misapplying a mixed strategy approach I think it's important to realize that if you don't try to apply a mixed strategy approach you will always end up with zero percent of your top pair hands in every line except one and that this is a much easier thing for an opponent to exploit.

However, with that being said, unless our opponent plays in a way deviant from GTO we will still have the same EV by doing this as long as we never mix into a non-equilibrium line.

If we have any reason to believe that our opponent deviates in a particular way from GTO we instantly are incentivized to play a non-mixed strategy in only the lines which exploit that opponent. This could be from a population read, timing tell, etc., or from history with that opponent. If all we know is that we're playing against an opponent who isn't GTO though and have no population reads at all we can't increase our EV by moving away from GTO play because we don't know which way to move, so we might as well just play the equilibrium lines which are most comfortable to us.

Jan. 5, 2015 | 8:24 p.m.

I don't think our blocker is meant to mean anything for us after we check because I think villain has enough AcXx hands to balance his AcXc valuebets. Thinking that he's going to be too bluff-heavy if we x/c with AcXx would be a good example of a perceived skew which could make us want to play by always x/c'ing this hand. If we think he's constructing betting ranges which aren't properly accounting for blockers it could mean that this is always a x/f too though since maybe he always bluffs with every AcXx hand except AcKx and if he does that he wouldn't have enough AcXc to have enough valuebets to cover for it. If that were the case AxAx might be an easy x/c while AcAx was an easy x/f.

We don't know any of these things about villain though. We can extrapolate from things we think people do or we can do a pretty in-depth population analysis to try to get reads on the full population in this spot or we can just admit that we don't know which option is best.

I often hear people saying that players at these stakes have too few bluffs on the river, so going with that population read maybe this is meant to be a x/f. If you trust that population read this isn't a very interesting spot though, if the population as a whole doesn't bluff rivers enough you just fold bluffcatchers on the river always.

Jan. 5, 2015 | 1:42 a.m.

The reason tons of these hands get posted is that they're close spots, and very often when something is a close spot it's because you're looking at an indifference point which is literally meant to be identically equivalent EV on both options. I don't think there's any point in overthinking these spots, if we know enough about opponents to know that they skew their game one way or another they're trivial spots to make the correct decision in and if we don't they're impossible for us to gain EV in and there's little reason for us not to just take whatever option we're most comfortable with.

Jan. 5, 2015 | 12:10 a.m.

Why? Typically speaking top pairs should be mixing between betting and checking on flops and turns and bluffcatchers should be mixing between x/f and x/c. What my comment is saying is I think the hand is valuebettable flop and turn (but it's fine to use it to protect your checking range) and that it isn't valuebettable on the river.

I think our opponent is meant to make us indifferent between these options in all cases and if we know that our opponent isn't (in one direction or another) it becomes very easy to play the hand. I don't have any stats on how our opponent reacts to bets or plays on monotone boards or anything so I can't pretend to know which way he's making a mistake, which would be a requirement for recommending anything other than a mixed strategy.

Jan. 5, 2015 | 12:02 a.m.

Flop and turn should both be mixed with this hand imo, I think mixing between x/c and x/f is correct on the river.

Jan. 4, 2015 | 11:23 p.m.

The way I approach these spots is to make 3-player CREV preflop sims and just checkdown postflop, then play around with different villain ranges and different R values for postflop (I change them by having different players open fold different percentages of the time to account for position, playerskill, etc). It takes a little while but I don't think there's another way to get a good answer. The other option is just to be okay with not knowing because it takes quite a while to get a confident answer and the spot doesn't come up often.

Jan. 4, 2015 | 9:59 p.m.

Comment | JoINrbs commented on KQ float vs reg

This isn't an atrocious play by any means but here's what I'd look for in a villain to want to make it:

a) High 3b vs iso-raises. Work out some way to get this into your HUD on a pop-up or as a note.
b) High turn x/f after flop cbet. His lower turn cbet doesn't help us at all if he's going to x/c or x/r when he doesn't cbet turn.

As-is we're basically flying blind. Again, I don't think this play is an unreasonable thing to be trying to do in the game of poker, but make sure you have the right justifications for doing it.

Jan. 4, 2015 | 9:51 p.m.

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