Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Going against the norm...

I've been jumping around the blogosphere, leaving ridiculously long comments which should just be my posts but I figured it's time to give my own blog some love. So, here I am, half delirious from the lack of sleep, thanks to Hoy's deep run in the 50-50. I mean how can I call myself a blogger without railing one of the blogger superstars???? So what if that meant I was up till 3:30am...

Anyways, today's topic has to do with doing the opposite. I mentioned to some people that poker is like the NFL... NFL, also dubbed the "copy cat league" is where one year, some football genius would come up with a great defensive scheme that works and takes the team deep into the playoffs. Next thing you know? The following season, every other team implements the scheme. Well, I felt like the poker world was very similar. Here's a quote from Astin's recent post:

Anyone else notice how general play in the poker world syncs up? To quote Eric Idle (as he introduced Not The Messiah and talking about Americans): "It's like millions of people are all marching in the same direction singing 'I Did it My Way.'" Seriously. When I started, everyone was playing Harrington-style, so I didn't. Now it's a world where a c-bet isn't taken seriously, so tournaments are played to the turn. I don't know how many times I've had the 3rd or 4th nuts, bet every street, an then seen my opponent turn over K-high on the river. Nobody believes anyone anymore. Good. There are a ton of other common patterns out there if you look for them. This is why people like Chad do well in these medium buy-in events, because he's mixing it up and nobody expects his cards. Well, that and he has some skills. Yet another reason to like the Blogger games - there's a bit of variety in all that donkish play.

Very true. Even now, I think the continuation bets are overused. I mean everyone's doing it. It's like the Mookie. Speaking of which, here's a little pimpage. Come out tonight for the Mookie!

Anyways... so the c-bets are overused. And I think people don't necessarily think about what they are c-betting with. For example, quite often, I'll see players raise with 99, get called. Flop comes A-K-T. And they fire out a c-bet. It almost doesn't make sense. And so, now, a lot of the players are also figuring out that c-bets don't mean anything. And so they'll call with anything.

Another popular move is the steal from late position. I mean let's say you're in a tournament. Fairly early stages. You're on the button. Action is folded to you. I mean you HAVE to raise right??? That's what it seems like. Everyone's doing it! Except now that everyone's overdone it, the blinds don't take the late position raise seriously at all. So they start restealing. I think the restealing/reraising has become very popular and soon, that will be the norm (if it isn't already).

Having said all this, what does this mean? You've all heard it before. You have to mix up your play. I've heard that before and I really struggled initially to find out what that meant. It's like "you gotta open up your game." WTF does that mean!? I love poker players. We give ambiguous advice. Without any particular examples. I mean none of us really wants to give up trade secrets but it's just funny how that is. I think some of it also stems from the fact that once you figure out what a certain strategy means, then it's second nature to you so the explanation becomes very brief. One thing I noticed in cash games for me that keeps me profitable is that I do indeed mix up my play. And I have opened up my game a lot more. What does that mean?

I wish I actually had some hand histories with me right now but I don't. So you can always go back and see some of the hand analysis stuff I've posted but few examples of going against the norm... and most of these examples are more regarding cash play than tournament play, though some of them coincide.

1) I've generally tightened up my raise requirements from late position. From the button, my raise requirements are a lot tighter than they used to be. Hell, almost as tight as EP. But this depends... of course... So, what does it depend on? When I first sit at the table, I try not to (sometimes, it's hard for me) go crazy with the raising. I want to establish a certain image and for me, that is to establish a tight image. Also, if the blinds are aggressive or solid players, I play a lot tighter from the button and the cut off. Well, at least I won't be raising with hands I don't want to be reraised.

2) Now that we have 1) in mind... I'm gonna throw a wrench. I'll reraise or call a raise with A LOT more hands from the late position. Honestly, I would much rather reraise from late position with 9-10 than be the initial raiser from the button with KJ. These are obviously preferences and the styles that you are comfortable with. There's no magic formula to winning or making money and you just have to play the style you are comfortable with. So reraising part might be pretty easy. The next thing is the calling with a lot more. I stopped doing it if there's only one raiser but for example, if there's a raise and a call, you can call with a very wide range of hands. Connectors (suited or unsuited), one gappers, suited 2 gappers... I can't do better than that (so good for those of you that could with K9 sooted but I can't do it). Of course, you can try reraising for a squeeze... but then, I'd have to call you Fuel.

3) Squeeze play - I think this is another one that's starting to pop up more often than before. It's not rampant but it's happening. More often. And of course, you can definitely do this in the above example. So now, the key is to be able to identify who is capable of the squeeze. I think this is way more common in 6max cash games than full ring, especially at an aggressive table. And I have thoughts on ways playing against the squeeze. And it comes back to position. Let's say you raise from the button in a 6max game. SB calls. Then BB comes over the top and reraises. And you know that BB is a fairly aggressive raiser. If you fold here, you're gonna get run over, unless it was a pure steal. Since you have position, one thing you can do is call. You can play him after the flop. Another possibility is to play back. And this one, I advocate if you have pretty decent cards but you'll be out of position post flop. For example, if you had like AK and you raise from MP, to be called by CO and reraised by the button. Again, your read is VERY important here. But if your read is that it smells like a squeeze, repop him. Now, unless the guy has AA or KK, he's gonna feel awfully uncomfortable. Because if you're coming over the top like that, you must have a good hand. This is also very dangerous which is why it's so important to do it based on the read you have and not just blindly click the raise button.

Notice how some of these examples, I didn't even mention what you might hold when you are raising or reraising? That's because it doesn't matter. The only thing that I believe is worth mentioning is that I don't want to get in to a raising war or get cute with some of the plays above with hands where you could be dominated. What are those? AJ, KQ, KJ are the quick ones that come to mind. I'll include QJ in case someone was thinking that. Those aren't the hands that I want to get cute with. But hands like connectors below 10 (T9, 8-9, etc) and even one gappers (4-6, 5-7, 7-9) will play well because if you're totally beat, it's easy to get away from. It's very well disguised, and if you hit the hand hard, you could potentially make A LOT of money.

If you made it this far... congratulations, thank you, and you need to find yourself a hobby. :) But keep in mind that above isn't something that you always do. It's just something you want to keep in mind and keep in your back pocket of arsenals to fire out once in a while. I think that would make you "mix up your play" and "open up your game" at the same time. But make sure you have a good feel for the table before you do that. Now consider yourself warned. Good luck at the tables and see you tonight!


lj said...

great post. i enjoyed your long comments. ok, back to work!

Matt said...

Dude, you are nuts for staying up til 3:30am to rail someone. I'm sure the dedication is appreciated though.

Regarding the squeeze play, I've found a variation of this on the $5 SNGs that's pretty hilarious. It kinda goes like this:

UTG+1 limps
MP limps
MP limps
CO limps
Button raises to 6xBB
SB folds
BB folds
UTG+1 folds
MP reraises all in
Button calls
Button shows KK
MP shows something like ATo or QJ

Hilarity ensues.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I have to admit. I wanted to rail Hoy but also, a part of me wanted to watch how he did. There were times I felt like I was getting a good read of the table... maybe not knowing your hole cards sometimes help because you're going more with your read and you don't have the 8-3 off staring back at you, telling you to fold when you KNOW you should shove...

But also, it was fun. Because other bloggers were there, it was just a good time hanging out, railing for someone I've never met, talking to others (whom also I've never met).

Wait... do I not have any friends!?

Mike Maloney said...

AQ is another crap hand that I would throw in with the group of hands not to get cute with. Fuel's really opened my eyes on how much that hand sucks.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Mike, I actually don't mind the AQ as much in a 6max game but you're right, confusing that with a "real hand" is definitely dangerous. You just have to know that at a 6-max table, AQ is definitely in the reraising range of many.

Instant Tragedy: Just Add Sean said...

But do you play AQ versus a raise, RE-Raise, RE Raise?

No, your outs are all gone.

Unless you are Wawfuls.

Then it's all in baby!

crazdgamer said...

Stealing should NEVER be an automatic when you're in LP and the pot isn't opened. That's been a hole in my game recently.

What I've found to work is some of the time, fold on the button, other times, limp, other times, raise. Do all three. That way, when you do steal, you'll get more credit for a hand, and, if someone (who you know is a good player) calls, you can use some level 3 thinking and put them on a hand. Of course, if they're a donk, they're not thinking about your hand, so level 3 thinking doesn't work. Then again, stealing against a donk doesn't really work, either.

Anonymous said...

Great Post.

Although I might have to call you out for Insider Trading.

Why'd you have to go and tell all the secrets?

WildDuces234 said...

Stealing is bad, ok.
If I smell a Thief I Bust him. I make money on the foolish C-bets, 3 way action raised pot I look down and see 6 7 suited, Im callin - Biggest pot I ever won was a SOOTeed collector -

SubZero said...

Nice work, agree with a lot of what you've said, when I have established myself on FUll Tilt I'll keep an eye for you. ALso, would love to play the Mookie sometime, are there any requirements?

lj said...

all day long you have said that you "should be bloggin" but i see no new blog posts. what gives? you don't think being tired is an excuse, do you? lol.

Anonymous said...

echo don, great post