Friday, June 13, 2008

Playing nonpremium hands and using software

I'm gonna pimp a blog that I enjoy reading. Mainly, I'm doing this because the HH that was posted there was the motive for my blog post today. Matt is a Seattle based poker blogger who plays under the screenname Mclarich who is looking to be a more involved blogger. Honestly speaking, I'm not sure how to get further involved besides playing in blogger tourneys. Of course, once in a while, there are jackasses like me that only play during promotional series such as the BBT but I think that's mainly due to bankroll considerations. I'll definitely still play the Big Game but aside from that, I just don't want to play tournaments on weekdays that if I win would keep me up till 1 or 2am (eastern) for a couple of hundred dollars in profit. Don't get me wrong. I love this crowd, I love tuning into BDR, and I love playing in it but sleep is also important to me. Having said that, I would probably still play the Mookie every now and again. I just know that I won't make it a point to make it to the tournaments like I did during the BBT.

Oh, before we get started, let me also pimp this guy since he is so desperate for traffic that his gchat status is his blog... I mean dude... come on... (just giving you a hard time, bro). There's a lot of heavy poker analysis though so if that's not your thing or you're in the mood for light reading, sometimes it might be tough. But go give him some love. He definitely has some strong analysis and thoughts on the game.

Alright, back to the regularly scheduled programming. Matt posted this hand on his blog that I basically tore into him, telling him how terribly played I thought it was. But I'm not gonna copy and paste the HH and steal his thunder. Here's the link to his blog that discusses this hand.

He then emailed me and asked me some questions and also made a comment on why he was in that hand. And so I decided to just go ahead and make a blog post out of this.

Every now and then, you read someone's blog or you hear someone say "It's a very soft game." What exactly does that mean? To me, it means that there are tons of weak tight players. Flip that statement around and you can say that there are tons of players who only play premium hands. You can call it what you want. Soft is soft. Now don't get me wrong. That doesn't mean you just have to turn into a lagtard. But that's when you really want to open up your game. Play suited connectors, one gappers, etc. The question is, how do you play them?

In the hand I referred to above, I thought it was terrible because a) he limps from EP with a suited connector and then b) he calls a LP raiser, now putting him OOP in a heads up hand. Now what's so terrible about this? I mean Fuel does it quite a bit (and believe me, I am equally critical of his play whenever he does this). The problem is now, you are about to see a flop and a) you our out of position (disadvantage #1) and b) your opponent has control over the pot, ie showed initial aggression (disadvantage #2). The way I see it (and I'm stealing this from somewhere but I don't know where I read it), if you're not gonna have positional advantage throughout the hand, you need to at least try to take control over the aggression. After the flop, he check calls a flop cbet which has three high cards, but he flops bottom pair. I mean... that's just terrible. Remember, you already conceded aggression and now, you're calling again? That's just a big leak.

But I'm not typing this to criticize Matt. Now let's change things around for a second. If you want to play suited connectors from EP, you must come in with a raise. The way I see it, limping in an unopened pot is just terrible play. You can try to say you are just trying to trap with AA (the ol' limp reraise) but then unless this table has seen you do that before, don't ever do that with mediocre hands... because when you limp, you're giving off the impression that you have a weak hand. And if you actually have a weak hand, well, you might as well just play with your cards face up.

On the flip side, if you have position, I am not opposed to playing the suited connectors. Not one bit. In this hand, let's flip Matt's position. Let's say there's an EP raiser and Matt is on the button with T9s. Now, even if you are most likely behind, you can call here. Sure, calling doesn't indicate strength but a) you have position and b) you are calling a raise so you must have something (at least that's what the villain would think). Once you see the flop, you can evaluate and you can even try to float. But when you float, float in position. Floating OOP is just a big, big leak that even I sometimes do when I have hands like 88 in the blinds and I didn't reraise a LP raiser but instead I call, see a ten high flop. If I check call, I am "floating" but that's just a terrible play. I know I sometimes do it but I encourage a lot of you to NOT do that. If you are playing at a table where guys are only raising premium hands, there's a lot of value in calling with suited connectors and one gappers as long as you have position AND as long as you don't commit more chips unless you hit something big. Bottom pair or a piece of it is NOT "hitting it big."

Another question he asked me was if it was worth buying software such as Pokertracker or Holdem Manager. I don't use either one because the whole Bootcamp on Mac thing just doesn't enable me to. It's a long story. But anyways, I used to use it when I had a PC laptop and in my opinion, it is a must. $80 or whatever it is to buy this software will pay itself in about a week or two. The value that you get from the software is insane. And unless you are at a point where you get a good feel for how the players play, software will help you tremendously on analyzing the opponents. At the very least, it will either confirm or correct your take on the player (like you thought he was a total LAG but you might see that his VP$IP is only 14). I'm not gonna go into all the detailed reasons as to why the software is worth it because there has been plenty of posts by others on why and what's so good about it. But if you are thinking about getting it, you should definitely get it. And these days, I think most vendors accept Fulltilt or Pokerstars transfer so if you have money in your poker account, do it already.

Wow... I just realized that I rambled on and yet said nothing. I'll start posting more HHs again. I got a few where I played poorly and but I think it'll be good blog material. Alright, I'm out. Have a nice weekend everyone!


HighOnPoker said...

Another way to get more hits and establish onesself in the blogger community is to leave lots of (relevant) comments at other blogs. Once people see a new comment, they often track back to the blog.

Matt said...

Can it really be considered "pimping" my blog if your post is about how I played a hand really badly & am crazy for not paying with PokerTracker?

Just giving you a hard time.

Schaubs said...

I remembber Alan being a commenting whore when he first started blogging... HOP is bang on there and I think it is a good way to get recognized as well.

OMG - so you are telling me I can buy Holdem Manager with a Full Tilt transfer!??? This is news to me, thanks for this, that is awesome!

I am buying it this weekend.

Done and done.

spritpot said...

Thanks for the pimpage!!! This has allowed me to change my gchat status...I hope you enjoy the new one.

For the hand: when listing the disadvantages of calling with suited connectors out of position, don't forgot this one: YOU HAVE THE WORST HAND!! To me, I have to have a much stronger range to call out of position, because I'm going to have to allow the value of my hand to make up for my positional disadvantage and the fact that I don't have the betting lead.

Also, remember with suited connectors, you'll flop a draw a good amount (which probably won't even be to the nuts), and playing a draw out of position is pretty difficult. You will often be forced to either race with only 30% equity, fold after making a raise, or check-call the flop and check-fold the turn when you miss. Even when you check-call the flop and hit the turn, getting value from a made hand out of position is much more difficult.

Note that pocket pairs are different in that you generally get either all or nothing. You flop a set, and you're a huge favorite, or you don't, and you can throw your hand away pretty cheaply.