Thursday, August 7, 2008

Few concepts floating in my head

I'm not sure where this post is going to go. I just have had some thoughts that's been swimming in my head and I just want to "put it down on paper"... virtual paper, I guess.

1. Playing position

Naturally, we all know that position is important. Question is, how often do we practice what we preach? How different is your VP$IP or PFR% by position? In many places, you see articles talking about how your PFR should be fairly close to your VP$IP. In other words, almost every time you enter a hand, you come in raising. But is this really true? Does that mean that if there's an EP raiser and you want to play your 78s you should be reraising? Maybe sometimes but if that's how you always play, I'm not sure if that's truly profitable (contradiction to this statement to come shortly). Also, what kind of hands do you want to call a raise in the later position? Let's say there's an UTG raiser who is a solid player who generally understands position. Assuming you're gonna call on the button (the calling part is hypothetical so please don't argue this point... well, it won't matter, I won't acknowledge it), isn't better to call with a suited connector than two broadway cards? (this is the part where you can argue)

In other words, if you choose to call a EP raise with KQ, what happens when you flop the Q and you face a bet on the flop. Do you raise? or do you call? If you raise and he shoves, do you fold? If so, why even bother playing a hand where if you hit, you might not be ahead at all? If you call with a hand like 89s, unless you hit it big, you can smooth call the flop bet (assuming you caught piece) and peel another card to see what happens. You can still lose the pot when he fires another and you don't improve but again, easier to get away from with a lower suited connector than two broadway cards, no?

2. Reraising with moderately good hands

Here's where I contradict my above statement about not reraising with suited connectors. In 6 max, it seems almost standard to reraise with AQ+ and TT+. There are some looser players who will 3 bet more than just that range but if you are to expand the range, is it better to include hands like AJ, KQ, KJ or is it better to include hands like T9s, 89s, 67s? Of course, position is relevant so let's start with the instance where a CO or button raises, you are in the blinds and you 3 bet and you get called. I think a person's 3 bet calling range is tighter than a person's 3 bet range. Betting range > calling a bet range, right? So, you reraised and got called. Let's say you hold AJ and the flop comes A high. It's kind of a good and bad flop. Good in the sense that you hit. Bad in the sense that you probably won't get action unless you're beat. And the problem is this. You built up the pot preflop with the reraise and now you hit your top pair. How do you play it? Cbet? Check with the intention of raising? If you cbet and the opponent shoves, now what? Can you really fold considering the pot must be offering pretty decent odds at that point... And really, you fold after 3 betting AND hitting? Seems spewy. But if you were reraising with suited connectors, decision making would be easier, no? And if you hit it hard, it's very well disguised so there's a good chance you would be playing for stacks with a superior hand. Of course, I'm not advocating 3 betting with all suited connectors and garbage hands. But I do wonder if there's a point where if you want to expand your 3 bet range, it's better to incorporate suited connectors rather than just going down the chain of top x% of holdings.

3. Checkraising on the flop

I've come to hate check raises. No, not when the opponent does it to me but rather when I do it. Is there any other move that screams big hand than a checkraise? Checkraise seems to be a good way if you want to kill value out of your good hand. It also seems to be a good way to get stacked off with what you thought was a good enough hand but turns out it's not. In other words, if you only checkraise with monsters, checkraises are worthless right? You get one extra cbet out of the guy and that's it (unless your opponent is a moron or stubborn - but if he's stubborn, it doesn't have to be a checkraise to get his stack... if he's a moron, it probably doesn't have to be a checkraise to get his stack either). On the rare occasions where your checkraises are called or shoved on, more often than not, you're probably in bad shape. But by checkraising, you also build up the pot, you're already obviously out of position, and you kinda announced your hand.

Let's say that you are in a blind v blind situation... I'm not stealing this from cmitch but he did have an interesting post that really exemplifies what I've been thinking. Willwonka also had a similar one here. Basically, if you checkraise, you are pretty much turning your hand into a bluff, no? Worse hands will probably fold, better hands will not... of course, it is very situation dependent and I'm NOT suggesting pulling the plug on checkraises. But in a situation where your hand range is very limited, checkraises kill the value of a strong hand and builds the pot in situations where you are likely behind. Of course, if you're aggressive enough and you also checkraise with a wider range, I think that's ok but then you're going to start playing bigger pots with not as strong a holding so it has its pros and cons. Well, back to what I was saying. Let's say you're in a blind v blind situation and you have a good hand. Let's say AK for example. And you're in the SB obviously (otherwise, you can't checkraise in a blind v blind situation). You raise, BB calls, flop comes K-x-x. You check, he bets, you raise. Ok, I mean really? What does that accomplish? Only way he will call that is if he beats you. But against most players, you are announcing that you have a K or a hand that beats a K. So, unless he's got a set or two pair, you're not gonna get any action. If he has a K, it might encourage him to fold. Of course, if he has nothing, then congratulations, you got one extra bet out of him. Instead, wouldn't cbetting here make more sense? Same as if you flop a set. Wouldn't betting out make more sense than checkraising? You're still building the pot. Since you're the aggressor, if you want to build the pot bigger, maybe checkraise the turn. But checkraising the flop doesn't seem like such a good play to me.

Unfortunately, I still do that sometimes too and I kick myself when the opponent folds because more often than not, I am probably losing value.

Of course, there are exceptions to everything I mentioned above. Checkraising is fine as long as your range is balanced in that you will do it with a bluff as well as a monster. But I think more people tend to do it more so on the "only with monsters" side of the scale rather than a "bluffing" side of the scale.

I don't know. As I reread this post in the preview pane, it's not exactly conveying my thoughts. But at least it's down in writing. I think I'm gonna think about it more and tweak some of these points. It's just my random rambling that's been swirling in my head and I just wanted to get it down.

Any thoughts are welcome as usual.


Gnome said...

1) Things like positional awareness and cold call percentage are closely related to profitability. Evidence of this can be found in the "Plugging Leaks" articles in Holdem Manager. Cold calling can be more acceptable with deeper stacks in position, but most of the time you want to be reraising or folding with hands like suited connectors. I prefer to cold call with low pocket pairs, and occasionally premium pairs (to set up a resqueeze) or various other weakish hands in position.
2) Suited connectors are great 3-betting hands. They make up a significant part of my 3-betting range, especially heads-up.
3) I'm not a huge fan of check-raising on a Kxy flop with top pair, but it can be a good move at times to balance your range against the times you'll be check-raise bluffing or check-raising with 2nd or 3rd pair. I also think check-raising with a set is sometimes OK because an opponent holding a King may have a hard time getting away from it, at least on the flop.

HughDuffy said...

Some of this sounds very familiar and yet no shout out. Poor form. ;)

SimpleStyle said...

Check-raising flops becomes less profitable if you don't balance your range. Once you start check-raising with things like second pair, you'll get action when you check-raise with sets and other monsters.

That's not to say leading out with monsters is bad, I'm just saying that balancing your check-raising range is important in setting up action for your check-raised monsters.