Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Scissors Paper Stone (1)

As Pete mentioned on his blog, there comes a point where you need to adapt to what everyone else is doing, to stay one step ahead of the game. We'll worry about the bigger live tournaments later, if at all. What difference, the variance swamps your EV anyway, unless you have a $2 million bankroll, and if you did then why bother playing.

Let's consider instead the bigger online tournaments ($100 and maybe the various Sunday night specials) and maybe your Friday/Saturday night £100 live beanfests. Now, as more and more people become familiar with Harrington et al, issues like the Continuation Bet need to be addressed. IMO the important factor is not that you face more continuation bets. Not for me. I'm very loath to call a pre-flop raise without the goods *. AJ is a definite pass. I pass AQ much more often than Dan recommends I think. The difference between AQ and AK when you're calling a pre-flop raise is immense. If you flop an Ace with AK, you're only worried about 2 pair or a set. Flop a King, then also worry about Aces. With AQ though ... A high flop and you have the very likely AK to contend with. Q high and AA _or_ KK could take all your money. If people are going to make a lot of continuation bets it's not going to bother me too much because I'm rarely on the receiving end. In fact it's going to help me, but let's leave that for part 2.

The real issue is that people are much more likely to think that you are making a continuation bet. Which has two important implications. One, you should cut down on your continuation bets when you miss. In actual fact, Dan doesn't recommend making them all the time anyway, as some people seem to think. Volume 2 Part 8, "A tough player will by definition be hard to read after the flop. If he showed strength before the flop, he'll probably be taking the lead 50 to 60% of the time after the flop". Taking into account all the times you bet when you like the flop, you must be checking/folding more often than not when you don't. Which is what I do. I still bet a few misses but pretty much only when I'm heads up and when the texture of the flop is good. AK and the flop comes QTx for example, DO NOT bet this flop. Take/hope for a free card to the nuts because how can you reasonably be in front ? Only if he has AJ, that's it. Many people aren't going to pass T9 or 88 on this flop any more.

The second implication is of course that you just fire away when you like the flop, and don't be as concerned if you get raised as you might have been a year ago. If the turn looks safe you can check it and you'll surely pick up at least one more bet somewhere along the line (ironically this bet-check-bet is also a play that Dan recommends, buried deep in Volume 2). When you have a strong hand, make the play that looks least suspicious, and in this case a Continuation Bet will hardly arouse any suspicion at all. That's what they're expecting you to do.

In conclusion, I've seen at least two people on forums or blogs say "always bet the flop when you were the pre-flop raiser" this week alone. Don't do it. Take advantage of those who do, and who think that's what you're doing too.

* unless I have good implied odds, and in that case AQ/AJ are well down the list of hands to call with.

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