Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Things What I Have Learned (1)

I was thinking about making a post every month, along with the monthly profit and loss, about what I've learned that month. There should always be something. In order to come up to speed on that, I should really talk about what I've learned in the last 4 months while I've been putting in (relatively) high volume in online MTTs. There are two main areas, the first of which I'm going to talk about here. This is how certain plays have to be treated differently because they have become common knowledge.

1) The continuation bet (c-bet for short). Everyone and his dog has read the Harrington books now and while, if you actually pay attention to what he says, he doesn't recommend c-betting indiscriminately, that's how a lot of people have interpreted it. So c-bets aren't taking the pot down anywhere near as often as they used to. There are various adjustments to make for this ; I don't want to make this too long so I'm just going to talk about one. When I raise pre-flop and get called in one spot, I'm basically c-betting when I like my hand enough to put at least some more chips in on this or future streets, and when I'm behind the majority of the villain's range and I'm taking one shot as a bluff. In a nutshell, c-bet your best and worst hands. With the middle hands (especially A-big that misses), I prefer to check most of the time. IMO you should be trying to extract enough value from the pre-flop raise by stealing the blinds, flopping good and occasionally stealing on the flop with basically nothing. Taking down pots when you miss but still have some showdown value shouldn't really factor into it. Which basically means in early position and without antes, tight tight tight pre-flop.

2) The squeeze play. Another Harrington favourite that I was never convinced by from the start. I always felt that the rationale for the play contained an inherent contradiction. Geezer A raises, Geezer B calls and you go for the squeeze. Now, says the book it's hard for A to call because he's worried about B behind him. But you don't have to worry about B because he would have raised with a big hand. Wait, what ? Why does A have to worry about B when you don't ? This penny has finally dropped with a lot of people, and so many villains are calling the squeeze light as A or inducing the squeeze as B that I think the play now has almost no value as a bluff. The corollary to this, however, is that you can squeeze with a lot of hands for value, even TT/AQ if the stacks are right. I've had people call me as Player A with KTs lately.

3) My beloved steal reraise. This is not obsolete yet, but more and more players are catching on. It's now a case of taking careful notes. I always try to note when someone calls a steal reraise light ; when someone makes a steal reraise with a semi-bluffing or complete bluffing hand ; and when someone either repeatedly raise/folds from around 15BBs or raise/folds ever from 10BBs or less. I still think that if you find yourself in a position like I did last night where all the factors line up (button raises, I have A6s in the BB with a 15 BB stack) it's a big leak not to be reraising here, but it is beginning to pay to be a little more careful when one or more of the factors (raiser's position, hand strength, stack size) isn't quite there. Again, I've been called by some funny hands lately, especially offsuit broadway like KJ. When you find yourself facing a smallish late position raise and you have something that can flop fairly robustly a lot of the time [1], like QJs or something, calling and check-raising on a hit may be preferable to a shove at the moment.

All in all I think it's very important to pay attention to the shifting trends in whatever game you're playing as fashions come and go. It helps to stay in one environment as much as possible, especially regarding live vs online which are completely different, each with their own current trends. This is one reason why you won't see me playing live much, if at all, for the next six months. I should also say that this is what I'm seeing in the tournaments I'm playing, which tend to be $20/50 rebuy, $100/150 freezeout plus the odd Sunday warm up and so on. If you're playing higher or lower than that, the trends may be different, but you still have to think in the same way about what the majority of your opponents are doing.

[1] What I mean by this is that there are going to be a lot of flops where you're confident that you're good enough against villain's range to ship in the 15-20BB stacks. With QJs that can be top pair, a draw with overs, pair + draw, etc. Compare with A7 or 44 where you just can't feel so good about many flops at all. Those hands are still raise or fold in a potential re-steal situation.

Hey Andy,

Nice to see you doing a bond18. I've noticed a trend in tournaments on stars that many players are open raising for less pre-flop 2.2x, 2.5x and such. Do you think there's any benefit to this? The argument i've heard (from sheets on pxf vids) is that 'it gets the job done just as well as 3x', however i'm not convinced. Thoughts?
I'm not convinced either, I think that going down to 2.2 is giving people too much leeway to call behind you in position, which is something you really don't want. I start out with 3x and gradually scale it down to about 2.6x as the tournament goes on.

Curtains has also convinced me in this post :


that you should raise the same in all positions, for a similar reason : raising small in EP encourages people to call you in position but in LP your most likely callers are out of position in the blinds so there's no need to discourage them by upping the raise.

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