Monday, September 01, 2008

August Results

Last month I posted my winnings and bragged about it being my first 3k+ month (which actually is incorrect if I include donkaments, but when looking at cash games, it still is. I nearly doubled that this month when I include rakeback. The stats above are from the 30th of July till the 1st of September.

But what was more interesting in this sample is the amount of huge adjustments I made to my game, and how much I have progressed as a player in about a month time because of the play at NL200 vs NL100. The winrate isn't that impressive, but that is mostly my own fault. The hands I misplayed this month taught me quite some things about beating the game as did the hands I won, and those I observed.

What stands out most to me are the discrepancies between the regulars at NL100 and NL200.

At NL100 there are some good/decent/bad regulars who are working hard on increasing their games, generally not playing too many tables.

At NL200 the average regular is much better. Their play is much better on average and they are used to countering other regulars in certain ways.

But what is almost mind-boggling is that almost any regular which I mark as good or very good are just playing way too many tables, which means that even while they may be better than me, they lose their edge because they turn into hud-bots and adjust in a somewhat predictable matter.

One example I could take are solid regulars on the button. They open a wide range, some of them even over 60%, and when they get 3bet by the BB they just look at BB's stats. In my example, it would show something like 22/18 to them with a 7% 3bet. The first conclusion they will make is that I will be 3betting light often enough, and each regular has their own way to adjust.

Some of them will start 4betting light, or 4bet bluffing often. The frequency they 4bet with will give you different options to exploit them. One way is to 3bet with a value-based range which does well vs their range in an all-in situation assuming you get enough folds after 5bet shoving, and expand that range based on how often they fold.

Another way to adjust is by not 3betting light at all. Most of these players will just be looking at your 3bet % stat, and if it's high enough, they make an automated decision.

One key factor from these observations is that this group of regulars will NOT adjust their opening range at all. If they open A3o from the button, and the BB is an aggressive player who defends his blinds quite often vs an aggressive button, they will still not consider folding A3o the next orbit.

Here's one example from today about this type of regular:

$1/$2 No Limit Holdem
5 players
Converted at

UTG ($200.00)
CO ($487.40)
BTN ($520.85)
SB ($92.00)
Hero ($200.00)

Pre-flop: ($3, 5 players) Hero is BB

2 folds, BTN raises to $6, SB calls $5, Hero raises to $28, BTN raises to $56, SB folds, Hero goes all-in $200, BTN folds

Final Pot: $118

Hero wins $262 ( won +$62 )
BTN lost -$56.00
SB lost -$6.00

Now, while this situation looks bloody standard, and this seems like a squeeze spot, the interesting part is how easy some other hands can be played vs this type of opponent:

With 1.1k hands on him he plays 23/17, attempt to steal 36% with 48% steal from button. So far, he folds to 3bets 56% of the time and 4bets 19% of the time.

If his 4bet % was not so high I would just call here to keep the fish in, and play fit/fold, and I think that would actually be more profitable in this spot. But assume for the moment that the fish in the SB had not called, what hands could I profitably 3bet here?

Definitely not a normal value bet range or a very polarized range. So 3betting KQ or air is suicide, so is 3betting any hand if you intend to fold to a 4bet. A better range in a button vs blind situation vs this player would be hands like ATs, AJs, AQ+ and any pocket pair including deuces with the intention to shove over a 4bet. Villain will be folding enough of his 4betting range there for that range to be very profitable vs him.

Now there are also players with a wide opening range who just fold to 3bets way too often OOP yet do not adjust their opening ranges much. Here are two examples:

$1/$2 No Limit Holdem
6 players
Converted at

UTG ($265.60)
UTG+1 ($239.80)
CO ($197.00)
Hero ($206.85)
SB ($121.85)
BB ($220.75)

Pre-flop: ($3, 6 players) Hero is BTN

1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $7, 1 fold, Hero raises to $26, 2 folds, UTG+1 folds

Final Pot: $17

Hero wins $36 ( won +$10 )
UTG+1 lost -$7.00

This regular is someone I really respect, and I do not want him sitting to my left at all. His postflop skills are very solid, and he will be getting the best of me quite often. But preflop, in position, I can make a lot from him if I adjust well.

What do we know about villain? He plays 26/23 after 4.6k hands, attempt to steal 41%, and he opens 26% from his hands from MP. His fold to 3bet % is 80%, 4bet% 7%. Further, he cbets 95% of all flop, which is way too high yet he succeeds because people just don't adjust well to him.

So what kind of hands would I 3bet vs him? All kinds of offsuit connectors, small pocket pairs (I cannot setmine profitably vs his range, and floating with unimproved small pairs is something I really hate vs a solid player), suited hands with a few gaps like 58s, the lower suited connectors etc. I still want some postflop possibility because I do expect him to just call a 3bet OOP with hands like AQ and JJ/TT.

But what would I flatcall with? All premium hands and hands which play very well in position, like mid-pairs, medium and high suited connectors, and all premium hands.

This may sound exploitable but it's not. If villain cbets so bloody often and folds to many 3bets, there's little value in 3betting with premium hands. And villain plays way too many tables to notice I won't 3bet premium hands vs him in position. Should he start to notice, and readjust, I will notice it after a while and respond appropriately.

Here's another regular who I play almost the same way against in position:

$1/$2 No Limit Holdem
5 players
Converted at

UTG ($234.90)
CO ($206.35)
BTN ($207.00)
SB ($282.25)
Hero ($240.00)

Pre-flop: ($3, 5 players) Hero is BB

3 folds, SB raises to $6, Hero raises to $20, SB folds

Final Pot: $12

Hero wins $26 ( won +$6 )
SB lost -$6.00

I have 1.7k hands on villain which show him playing 24/18, with an attempt to steal of 45% from the small blind, 83% cbet and a fold to 3bet % of 90%. This player is very positional aware but just fails at adjusting to who is sitting to his left. Opening too many hands from the SB works well for him on average, which is why he does it, but when he's playing 16 tables he will take an incredibly standard line here when 3bet: which is only continueing with JJ+ and AK.

If you look at a short sample, the optimal 3betting range vs him is all junk, and optimal calling range all premium hands. There is only one problem with raising all junk, which is that he may start to notice it when I 3bet him almost every hand. Though I still 3bet him almost every time, and the reason I do flat him often with hands like T7s etc instead of 3betting is for the same reason: I do not want him to adjust to me, and those hands I do not mind playing in position, even while when looking at it in a vacuum, 3betting T7s has better EV than calling with it.

Another thing I notice is that the regulars adjust well to cbets compared to those at NL100. They have balanced their ranges for floating, bluffraising, semi-bluffing, valueraising etc. What this means if you play a straightforward style vs those regulars when you happen to end up OOP vs them, they got an edge.

What I am trying to do to counter that is to have a much more balanced checking range. What this means is that I cbet much less than at NL100, but checking does not automatically mean that I'll fold. I may CR some boards as bluff/semi-bluff instead of cbetting them, may check-call for value and to induce bluffs, and may CR turns on drawy board because most regulars are just incapable of checking behind a turn when they hold a draw (they hate to put their cards face up).

Here is one example of me balancing my range a bit:

$1/$2 No Limit Holdem
6 players
Converted at

Hero ($602.40)
UTG+1 ($209.80)
CO ($200.00)
BTN ($428.40)
SB ($282.65)
BB ($208.95)

Pre-flop: ($3, 6 players) Hero is UTG

Hero raises to $7, UTG+1 calls $7, 4 folds

The button here is a very solid regular if you look at his stats, but not someone I really mind having to my left because he's a bit spewy. So far I got him at 20/16, 8% 3bet, 55% fold to cbet. Playing straightforward vs him is going to absolutely kill my winrate.

($17, 2 players)
Hero checks, UTG+1 bets $13, Hero calls $13

As I mentioned earlier, I don't cbet that often. And especially vs a player like this, I balance my checking range in a way to let me exploit his tendencies more than he can gain from positional advantage.

Standard play here is off course to make a c-bet. I obviously do not want to give a free card on a board like this, and want to get value from draws.

But how will villain respond to a cbet here?

He will peel at least once with any heart + overcard combo he has and overpairs, will raise nut flush draw, made flushes and sets and will fold all other holdings like bare overcards.

So betting here gets some value out of his range, and getting it allin here on this board will be marginally profitable only.

But how will he respond to checking?

First of all, I expect him to bet his complete range when checked to because it looks like I am check-folding. I do check-fold on this kind of board vs him with hands like bare overcards all the time, but I would rarely if ever cbet here.

So if I bet here he can play his hand correctly vs me, if I check, he won't, because he will never get a free card. If I checkraise, I only get action from hands which will make a relatively small mathematically mistake.

($43, 2 players)
Hero checks, UTG+1 bets $34, Hero raises to $104, UTG+1 goes all-in $189.80, Hero calls $85.80

Now we get to the point where it becomes interesting. Villain gets the chance to make a small mistake only if I lead here and he calls, and he gets the chance to fold his air.

But how do I expect him to act should I check here again even with a somewhat scary card on the board?

I expect this villain to absolutely never check a flushdraw behind, because he just does not want to put his cards face-up. He wants to abuse folding equity, and likes to balance his ranges, and that is fine. So vs villains like him, when it's very likely he is on a draw, giving a free card is no risk at all, since he will never take it. So my best way to get money in on the turn vs him when he could be drawing is by checkraising.

($422.60, 2 players)

Final Pot: $422.60
Hero shows:
UTG+1 shows:

UTG+1 wins $419.60 ( won +$209.80 )
Hero lost -$209.80

Off course he did suck out, but that's fine. I did manage to put in the bulk of the money with 82% equity, while a more straightforward line would have got me to put my money in with only 58%.


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