The Payoff Rule (Aces & Set Farming Part 2)

No Limit Texas Holdem, Poker Concepts
April 29, 2008

Last article we looked at the set farming strategy, and saw that it was an effective way to take money from an opponent with a big pair if both players adopted certain strategies. We also looked at two possible “defenses” the guy with aces could employ – raising more or having a smaller stack. However, both of these are infeasible in many circumstances. You don’t have much control of your stack size, and raising the needed 10% of the effective stacks is often not feasible in deepstack games. Clearly there’s only one option left for the aces: they can’t always pay off the set for a full stack. In fact, against the strategy I described for the set farmer (check-fold postflop if no set), there’s no reason the aces should ever pay off the set. Any time the guy bets, or even calls, you know he’s got you beat (unless you also hit a set). This creates an odd strategy for the guy with aces – bet out every time, and if your opponent folds, fine. If he gives you any action, check-fold the rest of the streets. This strategy beats the set farmer out of almost 4BB/hand on average with the setup from the last article. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aces & Set farming Part 1

Mathematics, No Limit Texas Holdem
April 26, 2008

It’s time for one of the most important things I’ve got to say about no limit Texas holdem. We’ve talked previously about the topic of set farming when discussing the 5/10 rule. Specifically,

Set farming is calling a bet preflop with a small to medium pocket pair (which is unlikely to be best by the river if it doesn’t improve) hoping to hit a set (3 of a kind made with one on board plus your pair). It’s a longshot play where you rarely hit, but when you do you have a hand that’s almost certainly best, and you can comfortably get your stack in.

Set farming is a very central part of correct NL play. In fact, against certain opponents, it is the single most profitable tactic in your arsenal. To understand why, consider this hypothetical hand: Read the rest of this entry »

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What Does It Mean To Be In Position?

Poker Concepts, Strategy
April 21, 2008

Like most people with websites, I occasionally look to see what phrases people are searching for to find my site. One of the recent ones was “what does it mean to be in position”. This sent the searcher to one of my pages, albeit not one that actually answered his question. While I can’t help that guy out (unless he comes back), I can answer the question for someone else.

It turns out that position is a bit of a complicated topic, because it really refers to several different concepts that are only slightly related. All of them have to do with the order in which the players act, but that’s where the similarities stop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Want To Fix The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event?

Cardroom Managment, Tournaments
April 16, 2008

There are a lot of silly rumors floating around about what this year’s WSOP main event is going to look like. All we really know at this point is that it’s going to be a poker-free circus with a high probability of the winner being a total assclown, just like the last two years. That’s what ESPN wants, of course, so that’s what Harrah’s wants. Of course, it could be fixed if someone really wanted to. Maybe if the enough name players demanded it, something would happen. Here are the major problems as I see them: Read the rest of this entry »

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Game Theory Part 3: Observations

Mathematics, Strategy
April 13, 2008

In the last game theory column, I presented a real-world poker problem, and started through the process of figuring out the equilibrium solution. As you probably noticed, I simply told you what the solution was without explaining how I got that solution. Now I owe it to you to explain how I did it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Game Theory Part 2: Applications To Poker

Mathematics, Poker Concepts, Strategy
April 11, 2008

Last time, I explained what game theory is using examples from roshambo. That’s all well and good, but this isn’t a roshambo strategy site. So let’s look at the poker implications. As we stated, any time there is a strategy rho, you can minimize the worst result you can get by choosing randomly between the options in the head of the rho at some frequency. Thus far, for poker, we’ve only discussed one rho: the big rho of tight play, aggressive play, and calling down. This is certainly an interesting example of a strategy rho, but it’s lousy for a discussion of game theory. The reason is that it’s somewhat of an abstract concept – we haven’t defined what exactly each strategy entails, and therefore it’s impossible to figure out the exact expectation when two strategies meet. This makes solving the associated game theory problem of how frequently you should do each to get a game theoretic optimal result impossible. To that end I want to introduce a new rho: the bluffing and calling on the end rho. Read the rest of this entry »

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Game Theory Part 1: What Is It?

Mathematics, Poker Concepts, Strategy
April 9, 2008

Game theory is somewhat of a hot topic right now. The application of said theory to poker has always been a topic of discussion amongst certain mathematicians and players. Then The Mathematics of Poker was published, and it temporarily put game theory front and center in the poker discussion. However, I would happily wager that 90%+ of winning players at any level could not give a correct and comprehensive explanation of what game theory is.

So for all you folks who don’t really know what game theory is, or what it has to do with poker, never fear. CardSharp is here to help Read the rest of this entry »

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Trip Report: Vegas, March 23-26 2008

April 8, 2008

Sorry about being delinquent in getting this up. I’ve been rather busy. My itinerary looked much like the last two trips: fly out cheap on Sunday & stay the first part of the week. This isn’t the best itinerary for getting action – staying the weekend would be better – but it is dirt cheap. Compared to the last two trips, a few notable things have changed Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Harrington on Cash Games Volume 1

5 Star, Book Reviews
April 5, 2008

Subtitle: How to Win at No-Limit Hold’em Money Games

Author: Dan Harrington & Bill Robertie

Publisher: 2+2

Finally. Two plus two has put out two books on NL holdem cash games in the last few years. Sklansky & Miller’s No Limit Holdem – Theory and Practice was marginal. Profesional No Limit Holdem Volume 1 was a complete turd. Both were far inferior to what Doyle wrote in Supersystem. This created the absurd situation where the most popular poker game today had only one chapter in one book addressing it in a decent manner. Enter Dan Harrington to rectify the problem. As anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows, Harrington was responsible for a wildly (and deservedly) popular series of book on NL tournament play. He’s the only author reviewed on CardSharp who has consistently achieved a 5-star rating for his books – not an easy feat since I tend to be stingy with top ratings. Needless to say I was thrilled to hear he was tackling cash game NL. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Effects Of The Rake

Economics, Poker Concepts
April 4, 2008

Something rather silly happened on today. One of the group’s less observant participants claimed that if you play 1/3 NL or bigger in a casino, the effects of the rake and other expenses are minimized. Fact is, that’s far from the truth. You have to play MUCH bigger than 1/3 NL before the rake and your other costs don’t have a major impact. To illustrate the point, I put together what I think is a fairly conservative list of expenses for a 1/3 NL player, and looked at what that did to your win rate. Read the rest of this entry »

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