Play On The Flop: The Continuation Bet

No Limit Texas Holdem
June 13, 2008

In NL holdem when the pot is raised preflop the last preflop aggressor often bets out on the flop regardless of whether or not he connected well with the flop. This bet is called a continuation bet and it is the central feature of betting action on the flop in NL holdem. This article discusses flop play from the perspective of the preflop agressor. I’ll follow up with another article in the future that looks at flop play from the perspective of the preflop caller. Read the rest of this entry »

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Protect Your Action

Poker Concepts, Rules
June 12, 2008

This article is specifically for online players switching to playing live and new live players. When you start playing live, you unfortunately have to cope with one of the major downsides of live play: angleshooting, rules abuse, and dealer and player errors. These issues don’t arise in online play, by and large, but they matter quite a bit in live play.

Angleshooting, or rules abuse, is simply a player manipulating the rules or structure of the game to gain an advantage not derived from good play. It can take a lot of forms. Oftentimes the angleshooting villain is on a freeroll – his angle rarely works, but if it does, he profits and if it doesn’t he doesn’t lose anything. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegas Trip Report – June 6-8 2008

June 11, 2008

Well, it’s WSOP time again, and I flew out to Vegas for a weekend of mid-stakes action. In no particular order, here are some random observations:

  • There’s actually PLO being spread during the series. For those that like PLO, this is a good thing. There were 5/5 games at the Rio, and a mixed PLO/NL holdem game at the Bellagio.
  • Pot limit games with novice players are a total mess
  • The limit holdem games get much better during the series
  • Ballys is a good place for a poker player traveling on the cheap to stay. I got a basic room at a bargain basement rate, slipped the checkin clerk a $20, and ended up in a giant suite. The furnishings weren’t the best (except the bed, which was very nice), but I got way more than I paid for. Being just across the bridge from the Bellagio is a huge time saver. Staying at the Bellagio would have been even more convenient, but a poker rate basic room there would cost me about twice what my suite cost me at Ballys.
  • Above the $1000 buyin point, I think the limit games are currently softer than the NL games.
  • The Venitian has a great poker room. Too bad they have a hard time getting much non-tournament action.
  • The WSOP action is not saving the Mirage limit games – they’re effectively dead. Bummer.
  • Dealer quality at the Rio sucks during the series.
  • The BBQ place in the Caesars food court is pretty tasty.
  • The gap between mid and high limit holdem is very confused at the moment – no one’s sure what to spread. 50/100 with green chips seems like the best option, but Bellagio had 60/120 (didn’t see the chips) at one point. None of these games seem to go reliably, whereas 100/200 was totally reliably.
  • The 1/2NL at Ballys (which I played while waiting to leave for my flight) is ridiculously easy. Anyone looking for a place to get started in NL would be wise to stop by Ballys.

Anyways, this may or may not be of interest to people. But those were the things that struck me.

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A Comedy of Errors At 30/60

Limit Texas Holdem
June 10, 2008

I played quite a few games during my most recent Vegas trip, but by far the most interesting was the 30/60 holdem last Sunday morning at the Bellagio. They had a lot of action on account of the WSOP – two tables at 10:00 in the morning, both full, neither of them must move. What made it interesting was that my opponents were worse than I’ve ever seen at a game that big. Out of 9 opponents, only 1 was playing decent poker. The rest made a number of mistakes that really stood out. This is the kind of game that I wish I could bottle up and bring home with me. Alas, they’re still in Vegas and I’m not. Oh well.

It’s worth discussing what these noticeable errors were. Players considering tacking mid-limit holdem would be wise to consider this list and purge these errors from their game. Because while these opponents were making errors at a rate higher than normal, the errors they were making were all the classics. Read the rest of this entry »

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Classifying Bets And Raises Part 3 – Aggression Is Overrated

Poker Concepts
June 6, 2008

part 1, part 2

The 10 most aggressive players in Vegas are brokeBob Ciaffone in Improve Your Poker

This is probably going to piss some people off, but Bob’s exactly right. For the last 25 years, the poker literature has been pulling a bit of a con on unsuspecting players by claiming in almost unmitigated terms that aggression is good. Read the rest of this entry »

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Classifying Bets & Raises Part 2 – The Risk-Reward Approach

Poker Concepts
June 5, 2008

In this series I discuss how bets and raises are classified, and the thinking behind determining if a given bet or raise is correct.

Part 1

As you’ll recall from last article, there is a well defined system for classifying calls as correct or incorrect using odds math. That math essentially analyzes three relevant facts:

  1. How much money you win if your call works (ie. you hit your draw, or have the best hand already) ($win)
  2. How much you lose if your call doesn’t work ($lose)
  3. How likely your call is to work (P(win))

At that point the expectation for the call is easy to calculate:

Expectation = $win * P(win) – $lose * (1-P(win))

The important thing to recognize here is that this formula is essentially

expectation = reward – risk

Read the rest of this entry »


Classifying Bets & Raises Part 1 – Why You Should Care

Poker Concepts
June 4, 2008

In a couple of previous articles I’ve talked about classifying bets as either value bets or bluffs. This classification was originally derived looking at last street play in fixed limit games. I now want to revisit the topic and discuss earlier betting rounds and games with variable bet size.

Before I do that though, I owe it to my readers to explain why I’m so interested in classifying bets. Read the rest of this entry »

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