Playing When Moderately Committed

No Limit Texas Holdem
December 29, 2008

We’ve been talking about commitment for a couple of articles – most recently playing when weakly committed.  I now want to discuss the next step up the commitment ladder – playing when moderately committed. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Effects of Structure on No Limit (NL) Holdem

No Limit Texas Holdem
December 26, 2008

Last time I posted some general information on how game structure influences correct play.  I now want to apply that directly to no limit holdem.

I identified two factors about a game that influence how eager you should be to voluntarily enter the pot preflop.  The first was the size of the antes and forced bets.  It’s relevant to ask, especially in a NL game, “size relative to what?”.  That’s a good question.  I think for purposes of discussion, it’s reasonable to discuss their size relative to a reasonable 100 big blind buyin.  Obviously many games are played with larger or smaller buyins, but 100 big blinds is a good place to start discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Effects of Structure And The Motivation To Play a Hand

Poker Concepts
December 23, 2008

I want to make sure everyone is familiar with the concept of the “structure” of a poker game.  The structure of a game is simply a shorthand for a few related rules for a given game:

  1. The number, location and size of the antes and/or forced bets (blinds and bring-ins) in a game
  2. The rules for bet sizing in that game
  3. The restrictions, if any, on minimum and maximum buyin amounts and rebuy amounts
  4. In a tournament, the way these things change as the tournament progresses

These four rules, along with one concept I’ll discuss in a minute, are important to consider as a group because they all factor into one decision: whether or not to voluntarily put money in the pot with a given hand Read the rest of this entry »

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A New Look And Some New Features For The New Year

Low Content
December 21, 2008

It’s that magical time of year – I’m taking two weeks off work whether I like it or not since getting vacation off the books improves the virtual bottom line supposedly.  As such I have time to tackle those long-hibernating projects.  One of them is getting the look and feel of CardSharp updated.  Hopefully you like the new template, and if not then drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.  I know the innards of the new template much better since I wrote it myself, so there’s actually a reasonable chance I’ll address any complaints.

In adition to the new look, CardSharp has gotten some new features that the old theme didn’t support well enough to bother with. Read the rest of this entry »


Throwing A Spanner In The Preflop Works

No Limit Texas Holdem, Psychology
December 18, 2008

If you can’t evade a tax, pay a little too much to confuse their computers.

-Friday, Robert Heinlein

Here’s a funny little story.  A few years ago I was playing a 1/2 NL home game.  It was my first time there, and we were playing somewhat deep for a small game – I think I had 150BB and several people had me covered.  Anyways, because of the stack depths and general table atmosphere I was using a slightly oversized preflop raise – I was thinking something like 4.5BB+1BB/limper would be about right (3 to 3.5BB +1BB/limper is more standard).  Anyways, just for shits and giggles, I decided to do 4+1/limp half the time and 5+1/limp half the time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Playing When Weakly Committed

No Limit Texas Holdem
December 15, 2008

Last time I went to some length to define three different types of pot commitment.  This wasn’t just a ploy to fill space – you should care about the distinction for a very simple reason: correct play is different depending on how committed you are.  Put another way, all situations at the same level of commitment will share major similarities.

So let’s get started with weak commitment Read the rest of this entry »

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Are You (Pot) Committed? What Exactly Is Commitment Anyways?

No Limit Texas Holdem, Poker Concepts
December 8, 2008

Poker books, TV shows and forums love to talk about being “committed” to a hand. However, I’ve come to a realization over time while reading and watching all this stuff: no one can agree on what it means to be “committed”.  Everyone’s talking about it, but they’re talking about at least three different things and using the same word for them.  The result is rampant confusion, and an unhealthy dose of misinformation for any player trying to make sense of the concept. Read the rest of this entry »


The Betting Lead

Poker Concepts
December 4, 2008

Last time, I wrote that the play of the cards in holdem often times coveys very little information about the state of the hand.  This produces an interesting effect: since the available information at the end of the last betting round is usually very similar the information at the start of the next round, there is a general expectation on the part of the players that the last person to bet or raise last round will, if given the opportunity, bet first this round.  This concept is called the ‘betting lead’ and it’s important to understand both for the purposes of betting your hand correctly, and for interpreting other people’s bets. Read the rest of this entry »

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An Observation On The Nature Of Holdem

Limit Texas Holdem, No Limit Texas Holdem
December 3, 2008

There are some things about specific forms of poker that just don’t become obvious until you compare them to other forms, so for my holdem-only readers this statement may come as a surprise.  But holdem (both limit and no limit) has the least information contained in the mechanical play of the cards of any form of poker.  Simply put, when a new board card is dealt, especially on the turn and river, it often tells you very little that you didn’t already know. Read the rest of this entry »

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