In Defense Of Grinding – The ‘Peter Principle’ And Poker

Poker Economy, Psychology, Strategy
January 29, 2009

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence” – Dr. Lawrence Peter, The Peter Principle

“In a cardroom, every player tends to move up until he can no longer beat the game” – me, right now.

Dr. Peter’s observation was originally intended as somewhat of a joke, as is my corollary.  But like many jokes, there is some underlying truth involved.  Peter’s observation was this: if you have an hierarchical organization of people, and each person has a fixed set of skills, and you promote people based on competence you will inevitably promote any given individual to the point where they are not competent, and there they will remain.

It’s not hard to see how the same situation can develop in poker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Middle Limit Holdem Poker

4 Star, Book Reviews, Limit Texas Holdem
January 26, 2009

Author: Bob Ciaffone & Jim Brier

Publisher: Self Published

I’ve been playing more limit holdem recently, and I suspect it will be the next “project” on CardSharp once I get more or less finished with NL holdem.  In preparation for that I’ve been going back over all the books I own on the limit version of the game as a means of organizing my thoughts.  When I first read Ciaffone’s book a couple of years ago, I thought it was the stone cold nuts as far as limit holdem goes.  On a second read, with many thousands of hands of mid and high limit holdem under my belt, I still think it’s the best book on the game, but not quite as good as I once believed. Read the rest of this entry »


CardSharp Mailbag: Even More About Big Hands Out Of Position Preflop

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
January 23, 2009

I just got another question about out-of-position play with big hands related to this post here (this article won’t make sense without reading that one):

The one area that still needs addressing on the subject of premium hands in early position is what to do when the blinds are very deep. If a limp, a normal raise and a normal re-raise won’t get ten percent of the effective stacks in, what do you do? Do you make an oversize re-raise? That would seem logical but it is going to lose you some action.

Will in New Haven

In reality, in a typical game that doesn’t have extra callers of the initial raise, even a limp-reraise won’t get in more than about 15BB without seriously overbetting the pot.  So in games well over 150B deep you’re not going to be able to get 10% of the stacks in with your huge hands, or even come close to that number.  So what are you going to do?  I have a few suggestions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Small Edges and Win Rate

Economics, Gambling (general)
January 19, 2009

I would venture a guess that even most winning poker players don’t put enough thought into the ultimate effect of their win rate on their gambling career.  Some work I did on sports betting recently went a long ways towards clarifying this for me personally.  I realize this isn’t a sports betting blog, but I want you to follow along anyways because I promise this will get back to poker eventually. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Read ‘Em And Reap

4 Star, Book Reviews
January 14, 2009

Author: Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins

“Presented by”: Phil Hellmuth

Publisher: (Harper) Collins

I will admit I was somewhat apprehensive about buying this book, and if Amazon hasn’t offered it to me dirt cheap I probably would have passed.  The reason for the apprehension is that Phil Hellmuth’s last effort, Play Poker Like the Pros, is somewhat of a running joke.  It’s just plain horrible and goes a long ways towards explaining why Phil can’t win at cash games.  Given all this I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see that Phil had taken another plunge into the world of instructional poker books.

The good news is that this book isn’t written by Hellmuth.  It’s written by a career FBI agent turned poker consultant.  And this is a pretty solid book. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cardsharp Mailbag: To Raise Or Not To Raise In Early Position

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
January 11, 2009

I just received the following question and it’s an excellent follow-on to the last preflop article:

Hi  Wayne,

I read the following comment in an old post of yours that discussed starting hands:

When intentionally entering the pot out of position, it’s often best not to raise at all under any circumstances, even if you have a premium hand.  If someone raises behind you, you can ditch the non-premium hands if you relative position is bad and re-raise the big pairs (and possibly AK). Often this re-raise will be all-in. (the post)

My question is, at what point should one start to raise from EP preflop with our opening range of hands,  and how much should that raise be?

Clearly in many cash games or tournaments, people have stacks well under 100BB.  And I did read in another article about your scenario of raising with a big pair vs someone else’s SET. There you talked about the importance of raising PF, and also CB.  So at some point, a player needs to stop limping PF and start raising. But what is the factor that decides that point? Do we go by the 5/10 rule and look at effective stack sizes?



Ok, I can see I created some confusion here, and re-reading the older article I think I see why: Read the rest of this entry »


Cardsharp Mailbag: Raising Preflop To Guarantee Position

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions
January 9, 2009

I try to answer reader questions as they come in, but for the last few months I’ve been really bad about it.  Hopefully over the next week or so I’ll be able to fix that and clear out the backlog.  Here goes!

Hi Wayne,

I found your site the other day and thanks, it has been very thought
provoking. I will be employing some of the insights I gathered to my game.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on the concept of “buying the
button”, eg raising in whole or part out of position to get position,
particularly pre-flop. Given the increase in EV that having position
entails, there would seem to be a method for valuing this benefit, in terms
of the bet/raise you should be willing to make to obtain, and whereby the
inputs to this valuation would obviously include absolute position (relative
to the cut-off). But what other inputs are specific to this valuation?
What would the formula be? An interesting concept that has not yet been
explored very rigorously, from what I have seen.

Cheers, Todd

This is an interesting question, and I spend a lot of time thinking about it before responding.  The short answer is that I don’t have the type of formula he’s looking for, and indeed I’m not sure anyone does.

The long answer is that I think this is sort of the wrong question. Read the rest of this entry »

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Playing When Strongly Committed

No Limit Texas Holdem
January 4, 2009

We’ve previously defined the types of commitment and talked about how to play when weakly and moderately committed.  All that’s left is strong commitment.

Strong “commitment” most closely matches the basic English definition of the word – you are attached to this hand until the end.  That leads to my first strategy pronouncement:

Once you become strongly committed to a hand, you never fold.  Your sole goal is to get your opponent(s) to put as much money in the pot as possible.

This seems like pretty basic advice, but in my experience it’s not something most players handle particularly well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moderate Commitment Due To A Draw

No Limit Texas Holdem
January 1, 2009

In the previous discussions of commitment here, here and here the examples of hands that commit you always were a strong made hand – top pair or better, or in the case of the preflop example an AK.  That’s no accident – the most common way to become committed in NL holdem is when you hold a strong made hand.  What may not be obvious is that commitment can result from a draw or the combination of a draw and and weak made hand that probably isn’t best. Read the rest of this entry »

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