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July 2015

Odds

Odds Are, You Need to Know Them!

A friend playing in a $1-2 NLH game at the Venetian folded an open-ended straight draw for a $65 all-in bet in a $165 pot. Another opponent yet to act had $80 left, though he had raised pre-flop and checked. The board was Tc-9c-4d, and my friend held the QhJh. The way the hand had played made it unlikely an opponent had a flush draw. Also, a queen or jack also might have been good. Getting over 2-1/2 to 1current odds when he was 2-1 against making just the straight, my friend’s fold was terrible.
If you want to play poker well, you need to be able to calculate odds, current odds, “hot and cold” odds and implied ones. If you can’t determine your odds, you’ll make serious errors.
Current odds are the odds that you currently face. If its $30 to call and the pot is $100, your current odds are 100-30 or 3-1/3 to 1.
Hot and Cold odds are the odds your hand will win if either you or your opponent(s) are all-in. Devices such as the online CardPlayer Calculator calculate the odds of how hands fare mathematically against each other.
Implied odds generally are “best guess estimates” of how future bets will impact the price of a given play. If you are currently receiving 3-1 odds on a call, you need to determine how future betting will affect your current price. Implied odds can affect your hand either positively or negatively, depending upon whether you have an edge in the future betting.
When assessing odds, you should calculate/estimate the “effective odds” of the whole equation. If there are multiple streets, you should calculate your odds based on getting to the river and the likelihood of all bets. That said, sometimes you can correctly call only one street, but you must adjust your odds for only that street’s card(s), and not miscalculate by comparing your current odds to the chances you will complete the hand to the river.
Additionally, don’t get confused by the fact that 1 in 3 is the same as 2-1. Different writers phrase odds/ratios using different terminology that is easy to confuse.
Whenever I play, I’m always aware of my current price and know how much money is in the pot. I make adjustments based on any assumptions of risk I may take, such as someone’s raising behind. I then think about my implied odds. Will my hand provide me future value? Or will I have to pay more on the turn? How is the hand likely to play out? A lot of that is “best guess estimates,” but over time and lots of practice, I’ve learned to be somewhat accurate. By calculating my odds in this manner, I acquire a good feel for what is mathematically correct and create better decisions for myself.
This is an oversimplified and short explanation. Learning how to calculate the odds is a necessary fundamental for developing a “feel” of what is mathematically correct. Doug Hull of Red Chip Poker wrote a book, “The Poker Workbook for Math Geeks” that is an illustrated, easy to follow and understand math guide strictly for poker. I recommend it to everyone who needs to improve their poker math. You can get it at http://www.ThreeBarrelBluff.com .
Happy Calculating

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Too Predictable

Adjusting to Player Types

My previous poker tips were fundamentals, this tip group is more advanced and involves hand reading skills and player reads. Quick tips such as these tend to lump players into stereotypical modes that don’t always fit. So while these plays are good guidelines, there’re not meant to be selected in stone. Nuances arise within players and situations for which additional adjustments should be made.

Too Predictable

Tip #1-Play lots of hands against these players like they were playing their cards face-up. Since you can read them very effectively, you’re going to be able to consistently outplay them. Once again, be aware of and take into account other players in the pot and those to act after you.

Tip #2-These are good players to focus on as once you have a good read on their thinking, you will make accurate high-edge plays against them. So, calculate their reactions and design plays accordingly.

Tip #3-Sit to their left. Your edge on these players is large and you want to be able to make isolation plays and many creative plays against them. Sitting to their left will increase the number of plays you can make against them, many of which are going to be high-edge.

Tip #4-If their predictability is a function of tells. Keep it your secret. Don’t tell others and DEFINITELY don’t tell them!

Too Nitty

Adjusting to Player Types

My previous poker tips were fundamentals, this tip group is more advanced and involves hand reading skills and player reads. Quick tips such as these tend to lump players into stereotypical modes that don’t always fit. So while these plays are good guidelines, there’re not meant to be selected in stone. Nuances arise within players and situations for which additional adjustments should be made.

Too Nitty

Players who play too tight require a different strategy than those that are too aggressive or too loose. The next four tips are general guidelines and not meant to be set in stone. Nuances arise in which adjustments must be raised.

Tip #1-Don‘t call their large bets without a big hand that warrants it against a very tight range.  Nitty players are generally fearful of making big bets and when they do, it’s usually the goods. Don’t bestow them value on their big mitts.

Tip #2-Read where they are trying to get in cheap and widen your “squeeze range” They’re not calling, so the “squeeze” has more fold equity. You need to be aware and take into account the texture of any other opponents in the pot and any opponents that might accurately read your “squeezing”

Tip #3-Barrel them off their one pair hands when you can legitimately represent a big hand. The “legitimately” comes from not representing hands which your opponent won’t be able to read you for based on previous actions. The bluffs have to appear to be legitimate holdings to work effectively. You must have appeared to have played your hind in a manner similar to the hand you are representing.

Tip #4-Watch out for creative nits. Some nits are nits because they are scared. Others are nits because their personality is risk adverse, but are smart, creative and good hand-reading opponents. Don’t try to outplay the creative nits, they’ll outplay you over time

Overly Aggressive Players

Adjusting to Player Types

My previous poker tips were fundamentals, this tip group is more advanced and involves hand reading skills and player reads. Quick tips such as these tend to lump players into stereotypical modes that don’t always fit. So while these plays are good guidelines, there’re not meant to be selected in stone. Nuances arise within players and situations for which additional adjustments should be made.

Overly Aggressive Players

Tip #1-Lay traps. Check more made hands in order to induce bluffs, particularly in short-handed pots. Let them bluff/weak bet their stack off. This is particularly effective on draw-light boards when your opponent reads you for holding fewer calling hands. However, when laying these traps, keep in mind the odds you are offering players yet to act and make sure you’re not offering them good prices to draw out on you. After you have made this play on overly-aggressive opponents to the point where they change their play against you, start betting more of your made hands.

Apply pressure on them with your draws. They’re betting range includes a lot of air/weak hands that will fold to pressure, increasing the value of your semi-bluffs.

Tip #2-Three-bet with marginal hands opponents who will lay down to three-bets. This includes timid opponents and those who raise frequently with weak hands and won’t call your raise without a big hand.  You must make the distinction between those that will lay down and those that won’t. Don’t be chicken! I think this play is a situation where the read on your opponent is more valuable than the content of your hand, though both have merit. That said, don’t three-bet them with hands that are good trap hands. You might want to flat them with AA, but three-bet them with Kc5c. DUCY? You don’t want an overly aggressive players to fold when you have a holding that dominates them, but you do want them to fold holdings that play well against you current holding.

Tip #3-Raise-bluff them more. The value of your bluffs and semi bluffs increases because they’re betting air too often, making their bluffing range wider and their value range narrower. You’ll get plenty of folds, and that may even include the lower part of their value range. This raises don’t need to be sizable, a small amount will do it in cases where air is a big part of your opponents range.

Why are you Betting?

Why are you Betting?

Many people bet whenever they think they have the best hand. But that’s not a sufficient reason to bet. If you think you have the best hand and will get called only by a better hand, then your bet is a loser. Do you understand why? If the only time your bet is called, you lose, it’s a losing proposition, a big losing proposition!

There are three foremost reasons you should bet.

  1. Value Bet: You should bet when you have the best hand and you think there is a better than 50% chance that your opponent will call with a worse hand. I’ve oversimplified this in order for you to easily understand the concept. In actuality you should extend your odds to take into account the odds of being raised, how your bet will influence future action or how many opponents, etc. You should also bet when you know your opponent is drawing even if you’re giving him the correct odds to draw out on you. Making them pay to draw is almost always better than checking. A good value bet is when you are a favorite over your opponent’s calling range and any additional risks you assume are not threatening enough to shift the bet into negative EV.
  2. Bluffing: You should bet when you feel you have the worst hand and there is a greater chance that your opponent will fold his hand than the price the pot is laying him. For example; if on the final card the pot contains $100, you bet $30 with an abysmal hand, and your opponent will fold more than 30% of the time, you’ve made a profitable bluff. When you’re bluffing, you’re hoping to win the pot uncontested.

You’re semi-bluffing when you bet with more cards to come, hoping your opponent folds, but can still win if you hit your hand. An example would be betting a flush draw with one card to come. You can win it immediately, or, if he calls you might make your flush.

A good bluff is when the percentage of your opponent’s total range that is better than your hand, and is also in his folding range, is greater than the odds the pot is offering him to call. Once again, that’s oversimplified, but it’s still a complicated sentence and you should reread it slowly until you understand exactly what it says. Understanding that sentence will greatly increase your bluffing equity.

  1. Betting to deny an opponent equity: You bet with what you think is the best hand and want to deny an opponent his equity. You think your opponent will fold though you may do even better if he calls. But you’ll do better if he folds the hand over giving him a free shot to beat you. An example of this might be betting AK on a flop of 7h-5c-3s when you think your opponent holds QJ. You doubt he’ll call, but betting denies him the equity of catching a queen or a jack. You should bet to deny an opponent’s equity when his folding range still has value and you assume less risk than the risk of giving him a free card.

There are other reasons to bet and many nuances within these three concepts. But it’s important to understand why it is you’re betting and not just blindly tossing in chips on a whim.  So, when you’re contemplating a bet, consider what you are trying to accomplish and ask, “Does the betting strategy fit with the current scenario?”

And if you can justify the bet, don’t be afraid to fire it in!

Adjusting to Player Types

Adjusting to Player Types

My previous poker tips were fundamentals, this tip group is more advanced and involves hand reading skills and player reads. Quick tips such as these tend to lump players into stereotypical modes that don’t always fit. So while these plays are good guidelines, there’re not meant to be selected in stone. Nuances arise within players and situations for which additional adjustments should be made.

Loose-Passive Players:

Tip #1-Play more hands against this texture of opponent, but keep in mind of action to be taken behind you. While this concept is widely known, many players use it to justify playing too many hands. If you fail to take into account the possible actions of those behind you, you’ll often find yourself trapped in bad situations. Try to analyze what will happen both behind you and moves ahead. Do they tend to fold if you raise?  Are there lots of aggressive raisers or are they passive callers. Can they read what you’re doing and will adjust or are they oblivious?  Adjust your play to your foresight as well as to the texture of what has happened in front of you.

Tip #2-Value Bet wider and bigger. Loose-passive players call more which allows for a wider range of value bets being profitable.  And Loose-passive opponents tend to be less sensitive to the size of the bet, giving larger bets a higher propensity to be called. So, since they call weaker you can bet more hands for value profitably.  And since they’re likely to call larger bets, size your bet a bigger than normal. That extra value adds up significantly over time.

Tip #3-Slowplay less against loose-passive players. The value of slowplaying comes when you disguise your hand and induce an opponent to call or bet that would have folded otherwise. Since they tend to call more and bet less, slowplaying has lost much of its value. There is no point in slowplaying against an opponent that will call/anyway. You should still slowplay situations in which your opponent almost can’t have a hand, but against this texture of opponent you should slowplay much tighter.

Tip #4-Isolate raise loose-passive players who play a “fit or fold” style more frequently with the intention of continuation betting with weak hands. While the immediate fold equity is not as high, they’ll call pre-flop with a wide range of hands. But they’re going to flop air more often and your fold equity will be high on your continuation bet. By isolating pre-flop, you’ll be less likely to share their negative equity with other callers. But, once again, be aware of what is to act behind you (See tip #1). And if your opponent is one who makes lots of post flop moves, don’t make this play.

Tip #5-Bluff tighter! Yes, this somewhat contradicts tip #4, but that tip limits itself to pre-flop and continuation betting. You should raise loose-passive opponent’s large pre-flop, and continuation bet liberally as they flop air often (You don’t need to size the continuation bet large). That said, your bluffs get called by wider ranges, and you need to adjust for that fact. So while their opening ranges are wider and will miss the flop more often, which gives value to a continuation semi-bluff, their calling ranges are wider and lower your fold equity of standard bluffs. All that said, don’t make this play against total donks!

Roy Cooke’s Twelve Fundamental Poker Tips

Roy Cooke’s Twelve Fundamental Poker Tips

This by no means covers everything, but there are an awful lot of key basics here. Learn and apply this information and I guarantee your poker game will get better!

Also, I’ve added a “Roy’s Poker Room” to my Real Estate website where I’ll input this, as well as other poker writings. Check it out at http://www.RoyCooke.com  and click on “Roy’s Poker Room.”  Lots of good information will be there that will improve your game!

  1. Chose Games in Which you Have a Large Edge Over your Opponents:

You may make more money playing higher with a smaller edge over your opponents. But, if you chose that formula you need to make sure you have the bankroll and emotional stability to accommodate the larger downswings you will actualize.

Keep in mind that the best game is not always the one with the largest pots. Rather it is the game where you have the largest edge over your opponents. Finding the best game for your ability and bankroll on a day to day basis is the most important poker decision you will make.

  1. Compute the Price on All your Plays:

This is an important concept in every poker decision, and it will also help you develop “feel.”

Consider how the hand is likely to play, count the bets AND estimate the expectation you will gain/lose from them. Additionally, weigh how less likely scenarios might affect your value. Calculate the value of your hand in terms of expectation NOT money wagered.

When considering a call from a hand you think likely to be second best determine the IMPLIED price you are receiving from the pot. This includes the chance your hand will win, the probability (including your opponents tendencies) of winning extra money over what is already in the pot, and the true price of the call including the possibility it will get raised behind you.

When determining whether you should call without the best hand, take into consideration the chance that the hand you are drawing to will not be good. Even if there is a small chance that it won’t be good, you must considerably increase your odds required to make the call. Conversely, when you think a possible out for your hand is unlikely to be good, still include the possibility that it might be good!

The more you practice computing these equations, the better you will get at them!

  1. Adjust your Play Based on the Money in the Pot:

The larger the pot is the more you should be inclined to play your hand in a manner that protects your hand. Often, this includes taking more risk in an effort to protect your hand. That said, the risk must be calculated and merited.

Winning a big pot without competition is generally not a bad thing unless your hand almost cannot be drawn out on. The smaller the pot is, the more correct it is to make trap plays that gain you extra bets; even if those trap plays cause you to assume extra risks. Reason being, the additional bets add more expectation value when the pot is small. That said, you still must factor in the probability that your opponent(s) will draw out on you. Once again, the risk must be calculated and merited.

This concept is huge in no-limit and pot-limit games.

  1. Take your Position into Consideration:

Always consider your position when determining a play. This includes your position in relation to the bettor and the texture of the players to act behind you. Having an accurate feel of this will add great value to your poker game. Important information can be accumulated when your opponents act before you do!

Some thoughts to ponder: How many players will act before and after you? What are their tendencies? How does your hand play against the range of hands of your opponent(s)? If there was a raise on a previous street, is the raiser in front of you or behind you? What is the probability the pot will get raised behind you? How do you think the hand will play based on your read? How should you adjust your play based on your position?

  1. Bet Draws if you Might not get Called:

In limit, you should almost always bet a draw if you think there is a chance you could win the pot with a bet. When you bet a draw you give yourself another way to win the pot if everyone folds, currently or subsequently.

In no-limit it depends on the size of the pot and the probability that you may be able to acquire large bets later in the hand if you allow people to stick around.

Keep in mind how betting one street affects the bluffing equity of a future street. Additionally, when you bet a draw, you might win a bigger pot if you make your hand. It also adds deceptive value to future hands you play and makes you a much harder player to read.

  1. Don’t Slowplay if your Hand is Vulnerable:

If your hand is in significant danger to free or cheap cards do not slowplay your hand. You want to charge them to draw and not give a player that would fold a free shot to beat you.

This concept correlates to point 3, you don’t want to lose the money already in the pot. The bigger the pot the stronger this concept!

  1. Adjust your Play Based on the Texture of your Opponents:

If you are playing aggressive players, induce bluffs and utilize trapping plays take advantage of the fact they generally bet with more hands than they call with. Plays created from this concept will reward you with extra bets and take away some of your opponents’ aggression.

Conversely, bluff tight players and rob their blinds. Bluffs and semi-bluffs increase in value when your opponents fold more frequently. Make the scenarios in which they save a bet(s) occasionally cost them the pot.

Generally speaking, the looser the game is, the less aggressive you should play your medium wired pairs. When playing loose AND passive players you can profitably play more hands. In that texture of game you will get a lot of volume, as well as opportunities to make hands cheaply that will procure large payoffs. When playing loose AND aggressive players don’t get caught up in the action, instead just play very solid cards. You will make the best hand more often than your opponent(s) will and when played correctly action will always be available.

  1. Assign Capabilities to Players when Reading Hands:

When calculating a read on an opponents hand, ask yourself what the propensity and/or capability he has of making the play you are giving him credit for. Base your reads on HIS capabilities, how HE thinks, how HE is emotionally and how HE reacts.

  1. Make Deception Plays:

If you always play your hands the same way, observant opponents will be able to read you and your strategies will lose a great deal of their value.

Play unusual hands in strange positions to create indecision in your opponents minds. Use hands/situations in which any edge you give up is minimal. All you need to do is create doubt, your opponents don’t have to think you’re foolish. Do not make deception plays against players who do not take notice or do not understand.

  1. Watch your kicker:

Huge money is lost in hold’em when one player has another “outkicked”. Pay attention and be wary of your “kicker” in all situations.

When you are “outkicked”, often you will only have three cards in which you can win with, sometimes none. If your opponent flopped two pair with a better kicker, you are drawing virtually dead. Try not to play hands in situations where the propensity to be “outkicked” is high.

  1. Stay Emotionally Stable:

This is a huge leak even to many very good players. If you can’t keep your head on straight when you’re running bad, poker is going be a torturous lifestyle for you.

Get in tune with yourself. Know what sets you off. Is it your own bad play? Are you angry at a beat? Looking for revenge? Learn what relaxes you. Take breaks, deep breaths, self-talk your way to emotional neutral, focus on keeping your thoughts intellectual not emotional. Conquer tilt or it will conquer you!

  1. Manage your Bankroll:

When you’re out of action, you can’t make any money. If you’re a pro keep 6 months living expenses as well as a sufficient bankroll to handle any swings of fortune you might take.

How much you should keep as a bankroll depends on your style and ability. The greater the spread in ability, the smaller the fluctuations in the game you play and the lower the variance of your playing style, the lower your bankroll requirements need to be.

Depending on those concerns, for limit games I would recommend somewhere between 200-400 big bets and in no-limit games anywhere between 20-50 buy-ins. If you lose that number of units, you need to reassess either the game you’re playing in or your play. It isn’t about luck!

What is your Position?

WHATS YOUR FAVORITE POSITION?

In life and poker the more sound information you possess, the better quality your decision should be.
When you act first, you don’t obtain the information from your opponent’s actions like you do when they act beforehand.

When your opponents check or bet, they provide information regarding their hand.
A good hand-reader should be able to narrow his opponents’ range based on their actions.

If your opponent checked, does he check strong hands or only weak ones?
If he bet, what was his bet size and how does that define his hand?
Did your opponent display any tells?
The questions are endless.

All this information increases your decision powers when you act after your opponents.
This is why you should play stronger hands in early position and can play weaker ones in late position. Additionally, raising in late position as a tactic to fold those yet to act adds additional value to your raise because you won’t have as many players behind you on future streets. Furthermore, when you already hold the button, raising loses some of its value because you already have the best position. When attempting a “button stealing raise,” always also take into account the propensity of the players behind you to fold.

Of additional importance is your position in relation to a bettor.
If a player bets and you’re next to act, having more players to act after you increases your risk and lowers your information-gathering possibilities. It’s much better to “close out the action,” have the bettor lead into your other opponents and then be last to act. This concept needs to be added into the equation of whether to bet or not.

Sometimes you can maneuver yourself into this position.
A good example of “closing the action” is semi-bluff raising out of the BB pre-flop.
You’ve seen the action of all your opponents, and if none of them have indicated strength, the “fold equity” of your raise is higher.

Many players, particularly inexperienced ones, undervalue position. Having the extra information available can make or save you many bets, often bets with large value, particularly in big-bet games. Plus, advantageous position can generate more profitable bluffing situations, winning you the whole pot.
So, weigh your position in your poker decisions. When you’re assuming greater risk because you don’t know what your opponents will do, tighten up. Conversely, when you know your decisions are going to be made with a high level of information, you can play a little looser.

Play Well and Good Luck!

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