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April 2016

Compartmentalizing Ranges?

If you habituate your mind to think along given lines, you’ll simplify your thought process and free up your brains “disk space” for other considerations. It will also give you greater decision consistency by not allowing yourself to be as easily influenced by emotions or unusual card distributions.

I’ve previously written that I compartmentalize my opponents’ range into 3 segments: a drawing range, and a range of hands that beat mine, and a range that I beat. Then I attach my estimate of my opponents’ odds of holding each portion of the range. My approach in this manner creates clearer thinking. I consider how to play each range and how the EV against one portion of the range affects the EV of the others. Sometimes the best play against one portion of the range is the same as the best play against other portions. If not, you need to weigh the options and calculate what play works best against the overall range.

For example, on the river you might wager a small amount to fold out his whiffed draws, knowing you’ll get called by all better hands, but you’re still getting the right price to fold his drawing range that missed. You’ve made a play that has negative value against his range that beats you, but the “fold equity” of the bluff more than makes up for the EV loss.

Another example of this way of thinking is to divide your opponents’ hand ranges by their actions or potential actions. What is your opponents’ calling range? If they check-raised, what is their check-raising range? Their betting range? Bluffing range? Raising range? By compartmentalizing in this manner you further define their hand and make your thoughts clearer. For example, you’re considering a bet on the river. You think your hand is good, but know that being good is not enough; you need to be good when you’re called. So you ask yourself, what is your opponents’ calling range and what portion of it do you beat? Is a bet still profitable?

By streamlining my thoughts in this manner, I process my thinking in an identical manner every time. It prevents my mind from getting convoluted, creating accuracy and consistency, both important poker attributes. This can get complicated and will sometimes require away from the table analysis to work this out.

Once you get used to doing the calculations, it will come much easier. Initially, expect it to be tough. But over time your mind will attune and the new thinking will become natural and much easier.

And when it does, you’ll know you’ve dramatically improved your poker decision-making process!

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The World Series of Poker 2016

One hundred and sixty-five years ago pioneers got into their covered wagons and started their trek across America seeking riches at the California Gold Rush. Starting May 31st, and over the next 6 weeks, tens of thousands more will be traversing America to mine the gold from the 2016 WSOP.
 
A few will experience the thrill of victory; most will experience the agony of defeat. The Colossus will run again this year. It’s a $565 buy-in NL Hold’em with $7,000,000 guaranteed tourney on June 2nd. Additionally, the enormous flow of poker players floods the other Las Vegas poker rooms with tournaments and cash games, big and small. The action is like no other event in the poker world. It’s just the greatest poker opportunity every year. You can watch the world’s best players play the world’s biggest games, or you can entertain yourself playing $1-2 NL. Whatever you chose, it’s going to be a fun and interesting experience.
 
Serious money will change hands. And if you want to get your mitts on a share, you need a strategy. If you’re coming to transform your life, focus on the tournaments. Even if you’re not a great player, a few lucky breaks can change your life. Think of Chris Moneymaker, who parlayed a $39 satellite into $2,500,000 and some lucrative corporate sponsorships in the 2003 main event. He then went on to live a celebrity lifestyle. It really can happen to you!
 
And it’s not just the opportunity of the Main Event. Tourneys start every day, cheap satellites are available to those who are “bankroll challenged.” Every year, some unknown wannabe gets hot and goes from being broke to a millionaire in six short weeks. And being a millionaire is MUCH superior to being broke!
That said, if you’re a slow and steady, risk-adverse guy like me, there’s plenty of side action to grind out a significant win. Bellagio has the limit hold’em games, and no-limit is all over Las Vegas.
 
Players from all over the world bring their bankrolls and are looking to play higher than their normal. There are plenty of opportunities to play in some very good games, even at very high limits. Grinding out the side action may not give birth to the glory and adrenaline rushes that tournament play provides, but for an economic upside, overall better edges can generally be found in the side action.
 
The action is best during the first week, and then the money slowly starts to dry up. The losers tighten up or fade into the night, thereby making the graveyard games superior to the day shift. Weekends are generally better than weekdays. The action erodes until a new influx of players arrives at the start of the Main Event. It’s mostly a group of recreational players looking to see the celebrity players, observe the huge action and play a little poker. Then, like the first week, the money slowly evaporates.
Before you arrive, you want to make sure you’re bringing your A-game. Study up, read those books. Develop your game to the best it can be and get into a confident mood. Getting your mind right is huge.
 
If you’re well bankrolled and looking to take a life-changing shot in the side-action, be prepared to play your best when you arrive and take your shot early when the games are the best. If you do well, you might be able to play high throughout. And a good performance can change your life!
 
If you’re on narrow funds, and/or have limited experience, play within your element at the start, build your bankroll and experience, and step up when the Main Event starts and the new flock of players comes to town. This will give you a better shot to survive the WSOP “test of time” and put you in a position to play in the games when they’re at their best and you are too! Don’t get caught up in the action and put yourself in a bad spot early that you’re unlikely to recover from.
 
The most important decision is choosing your game. Stay within your element. Select the game type and limits you’re comfortable in playing that contain soft money. And while good players should be avoided, it’s not at all costs. Being in your element, being comfortable with the game and the availability of soft money is more important than avoiding the strong players. The small edges you give up to good players can easily be compensated by the large edges you’ll have over a soft spot or two.
Some Winning Strategies:
 
1. If you can come for only a short period, plan your trip around tournaments you want to play or when the action is best, keeping in mind that early and at the start of the Main Event are the best times. If you’re a specialist in a given game, come when that tournament is scheduled. Not only do you get to play the tourney, but the side action for that game will be at its best too!
 
2.Manage your bankroll wisely, and don’t damage it early. The WSOP is a marathon, not a sprint!
 
3.Game select. There will be tons of games to choose from, utilize the opportunities.
 
4.Don’t let yourself get burned out. Take breaks. Sleep. Exercise. You’ll play better.
 
5.Play your best at all times. No tilt, and don’t get sloppy.
 
Come join the fun and excitement. There’s going to be some great poker action. And, last but not least, it’s poker’s best opportunity for a significant economic upside.
 
And best of all, the transportation modes, hotel accommodations and beverage service are much better than the covered wagon days!
 
 
 

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