Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poker Outline & KISS approach

While poker has been categorized previously into 2 categories (Assumptions, Best Line), I see it as 2 main categories that are slightly different, and which are broken further into 2 categories each, as follows: 1) Assessment a) Assumptions b) What's possible 2) Action a) What's profitable (parts I and II) b) What's MOST profitable In #1, a) assumptions are tied with knowing how to b) read boards / count combinations. For example, you can't assume an opponent is bluffing 70% of the time when they only hold 50% of garbage hands based on the board. More on #1 in a bit (it's where I'll discuss using the KISS approach). In #2 it gets complex. To decide if an action is profitable, you can't only look at the hand you hold in a single scenario, ex: bluffing and having your opponent fold. If your opponent also folds when you hold a made hand, you're not making money with your made hands. #2 a) part I: it's the EV of i) each of your hand ranges, ii) via an action you take, and iii) responded to by your opponent with each of their hand ranges. I call this 'vertical EV' because it is a composite of your best through worst hand ranges across scenarios. *note: this is where you consider balance. #2 a) part II: You must also then consider what I call horizontal EV, which is your vertical EV taken through the actions/streets of a hand, as far as you figure you can make accurate assumptions. *note: this is where the KISS method shows itself in the EV. Doing these #2 steps allows you to evaluate a plan of actions that you can take vs. a "model opponent", an opponent for whose actions you define/know. #2 b) is comparing identified profitable scenarios for the 'model opponent' and choosing the most profitable. This is tough enough on it's own, but then if you do a 'what if' for your opponent's actions, it can easily turn into a multi-variable problem, which basically means you can't solve it. Better might be to take a different given opponent, and repeat steps #2 a) and then b). ------------------- KISS approach --------------------- In #2 everything is away-from-the-table; it's harder. It's also less useful. Knowing how to do #1 really well can pay off much more than doing it poorly and also trying to do #2. Keep in mind that you'll change your strategy frequently as you adapt to your opponent, making any research you did in #2 obsolete if you don't know what to do next. In contrast, you will make decisions based on the board texture/assumptions every decision point of every hand. Just keeping an eye on your balance needed in #2 part a) will ensure you don't have any 'holes.' Also keep in mind that you don't actually WANT to play balanced. You want to play the opposite of what your opponent thinks you're doing. For example, bluff way too much to get them to call, then stop bluffing and VBet more so they'll pay you off. Or, in reverse, only VBet, then when they start folding a lot, stop VBetting and start bluffing. Another way to think about it is that you also aren't trying to profit with all of your actions all the time. You expect to fold your garbage and only VBet sometimes (losing value when you fold your garbage, but making even more with your VBets). This is really important to understand! You CAN'T profit with EVERY action EVERY time; it's always a trade-off. Making these adaptations as early in the hand as is profitable (i.e. if your opponent won't immediately catch on if you do it pre-flop for example) is usually the most profitable because your opponents actions in response, if incorrect, will compound their loss (your profit) throughout every hand. -------------- Start #1 work: Two tasks -------------------------- Task #1: To start focusing on #1 then, we should do a case study to get an idea of how much it's worth. For example, change your pre-flop range vs. the 'model opponent' and see how much your EV changes. Referencing my previous statement that profit is always a trade-off, you may fold more pre-flop (losing your blind) to gain many big bets from your opponent when they think you have weak hands but don't, and they call down. Task #2: Learn your pre-flop ranges by 'squares' on the charts, in 10% range increments for 'paired' hands, then also for HC 'high card' hands; then for composite ranges (ex: top 60% - top 20%) for each of those. Don't try to do combos directly! Two quick reasons for NOT doing combos: i) too hard to count; not enough benefit, and 2) hands change based on square (like when an 'out' comes to make a straight), so you still need to keep track of the 'squares' anyway. It's the KISS approach again; do the 'squares' 100% and you'll get more benefit than doing it poorly and trying to do combos.

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