Friday, August 10, 2012

2 poker rules to be inexploitable, and more

This post may be a little out of order from other things I have posted and will post, but those other things are on paper, and I've got to get some thoughts down.

There are 2 things you can do to instantly plug any major holes in your game; this may be more true for HE LHE than other forms, but in theory can be considered to guide actions in other forms as well.  Note that these 2 'triage' rules require understanding/application of the >= 50% value 'rule' I posted before with my scanned post-it notes.

i) When in a calling scenario (i.e. your opp. is betting), you should fold enough to make their bluffs correct (while folding < 50% effectively by the river, i.e. 'absolute' % from the beginning of the hand).

Why?  a)  If they do bluff, you still collect those bets with your value hands, which is > 50% of the time.  This means it's impossible for you to actually lose money because of your opponent's bluffs (you may not be calling optimally if your opponent is always/never bluffing for example, but you won't effectively ever lose money in the hand from calling the wrong amount vs. bluffs by your opponent). b)  If they do NOT bluff (i.e. they check), then your bluff catchers will win at showdown.

ii)  When in a betting scenario (i.e. you are betting), you should bluff enough to make it correct for your opponent to call (while not bluffing >= 50% effectively by the river, i.e. 'absolute' % from the beginning of the hand).

Why?  If they do call (i.e. with bluff catchers), they're also calling vs. your value hands > 50% of the time.  If they do NOT call, then your bluffs are profiting from their folds.

This brings up an important theoretical understanding of where profit comes from.  When you bluff, you are effectively NOT profiting.  You are putting in more than 50% of the bets any time they fold (i.e. you are risking > 50% to win < 50%).  So when they call down > 50% (i.e. as they should, just like I recommend you do), you end up putting in more bets that lose (from the start of the hand) vs. their calling range than you ever make vs. their folds.  In this way (here's the important theoretical statement...) bluffs do not profit, they only reduce your loss.

This being said, reducing loss is important.  If you don't bluff, you'll effectively forfeit (lose) all the bets you put in with the hand so far, as opposed to a % of the bets you put in so far.  Also, if you stop bluffing, your opponent can then make correct folds when you do bet.  Remember, when you put money in pre-flop your hand had the equity to do so, so you didn't actually start out losing money.  You can't ever know you had a 'bluffing' hand until post-flop (ex: Q7 is a fine hand, but if the board comes AJ2 it's now a bluffing hand).  But when you do realize it, you are then trying to salvage money already spent.

Lastly, bluffing is important because you should be doing so with the hands that can't stand a showdown, but out of that group the ones that have the most equity; this way the longer you stay in (i.e. by bluffing), you will also make more hands that can end up seeing a showdown, in addition to the times your opponent folds and you wouldn't have improved (which of course you can't know before you bet).  To summarize this, when you bluff, you win in 2 ways, when: a) they fold, b) they call but you improve.

Ok, I'll stop there for this post.

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