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Warp

My greatest weakness

17 posts in this topic

Apparently I'm somewhat decent, at least in Prominence Poker. My ranking is 1214 (which is like place 55 or such at the time of writing this), and I don't have too much trouble ending in places 1-3 in most tournaments. However, there is one situation where I'm just super-weak, no matter what I try.

More precisely, when there are only 2 players left (ie. me and another player), ie. on a head-to-head situation, if the other player plays very aggressively, I just can't seem to be able to win. If the other player plays very cautiously, I have a quite good chance of winning, but if the other player plays very aggressively, I just lose, no matter what I try. I can't understand why. A couple of times I have got super-lucky and won nevertheless, but I'd say something like 90% of the time I just lose.

These are the players who almost always raise pre-flop, and are very eager to bluff. And, somehow, they just get amazingly lucky if I call their bluff. Maybe I'm cursed or something, but in a good majority of cases if I call what I believe is a bluff (especially since they have been bluffing almost the entire time), it turns out they did have a strong hand after all. It can be amazingly frustrating.

I just can't seem to get it right. If I play cautiously and conservatively, I lose (usually to paying blinds, which are usually very high at this point). If I play likewise aggressively, taking risks, I lose. If I try something in between, I lose. I just can't seem to catch a break.

I suppose this just reveals my inexperience and lack of knowledge in poker.

In theory in head-to-head I ought to have a winning hand about 50% of the time. Even if it looks like I have nothing, there's a relatively good chance that the other guy also doesn't have anything, and I have a higher card and would win. But it just feels like making that assumption and taking risks just doesn't pay off. I just don't know what the proper tactic is.

Let's say that I get something like 10-7 off suit as my pocket cards, and my opponent makes a relatively big raise pre-flop (something that he has been doing pretty much all the time, indicating that he doesn't necessarily have anything better than me. Necessarily.) Like, if the big blind is 1000, he raises to 3000. Should I call or fold?

I just don't know. In theory 10-7 is better than average (I suppose), and therefore I would have a slightly better-than-average chance of winning that round. But should I take the risk or not?

Then, let's assume that something like KJ3 appears on the table, and my opponent, once again very aggressively, makes a big bet, like another 3000. I have nothing, but I have no idea if my opponent does. Call or fold? Accept the loss of the extra 2000 I called pre-flop, or take the risk?

It seems that no matter what I do, it's wrong. If I'm cautious, don't take the risk, and fold, I just lose round after round, until I have nothing left. (Of course sometimes I get a lucky break and win a hand, but they don't offset the losses.) If I do take the risk, I most often than not end up losing even bigger because my opponent did, after all, have that king or jack, or even just the three, and I got unlucky in the turn and river.

Somehow I just can't cope with a super-aggressive player on a head-to-head. I just don't know what the proper tactic is. It can be so frustrating.

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If this is strictly a heads up situation in the tournament then there are various options based on your stack size.  Late stage at most people tend to have 30 big blinds each.

OK if you're behind with say 10-15 big blinds your strategy against people raising 3x preflop is to 3 bet jam all in (3 bet meaning you're raising the initial raiser).  Your decent ranges for this include almost any pocket pair and Ax ranges and some KJ-KQ suiteds, QJ suited is ok if you're feeling frisky.  Again this is for someone who preflop raises a decent amount.  If its a super nit who only raises once every leap year then adjust your ranges for jamming accordingly.

If you have 16-30 big blinds your strategy changes as you and your opponent have about the same amount.  Here our goal is to 3 bet him with some thin value hands.  So in your example say blinds are 1k, and villian raises to 3k.  You have 30k remaining, you can size your 3 bet to 9k or 3x. Or you can make it slightly less, like say 7.5k as its 2 and a half times the villians opening 3k raise.  Again your sizing here ranges from 2.5x to 3x because your stacks are short.  In a ring game or cash game I'd stick to more standard 3x-4.5x the villians initial opening raise.  But since we're talking specifically late stage tourney at 16-30 big blinds 2.5x becomes more of an option.

OK how your opponent responds to your 3 bet will effect whether you 3 bet him at all and with what range.  If you notice earlier in tourney he was a maniac going all in against all reraisers (3 betters) with anything then you know his pattern.  You're 3 betting for value, so pocket 8's-Aces and AK AQ are easy to call your villians shoves. 

I guess to simplify your strong all in ranges will consist of pocket 8's-Aces, and AK and AQ.

Your solid "option" range, meaning you go for it or hit the eject button (fold) depending on your read consists of Pocket 4's-7's and your A8-AJ range, and KQ, KJ suited.

Your "screw it I don't care no more" range would include the pocket 3's-2's and any Ax ranges below A8 and QJ, Q10, K10, and J10 suited range.

Think of all these ranges as layers of cake, 3 layers of a cake, you can limit or expand the cake based on what you feel is best. 

One decent strategy (just suggesting) is min raising more playable hands on your buttons and when they have the button adjusting to their raises with the 3 betting strategy we discussed here.

Again this is specifically for your late stage tourney situation.  A cash game or deep stack cash game is a whole different strategy with regards to 3 betting/4betting opponents preflop. 

This post isn't a poker 10 commandments or anything, more like a buffet, pick and choose what you want on your plate and go with it if you like.  Hope it helps.

Edited by Squid
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On January 21, 2017 at 8:30 PM, Warp said:

Apparently I'm somewhat decent, at least in Prominence Poker. My ranking is 1214 (which is like place 55 or such at the time of writing this), and I don't have too much trouble ending in places 1-3 in most tournaments.

Not to rain on your parade, but winning against a community of casual players by no means qualifies you as "decent" or skilled.

And I know that makes me sound like a dick and I apologize for that, but a trash mediocre piece of shit player like myself, who wins 90% of the tourneys he enters in this game, (Hell, I'm being modest, I win more than that), has no place offering advice on "the dance" or the heads-up as you referred to it.

But because I'm so arrogant, I'll give it a shot.

For anyone still reading this, when the tournament is down to two, do yourself a favor and look at that stupid asshole directly across from you, and then fold. And after you're done folding, fold again. Then when the time is right and you stand a decent chance at winning, shove your stack in their face.

And if you happen to lose, well, that's poker. But at least you went out swingin'.

Edited by SevenSideSammy
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Squid's comment is pretty much spot on for the "standard" way to play. As stated, how your chip stack compares to the villain and blinds change the way you play.

Heads up is a completely different from playing 4-6 handed games. Assuming the same or larger stack sizes, you playable hand ranges open up dramatically. Pairs will win a lot more heads up than not. As to preflop betting, my rule of thumb is if it's a playable hand, I'm betting (I'll always play in the BB if the villain lets me, regardless of hand). You'll get a lot of folds to players that will only play "good" hands. You'll also get a lot of calls from the "let's see the flop" people who will call with crap. A continuation bet will usually net you the pot. Of course, you have to have a good read on when to fold as well.

Even Sammy's idea works to a degree. If you fold when your in small blind or fold at the first bet and only play top hands, you can easily put the villain on tilt. So when you call or go all-in, they will start calling you with about anything. Take them to the cleaners!

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On 1/23/2017 at 9:41 PM, SevenSideSammy said:

For anyone still reading this, when the tournament is down to two, do yourself a favor and look at that stupid asshole directly across from you, and then fold. And after you're done folding, fold again. Then when the time is right and you stand a decent chance at winning, shove your stack in their face.

And if you happen to lose, well, that's poker. But at least you went out swingin'.

To be honest, I love doing this when I'm the chip leader at the end.  When I'm short stacked, it's hard because of the 1k BB, but I try to be cagey and get a double-up so I can start folding.

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On 22.1.2017 at 9:52 AM, Squid said:

Your solid "option" range, meaning you go for it or hit the eject button (fold) depending on your read consists of Pocket 4's-7's and your A8-AJ range, and KQ, KJ suited.

Your "screw it I don't care no more" range would include the pocket 3's-2's and any Ax ranges below A8 and QJ, Q10, K10, and J10 suited range.

The problem is that getting even one picture card or ace in your hand is quite rare, not to talk about both of them being such. Getting a pair is even rarer. More often than not at this point in the game the blinds are so big that there aren't many turns that you can simply fold with a "bad" hand.

The other major problem, mostly due to my inexperience in poker, is what to do if on the flop I have nothing, and my opponent bets. This can be especially difficult if I have something really good in hand, like say K-10 or K-J, but they just don't make anything with the community cards on the flop (not even a potential straight or flush). If my opponent bets, should I call or not? Maybe they are betting because they got a pair? Maybe they are betting as a bluff in the hopes I will just fold? Maybe I'll get lucky and a king will appear on the turn or river? It's impossible to know!

Of course the smaller my hand cards, the less inclined I am to call. But, as said, it becomes a really, really difficult decision when my hand cards are good.

If I have (at least) a pair after the flop, I tend to play very aggressively. I don't know the statistics, but I have the gut feeling that most often than not if I have a pair on the flop I'm likely to win (or, at the very least, likely to scare my opponent to fold). However, this is a relatively rare circumstance, and it's those flops where I have nothing that are really difficult and problematic. If I  just keep folding until I get at least a pair, I often run out of money. But if I play more aggressively and start calling or even reraising, it often turns out that my opponent bet because he did indeed have something.

It can be so frustrating.

Edited by Warp

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6 hours ago, Warp said:

The problem is that getting even one picture card or ace in your hand is quite rare, not to talk about both of them being such. Getting a pair is even rarer. More often than not at this point in the game the blinds are so big that there aren't many turns that you can simply fold with a "bad" hand.

The other major problem, mostly due to my inexperience in poker, is what to do if on the flop I have nothing, and my opponent bets. This can be especially difficult if I have something really good in hand, like say K-10 or K-J, but they just don't make anything with the community cards on the flop (not even a potential straight or flush). If my opponent bets, should I call or not? Maybe they are betting because they got a pair? Maybe they are betting as a bluff in the hopes I will just fold? Maybe I'll get lucky and a king will appear on the turn or river? It's impossible to know!

Of course the smaller my hand cards, the less inclined I am to call. But, as said, it becomes a really, really difficult decision when my hand cards are good.

If I have (at least) a pair after the flop, I tend to play very aggressively. I don't know the statistics, but I have the gut feeling that most often than not if I have a pair on the flop I'm likely to win (or, at the very least, likely to scare my opponent to fold). However, this is a relatively rare circumstance, and it's those flops where I have nothing that are really difficult and problematic. If I  just keep folding until I get at least a pair, I often run out of money. But if I play more aggressively and start calling or even reraising, it often turns out that my opponent bet because he did indeed have something.

It can be so frustrating.

Yeah in heads up situations if you have 10 big blinds or less you're in open shove or fold mode preflop.  You really have no more room for postflop poker, its shove and watch mode.  It becomes more Ax vs pair mode, the bottom range ranges of these shoves becomes lower as our stacks get lower.  One of the downsides of tournies is that the final hand is usually decided on a flip.

If stacks are a bit higher and you can see a flop then the chips will go in on the flop or turn.  Like you already mentioned you want at least middle pair or top pair.  But if you have a flush draw or any kind of open ended straight draw (don't do it on just a gut shot) you want to shove it in on the flop as you have the most equity there (again assuming your short stack heads up situation).  If you have nothing (no pair, no draws) then fold.   Afterwards if your stack is hovering around 10 big blinds or less go into shove or fold mode preflop. 

So yeah 20-30 big blinds you have limited options postflop.  At 10 big blinds or less its pick something decent to shove with.  One reason why I like ring games, stacks get deeper as do the options.  As stacks get smaller so do the options. 

Edited by Squid
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Do you know what I also hate? Getting a pair of picture cards as my pocket cards.

You wouldn't believe how much I have lost with them. They induce you to go to crazy betting sprees, and then you just lose most or all of your stack. And often that's it, game over. Even if you didn't lose everything, it's usually just a downspiral from there.

I'm at a point where I'm inclined to just fold if I get a pocket pair (with the possible exception of aces). I don't care if I would have got king quads in the end. It's just not worth it.

(Getting different picture cards in hand is fine. They just don't induce you to go to wild betting sprees in the same way. It's much easier to play cautiously with them. But when it's a high pair... Just fold. It's not worth it.)

Edited by Warp

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Try watching the National Heads Up Poker Championships on YouTube.  Maybe it will help.  Heads up is tough but I think the thing you might be lacking is unpredictability.  They bully you because you let them.  You have to intimidate them instead of allowing them to intimidate you.  You might lose but sounds like it's happening any damn way.  Change it up every few hands.  Keep em on their toes.  BUT I wouldn't recommend shoving in situations in which your hole cards don't have at least about 40% preflop equity (generally).  You might end up behind but 40% is not bad when you're down to about 20 blinds.  

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As for that pocket pair thing, case in point just now: I got pocket jacks and tried to limp in, but somebody made a big raise pre-flop. This time I said "f it, it's not worth it" and folded. If I hadn't, it would have been once again a case of losing a lot of money (or even all of it).

pocket_jacks_bad_beat.jpg

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I was doing quite fine in this tournament, heading towards an at least 3rd place, which would have given me the majority of the buy-in back. Then I got pocket kings, I forgot about the principle, got suckered into crazy betting, and 50k down the drain, once again.

I hate getting a big pocket pair. Maybe I should just start folding them right away, without even limping into the flop. I have seriously lost significantly more money to them than I have won. It's just not worth it.

 

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@Warp, here's a quick analysis of your games:

JJ pocket pair - Assuming that this is a tournament, correct? JJ's are a tough hand to play. They're not nearly as good as people think. Not sure of the position you're sitting with these, but you mentioned you limped. Standard practice, this is wrong. You either raise or fold. In this game (meaning, PP) I can understand it, but I also think by limping, you give others the chance to dictate the bets. The size of the 3-bet or 4-bet should have determined whether you continued or not. JJ's only have about a 44% chance of winning a pot. I think you made a good lay down.

KK pocket pair- 1st, very hard to watch with the constant spinning, just sayin'.

One, you limped in with pocket K's. A definite no-no. You didn't bet on the flop. In this case, it likely wouldn't have forced either of these two out, as they both flopped two pair, but it could have helped you read their possible hands better and gave you some insight on how to proceed. I large bet could have been a set of 9's, for example.

Two, following your gameplay, the turn now has a possible straight on the board. Even a small bet here would have helped you determine where these guys were with their hands. Big 3-bets means a possible fold for you. Depends on how these guys had been playing

Three, the river now shows possible straight, two possible trips with would translate into a full house with the river 8. The lack of betting on any of the previous rounds means that you have no clue where these guys might be with their hands. The dude ahead of you goes from zero to 60 on the river with an all-in. You only have a 2-pair with a person still to bet behind you. This is a no-brainer clear fold position. Pretty much every possible hand that they could have that they would bet with (let alone all-in with) is going to beat your 2-pair.  

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Or maybe if I get pocket kings, I just fold. It'll save me money in the long run.

Edited by Warp

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7 hours ago, Warp said:

Or maybe if I get pocket kings, I just fold. It'll save me money in the long run.

Come on Warp, it happens to me a lot where I got kings, and on the flop is an ace, if someone bets high, or reraises i know im behind. its just one of those things. I wouldnt push all my chips on a 9,9,8,8,10 board though.

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On 2/17/2017 at 1:41 PM, rajwarrior said:

One, you limped in with pocket K's. A definite no-no. You didn't bet on the flop.

Agree completely. Limping with KK is never a good play.

By the way, this is not a bad beat. For a bad beat you must be the one to bet AND you must be ahead when doing so. You were neither.

 

 

On 2/2/2017 at 2:54 PM, Warp said:

As for that pocket pair thing, case in point just now: I got pocket jacks and tried to limp in, but somebody made a big raise pre-flop. This time I said "f it, it's not worth it" and folded. If I hadn't, it would have been once again a case of losing a lot of money (or even all of it).

pocket_jacks_bad_beat.jpg

In theory, a decent bet from you before the flop should get rid of the 22 and just leave the AQ who should check the flop and allow you to push him out as you have position on him. But, this is prominence. 

 

 

 

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Ok, another 50k tournament, another pocket kings. This time I decided to take the advice and play it smart, rather than just going into crazy betting sprees for the sole reason that pocket kings must be so good.

I raise pre-flop, and a couple of the other players drop. Post-flop I have nothing (other than the pair of kings, of course), and there's an ace on the board. One player goes crazy and goes all in. I know for certain that she has at the very least an ace in hand. Maybe even two pair. I decide to fold.

She did have an ace in hand, as I predicted. Likewise the other player who called. On the turn, a king hits the board. "F***" I folded a winning hand. They end up splitting the pot.

Anyway, it didn't matter much, since I went ahead and won the tournament anyways. But I believe I did well with this hand nevertheless.

 

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@Warp, no, you did not fold a winning hand. You folded because you correctly read that the all-in had an Ace. To make that call, you would have had to risk $8K to win $10K while holding a hand that literally only had 2 outs (the other Kings) to improve enough to be the winning hand. You were also out of position, meaning that others behind you could also join in (they did), further weakening your chances. Yes, it sucks when you see that you "could have won" if you just stayed in the hand. But for every time you see that, there will be a dozen more where you'll say, "damn, glad I got out of that mess!"

Great fold in my opinion, bro.

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