Thought I would hit you up with an article type post this fine Tuesday.
One of the most important things in poker is how you talk to yourself. Every hand is a puzzle that you have to slowly put together over the course of the five streets, in order to deduce logically and accurately what your opponent holds, what he is likely to do with that holding, and how we can manipulate him to give us his money. But the problem that a lot of us (including me) have is that we dont think that well all the time. I think that this can be attributed to the fact that we dont talk to ourselves in a way that we could describe as "beneficial" or "logically optimal".
What I'm going to do in this thread is list some common thoughts that micro-stakes poker players have, and put them into categories. The idea is that maybe you will see some of the common thoughts you have in the "sub-optimal" categories and learn to recognise that you might need to improve your logical reasoning. Then I'm going to show you a hand I played last night where I was very proud of my logical reasoning which stopped me losing my stack with a great hand, where usually I would have just gone broke.
A. Poor and unacceptable thought processes
1. *fapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfap* 2. Wow, 2p2 is so awesem! LOL Georgia Avenue is so funay, BBV4eva!! 3. Come on *sports team*, I've got SRS MONEY ON YOU BSTRDS (£"*%&^ 4. Wow Seinfeld is so funny! * 5. I am God's gift to poker. Poker is so EZ. Im gonna win $$$ this session
B. Common yet sub-optimal thought processes
1. Wow, a re-raise... I should fold my QQ, he probably has aces 2. I have a flush draw, and a flush is a great hand. I'll make lots of money if I hit, so I call. 3. The board is 8s8s4d, and he bets... my AK can't really stand this heat. I fold. 4. He's so loose, I know he is bluffing. I can call with my mid pair on the river here. 5. I have top two pair, thats a great hand. I can call this river shove, if he has me beat I guess thats too bad.
C. Partially optimal processes which need refinement
1. I raised preflop, and he's checked. I can c-bet here and take it down. 2. I have the NFD, and these players are loose passive. I'm going to bet here as a semi-bluff. 3. I have 87s, which can hit a LOT of flops. I'm going to raise it as a semi-bluff, cause if I get a call, I can still hit. 4. I have TT, which is a decent hand, but those overcards scare me so I'll bet now and take it down. 5. My AK missed this low, un-coordinated board, but he's checked anyway so I'll just bet and take it down now.
D. Well rounded and logically optimal thoughts
1. I have a mid PP which could definitely be good, and he has bet small into this pot. But the fact that there are overcards on the board, and the fact that I am more than likely to face further betting on all postflop streets from here means that showing down my hand cheaply is going to be very difficult. I'm just going to have to submit to reverse implied odds and let him have this pot. Given that I have nothing invested in it, and my equity versus his range is poor, I'm not too worried.
2. Ive missed this low board with my AQs, and the fact that he has called my PFR in the BB means that although he could have overcards, pocket pairs are HUGE in his range as well. The fact that he's checked doesn't mean that he's going to fold. In fact, with an AF of 6.5, he could definitely be going for a checkraise. If I check behind here, I may be able to catch my A or Q, or a running heart draw, and get some value from his mid PP that he thinks is good. If I c-bet here its really as a bluff, and I don't think that this bluff has much chance of succeeding, given that I estimate a lot of his range to call me. Getting check-raised here would be a total disaster because he could be bluffing me with some crap which I beat like AJs, QJs, just based on my high c-bet percentage. I'll just check behind and see what happens on the turn. Given that I have position, I'm in a good spot to re-evaluate the hand and play to the river.
3. What is going on here? He check-calls two streets and open shoves the river. What kind of hand could this be? Well, there was the heart draw on the flop which missed. Then there was the backdoor straight draw on the turn which missed. Given that this clown is 38/15/5.0, his range certainly includes these busted draws. Well what about the hands which beat my two pair? JJ would have re-raised preflop, given his AF. Any set would have raised the flop or turn, according to both his AF and the fact that the board is so ugly. So though I'm not ruling them out, they are definitely less likely. Besides, I've been watching how this guy plays and that thin river shove he made with TPMK against the guy to my left was horrible - he seems really splashy. Maybe he's still upset about how I outdrew him with my OESFD? Given that his range includes a huge amount of missed heart draws and top pair kind of hands, I'd say I'm definitely good here a lot of the time, and I'm getting really nice odds. I call! OH WHATS THAT, A BUSTED DRAW?? SHIP IT!
4. I have an OESD, so I'll bet against this moderately passive guy as a semi-bluff. He usually folds so I'll just win the pot with nothing, thankyouverymuch. ... Oh crap, he minraised. Well, okay. What type of hands would he do this with? Top pair kind of hands, two pairs, maaaybe the occaisional draw. Given that he's so bad, I think its worth it to try and catch my hand because he is more than likely to overplay top pair or two pair, and if he has a set, its like free money. Given that his minraise gives me great implied odds, I'll call.
Nice! I caught my draw. Okay, so how to extract? Well, I feel like this guy will bet again if I check , and a checkraise will look a lot like a bluff, and though there are two hearts on the board, the FD is certainly unlikely in his range. So I'll checkraise him, and put the rest in on the river. Time to push - he can definitely put me on some kind of missed heart draw, and the money in going in anyway if he has a set. Its the perfect trap. Well he caught two pair on the turn, but I managed to manipulate him by combining his flop minraise mistake with his tendency to overplay bad hands with a nice checkraise and river push where he was getting very attractive odds to call. nh!
River: ($115) A (2 Players) Hero bets $70.00, BB calls all-in for $69.57 Uncalled bet of $0.43 returned to Hero
Pot Size: $254.14 ($3 Rake)
BB had J 9 (two pairs, Jacks and Nines) and LOST (-$126.57) Hero had T Q (a straight Ten to Ace) and WON (+$124.57)
5. AKo, premium hand, I'll 3bet it for value against this 54/20/4.0 because I'm so far ahead of his range. He flat calls. Well, I guess we can put him on a pretty wide range - broadway and pairs, predominantly. Also I'll throw in Axs type of hands. I think I'll weight the range towards PP's, and then broadway, then suited stuff. So I hit gin on the flop, but most of his range can't stand a bet, and if I bet now i'll just win the minimum. But if I bet turn and river, hands like QQ, JJ will be compelled to call, and though I get value from hands like KQ and KJ if I bet now, I dont want to weight my bet too heavily towards that end of his range. I want to let other worse hands in as well. Given how safe and dry the board is, I can risk giving a card without too much trouble. Right so turn pairs the board, time to bet. .....
UHHH WTF. MINRAISE. Ok well this sucks. Baluga all the way. Well what can he have? Kx type hands are definitely in his range here, and I'm ahead of all those hands. I cant see him having a 6 unless he has quads. Could he have 68s? Very wierd spot. But the point is, I'm wa/wb here and he cant be bluffing this board. There are no draws of any kind and this is a 3bet pot. He cant be raising queens because of the K on the board, even if I did check the flop. He can definitely have aces. I really can't shove here, its too thin, but I can't fold. If he has a set and I catch another K I get all the money.
I'm going to call and check the river. If he shoves, I'll fold. If he bets small, I'll call because I'm still ahead of those Kx type hands. But I really can't shove here! Ok he bets smallish on the river. I can't raise but I'll call. If he has a big hand he is really really stupid.
I'm torn because your post is superb but your closing asterisk is absurd and possibly reveals some serious personality flaws ( not liking Seinfeld wtf?! - Don't think you'll get much support on that front!)
Excellent post - the more this process becomes ingrained, the less chance we will rationalise a bad play through fuzzy or tilt-induced logic. Clear thinking is usually only a couple of layers deep when it comes to poker but it's amazing how often I find myself not peeling those layers away to reveal the beautiful truth.
im not sure i like the last hand though. i'd raise more pf, like 4x his raise ($3). Hes clearly going to be calling with worse hands so may aswell make him pay a bit more.
i really dont like the flop check. i dont think its bad but i think you get much more value from betting it. i think this kind of player is very capable of shoving over your cbet with an ui pp, or at least calling. and ehs not getting away from a K.
you could then fire again, or c/c and shove river. i think even aftre his turn minraise you're way ahead of his range. since you're flop check and turn bet looks weak + its in a 3bpot i dont think baluga applies here. i've seen countless donks minraise turn with an under pp like QQ here.
his betsizing sucks, i'd rather it was us that decides how much each streets gonna cost. thats why i prefer raising more pf, then betting the flop. that makes the turn pot ~$16 with $23 behind and we're 100% commited knowing that we're ahead of his range where in the longrun its +EV to stack off here.