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Old 01-19-2005, 02:39 PM
bisonbison bisonbison is offline
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Default Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

There have been a few threads lately wanting to compare levels and sites and such (is Party 1/2 better than Paradise 2/4 than UB .25/.50 blah blah blah), so I thought I'd sum up my thinking on this stuff.

There's no single index or stat that says "this site is good," "this level is good," or "this table is good." Yet the value of any level or site or game can be deduced and compared by studying that thing that gets mentioned in every single goddamn hold'em book ever: position.

Absolute Position

One of the things you learn about hold'em before you actually grasp any real part of the game is that position matters: it's good to be in late position, the button's best, it's worst to act first. The reasons are pretty easy to get: acting later means you know more and in a game of limited information, knowing more allows for better decisions and more sklansky bucks (malmuth money).

"Alright," we say, "I get it, I like the button. I like to act last." But every poker book you read brings it up again: position is really important. No. REALLY IMPORTANT. In fact, it may be the most important thing in the world. It's the difference between light and dark, between good and evil, between holding hands and heavy petting...

You're convinced that you get the idea, so every time the button makes its circumnavigation of the felt, you feel a smile coming on, a slight loosening of the loins, the bowels, and the hand selection criteria, and you think "this is what they're on about; I get to play 65 soooted cause I know I got the limpers for it and I have the button and dear god I'm gonna make them pay." It's fine living, this button living; it treats a man good.

Position is the key to getting your money in when you have the best of it, but what isn't immediately clear as you're learning the game, and what may not have been made quite explicit enough in the dozen-plus books I have on my poker shelf, is that you have control over your position in every game you play.

Relative Position

If you've read enough 2+2 books, you've probably been successfully bored to tears by the explanation of self-weighting and non-self-weighting betting patterns. I happen to find these terms counter-intuitive and opaque and obtuse and what have you, but suffice it to say that self-weighting betting is zombie betting (never taking circumstances into account), and non-self-weighting betting is smart betting, getting your bets in when circumstances make the getting good.

So what circumstances are you looking for in Hold'em? You make money when other players make mistakes, so you want to be in as many hands as possible with players who make a lot of mistakes. How do you know when a bad player will be in a hand? By sitting on his left. At a ten-handed table, you act after your right-hand neighbor 90% of the time. Nine times out of ten, when you're evaluating a preflop play with a marginal hand, you know whether you'll have this donator to take money from. Your relative position is a big advantage. If you were sitting on his right, you'd never know if he was coming in or not. This advantage holds to a lesser degree for the players two or three or four seats away.

The same line of thinking shows why it pays to have tighter players on your left. Let's say you're in the CO. The button, your left-hand opponent, plays 20% of his hands. That means 80% of the time when you're in the CO, you're actually the button. Now, you don't get to know when you'll be the button, and you'll only be playing a small fraction of your hands as well, but over time, a tight left-hand opponent means you get to be the button almost twice as often. If you're two off the button with two tight players acting after you, you get the button for free more than 50% of the time.

Those two tight players following you means that you're the button more than twice each orbit. You can have that absolute position for free, and you can help ensure it through late position aggression, since tight players are more likely to fold their playable hands to raises.

Profitable Games and Levels and Sites

A great seat is one where you can expect to regularly have position on bad players, and a great game is nothing but a great seat that lasts. Obviously, the more bad players at a table, the better your chances of profit, but in today's world of telegraphs and airships and multi-tabling TAGs, you can win just by finding one or two profoundly unskilled players and sitting to their left. One 100 watt bulb of bad play, and a couple of 40 watt mediocrities are more than enough to light your way to fame and fortune.

So when we're comparing Party 3/6 to Paradise 2/4 to the 20 game at the Fox, the average wattage counts, but the more important question is: are there enough bad players in the games? With enough bad players, you can pick and choose your tables, and your seats at those tables, and can maximize your opportunities to win bets. That's it. There's no secret formula that makes Party Poker more profitable for you than Paradise Poker or Party 2/4 more profitable than Party 3/6, just one central theme: are there enough unskilled players, can I identify them, and can I sit by them and touch their arms reassuringly while they push their money my way?

And let me make this clear: one or two bad players is all it takes. There's no reason why you can't beat a good UB 15/30 table for more BB/100 than a bad Party 2/4 table. All that matters is your willingness to scout your opponents, identify opportunities, and take them.

All the limits are potentially profitable. Not all the time, and not every table, but if you define yourself as a 2/4 player, who only plays Party 2/4, you will miss the juicy 1/2 tables, and 3/6 tables and Paradise 2/4 tables where bad players are waiting for you to take their money.
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  #2  
Old 01-19-2005, 02:44 PM
Madtown Madtown is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

I saw where you were going with the discussion on relative position immediately and it's an excellent and understressed point. It's also why I wish sites had a "seat change" option. There've been many a time when I've wanted to move to the left of a loose player or to the right of the other table TAGs.

I do a bad job of table scouting so I sometimes end up at bad PP 2/4 tables, but once I sit down I do a good job of keeping an eye on the table and will frequently move once it becomes apparent that there are 3 other TAGs, or the table VPIP drops real low. This is a more important piece of playing poker than most people realize.
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  #3  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:14 PM
Redeye Redeye is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

Great post. I think this is one of the things that I have really neglected in my online play. I don't think I worry enough about my relative position and often find myself at tables with TAGs directly to my right making it miserable for me to play unless I am getting a really nice run of cards.



[ QUOTE ]
felt, you feel a smile coming on, a slight loosening of the loins, the bowels, and the hand selection criteria, and you think "this is what they're on about

[/ QUOTE ]

Does this mean you take a poop everytime the button comes around to you, or perhaps just a momentary release? [img]/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]
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  #4  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:20 PM
AdamL AdamL is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

[ QUOTE ]
It's also why I wish sites had a "seat change" option.

[/ QUOTE ]

Completely agree. I have no idea why this hasn't been added yet.
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  #5  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:20 PM
Fnord Fnord is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

One additional point worth mentioning is that by having a somewhat bad player that respects pre-flop raises a little on your left, our TAgg pre-flop raises often drive out the very player we want in the pot with our best hands.

There have been a lot of times I've walked away from games where the table was backwards...
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  #6  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:23 PM
bisonbison bisonbison is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

I think a seat change option would make unskilled players less comfortable if they see that everyone wants to sit next to them. At a B&M room, you can just pretend you don't like the cut of your neighbor's gib.
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  #7  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:23 PM
Fnord Fnord is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

[ QUOTE ]

Completely agree. I have no idea why this hasn't been added yet.

[/ QUOTE ]

Because it gives an edge to good players who understand position. It's in the best interest of the site to control the flow of money from bad players to good players.

Why do you think on Party...

o The ante is so high in Stud games?
o The NL/PL games have a capped buy-in at 50x the BB?
o The 15/30 game has a 2/3 blind structure?
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  #8  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:27 PM
MaxPower MaxPower is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

Very good post.
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  #9  
Old 01-19-2005, 03:32 PM
Octopus Octopus is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

[ QUOTE ]
A great seat is one where you can expect to regularly have position on bad players, and a great game is nothing but a great seat that lasts. ... One 100 watt bulb of bad play, and a couple of 40 watt mediocrities are more than enough to light your way to fame and fortune.

[/ QUOTE ]

Everyone repeat this ten times every time you log on. When I realized this, playing became (even) more fun.

(BTW, thanks again bison.)
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2005, 04:12 PM
AdamL AdamL is offline
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Default Re: Evaluating Sites/Levels/Games and Tables.

Hehe, definitely [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] This might be filed in the same space as "Only three 30/60 tables" as far as Party policy goes.
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