Aug 21 2008

#2a: Simple advice

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Let’s say you get rockets either in late position or in the blinds. You’ll be the third to push all in and you can expect one or more will call behind you. You’re already less than 60% to win. It takes true discipline to fold aces pre-flop during the very first two hands — but you’ve no real choice if too many people go maniacal. Remember: you want to earn a profit.

Good or bad luck is just the instantaneous manifestation of statistical probability

Good or bad luck is just the instantaneous manifestation of statistical probability

In a perfect scenario, 8-9 people go all in and you fold rockets because it guarantees you’ll place in the money!

Given the right situation on the first two pre-flops, you can take the vigorish in early position with a 17xBB raise; push all in from late position if you believe you’ll face only 1-2 players; call all in if you sit fully across the table from the opponent and you’re the first to call it; or call a 17xBB raise from any position if the betting doesn’t look too problematic. Just realize you may find yourself in any number of wrong situations where you’ll throw away rockets on the first two pre-flops because you simply couldn’t protect them from a school full of fish. "That’s poker."

Thankfully, a good all in situation presents itself more often than you might expect in a ULBPC event. In one example, I picked up aces on the button on the first hand (statistically, once every 2,210 games) with five limpers. I figured the guy called "No Bad Plays" was a conservative player and no one else at this table displayed an attitude in their name or picture. You can expect 1-2 callers in this situation, although in a rare case everyone will fold and say "take the 30 chips you button-stealing idiot." In my case, everyone folded to "cstlaw" who sat directly across from me. He called with a suited queen, the rest folded, he busted, and I took the early chip lead.

Fold equity approaches zero on the very first two hands and remains miniscule for the rest of the first round.

Fold equity approaches zero on the very first two hands and remains miniscule for the rest of the first round.

(But don’t let the name "No Bad Plays" fool you. Months later, he would take pocket 5s all the way to the river against three opponents, counterfeited by a higher two pair on the board, and betting piddly amounts that proved he doesn’t know a thing about pot odds.)

Pocket kings/queens on the first two hands

With ten players at a table, it’s 16:1 that any one person will nab any specific pocket pair. If you pick up ladies, it’s 11:1 against an overpair. If you pick up cowboys, it’s a more respectable 25:1 against rockets. Given the right situation on the first two pre-flops, you could call a 17xBB raise with queens and push all in with kings. More often than not, you’ll face any number of wrong situations and you’ll end up throwing away kings or queens on the first two pre-flops. "That’s poker." Remember: you want to earn a profit.

Here’s a big plus. If you limp with a high pocket pair during the first orbit and you flop quads or a set, then you can be certain your hand is perfectly disguised!

If you just couldn’t get away from kings/queens and you end up facing an overpair, take heart. You’re only a 4:1 underdog against that particular hand — and in all probability someone else shoved all in with you. Thank your lucky stars if you’ve got company, because you want those kind of pot odds when you defeat an overpair!

Big Slick on the first two hands

Let’s say you get big slick in the blinds during the very first two hands. You’ve only got ace high. Worse, anyone else with an ace will call your legit raise because he figures his offsuit 9 is a good kicker. Anyone with a suited ashtrey will call because he’s delusional about a nut flush. In this situation, you’re only 52% to win with a 4% tie. If you take the vigorish from the blinds, nearly everyone will call it. If you re-raise for some ungodly reason, everyone who called the original raiser will call you, too — and it gives the original raiser a second chance to go all in. Limp/call for up to 17xBB and see what happens.

Anything else on the first two hands

Throw away muck and treat the rest as speculative. If you get dealt a pocket pair (even jacks) or a suited connector (even KQ) or a straightsuit ace (even AQ), try to limp from any position and see what happens. If it comes back around and five players have pushed all in, why be the sixth? Whatever you hold is irrelevant because the game has turned into a crap shoot. It’s now five players versus your paltry two cards. Fold.

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