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07-21-2012, 03:27 PM   #1
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Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

In no-limit hold'em, there are two types of players: those whose green lines (overall winning) is driven by their blue line (showdown winning) and those whose green line is driven by their red line (non showdown winnings). For some reason, the winning players with a positive red line benefit from the “sexy” factor on the forum: they are the guys who will bluff you out of pots but they will correctly call you down when you attempt to bluff them.

Many have heard how to improve their red line. There are three ways: by value betting better, by bluffing more and by making more correct river calls. Because all these ways to improve it look positive, it seems that having a negative red line is a leak, the visible proof that something is amiss in one's poker game. This conducts many to attempt to improve it. Despite many attempts, negative red lines stay negative, either unimproved or barely better and the mystic of having a positive red line continues.

What everyone fails to realise is that the blue line guy's and the red line guy's approach to playing poker are fundamentally different and it makes any attempt to get a usually negative red line into a positive one doomed to fail.

In one sentence: the blue line guy focuses primarily on his cards ("play his cards") while the red line guy focuses primarily on his opponents ("play the players"). By "primarily", I mean this will be the first item they will focus on before considering anything else. This can be easily illustrated with an example:

The CO opens 3bb. The button looks at its cards and sees 72o.
- The button is a blue line guy: "72o has almost no equity; this is an easy fold." He folds.
- The button is a red line guy: "CO is a weak tight player. I 3-bet him 7 times and he folded every single time without showing any sign of adjusting. Bluffing him with any two cards is profitable and this is exactly what I'm going to do." He raises to 10bb.

Of course, this is an extreme example to better illustrate my point. Almost everyone would actually fold 72o. More realistically, the blue line guy will have a fixed set of light 3-betting hands and will 3-bet them indistinctly against almost everyone. If he is aware that CO is weak tight, he may widen slightly his light 3-betting range but not too much. On the other hand, the red line guy is more liable to make a more extreme adjustment after he notices CO is weak tight by 3-betting him significantly more often, maybe several times as often...

The blue line guy: a player born on the forums

Typically, the blue line guy is going to use poker forums heavily in his poker education. He will learn about "standard" line and how to play his cards in a "vacuum" first before learning how to adjust his lines against different types of opponents. The more advanced ones will know some game theory and will care about concepts such as "balance" and avoiding being exploited. They often make "ranges", based on their cards, for a specific purpose. Sometimes, they will even "randomise" these action to make themselves even harder to read and exploit.

The red line guy: a people person

The red line guy in contrast cares about making reads first and isn't that interested in "standard" lines. He may use the forum but will often be in conflict with the other blue line guys who infest them. The red line guys are easy to spot: when a request for advice on how to play a specific hand is posted, they are the one or two guys who will pester the OP for "reads" and refuse to answer until they get them. Meanwhile everyone else (the blue line guys) are giving their own card based line.

When the better red line guys are asked general questions about range building, "I can't answer this, it depends!" they exclaim:
Quote:
 Originally Posted by josuas Hey giev, Do you think is good to play AK like Aces against most regulars when you've 3bet and you missed the flop. (not in a steal situation) thx
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Giev money?? Mehhh idk too general question.. Sometimes yes sometimes no.
Unpersonified poker is simply not the way they think about generic concept like bluffing.

They are the ones who look cool because they call their opponent with air and win the pot.

But they also look like clowns to many on the forum when they fold quads.

The red line guy likes to make snarky comments about players (typically a blue line guy) tossing a coin, rolling a dice or using their cards, their suits or a watch to randomise their decision:

Quote:
 (…) Some people might say it's best to flip a coin to randomize, but they're wrong. The best player adjusts to his opponent, and it's better to bet into some opponents here, and to check against others. (1)
Quote:
 So you say you figured out how often you have to bluff here to make hero indiffent to calling or folding. Then you rolled a dice and it told you to bluff this time.
They also often reject the concept of "balance":
For example, UTG raises to 3.5 bb with KQ in a 5-handed game. Button, a tricky but not too good player, calls. The flop is J-J-6 rainbow. A blue line guy will often cbet and if button is a blue line guy too, button will likely flat the cbet with his whole range (flatting it all being the easiest way to balance a range on this kind of board)

However, if UTG is a red line guy, the action may go very differently: "I don't have anything so I check", the red line guy thinks. Button bets 7bb. "With his bet, he is saying he has a good hand but with a pocket pair he would probably bet less. He didn't have a good hand preflop (else he would have 3-bet) but now he's representing a good hand so it is either 66 or Jx. There aren't many combos of Jx or 66. Is this player capable of bluffing? This is important because some players just never bluff. Yes, he is." the red line guy raises to 20bb and button folds. (1)

Note that the red line guy has never thought in this hand in terms of balance, ranges or anything card based. He has a read and acts accordingly. Also note that this red line guy is more polished than the red line guy in the 72o hand: he raises with KQ and gives himself 6 outs to a better hand in case he gets his read wrong.

This lack of respect for balance and willingness to exploit every edge, every weakness as soon as he spots them can often be seen in his stats who look far from "optimal" ("optimal" stats, another idea found on the forums, is obviously rejected by the red line guy as a completely misguided concept). For example, a blue line guy "Raise" stat on each postflop street may look like this - steadily decreasing:
Flop: 20%
Turn: 10%
River: 5%

However, a red line guy "Raise" stat may look like this:
Flop: 20%
Turn: 18%
River: 17%

(I am not inventing, these stats have been observed)

Needless to say, you will find many blue line guys amongst mass tablers while red line guys will usually limit the maximum number of tables to a much lower number, to a single digit, because they get their edge from precise reads and this precision is lost as the number of tables increases. Compare Nanonoko to Grindcore. Two very different approaches but both very successful. It is important to state that one approach is not more right or better than the other. Neither is everything as black and white as written above: you will rarely find a blue line guy who doesn't take into account who he is playing against, or a red line guy who plays without looking at his cards. If you do meet these extreme specimen, you can be assured they are losing players. But because even in the most polished blue line players, this tendency to play their cards first always exists, it is very difficult for them to have a positive red line over a large sample.

(1) the quote and the second hand example come and have been adapted from the book Dominate No-Limit Hold'em by Daniel Ashman.

Last edited by Brother Love; 07-21-2012 at 03:27 PM. Reason: Hope my English is legible enough

 07-21-2012, 03:50 PM #2 veteran     Join Date: Jul 2010 Posts: 2,118 Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr Is this a level?
07-21-2012, 04:05 PM   #3
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LazyAce Is this a level?
No

07-21-2012, 04:13 PM   #4
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

2nd paragraph:

Quote:
 Many have heard how to improve their red line. There are three ways: by value betting better, by bluffing more and by making more correct river calls.
How do more correct river calls improve our redline?

Also, your post does not seem to explain the title of the thread: "you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try)".

There are obviously players who do sport a sexy positive redline who most likely did not always have one, but you claim that it won't happen....

There are many other wtf moments in your post.

 07-21-2012, 04:22 PM #5 Pooh-Bah     Join Date: Mar 2011 Location: 12 hr. Cashouts w/BTC.....F the DOJ Posts: 3,602 Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr I stopped reading after the part about how correct river calls increase redline winnings. Looks like you're confused, OP. You can have a positive redline and win at poker, and you can change to that style from a negative redline style.
07-21-2012, 04:34 PM   #6
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Posts: 261
Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LazyAce 2nd paragraph: How do more correct river calls improve our redline?
I should have said "bluff catching" instead of calling. If you have specific reads on an opponent and think there is a good chance that he is bluffing, you should increase the number of hands you call the river with by promoting some hands from your folding range to your bluff catching (or calling) range; this way your blue line will go up/down whilst your red line will stay constant.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LazyAce Also, your post does not seem to explain the title of the thread: "you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try)".
My title is a little inaccurate. In SH and FR games, over a large sample, there are many players whose green line is driven by their blue line, ie any fluctuation of their blue line will generally cause a similar fluctuation on their green line. These players tend to have a negative red line or at best, a neutral one. I claim that due to how they approach playing poker, it is extremely difficult for them to have a positive red line, and completely impossible to have their green line driven by their red line.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LazyAce There are obviously players who do sport a sexy positive redline who most likely did not always have one, but you claim that it won't happen....
Maybe it has happened but I have never observed it over a large sample.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LazyAce There are many other wtf moments in your post.
Feel free to point them out.

07-21-2012, 04:45 PM   #7
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by JimAfternoon I stopped reading after the part about how correct river calls increase redline winnings.
That's fine. Considering how long and boring this long post must be, I expect quite a few to stop reading after a paragraph or two. In this specific case, it is my fault for not being sufficiently accurate.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by JimAfternoon Looks like you're confused, OP. You can have a positive redline and win at poker,
OK

Quote:
 Originally Posted by JimAfternoon and you can change to that style from a negative redline style.
I have seen negative red lines going flat but I haven't never seen them go positive over a large sample and I claim it is impossible for someone who has a green line driven by their blue line to have the green line suddenly driven by their red line (as in Grindcore's graphs) without fundamentally changing their approach to playing poker.

 07-21-2012, 05:17 PM #8 Pooh-Bah     Join Date: Aug 2007 Location: ithaca Posts: 5,019 Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr didn't read the whole thing but fwiw my red line goes straight up and i'm definitely a product of the forums.
07-21-2012, 05:59 PM   #9
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by yaqh didn't read the whole thing but fwiw my red line goes straight up and i'm definitely a product of the forums.
You are mainly a HU NL player, aren't you? Because my post essentially deals with 3+ handed NLH (didn't mention it in the OP)

cliffs:
- at its purest level, there are players playing based on their cards and players playing based on their reads.
- Those playing based on their cards have a green line driven by their blue line. Those playing based on reads have a green line driven by their red line.
- Because the blue line guy keeps playing their cards, it is difficult for them to have a positive red line.
- Both types of players don't always understand each other's approach to poker.
- How the red line guy thinks about poker is explained the most since, I think, he is the most misunderstood.
- In practice, everyone uses cards and reads to make decisions but we always favour one over the other, hence the fundamental difference in graphs.

07-21-2012, 06:06 PM   #10
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Brother Love You are mainly a HU NL player, aren't you? Because my post essentially deals with 3+ handed NLH
Fair enough. Yea maybe this stuff gets at a cultural difference between the HU forums and the other (at least the lower/mid stakes) NL forums. I think almost all HU players would fit your description of a 'red line' player or at least see the value of such a style whereas I've seen a much higher value placed on "standard" play on other forums.

That said, I'm not sure that the difference between the play styles necessarily shows up in the red/blue lines as straightforwardly as you describe. For example, suppose your 'red line' player -- someone who adjusts drastically to individual opponents -- is playing a calling station. He should adjust his play to bluff less and valuebet more. Consequently, his nonshowdown winnings probably won't actually be very high over that time period, while his showdown winnings will be...

I think I'd just call your redline player a good reg and your blueline player a bad reg .

Last edited by yaqh; 07-21-2012 at 06:13 PM.

07-21-2012, 06:14 PM   #11
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Brother Love Because my post essentially deals with 3+ handed NLH
As a short digression, it is about 3+ handed games because in HU games, the red line has a zero sum but in 3+ handed games, it has a negative sum. Example: Players A, B, C put 20bb each preflop. On the flop, player A goes all-in, player B calls, player C folds. At showdown, player A wins the pot.
Player A non showdown winnings: 0 (he goes and wins it all at showdown)
Player B non showdown winnings: 0
Player C non showdown winnings: -20bb

Total sum: -20bb

So, in 3+ handed games, the average red line goes down, but some players are much better than average in the non showdown winning game and as a consequence, their red line goes up.

07-21-2012, 06:25 PM   #12
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

I thought about the calling station, which is why I kept adding "over a large sample", since over a large sample of hands, you play against calling stations (everyone's red line goes down), weak tight players (everyone's red line goes up) and other regs where the better and most courageous hand reader has an upward red line.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by yaqh I think I'd just call your redline player a good reg and your blueline player a bad reg .
Then I wish I were as bad as this guy
http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/54...dline-1059771/

 07-21-2012, 07:16 PM #13 Pooh-Bah     Join Date: Mar 2011 Location: 12 hr. Cashouts w/BTC.....F the DOJ Posts: 3,602 Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr I agree that there's a different approach to poker, equity, EV, and an understanding of how it all fits together in a total game strategy between the two styles.
07-22-2012, 12:34 AM   #14
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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Brother Love I should have said "bluff catching" instead of calling. If you have specific reads on an opponent and think there is a good chance that he is bluffing, you should increase the number of hands you call the river with by promoting some hands from your folding range to your bluff catching (or calling) range; this way your blue line will go up/down whilst your red line will stay constant.
Ya sure, everybody already knows that making lots of good river calls is good, and that making few bad river calls is bad. Unfortunately, you listed it river call efficiency as one of the three ways to improve your redline, in your OP but just admit in the above paragraph that it does not effect the redline at all. It does of course effect your blueline

Quote:
 My title is a little inaccurate. In SH and FR games, over a large sample, there are many players whose green line is driven by their blue line, ie any fluctuation of their blue line will generally cause a similar fluctuation on their green line. These players tend to have a negative red line or at best, a neutral one. I claim that due to how they approach playing poker, it is extremely difficult for them to have a positive red line, and completely impossible to have their green line driven by their red line.
I think your understanding of how 'blue line guys' and 'red line guys' approach the game is pretty misguided. They are not necessarily that different. Theoretically, if you can get value out of your hand on the river, you should value bet it. It shouldn't matter whether your winnings come mostly from showdown or non showdown. Similarly, if in a hand on the river, it is clearly a good bluffing opportunity then it should not make a bit of difference whether you are a TAG or a LAG, a blue line guy or a red line guy. The only differences there would be villain's calling ranges. A LAG can often value bet wider because in many spots because of his wider perceived bluffing range.

Winning players with positive red lines are not common but they do exist. They are most likely not mass tabling like most winning TAGs these days and are probably a lot better post flop than the average regular at their stakes.

A guy with a good red line most likely just plays better from the blinds, and is able to better play the 3bet/4bet/5bet game preflop as well as hand reading and picking better spots to bluff post flop. These are all things that a solid 'blue line guy' with a so-so red line will also do, they just don't do it as well and often as the red line guy.

Quote:
 Maybe it has happened but I have never observed it over a large sample.
Its happened.

Quote:
 Feel free to point them out.
ok

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Brother Love In no-limit hold'em, there are two types of players: those whose green lines (overall winning) is driven by their blue line (showdown winning) and those whose green line is driven by their red line (non showdown winnings). For some reason, the winning players with a positive red line benefit from the “sexy” factor on the forum: they are the guys who will bluff you out of pots but they will correctly call you down when you attempt to bluff them.
Okay so you say you can't have a winning player with a positive redline, but you describe them in the paragraph above here. Also, you kinda make it sound like a guy with a negative red line isn't capable of bluffing you out of a pot or making good but light call downs - which btw is going to improve your blue line!!

Quote:
 Many have heard how to improve their red line. There are three ways:1) by value betting better, 2) by bluffing more and 3) by making more correct river calls. Because all these ways to improve it look positive, it seems that having a negative red line is a leak, the visible proof that something is amiss in one's poker game. This conducts many to attempt to improve it. Despite many attempts, negative red lines stay negative, either unimproved or barely better and the mystic of having a positive red line continues.
1) Value betting doesn't really improve your red line. It improves your blue line. Perhaps an argument can be made for not trying to value bet too thin in certain spots where you have to give up later in the hand which will negatively effect your red line, but in general, anything that has to do with value is directly correlated to the blue line.

3) Again, making more correct river calls has zero effect on your red line. One of the reasons I originally asked if this was a level. I suspect it still is

If someone were to read the above paragraph and take your advice on how to improve their red line they would clearly be mislead. You state that their are 3 ways to go about this. 1 of the ways you offered - bluffing- is correct and also painfully obvious to anybody who actually knows what a red line is, while the other 2 ways you offer have nothing to do with a red line.

Quote:
 What everyone fails to realise is that the blue line guy's and the red line guy's approach to playing poker are fundamentally different and it makes any attempt to get a usually negative red line into a positive one doomed to fail.
Why so pessimistic? What you're saying is that nobody who began their poker career as a nit can ever have positive red line because they have a different approach to the game. I began my poker career as a fish with a negative green line and had a very different approach to the game than I have now. People can change the way they think if they are open minded so your above statements seem ridiculous to me.

Quote:
 In one sentence: the blue line guy focuses primarily on his cards ("play his cards") while the red line guy focuses primarily on his opponents ("play the players"). By "primarily", I mean this will be the first item they will focus on before considering anything else. This can be easily illustrated with an example: The CO opens 3bb. The button looks at its cards and sees 72o. - The button is a blue line guy: "72o has almost no equity; this is an easy fold." He folds. - The button is a red line guy: "CO is a weak tight player. I 3-bet him 7 times and he folded every single time without showing any sign of adjusting. Bluffing him with any two cards is profitable and this is exactly what I'm going to do." He raises to 10bb.
You're misinformed. What makes you think that a solid TAG player with a steadily declining red line does not think past what his own cards are? Obviously if somebody makes it out of the micros in today's games then they are at least thinking on the 2nd level and I would say there is even some 3rd level thinking happening in the micros.

Quote:
 Of course, this is an extreme example to better illustrate my point. Almost everyone would actually fold 72o. More realistically, the blue line guy will have a fixed set of light 3-betting hands and will 3-bet them indistinctly against almost everyone.
This is certainly true for a lot of nits, but that still doesn't qualify it as a blanket statement. Many good players out there with negative red lines adjust their 3bet ranges based on history, game flow, position and table dynamics. The above is nonsense.

Quote:
 If he is aware that CO is weak tight, he may widen slightly his light 3-betting range but not too much. On the other hand, the red line guy is more liable to make a more extreme adjustment after he notices CO is weak tight by 3-betting him significantly more often, maybe several times as often...
More nonsense imo. These examples you are giving are more dependent on the individual and not whether they are a 'red line or blue line guy'.

Quote:
 The blue line guy: a player born on the forums Typically, the blue line guy is going to use poker forums heavily in his poker education. He will learn about "standard" line and how to play his cards in a "vacuum" first before learning how to adjust his lines against different types of opponents. The more advanced ones will know some game theory and will care about concepts such as "balance" and avoiding being exploited. They often make "ranges", based on their cards, for a specific purpose. Sometimes, they will even "randomise" these action to make themselves even harder to read and exploit.
Okay, so it so happens that almost every winning online poker player learned how to play either by reading or participating in forums just like this one, but this is not exclusive to blue line guys.

Quote:
 The red line guy: a people person
I'm a blue line guy and a people person....

Quote:
 The red line guy in contrast cares about making reads first and isn't that interested in "standard" lines. He may use the forum but will often be in conflict with the other blue line guys who infest them. The red line guys are easy to spot: when a request for advice on how to play a specific hand is posted, they are the one or two guys who will pester the OP for "reads" and refuse to answer until they get them. Meanwhile everyone else (the blue line guys) are giving their own card based line.
So in the absence of reads what do your red line guys do? I would imagine that they would have some sort of standard play no? Seriously man, just admit that this is a level?

Blue line guys respond to posted hands and ask the OP for reads. Seriously man wtf is this? Tell me why all the 'blue line guys' have a HUD if they don't use the reads they get from it and just employ all these standard lines in every spot. I'm not disagreeing that a lot of players play very straight forwardly, but there are a lot of good players out there that are adjusting their value/bluffing ranges accordingly and on the fly against the villains in the hand.

Okay, I can't go through the rest of this. Just admit you trolled me ok? Good level imo.

07-22-2012, 01:31 AM   #15

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Re: Why you won't be able to get a positive red line (even if you try) – tl;dr

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LazyAce 1) Value betting doesn't really improve your red line. It improves your blue line. Perhaps an argument can be made for not trying to value bet too thin in certain spots where you have to give up later in the hand which will negatively effect your red line, but in general, anything that has to do with value is directly correlated to the blue line.
No, if you value bet more on the river, sometimes you will get folds, and your red line will increase, but if you check behind or if you check and get a check behind, that hand will increase your blue line.

Velue betting helps both lines.

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