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Old 01-06-2010, 01:14 AM   #1
jackwilcox
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understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

relative hand strength is one of the most important fundamental concepts to grasp when learning poker. depending on the board texture and your opponents actions, a hand that has strong absolute value (e.g. a set) can be little more than a bluff catcher. the reason being, that when your opponent is betting into you, he either is bluffing (inc. semi-bluffing) or value betting. even if hes a fish. put simply, he cant be doing anything else. and if he cant be value betting a worse hand than yours at that point in time, then you have a bluff catcher. simple, right?

well, there are a lot situations that people get themselves into where they dont quite understand the relative strength of their hand and they end up getting 'coolered' when it wasnt really a cooler at all. although this can happen to players at all levels, it generally happens most to beginners and novice players who have a tough time getting away from hands with strong absolute value, but in all actuality, that hand actually has very little value and is merely a bluff catcher.

to give an example, here is a hand that was played a few days ago by a friend of mine who posts on 2p2 and plays 25nl. i wont out him - im not trying to embarrass him or anything, its just a really good example of not applying relative hand strength.



so the game is 25nl, we are dealt 89 on the button. everyone has at least $25 at the table. the cutoff, an unknown but maybe a reg opens to 75c and we call, the small blind calls, as does the big blind. the big blind is described as a straight forward, loose passive fish.

pot = $3. flop: Q62

small blind checks, big blind leads for $2, the cutoff folds, we call, the small blind folds.

pot = $7. turn: 2

big blind checks, we bet $5, big blind check-raises to $10, we shove.


i wont go into preflop and flop play because i think both streets are pretty standard. turn bet is also standard. however the check-raise is where things get interesting...

lets assign a range for when a "straight forward, loose passive fish" min check-raises you on this turn.... since we dont really know anything about his flop tendancies - a weakish lead can mean a variety of things without reads - we can pretty much start to analyse the hand on the turn.

based on what i said earlier, a bet or raise is always either a bluff or for value.

so in regard to bluffing, can he be bluffing here? short answer, no. a straight forward loose passive fish is not bluffing here ever. therefore, for us to be able to get stacks in here, he has to be value betting a worse hand.




what can he be value betting?

he can have a flush or a boat for sure. apart from a few worse flushes, they all beat us though. so lets think about whether he can be value betting worse...

can he have a hand like KQ?

while they arent good hand readers by any means, straight forward loose passive fish are going to be fairly scared of the heart coming on the turn, and the 2 coming. whilst they suck at assigning ranges (ldo they dont know what a range is), they do know that 3 hearts makes a flush, and a 3rd 2 makes trips. so he isnt going to check-raise here, he is going to be scared.

how about a random 2?

well, again, he will be pretty scared of that heart coming. fish love to chase flushes, so when he doesnt have a flush and the 3rd card comes in, his logic will be to put someone else on chasing. if he has a 2, he will most likely check-call. or lead small-ish to 'see where hes at'.

so we are facing a range primarily of boats, flushes, and the one combo of 22 for quads.




how many of those hands beat us, and how many do we beat?

all boats beat us obv, but if we think of the boats he can have theres not too many. 62o and Q2o are probably folding preflop even tho hes a fish. which leaves 2 combo's of Q2s (as 2 of the 2's are accounted for), the same with 62s. 1 combo of 22 left, 3 combo's of 66. even fish probably 3bets QQ here so will discount that. therefore, theres 8 boats in his range.

flushes? hes a fish and fish love suited cards, so im going to assume he will play any two suited cards in this spot preflop. how many flush combo's is that? well if u go on pokerstove, u can view all this yourself, but basically theres 27 ways to have a flush left in the deck (he cant have any flush that contains a Q, 6, 2, 8 or 9). we beat 6 of those flushes and 21 of them beat us.

if we break down his range, theres 35 hands that check-raise this turn. we .
beat 6 of them and lose to 29. pokerstove gives us 17% equity vs his range.

if we fold after his turn check-raise we have $17.25 left in our stack.
if we ship it in, the final pot will be $51.50. to make shoving better than folding, we will need enough equity to have an expectation of shoving greater than $17.25. this occurs when our equity is greater than 17.25/51.50 = ~33%.

pokerstove shows our equity vs his check-raising range on the turn as 17% so getting it in here is very spewy. getting stacked here is not a cooler at all. its a super clear turn fold (even if u include all combo's of A2 and K2, its still a fold because our equity only increases to 30% - remember if we are beat, we are always drawing dead).

how do i know he can have all flushes etc? i dont. but if u include some flushes, and some boats... then u cant decipher which ones should be included/ discluded, so u kind of have to include all of them if you are thinking from the most logical standpoint. if anything, i have left out hands like Q2o etc which may well be within his range so in that case, our equity is even worse



calculations like this u need to do away from the table and implement them when you're there. the basic result coming from this hand is that theres a lot of flushes available when one of the hole cards is high, as opposed to two low cards, and as a result, holding medium flushes like this actually put you quite a long way behind his range.

next time u get 'coolered', try and think through the hand like this and assess whether it really was a cooler. eliminating spew like this from your game will go a long way to increasing your winrate and minimising your downswings.
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:27 AM   #2
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Good post again from Mr jackwilcox.
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:13 AM   #3
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Great post JW
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:02 AM   #4
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

holy crap. this was good.
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:43 PM   #5
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Really good article, I am sure myself and many others will be able to benefit from it.
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:53 PM   #6
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Yeah but one important point you are forgetting that the fish can't have it every time!!
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:15 PM   #7
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonkDonkDonkDonk View Post
Yeah but one important point you are forgetting that the fish can't have it every time!!
like i said at the end of my post, even if u think he can have every combo of A2o and K2o then its still -EV to get it in.

realistically though, fish are 100% unbalanced in this spot and have a flush or boat literally every single time.
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:17 PM   #8
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonkDonkDonkDonk View Post
Yeah but one important point you are forgetting that the fish can't have it every time!!
I wouldn't generally think that he wouldn't check raise you with nothing, fish or not he's playing loose-passive, so majority of hands hes going to bet when he got a piece of it, fold when he doesn't. The check/raise makes things a little more obvious

curious jack, what was villain holding?
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:19 PM   #9
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

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Originally Posted by devilman2075 View Post
curious jack, what was villain holding?
dont know, didnt ask my friend cos i didnt really care what specific hand the villain had - its not about being results orientated.

my friend lost the hand though because he iniated the conversation by saying "omg i run so bad i just got flush over flush!". which is why the post was inspired, because as evidenced by some simple maths, this isnt running bad, its just spewing off a stack.
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:53 PM   #10
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Gold as usual. Misunderstanding relative hand strength is holding a lot of people back.

Even this specific hand demonstrates a huge leak.... I recall not too long ago being berated for folding a 4 hi flush on a paired board vs turn c/r. uNL forum should come here and read this.
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:01 PM   #11
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

TL;DR.

Spoiler:
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:10 PM   #12
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

I'm a victim of this, very good post and something I learnt the hard way, good post, Jack.

Should probably be formatted, though .
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:22 PM   #13
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

awesome post. look forwad to reading more of your thoughts.
Thanks
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:24 PM   #14
jackwilcox
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~run.it.twice View Post

Should probably be formatted, though .
lol yeah tbh i wish there was more font options and stuff with 2p2. i guess i could have been more imaginitive with the use of bold words or colours tho.
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:59 PM   #15
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwilcox View Post
lol yeah tbh i wish there was more font options and stuff with 2p2. i guess i could have been more imaginitive with the use of bold words or colours tho.
I was talking more about capital letters and the like, but never mind :ninja:, good post.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:06 PM   #16
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

good post but you could have just stated the baluga theorem
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:08 PM   #17
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwilcox View Post
like i said at the end of my post, even if u think he can have every combo of A2o and K2o then its still -EV to get it in.

realistically though, fish are 100% unbalanced in this spot and have a flush or boat literally every single time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by devilman2075 View Post
I wouldn't generally think that he wouldn't check raise you with nothing, fish or not he's playing loose-passive, so majority of hands hes going to bet when he got a piece of it, fold when he doesn't. The check/raise makes things a little more obvious

curious jack, what was villain holding?
I was leveling, great post.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:20 PM   #18
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

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Originally Posted by c00ler View Post
good post but you could have just stated the baluga theorem
lol no because evidently relative hand strength doesnt just apply to turn...

this was merely an example of it in practice. any time new action develops, relative hand strengths change. whether that be a 3bet preflop, a flop check-raise etc. the point of the post was to get people to think about how hand ranges change in certain spots.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:25 PM   #19
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by c00ler View Post
good post but you could have just stated the baluga theorem
While somewhat similar.. baluga theorem specifically states evaluating the strength of a 1 pair hand when facing a turn raise.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:27 PM   #20
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

One of my aha moments came very recently, and I think it's expressed in this topic.

I looked at someone suggesting folding AKo in the BB against an tight UTG raiser (9 handed, obv) and I was like omgwtfbbq!!

Then I realized that if your going to put money in the pot, you gotta be sure that you are doing good against your opponents range. Not only that but you have got to have a plan to get the most money out of the opponent's range. There are several spots I've been in, where I seem get too attached to hands because I don't want to lay down this or that when in relation to the opponent's range I'm not strong at all. Sounds obvious, and LDO, but it's why a pair of tens can often be the effective nuts and why a full house can be a bluff catcher.

I guess I'm rambling here and I haven't really expressed what I wanted to say, but I'm tired so...
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:33 PM   #21
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwilcox View Post
lol no because evidently relative hand strength doesnt just apply to turn...

this was merely an example of it in practice. any time new action develops, relative hand strengths change. whether that be a 3bet preflop, a flop check-raise etc. the point of the post was to get people to think about how hand ranges change in certain spots.
i know and we're talking about relative hand strength on the turn vs. a fish right? if you were just merely stating one example and it happened to be turn action then thats fine.. maybe use a preflop example as well
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:57 PM   #22
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

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Originally Posted by c00ler View Post
i know and we're talking about relative hand strength on the turn vs. a fish right? if you were just merely stating one example and it happened to be turn action then thats fine.. maybe use a preflop example as well
the objective of the original post was to show you the way to work out how strong your hand is relative to your opponents range, via using logic and pokerstove+calculations.

there are plenty of preflop examples... why do u get KK in when btn 3bets your utg open but you fold TT? its because KK has good relative value vs his range (you think he gets in QQ and AK), whereas TT does not (you think all his value hands beat you).

using a preflop example, as u can see, wouldnt have been as informative because a lot of people would just take it as "whatever, i already knew that". whereas using this situation is a spot where a lot of people would happily get the 89 in and its wrong to do so.
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:14 AM   #23
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Wp once again jack, awesome post.
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:28 AM   #24
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

Nice post!
Think I might have gotten a bit smarter now.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:20 AM   #25
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Re: understanding relative hand strength (fairly long)

I wish I had read this before my last session. I had a hand that I THINK perfectly illustrates this point. Villain is 81/16/50/.6





Poker Stars $0.05/$0.10 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players
2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked

BB: $20.85
Hero (UTG): $10.00
MP: $10.00
CO: $13.50
BTN: $16.65
SB: $22.65

Pre Flop: ($0.15) Hero is UTG with K J
Hero raises to $0.40, 1 fold, CO calls $0.40, 2 folds, BB calls $0.30

Flop: ($1.25) 9 6 J (3 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $0.90, CO calls $0.90, BB calls $0.90

Turn: ($3.95) J (3 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $3.20, CO folds, BB calls $3.20

River: ($10.35) 7 (2 players)
BB bets $16.35 all in, Hero calls $5.50 all in

Final Pot: $21.35
BB shows T 8 (a straight, Seven to Jack)
Hero shows K J (three of a kind, Jacks)
BB wins $20.35
(Rake: $1.00)


Even getting close to 3:1 on the river I think this is close to a fold against someone so passive. A bad fish would of raised a J before river.
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