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Old 01-04-2016, 05:41 PM   #51
CrazyLond
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

My very long review of this book:

About me:

I play several variations of poker live and online but my primary game for the last year and a half has been 20-40 live LHE, the same game and limit that Malmuth currently frequents. I have 650 hours recorded in this game over that time and have won at a rate on the high end of what an expert could be expected to make in that game. I am not much into statistical analysis but I believe my sample is too small to extrapolate a very accurate true win-rate. However, I also think it’s safe to say that my sample is significant enough to say that I should be a solid winner in the game over the long term.

Part 1: Them Fluctuations

I thought this section of the book was solid. It basically reiterates what Malmuth has said in various interviews and says throughout the book: that there are 3 common forms of a person playing less than their best: tilt, pseudo-tilt, and searching. I think this is fairly accurate. I don’t think I really experience tilt in the sense of total mental incapacity these days, but I do think this is something I have experienced in the past when I was much less capable of a player.

I think pseudo-tilt (playing with the goal of getting even or winning a certain amount in a session) is extremely prevalent. But I think the solution is a lot more difficult than Malmuth makes out in the book. I think I am someone who plays very solidly at the table and I also think I have a good understanding of the short term luck factor. I can look back at my results from 2015 to see this luck factor in play. I had many losing sessions over $1,000 and some over $2,000. In fact, I actually lost money at cash games in 4 of the 12 months of the year. Yet, for the year as a whole, I was up an amount that is close to what my all time win rate is.

Despite this and having a lot of other experience with the ups and downs of poker, I still struggle with pseudo-tilt. If I play an 8 hour session and find myself down, I sometimes struggle with the idea that I worked all day and feel like I have nothing to show for it. I recognize that this thought is not rational, but I still have it…and I expect it may affect my play, sometimes causing me to play slightly -EV spots than I otherwise wouldn’t, in the hopes of getting even or whatever.

I guess what I am trying to say is not that what Malmuth proposes is inaccurate, but that this is a huge mountain to conquer. So even though I am a solid winner in the game with a pretty good understanding of the short term luck factor, it is still not enough to completely eliminate pseudo-tilt. I probably still need to gain further experience and understanding of this luck factor to get to that point.

“Searching” is another form of sub-optimal play he mentions but I am not sure this is always a negative thing. The idea is that players who are not experts will sometimes try to adjust their game to improve their win-rate. But I think this is closely related to the process of getting better.

I know a lot of the top LHE players have a check-back range in a button open vs. big blind defense situation. So I have tried to develop such a range. But this is a very difficult thing to balance and in trying to do so, I have probably played less optimally in some spots than my normal strategy of c-betting 100% in this spot. But I think this is part of the cost of getting better. I am not going to be able to master this strategy simply by thinking it through away from the table. I need to attempt to apply it at the table to see what types of board textures I struggle with in developing a check-back range. At that point, I can step away from the table and try to analyze my strategy on these board textures further.

Part 2: How’s your poker game?

I found a lot of this section pretty uninteresting, although there were a few things I thought were helpful ideas. I think the most important chapters were “How to Become a Great Player” in conjunction with “Selecting the Best Game”. I agree with the idea in the former chapter that in order to get really good, you need to put yourself in situations where you are going to have a lot of difficult spots to analyze and work through. However, I don’t think the best way to do this is playing too many hands at a full ring normal table as the chapter suggests. I think you would be better served sitting in short-handed games that contain tough opponents. Ideally, these games will still contain a live one or two so you can still be profitable, but they will give you experience playing in a lot of difficult spots.

The corollary to this is once your ability is up to an expert level, the way to make the most money is to find the most profitable game. So I think some people put themselves in a situation where they are always playing in the biggest, toughest game. They get really good but never get to enjoy the full benefits of that expertise because they continue to sit in these super tough games when more profitable options are available.

Other people never have the courage to enter this tough game and so they never gain the expertise and settle for winning a smaller amount in softer games. The ideal situation is probably the person who will sometimes sit the tough game to gain the experience and become really good, but then to shift gears and “bum hunt” to apply the knowledge to win the most money from the worst players.

Part 3: Image

I thought this was the least helpful section of the book. For one thing, I thought there was not enough focus on a key idea regarding image: A lot of players (especially in NL games) use image, or meta-game, to rationalize their bad play. Most good players don’t make plays for the purpose of developing an image. They play the cards as they come and then figure out what kind of image that probably has given them, how their opponents might respond to this, and adjust accordingly.

The section also covers some suggestions for image in out-dated games that shouldn’t be relevant to anyone reading the book.

My main problem with this section was its examples from Limit Hold ‘Em, the game I regularly play. On page 117, he recommends that if you have a certain image, you should check AJo from the button after someone open limps the button. This is incorrect. AJo is much too strong a hand to check here, regardless of what your image is or who your opponent is.

Also, on page 105 he says having a tight image is best for LHE because it gives you the ability to win pots you otherwise wouldn’t. I disagree with this. You want to exploit the mistakes your opponents are making. In LHE, poor playing opponents generally make the mistake of calling too much. You exploit this by value betting them relentlessly. I don’t want these people making what they would consider big folds against me because for them, this is probably getting them closer to optimal strategy. I want them paying off my value bet of third pair with ace high.

Part 4: At the tables

There were some good ideas in this section, but nothing that seemed groundbreaking or very original. I do think the section “Why There are so Few Great Players” made a good point which is that you need to be good at a lot of different things to be good at poker. I do think a lot of people underestimate what it takes to become an expert and overestimate the work they have put into their own game.

Part 5: Tells
This was a short section that didn’t have much content. I think the best thing this section does is recommend Zachary Elwood’s books which I also think are very good.

Part 6: Other Topics

This was kind of a hodgepodge of stuff. I thought the “Staying Broke” section was pretty accurate. The Bankroll Management stuff is good to know if you haven’t seen those equations before. Then he starts talking about some of the psychology stuff that other books have talked about and why he thinks those things are not going to be much help. I’ll get back to this in my conclusion.

Part 7: Silly Ideas
Here he goes through specific ideas in other books (primarily Positive Poker) that he disagrees with.

Conclusion

The book can be summed up with the following idea: Working on your mental game will only help your results to a very small degree. You should focus instead on learning solid fundamental play and understanding the short term luck factor.

Earlier, I mentioned Elwood’s books on tells. In these books, he makes the point that tells are only a small part of your overall game. But some players make this the primary focus of their game, neglecting to learn fundamental poker strategy. Having said that, tells are part of “all things poker”, to use Malmuth’s expression. I have no problem with books dedicated to that one aspect of your game as long as you realize that tells are a small part of your overall game and often only helpful to tip the balance in other decisions that are close.

I also have no problem with books dedicated to the psychological aspects of your game. Do people make the same mistake with psychology as they do with tells, in thinking that it is an overridingly important aspect of the game? I don’t know. I have not read “Positive Poker” but I think it is unlikely that this book intended to make that claim. Jonathan Little, one of the book’s co-authors, is one of the premier tournament players and educators in the world. I am certain he understands that understanding basic poker theory comes first and then you patch up the edges with mastering tells, the mental game, etc.

As far as whether you should buy this book, I would say “Why not?” I have read a large amount of poker books and other publications, read forums, subscribed to training sites, etc. If a poker book that comes on the market gives me just one or two new things to think about at this point, I’d say it is worth the price and this book certainly did that. It covers a lot of topics and the things I found interesting/relevant will be different to someone else reading the book. I was already aware of a lot of the material so while this may have seemed unoriginal and uninteresting to me, it might be more relevant to a different reader.

The thing about poker books is you don’t need to gain a lot of value for it to be worth the price. If I can gain or save one big bet in a future situation in a game I play, I have already paid for the price of whatever book caused me to save that bet. (Well, I guess I’d have to save a few big bets in order to compensate me for my time in reading the book, but you get the point).

Last edited by CrazyLond; 01-04-2016 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:55 PM   #52
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

Hi Crazylord:

First, thanks for the review.

As a quick note, in case you haven't read this, in the book by Philip Newall, there's good discussion on checking back the flop in the exact situation that you mention.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 01-05-2016, 01:12 AM   #53
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

Is the release of the kindle version imminent? I prefer to get it on kindle but if it doesn't come out soon I may have to get the hard copy.
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Old 01-05-2016, 06:58 AM   #54
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

Hi Evveryone and CrazyLord:

I want to address the review by CrazyLord a little bit more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyLond View Post
My very long review of this book:

Part 3: Image
My main problem with this section was its examples from Limit Hold ‘Em, the game I regularly play. On page 117, he recommends that if you have a certain image, you should check AJo from the button after someone open limps the button. This is incorrect. AJo is much too strong a hand to check here, regardless of what your image is or who your opponent is.
First, this is worded incorrectly. What Real Poker Psychology says is that the player on the button who is first in limps, the player in the small blind folds, and you are in the big blind.

The book then goes on to recommend that

1. If your opponent thinks you play tight, you should be inclined to call,

2. If your opponent thinks you play loose, you should probably call,

3. If your opponent thinks you play passively, you should raise,

4. If your opponent thinks you play too aggressively, not raising becomes the correct strategy.

5. If Your opponent thinks you play very well, you should be inclined to raise.

So there is a lot more here than what is presented in the review. And of course there are explanations to go along with each of these cases.

Quote:
Also, on page 105 he says having a tight image is best for LHE because it gives you the ability to win pots you otherwise wouldn’t. I disagree with this. You want to exploit the mistakes your opponents are making. In LHE, poor playing opponents generally make the mistake of calling too much. You exploit this by value betting them relentlessly. I don’t want these people making what they would consider big folds against me because for them, this is probably getting them closer to optimal strategy. I want them paying off my value bet of third pair with ace high.
There's actually a lot more on this topic than what appear in Real Poker Psychology, and it just turns out that many years ago I wrote a much more complete article on this very subject which is currently not published anywhere. But here it is:

How a Tight Image Works

by Mason Malmuth

In games like limit hold ’em and seven-card stud, where the pot frequently becomes very large when compared to the size of the bet, I have been an advocate of a tight image. When I first began to write about this in the late 1980’s, these ideas were hotly disputed by several other writers, and even today opinion is certainly not unanimous. But the fact is that when I view the best limit hold ’em players that I know, none of them has a loose image, and in the stud world, I can only think of one top player who seems to come across this way (despite the fact that stud experts can play more hands than hold ’em experts).

The reason you should prefer the tight image as opposed to the loose image is simply that it allows you to win a few more pots. The loose image of course will allow you to collect a few more bets. But in games where pots tend to get big (relative to the bet), winning a pot that you normally wouldn’t has got to be the way to go. Yes, an extra bet or two every now and then can be very nice, but it can’t compare to what many pots contain. So in my mind it’s no contest.

However, with the above being said, there is a misconception that many players have about a tight image, which can at times cost some people a few chips. It’s the idea that you can steal a large pot because most people think you’re a “nit.” It doesn’t work that way.

The reason for this is that large pots have a distinct characteristic. It is: Good hands, sometimes in several places, are a contributing factor in what made the pot big. Thus when good hands are out, even if they don’t always mature to a strong hand, pay off hands become much more likely, and the pot becomes what we call “protected.” (See Sklansky on Poker for more discussion of the protected pot. )

In addition, the fact that the pot is large is an enticement for callers. It’s common for someone to think “I’m not folding this hand no matter who bets. There is just too much money out there and they are just going to show me the goods.”

So how does a tight image work? If it doesn’t help you pick up these pots by betting, how does it help you win them more often? The answer has to do with how your opponents react to some of your bets, and this includes your semi-bluff hands.

Specifically, partly because of your image and partly because they become afraid of hands that you check as well as hands that you bet, your opponents won’t put maximum pressure on you and knock you out of the hand when they should. A raise might become a call, or a bet might become a check, which allows you to stay around and catch perfect, and when the pots are large, this is a great advantage. Let’s look at a few examples.

Suppose in limit hold ’em you hold a hand like the JJ. You raise and get several callers. Now the flop comes with an overcard to your two jacks. Since your hand might be good, the pot is large, and you don’t want to give a free card that might beat you, you go ahead and bet. But if raised you plan to fold since you don’t feel that two outs to improve plus the small chance that the raiser may have an inferior hand is enough to continue.

Now suppose you are called by someone with top pair, and the reason he makes that call is because he’s intimidated by your image. Notice that you have just gained two outs that you had no business getting.

Continuing with this example, let’s assume the fourth street card is higher than any of the flop cards and that it does not hit your opponent. If your opponent checks after you check because he is not only afraid of this high card, but is also aware that you are capable of going for a check raise in a spot like this when you hold a very good hand, you have just gained two more outs. Notice that in this example you will win the pot approximately 10 percent more often than you should.

Here’s another example from limit hold ’em. Let’s say you hold the 98. The flop is the T62. You bet and are called by someone who has flopped middle pair with an overcard kicker. Now suppose the fourth street card doesn’t help anyone. So you check and plan to fold if your opponent bets because you’re afraid that you only have four outs. However, when your opponent checks behind you, he gives you 10 outs to beat him, and that’s over 20 percent. If he makes this check because of your image, well your tight image has certainly paid off pretty big in this spot.

Finally, let’s look at a stud example. You raise on third street with the K4Q (and the Q is the up card), and are called by someone who has a nine up. On fourth street you both catch blanks, and you bet and he calls. On fifth street you again both catch blanks and this time you check with the intention of folding. If your opponent checks something like a pair of nines, you have come out way ahead. Now not only is your back-door flush draw working, but you can also win by pairing one of your overcards.

In conclusion, notice that the examples given are really fairly simple and straight forward. However, I have noticed this effect impacting far more complex situations, and occasionally allowing the tight player to win a pot that he shouldn’t. So being a “nit” can be well worth it if you are really an expert in disguise.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 01-05-2016, 11:20 AM   #55
Mat Sklansky
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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Is the release of the kindle version imminent? I prefer to get it on kindle but if it doesn't come out soon I may have to get the hard copy.

expect it this week.
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Old 01-05-2016, 11:39 AM   #56
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

In the first example, I meant to write that we check the big blind, not the button. But I am not sure if I am understanding the action correctly. It sounds like you are are saying the button open limps and we are in the big blind with the option to check or raise.

If this is the situation we are talking about, I still maintain that we should raise AJo regardless of our image. But your use of the word "call" in a couple of the examples of our image makes me think I might not be understanding the action correctly since this shouldn't be one of our options.

Regarding whether we want a loose image or a tight image, I will concede that there are times that a tight image will be a benefit, sometimes even resulting in us winning a pot we should not win. But I still think the net gain from the relentless value bets we can win with a loose image is greater.

Also, I disagree that most top players today have a tight image (this may have been true when you originally wrote that article). But either way, as I wrote in my original review, I don't think we should be making many adjustments to our play based on what we want our image to be. We just need to play the cards we are dealt and then adjust if we think people are responding to us having a particular image.

I also think it's possible that you have more opportunities to benefit from a tight image and so can reap more benefits from that than I can, which is maybe why we have a different opinion on this. For one thing, you are older than me and people are more likely to assume you are a nit. For another, you play in Las Vegas where there is a more dynamic player pool with the constant stream of tourists. Our games here are generally filled with locals familiar with my play, so even if I am card dead for an afternoon, most people won't be fooled into thinking I have suddenly become a tight player.
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Old 01-05-2016, 02:26 PM   #57
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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Originally Posted by CrazyLond View Post
In the first example, I meant to write that we check the big blind, not the button. But I am not sure if I am understanding the action correctly. It sounds like you are are saying the button open limps and we are in the big blind with the option to check or raise.
The terminology shouldn't matter, the concept remains really strong. I agree the terminology should be check or raise, not check or call unless the Hero is in the SB - but that is a really minor issue since the concept remains the same otherwise.

Quote:
If this is the situation we are talking about, I still maintain that we should raise AJo regardless of our image
In a vacuum determining the ABC play vs an unknown opponent you might be correct; the better you become, the more knowledge of your opponents exist, the greater the possibility that your opponent will fold to any bet on the flop when your way ahead - then the more you should deviate from the default action in a vacuum. This is called "Exploitive Play"... if your opponent's limping in range on the button includes hands such as 56o, then why would you ever want to encourage a fit-or-fold opponent to fold on the flop? We want to instead encourage that opponent to bet the flop when checked to, hopelessly crushed by the equity that your A high holds. I haven't read this section yet, but the action being described is only the beginning of the hand - the plan for the rest of the hand should be modified each street based on prior actions, but your general goal at this stage is to win as much as possible from this loose and weak opponent - raising will not win the max if their range is this weak.

Quote:
Regarding whether we want a loose image or a tight image, I will concede that there are times that a tight image will be a benefit, sometimes even resulting in us winning a pot we should not win. But I still think the net gain from the relentless value bets we can win with a loose image is greater.
I think you misunderstand the term "value" as it applies to this discussion. When you make a value bet, your goal is to get worse hands to call. We can take it a step further by including situations where we are getting better hands to fold. When your opponent limps in on the button and Hero has AJo in the big blind, we tend to be WAY ahead of his or her range on the button - encouraging a fold is not necessary, we gain value by instead encouraging that player to stay in the hand hopelessly behind.

Quote:
Also, I disagree that most top players today have a tight image (this may have been true when you originally wrote that article).
Change Mason's words to "Way too tight" and it may become more logical to you, perhaps just the descriptive words are tripping you up? Or perhaps instead use the term "nitty" - would that make it more clear? Conversely if you know your opponent would only limp in to trap the Hero because he feels the Hero is way too tight - then adjust accordingly, that is a totally different scenario than the one Mason describes and is not relevant to the topic being discussed.


Quote:
But either way, as I wrote in my original review, I don't think we should be making many adjustments to our play based on what we want our image to be. We just need to play the cards we are dealt and then adjust if we think people are responding to us having a particular image.
That is level 1 thinking you are describing, think beyond that level - focus on the big picture. World class players would make this adjustment if they can find the opportunity to exploit and further confuse their opponents to extract the maximum.

Its true that you may not be able to apply these concepts in every game, every scenario, at your home casino - but you can learn from these really important lessons to look for spots where you should deviate from your ABC standard line because it would result in an opportunity to exploit your opponent to extract the maximum. If you think of this hand as a life lesson, always think before you act - then try to take the best choice to gain the maximum for you even if you find that you have to take the road less traveled - then the concept becomes quite interesting, doesn't it?
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Old 01-05-2016, 03:19 PM   #58
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

TT, the last 3 paragraphs of what I wrote were unrelated to the AJo hand just for clarification.

I understand what exploitative play is. But checking AJo with the expectation that your opponent (who is passive enough to open limp the button) will fire the flop and then call a check raise with air is just plain bad. Are you trying to say our check raise flop range is weaker than our raise pre, cbet flop range so now he will call where he would have folded to the cbet? Because he's getting the exact same odds in both situations.
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Old 01-05-2016, 04:21 PM   #59
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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Originally Posted by *TT* View Post
.


. When your opponent limps in on the button and Hero has AJo in the big blind, we tend to be WAY ahead of his or her range on the button - encouraging a fold is not necessary, we gain value by instead encouraging that player to stay in the hand hopelessly behind.

This makes 0 sense at all. For starters were not encouraging a gold, we are getting more money into the pot when we are way ahead of his range. Secondly, the player is only going to stay in the hand if they are not hopelessly behind. We are way ahead of his range with AJo preflop; there are lots of flops where we are not way ahead of his range. The 5-6o is going to put in bets on the board where he flops pairs and straight draws, not board where we have some Madison equity advantage.

What's gonna happen most of the time of your gonna check preflop leaving value on the table then check call 3 streets with A high when he flops a pair. Or he flops nothing and checks back the flop and gets a free look at s 6 outer.

Sure, sometimes he bluffs at a board when he has no equity but it's not gonna happen nearly enough to offset the value we are losing.
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Old 01-05-2016, 04:42 PM   #60
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

TT: here's an example: Againt a passive range that raises really good hands, and limps basically everything else we are more than a 3:2 dog on the 5-6-7 flop.

So the best adjustment is to check preflop when we are almost a 2-1 favorite so that we can exploit him by check calling as a 3-2 dog on the flop?

Obviously we're not a 3-2 dog on every flop but if you play around with various board textures I'm sure there are its where we are in far worse shape than you probably think

Further example: 10-4-8 flop, 2-5-8 flop, Q-2-4 flop: none of these do we have greater than 52% equity. Assuming that a passive player will Cheka back nothing on these board textures a decent percentage of the time: you are basically advocating a strategy that will result in us Doing quite horribly to one of raising AJ
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Old 01-05-2016, 05:53 PM   #61
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

Quote:
We want to instead encourage that opponent to bet the flop when checked to, hopelessly crushed by the equity that your A high holds.
I stopped reading TT's post here.

----

Which is better?:

giving your opponent the choice between making a 0ev fold, or a -ev call.

or giving your opponent the choice between making a 0ev fold, or a +ev call?

I think it's clearly the former, while the latter allows the opponent to profitably capture part of the pot.

Quote:
I understand what exploitative play is. But checking AJo with the expectation that your opponent (who is passive enough to open limp the button) will fire the flop and then call a check raise with air is just plain bad.
I agree.
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Old 01-05-2016, 05:57 PM   #62
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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I stopped reading TT's post here.
You apparantly didn't even understand the part you did read, since you go on to talk about two options where villain calls, neither of which would be possible in TT's scenario.

Or do your options have nothing to do with his post?
Either way, it's pretty ridiculous to "brag" in a post about how you didn't read part of the discussion, but still want to contribute.
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Old 01-05-2016, 06:20 PM   #63
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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Or do your options have nothing to do with his post?
It's about encouraging face up fit or fold poker, which is great for unimproved Ace high.
Quote:
Either way, it's pretty ridiculous to "brag" in a post about how you didn't read part of the discussion, but still want to contribute.
My bad. I thought knowing that he was advocating checking AJo was enough to disagree. I don't need to read multiple paragraphs to know that I disagree.
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Old 01-05-2016, 06:33 PM   #64
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

I also would raise the AJo preflop, but I can't understand at all what your to choices refer to.
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Old 01-05-2016, 06:35 PM   #65
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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I understand what exploitative play is. But checking AJo with the expectation that your opponent (who is passive enough to open limp the button) will fire the flop and then call a check raise with air is just plain bad.
Your response tells me you do not understand, but thats ok, I'll explain further. I never said anything about a flop c/r with A high, as a general rule, you should never raise to protect your hand if the worse hand will fold as a result. I'll use an example to better illustrate and hopefully make my point more clear so you and I can be on the same page - I hope this helps!

Lets use a real hand as an example, say the button limps in with 57 If the Hero raises with AJo the Villain will likely call, and then fold the flop unless he or she connects. If the flop is 210q then Hero's ROI is 1 big bet.

What if instead Villain misrepresented your passivity and chose to bet all three streets when checked to unimproved? This is a very common path for a button limper to take, if you know the button can be exploited into taking this path then the best option is to encourage it showing a 3 Big Bets ROI for Hero. Yes this is a higher variance route than raising to shut down your opponent, but world class play requires that you survive the occasional land mine. And keep in mind I am not saying this is the default ABC line to take - there are many "depends", and even Mason's text makes it clear that it's a patch to consider - he does not say its a path to take every time.

Please be aware that I am intentionally simplifying this example because I'm trying to make it an easy concept to comprehend. Of course in reality we should be considering the Villain's range of hands, the range you check in the BB, Villain still has some equity post-flop and can catch a card or two - and occasionally the Villain can bluff Hero out of the hand. Overall in the long run this passive and exploitive line will be more profitable - IF we know the Villain's capable of making this huge mistake. If we spent the time to put together a decision tree, it would be incredibly complex - but the concept would be hard to argue against. This all comes back to the Fundamental Theorem of Poker, which is why the Theory of Poker its a great book to re-read if this concept is challenging to you or anyone else.

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It's about encouraging face up fit or fold poker, which is great for unimproved Ace high.
Why would you ever want to encourage someone to fold the losing hand? This is a basic concept that the best players in the world all understand, but the masses clearly struggle with as your post shows.

But this is getting WAYYYY off topic. The point of my post was only to better illustrate Mason's concept - and the irony is that the ensuing discussion actually reinforced Mason's point that the majority of players would be best served if they worked on the intricacies of the game to improve win rate rather than focus on the "mental game" which will only help your results to a very small degree. Players too often overlook the obvious solution - working on your game away from the table should in turn help you to play better.

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Old 01-05-2016, 06:55 PM   #66
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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Why would you ever want to encourage someone to fold the losing hand? This is a basic concept that the best players in the world all understand, but the masses clearly struggle with, as your post shows.
I'd prefer that he called with poor odds, but I don't mind him folding. The alternative of check calling allows him to play his hand more profitably than he could had I raised. If my opponent can profitably play six high no draw, then I think I'm doing something wrong.
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:16 PM   #67
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

I don't recall ever seeing a villain open limp the button and then barrel off 3 streets with air. The kind of person who open limps here has hugely passive tendencies and it would be pretty strange to see such a person turn into a mindless maniac postflop.

Once you call the flop, you are showing villain that you have some kind of interest in the pot and a lot of people will shut down on the turn. So you've gotten the same amount of bets in the pot but given the villain a free look at the turn and probably the river too.

You keep acting like I don't know what exploitative means. It means you exploit the mistakes your opponents makes. You don't exploit a loose passive player by failing to value bet and trying to induce bluffs.
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:38 PM   #68
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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I'd prefer that he called with poor odds, but I don't mind him folding.
You should prefer that he BET as a significant dog, not call. Also to be clear this is not a discussion of pot odds, its a discussion of equity edges - and how to induce your opponent into takin the wrong action when you have an equity edge.

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The alternative of check calling allows him to play his hand more profitably than he could had I raised. If my opponent can profitably play six high no draw, then I think I'm doing something wrong.
The opponent cannot profitably play six high no draw in the example I showed - in fact raising preflop help's him to lose significantly less than if Hero limped in.

Hero raises preflop, Villain calls raise and floods to a CBet unimproved = 1 BB ROI

Hero checks preflop, and then proceeds to check/call all 3 streets while Button's hand is unimproved = 3 BB ROI

Clearly I, and any expert player, would want to take the 2BB equity edge choice if this options presents itself.


Ok, lets use a more complex situation. Lets assume BTN's range is AA-TT,44-22,AKs-AQs,Q9s,J9s-J8s,T8s,97s-96s,86s,76s-75s,65s-64s,54s-53s,43s,AKo,J9o,T9o-T8o,98o-97o,87o-86o,76o-75o,65o. Lets also assume BTN intends to back raise TT+, AK and will call with the rest of his range vs a raise. Hero has a 61% equity vs the hands BTN calls the raise with on a random flop, resulting in an equity edge of 22.2%. A nice equity edge, but villain can fold in spots where he or she does not improve, making it impossible for us to profit further.

If we instead check preflop discussing the value of our hand then we can induce BTN into betting unimproved on the flop because Hero took such a passive line. Our equity then improves to 82.3% on a random turn - this is a massive equity edge of 64.44% vs Villain's range! Might as well let Villain continue to put him or herself in a bad position because our edge is so huge. All-in all this results in a 2 Big Blind or greater profit when Hero's hand remains good at showdown.

Get it now? it is clear your decision process is flawed, but I've invested much time already trying to explain the concept so hopefully I accomplished my goal. I'm just trying to do my poker good deed for the day - I won't lose any sleep if this concept remains misunderstood but I am happy to have tried. Perhaps someone else can jump in if my attempt does not work to clear up the confusion.


PS: Use an equity decision tree tool such as CardRunners EV to determine solutions to complex situations away from the game, this is how theoretical GTO lines are explored and debated by the greatest minds in poker.
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:44 PM   #69
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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I don't recall ever seeing a villain open limp the button and then barrel off 3 streets with air. The kind of person who open limps here has hugely passive tendencies and it would be pretty strange to see such a person turn into a mindless maniac postflop.
Yes, but it's common for the button limper to automatically bet the flop when the big blind checks.

Quote:
Once you call the flop, you are showing villain that you have some kind of interest in the pot and a lot of people will shut down on the turn. So you've gotten the same amount of bets in the pot but given the villain a free look at the turn and probably the river too.

You keep acting like I don't know what exploitative means. It means you exploit the mistakes your opponents makes. You don't exploit a loose passive player by failing to value bet and trying to induce bluffs.
One other quick note. In the book, I say that if your opponent thinks you play very well, you should be inclined to raise, and by your description of your play, most every opponent should think you are a good player, thus you should be raising most every time.

Two other points. There is something known as "hiding information." Since the vast majority of hands that you'll have in the big blind are calling hands, you can make an argument to just call with all of them to hide information. This is actually a Game Theory idea and would not come under the heading of poker psychology. (See The Intelligent Poker Player by Philip Newall for more discussion of "hiding information.")

On the other hand, when your opponent makes a mistake, and calling on the button when first in would be considered to be such a mistake, that's the time to get away from Game Theory and go to an exploitative strategy.

Finally. in the "Ideas from Dr. Feeney" chapter there's something called multiple images. And while you seem critical of the "Image" section in Real Poker Psychology, this idea, which is not in that section, can sometimes play a role in hands like this (and I wonder if you missed it). Thus, while it might be correct to raise most players because of how they perceive you, a particular player may have a different view of your game due to some specific hands that he played against you.

And one final thought, you argue that ace-jack offsuit is too strong not to raise in a spot like this, but if your opponent will automatically bet the flop, the same amount of money gets in there anyway.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:49 PM   #70
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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I don't recall ever seeing a villain open limp the button and then barrel off 3 streets with air. The kind of person who open limps here has hugely passive tendencies and it would be pretty strange to see such a person turn into a mindless maniac post flop.
I see this on an almost daily basis in the games I play, but I also have been known to play significantly bigger vs tougher opponents than most in this thread (I would assume - and of course I could be wrong about that, its just an assumption.). If you never see this because a button passive player is so passive that they check back unimproved flops, then as I expressed earlier in the thread you can still learn from the concept because you will benefit from it long term even though you might not need to apply the concept in your specific game textures.

Quote:
Once you call the flop, you are showing villain that you have some kind of interest in the pot and a lot of people will shut down on the turn. So you've gotten the same amount of bets in the pot but given the villain a free look at the turn and probably the river too.
You would think so... but yet you see it all the time, ben limps in preflop because they think incorrectly that they are saving money with a speculative hand - and then they turn that speculative hand into a bluff. They attempt to force a fold because they smell passivity, while not considering your entire range of hands. Its bizarre, it's certainly wrong, yet I see this daily.

Quote:
You keep acting like I don't know what exploitative means. It means you exploit the mistakes your opponents makes. You don't exploit a loose passive player by failing to value bet and trying to induce bluffs.
To be clear I am actually acting as if you are misunderstand what value means, not exploitive. It's ok, you would not be alone - its a very common misunderstanding in poker - and in fact its one I used to make myself a long time ago. You get value getting to showdown vs opponent's range IF (and only if) the opponent will put money in the pot when they are way behind, but will not call a bet or a raise unimproved.


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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post

And one final thought, you argue that ace-jack offsuit is too strong not to raise in a spot like this, but if your opponent will automatically bet the flop, the same amount of money gets in there anyway.
Correct of course.

As a heads up player this is a clearly simple concept for me to comprehend, but I suspect it's a challanging concept for the others who have so far disagreed in this thread because they are not as used to playing heads up pots with high card out of position without having the lead. With more experience, this becomes a much easier spot to play - and in time you see how forcing your opponent to fold their unimproved hands can actually be a losing play long term. Yes, they still have some equity in the pot, but the percentage of time that equity becomes realized is significantly less than the times Hero wins a bigger pot.

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Old 01-05-2016, 08:04 PM   #71
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

TT - you play in big games with tough players, and you frequently see someone open limp from the button? I see that very rarely in small games and never in the biggest game I play (20/40).
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:17 PM   #72
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

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TT: here's an example: Againt a passive range that raises really good hands, and limps basically everything else we are more than a 3:2 dog on the 5-6-7 flop.

So the best adjustment is to check preflop when we are almost a 2-1 favorite so that we can exploit him by check calling as a 3-2 dog on the flop?

Obviously we're not a 3-2 dog on every flop but if you play around with various board textures I'm sure there are its where we are in far worse shape than you probably think

Further example: 10-4-8 flop, 2-5-8 flop, Q-2-4 flop: none of these do we have greater than 52% equity. Assuming that a passive player will Cheka back nothing on these board textures a decent percentage of the time: you are basically advocating a strategy that will result in us Doing quite horribly to one of raising AJ
TT cam you please address this?

Sure if we cherry pick flops where we have a gutshot and button is unlikely to pair becusse even passive players have two picture cards then your argument has some merit. But that's not the reality and on tons of flops we are a dog to buttons open limping range. You seem to ignore or not address this
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Old 01-05-2016, 09:43 PM   #73
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

TT what game are you specifically talking about where openlimping the button is common enough that you see people openlimping btn and then barreling 3 streets on a regular basis?

I play a lot of limit hold'em and the only people i see openlimping in LP are passive fish who definitely aren't 3-barreling with air
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Old 01-05-2016, 11:12 PM   #74
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

This thread has derailed off topic, that was never my intention - hopefully my responses below can put this derail to bed so we can refocus on Mason's book which happens to be rather good from what I have read so far.

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Originally Posted by stinkypete View Post
TT what game are you specifically talking about where openlimping the button is common enough that you see people openlimping btn and then barreling 3 streets on a regular basis?

I play a lot of limit hold'em and the only people i see openlimping in LP are passive fish who definitely aren't 3-barreling with air
daver: I rarely play limit holdem outside of a mix game in 2015, but I still see this in the mixes frequently as well as in NL games. The example was limit, but it was only to illustrate a concept; it was not intended to divulge into a long strategy discussion on the merits of checking instead of raising. Regardless, the concepts still apply (in different ways) in big bet games as well as limit.

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TT - you play in big games with tough players, and you frequently see someone open limp from the button? I see that very rarely in small games and never in the biggest game I play (20/40).
I play mostly mix games (which still frequently includes limit holdem) and NL at this stage of my life, but as Pete (who looks like daver) can attest I come from a limit holdem background. In fact I am playing in a 20/40 HORSET mix game tonight with some friends where the button will probably be open limped at least 1x, if not more, in limit holdem as well as in Triple Draw - some Vegas locals and tourists tend to do stuff like this because they incorrectly view preflop decisions as too speculative and prefer to decide their path once they see the flop. I normally odin't bring this up but since you asked I've played as big as 200/400 mix, but 80/160-100/200 is the sweet spot for me. When I play NL it's typically in the 2/5 to 5/10 range (more 2/5 NL lately while I work on a new biz that I hope to launch this year), but I've played as big as 25/50 NL with a 100 straddle. Even in that big game I came across players who open limped the button (of course it's a big bet game, but the concepts are similar albeit applied differently).

Ultimately bigger games do not necessarily mean fewer mistakes made by opponents. In some of the tougher games I have come across we still may encounter 1-2 players who think open limping buttons is a winning strategy. Sometimes the bigger they come, the harder they fall - isn' that a wonderful thing about modern poker games?

But none of this really matters, because Mason was discussing a concept - and the concept is correct as described even if it may not be applicable in your specific game texture. I only mentioned this before because the few players guys who were having the toughest time with this concept mostly posted in low stakes strategy threads - and I wanted to show how these opponent mistakes are still are evident as you move up the ranks. When edges get smaller, you need to exploit these spots as much as possible to improve your win rate.

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Originally Posted by Jon_locke View Post
TT cam you please address this?

Sure if we cherry pick flops where we have a gutshot and button is unlikely to pair becusse even passive players have two picture cards then your argument has some merit. But that's not the reality and on tons of flops we are a dog to buttons open limping range. You seem to ignore or not address this
I already addressed villain's BTN limping range in post #68 and how to play vs that range, using my own example instead of the example you provided because my own example uses random board cards. The mathematics of equity does not lie, on a flop where you have 61% equity vs your opponent's range you will win 61% of the time, and lose 39% of the time if both opponents get to showdown. If your ahead on the flop, then you will have 82.3% equity going into the river when a random turn card hits. Yes, sometimes the equity will change because the button improves to a draw or catches a pair when Hero does not improve - but that will only happen 39% of the time going into the turn after a random 3 card flop vs your opponent's range. With that said, this really is a mathematics of poker topic, not a poker psychology topic, hence I think if this concept remains challenging to you you might be better served asking this question in the probability or a strategy forums on 2+2 instead so we can get back to discussing the book.

Using your specific flop examples combined with my preflop ranges (which could actually be a littler tighter than the actual opponent's ranges):

ProPokerTools Hold'em Simulation
55,669,680 trials (Exhaustive)
board: Tx4y8z
Hand Pot equity Wins Ties
TT+,44,33,22,AxQx+,Qx9x,Jx9x,Jx8x,Tx8x,9x7x,9x6x,8x6x,7x6x,7x5x,6x5x,6x4x,5x4x,5x3x,4x3x,AxKy,Jx9y,Tx9y,Tx8y,9x8y,9x7y,8x7y,8x6y,7x6y,7x5y,6x5y61.98% 34,389,864223,128
AxJy38.02% 21,056,688223,128

ProPokerTools Hold'em Simulation
56,239,920 trials (Exhaustive)
board: 2x5y8z
Hand Pot equity Wins Ties
TT+,44,33,22,AxQx+,Qx9x,Jx9x,Jx8x,Tx8x,9x7x,9x6x,8x6x,7x6x,7x5x,6x5x,6x4x,5x4x,5x3x,4x3x,AxKy,Jx9y,Tx9y,Tx8y,9x8y,9x7y,8x7y,8x6y,7x6y,7x5y,6x5y63.93% 35,874,360161,136
AxJy36.07% 20,204,424161,136

ProPokerTools Hold'em Simulation
60,231,600 trials (Exhaustive)
board: Qx2y4z
Hand Pot equity Wins Ties
TT+,44,33,22,AxQx+,Qx9x,Jx9x,Jx8x,Tx8x,9x7x,9x6x,8x6x,7x6x,7x5x,6x5x,6x4x,5x4x,5x3x,4x3x,AxKy,Jx9y,Tx9y,Tx8y,9x8y,9x7y,8x7y,8x6y,7x6y,7x5y,6x5y40.95% 24,596,496135,216
AxJy59.05% 35,499,888135,216

We have a nice equity edge in all but the Qx2y4z board because there are too many connectors within the villain's range that hit this board texture, plus if the villain holds a Q we no longer have 2 overcards to improve to. Sometimes we will have an equity edge and be ahead, other times we will be a dog vs the opponent's range even though we are holding the best hand. Keep in mind that these equity calculations measure hot and cold equity of AJo vs the Villain's entire range assuming both opponents get to showdown.

PS: I used three different suits to match your description which did not include suitedness.

Last edited by *TT*; 01-05-2016 at 11:19 PM.
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Old 01-06-2016, 01:36 AM   #75
Jon_locke
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Re: Book Review Thread: Real Poker Psychology

It seems like you are trying to make a bunch of absurd assumptions about button the fit your argument that just isn't true. First he's going to open limp TT-AA on the button as well as AQs, AK etc. then he's going to bet 3 streets on the KKq flop when he has 4-5o. My ranges pretty much exclude the bottom 10-20% and also exclude he top 10-15%. Even people that open limp the button generally raise AA (even though they will sneakily limp sometimes).

I mean that just doesn't happen. What happens is he limps the button, and continues to play passive post flop escort when he as an equity edge vs our A hi. Maybe he fires at the flop once then shuts down but it's far more likely that the guy that open limps 6-7o on the button is gonna bet the 446 flop and check back the KKQ flop and we are left in a nice spot where we get in 0 bets when we have the equity edge preflop and then check call 3 times on board textures where we are often a 3-2 dog.

I also come from a limit Holdem background which pretty much consisted of playing as much limit Holdem as possible both online and live.
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