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Old 03-16-2019, 05:28 PM   #1
Donovan
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PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

I would love to get your input on this guys,

I don't think it makes sense to talk about the reasons we bet being "for value or as a bluff" only. I also detest the idea of making a bet "for protection". It is a sloppy concept that means different things to different people and it make thinking thru a poker hand more cumbersome and leads to confusion.

I also think "value bet and bluff" are not quite enough.

I have been looking at this concept in a slightly nuanced way for a while now and trying to convince, often reluctant, students to do the same thing.

value and bluff don't quite cut it.

Protection doesn't seem to mean anything specific and can be used to justify everything from overly thin value bets on wet boards to turning a perfectly good hands into bad bluffs.
(note that those two ideas; "making a thin value bet with a vulnerable hand just because it happens to have a chance of being the best hand at this exact decision point" and "turning a perfectly good bluff catcher into a bad bluff just because it happens to have paired the board "at this point" are at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum.

The term is devoid of meaning and just causes extra hurdles to try to get past and I think it's actually based on an emotional desire to not lose hands when we had the best hand at some point.

I've had some (rather heated) debates about the merits of making a bet FOR protection lately. (that is, using "for protection" as THE REASON to bet seems silly to me.)

We could just say "bet when its profitable to bet", right?. The problems with that kind of analysis, in my mind, is that it doesn't really make things any clearer than saying something like "you bet because it's +EV". While that really is the most accurate statement you can make, it doesn't help someone who isn't able to figure out what a +EV bet looks like in the first place.

I was trying to come up with a way to simplify my thought process in a way that is palatable to players who aren't at or near expert level. I think you can simplify your decision points by a lot and not sacrifice too much in accuracy by looking at two basic reasons to bet. Not value and bluff only, and not two reasons "value/bluff" with one or two other "kind of sort of sometimes maybe" reasons like "protection/equity denial stop from getting bluffed block bet, etc, etc, etc..

Here's my take on it;
1) build a pot you are a favorite to win at OR by showdown
2) fold out villain's equity.
these two reasons map on very well to the rules of the game and what bets LITERALLY do for us. I think they do that with more efficiency than any other frame work I've heard.

We win money only when we get to showdown with the best hand or we are the last player with a live hand. So we want to build pots we are likely to win (reason one) and/or we want to be the only player with a live hand (reason two).

So, what if you open As2s and the flop is Ks8d2c, should you ever bet? Of course. Well, is that a value bet? You will rarely be called by worse. Is it a bluff? Most of the hands that fold will be worse than yours. Then it must be "for protection".. I think that term is almost meaningless, it's a non-starter and should probably just be jettisoned from the strategy forums (AGAIN!),.. thought we got rid of that term back ten years ago.
Even if you could play very loose with the term "protection" and make it into the thing that makes you want to bet on that flop with that hand it just doesn't explain anything at all. Or it's able to be contorted into a term that can mean all things to all people. At a minimum I would say that "protection" betting is just extra baggage, explanatory dead weight and we can explain everything we need to explain without invoking "protection".

Then what would our reason be for betting A2 on K82?

We want to create fold equity. We could have a range advantage and we prob don't have a hand that is strong enough to check, so we may want to bet that flop with that hand TO CREATE FOLD EQUITY.

** THis is NOT the same as "value bet or bluff only" **

In the A2 example, you could say that we are turning our hand into a bluff. And that's fine. But we don't need to distinguish between trying to generate folds when we have a hand that happens to have a pair in it or betting a hand that doesn't happen to have a pair in it. If we bet QJ on that same K82 flop the reason we would be betting is the same. We think we can get the folds we need to make the bet more profitable than giving up.

In my, simple, model, we don't have to distinguish between betting a hand like 9s8s on Td8s4d compared to betting QsJs on that same flop. The fact that one hand has a pair in and the other hand does not is not relevant.

I think we should just let the entire concept of "protection" go. You don't make money from having the best hand on the flop.

You make money by folding your opponents out or winning at showdown. The strategy we use and the way we describe it should reflect that.

One example of reason one "build a pot you are a favorite to win"...

Is that the same as value betting??
No. It's not. eg; we have JsTs and go heads up to a flop of 9s3c3d. We know that our opponent will call the flop with small pairs and Ax but he will give up on the turn with a very high frequency.
We have BDFD and BDSD and two over cards that are likely live vs this players flop call range.

What if we bet the flop planning to dub a lot of turns?? Is that a value bet? Well, we won't get called by worse hands. Isn't it just a bluff? Well, yes and no... If we PREFER TO BE CALLED then are we really bluffing?? If we prefer a call and the call is going to function more like a value bet (we build a pot we are a favorite to win at OR before showdown) then does it make sense to call it a bluff??

What about Ah5h on Kh4h2d?
if we bet an and we actually hope to be called because we are a favorite to win the pot is that a bluff? A value bet?? Protection????

These terms are getting more and more sloppy and less and less applicable as the game evolves.

So this is how I explain "why we bet" to students. I would love to have a conversation about this.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated.
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Old 03-16-2019, 07:20 PM   #2
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

You should make a similar post about the equity realization concept
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Old 03-16-2019, 09:00 PM   #3
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lezaleas View Post
You should make a similar post about the equity realization concept
Iím happy to.
Iíve got a good bit to say about that too. I think the concept is overrated. Hands that realize equity more profitably across many run outs def matters but itís only one of at least a few equally important hand characteristics.
Eg; nut potential; small pairs have good nut potential but they underrealize their equity in a lot of situations depending on stack depth, number of opponents, and other factors. In fact, it is exactly the fact that small pocket pairs usually hit hard or miss that gives them their particular type of profitability. Most of the realuzable equity from small pairs is concentrated to a small % of possible flops (when you flop a set) so you canít often realize their equity in practice at typical stack depths, but the way they do hit so much of their equity on a small % if flops is where the implied odds from a set mine come from.

Sorry to anyone trying to read these, Iím texting this out on a phone😊
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:12 PM   #4
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

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Originally Posted by Donovan View Post
I’m happy to.
I’ve got a good bit to say about that too. I think the concept is overrated. Hands that realize equity more profitably across many run outs def matters but it’s only one of at least a few equally important hand characteristics.
Eg; nut potential; small pairs have good nut potential but they underrealize their equity in a lot of situations depending on stack depth, number of opponents, and other factors. In fact, it is exactly the fact that small pocket pairs usually hit hard or miss that gives them their particular type of profitability. Most of the realuzable equity from small pairs is concentrated to a small % of possible flops (when you flop a set) so you can’t often realize their equity in practice at typical stack depths, but the way they do hit so much of their equity on a small % if flops is where the implied odds from a set mine come from.

Sorry to anyone trying to read these, I’m texting this out on a phone��
Yes, its probably the concept I see missused or just overrated the most. In particular, everyone repeats how small pp underrealize while SCs overrealize, but pp have 3/5 of a chance to know if they "hit" by the flop, while SCs almost never know where they will end at unless they got a flush or straight, or missed entirely. This hints that there`s much more than equity denial at play there. I found eq denial to be the second most important factor in determining how our eq transforms into ev.
the first factor its hard to explain but easy to understand, which is how much our hand can value bet, now or on a future street. The idea is that having 50% eq means you are probably owning less than 50% of the pot because every time your opponent continues against a bet he is, of course, continuing with the stronger parts of his range. Hands that tend to make mid strenght hands, like pp, underrealize in this sense, while hands that make premium hands overrealize, and hands that make air dont really over or underrealize, which is why premiums and SCs type of hands overrealize.

Edit: another way to look at this would be "equity vs villains value range", which would get you the same results
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Old 03-17-2019, 12:50 PM   #5
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

My man janda has already explained it in his book
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Old 03-17-2019, 02:00 PM   #6
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

tldr
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:46 PM   #7
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

valuebet = betting against made hands that are worse
protection = betting against non-made hands (that are oftentimes worse)

Like op already said, it's just a matter of (personal) terminology. You could argue that betting A2 on K82 is valuebetting against Qx or worse. It just makes sense to differentiate between valuebetting and protection for some reason.
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Old 03-18-2019, 03:46 PM   #8
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

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Originally Posted by iamallin View Post
My man janda has already explained it in his book
This.

FWIW, I still use the term "protection", because I think it's a decent shorthand that saves me from typing "To prevent villain realizing his equity for free". FWIW, I think the majority of hands get most of their EV via betting or raising for protection (villains typically fold about 50% of the time to a bet), so I think it would be silly to jettison such a useful term.

Janda's two reasons for betting are (I'm paraphrasing):

1. To build a bigger pot when we expect to win.
2. To deny villain the chance to realize his equity for free.

Number 2 is basically what I mean when I say "protection".
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Old 03-18-2019, 04:53 PM   #9
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

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Originally Posted by ArtyMcFly View Post
2. To deny villain the chance to realize his equity for free.

Number 2 is basically what I mean when I say "protection".
number 2 is an universal reasoning that applies also to bluffs and even valuebets
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:35 PM   #10
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

I'm glad OP brought it up even if it has already been covered in literature. I always have to remind myself not to play sloppy. Having a reason to do each action makes sense and we sometimes lose sight of this. As a professional surgeon would thoughtfully plan and execute each stroke of the scalpel, so should we place our bets, checks, and folds. Or as a pro MMA fighter knows that at any second a knock-out blow could come, in his favor or against, so that every decision or non decision can mean life or death, so even though he looks calm and casual and rehearsed, he knows that each decision can lead to huge consequences. This leads to a pro making a long series of super calculated decisions, versus the amateur, who kinds of chops and hacks his way here and there, sometimes not knowing why he bets this or checks that. The pro needs to make surgical strikes, moving gracefully but with purpose like the MMA fighter. Each decision should have a purpose.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:12 AM   #11
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

Agree with Arty I think protection is a good shorthand for the equity denial reason to bet.

But agree with OP value and bluff aren't really relevant prior to the river and wven then if ranges can share a lot of hands it's still blurry.
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Old 03-20-2019, 06:39 AM   #12
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

The reason you bet or check on the flop and turn is so that on future streets your range doesn't become too strong or too weak. If you never bet a 2 on K82 it would be trivial to come up with an extremely effective counter strategy on future streets.

Another thing that needs to be understood is that the first combo of nuts you add to a range is always the most valuable one, future combos have diminishing returns. IE Villain has major incentive to slow down when a card is obviously good for your range, less so when a card only benefits a few combos of your range. Thus the few 2x you keep in your betting range will benefit disproportionately ev wise compared to the 2x you check back.

The entire concepts of value betting and bluffing need to be thrown out the window when dealing with situations where there are multiple streets left to play. Though I used to subscribe to them, nowadays I believe the terms "protection" and "equity denial" are also wrong. In present my answer to the question "Why did you bet that hand on the flop?" is "So that I can maximize the ev of my betting range on the river"
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Old 03-20-2019, 02:10 PM   #13
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

I think its more that there are dozens of different reasons to bet, not necessarily that there's a problem with ones we mainly talk about. What's most important is that there should actually be a valid reason for betting. New players frequently have a "bet when you have the best hand" mentality, that can actually go a long way in fishy games with several stations, but is still fundamentally flawed and will stunt your poker growth.

New players should start by learning what it actually means to bluff and value-bet, and be taught that their bets should have a purpose behind them. After that they can graduate to protection-bets, cbets, betting to disguise their range, etc.. With cbetting in particular you will have betting to protect, betting to disguise our range, and just straight bluffing all kind of blending together a bit. Still, there are plenty of spots where we should just pure bet to protect. For example, its 6max, but its folded to a nit/fish in the small blind who limps. Flop is 982, we have a 2. Big aces raise pre, pairs and draws bet flop, so nothing is really calling. The nit isn't the type to bluff-checkraise or bluff turn so checking does nothing except give free cards, and anything villain has is 6 outs. Betting there is not an emotional response or irrational fear, its the only way to turn villain's 20% equity or whatever into 0%.

Also you can argue "equity denial bet" might be better phrasing, but I would still disagree. "Protection" as in "protecting your hand from worse drawing out on you" is common English and intuitive, while the concept of equity requires math/finance and some concept of EV which would be a later lesson.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:18 PM   #14
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

The more tricky decision for "equity denial" or "protection" is whether or not to raise villain's turn cbets with our bluffcatchers when board shows obvious draws.

I can't be the only one to remember often calling river bets with bluffcatchers only to realize villain hit a runner runner draw and cbet me for 3 streets.

Correct move was not only to fold river, but to raise turn. Anyone else?
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Old 03-20-2019, 07:39 PM   #15
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

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Originally Posted by just_grindin View Post
Agree with Arty I think protection is a good shorthand for the equity denial reason to bet.

But agree with OP value and bluff aren't really relevant prior to the river and wven then if ranges can share a lot of hands it's still blurry.
I don't actually think that protection is a short hand way to say "equity denial" because "equity denial" works if we have the best hand or not and can apply to bluffs as well as what are normally thought of as "protection bets".

I have very mixed feelings about Janda using those exact terms. It's good to know I'm not crazy but bad that it's not an original idea.

couple things that make me want to just be done with "protection" bets.
1) not needed, we can explain everything with just fold equity and building pots when we have advantage.
2) mainly that it seems, to me, to be kind of trying to evoke some kind of mysterious intrinsic "value" of a hand because it "is the best hand now".
Like, best at what?

Imagine we are heads up for simplicity;
the only things that can happen when we aggress are; villain folds or villain continues
If villain folds our hand doesn't matter
If villain calls it doesn't matter if you happen to have the best hand or not at this decision point, it's just "equity when called".

I hear people using protection to say things like "I 3 bet my 99 to protect against over cards" and it reminds me of people saying something like "I have to call with 55 pre-flop because they are likely the best hand right now."

I mean, what difference does it make that some pocket pair is the best hand right now?
Best in what way?

I have never been paid to have the best two card hand pre-flop. If I bet KT on T98 and my opponent folds I DONT GET EXTRA MONEY FOR HAVING THE BEST HAND and if I get called I don't get any extra credit for having bet with the hand that happens to be best right now.

So my point is along those lines. I think the term "protection" leads people into illusions and distracts from the things that actually matter.

I appreciate all the input and I am glad to be in such good company.

Namaste Poker Homies
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Old 03-20-2019, 07:50 PM   #16
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

"Protection" can influence sizing decisions too, not just whether or not to bet. Protection can also serve to imply "narrow villain's range."

For example I may choose 3/4 (larger) instead of 1/2 on a board that has a flush draw versus a dry board. The larger size serves to narrow villain's range (protection) if called. If villain does in fact have a flush draw, he is making a losing call long-term. Therefore, I must assume that a reasonable player who calls is not on a flush draw, or must have a super strong combo draw...

My larger sizing not only polarizes my own range but at the same time it better narrow's villain's range if called. If it's a fishy player I can put a lot more flush draws in his range bc fishy/newbies will call for flushes at worse odds.
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Old 03-20-2019, 07:50 PM   #17
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

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Originally Posted by NMcNasty View Post
Flop is 982, we have a 2. Big aces raise pre, pairs and draws bet flop, so nothing is really calling. The nit isn't the type to bluff-checkraise or bluff turn so checking does nothing except give free cards, and anything villain has is 6 outs. Betting there is not an emotional response or irrational fear, its the only way to turn villain's 20% equity or whatever into 0%.

Also you can argue "equity denial bet" might be better phrasing, but I would still disagree. "Protection" as in "protecting your hand from worse drawing out on you" is common English and intuitive, while the concept of equity requires math/finance and some concept of EV which would be a later lesson.
This actually is the kind of thinking I'm against.
"Protect your pair from being outdrawn?"
Why?
What's the difference if you have a pair? If you have 5 live outs when called then you have 5 outs when called.
Having some little bit of showdown value IS NOT INCENTIVE TO BET, QUITE THE CONTRARY; IT IS INCENTIVE TO EXACTLY NOT BET

I don't mean that we shouldn't bet that pair of twos in that example I just mean that it is IN SPITE OF not BECAUSE we have a pair of two's.

Think of the AKQ game. We don't bet the K because it basically turns it into a bluff.

The same is true when we make a lot of these "protection bets".. There could be a lot of incentive to bet some bottom pair hand; not split our range, we have such a range advantage that turning the hand into a bluff is more valuable than trying to get it to showdown, maybe we even fold out some equity and keep from getting bluffed off the pot. Sure, Fair enough. But we are not betting because we have the best hand right now. That doesn't make sense.

Most of the time I hear people taking about making protection bets they are actually taking whatever showdown value their hand has and they are sucking the value out of the hand. Which CAN BE fine. But not BECAUSE I have a hand that is likely ahead now. We sometimes want the fold equity more than the SDV. Maybe we have a range bet. Maybe we need some of this kind of hand in our betting range for board coverage/balance. But not for protection. it's a non starter IMO.

I really hope that helps a light bulb go off in someone's head or someone can tell me where I am going off the rails in my thought process.

Peace love and all of that

I agree that it is intuitive. That's, in my estimation, the crux of the problem.
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Old 03-20-2019, 08:49 PM   #18
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

I don't think you're crazy or that all your thoughts on the subject are flawed.

The only flaw I see is: how can we change or formalize the language we use to describe betting?

Even if you go with the most formalized technical reason to bet:

Bet because it's the most +EV option

With mixed strategies that definition is actually incomplete because mixed strategies exist because EV options are equivalent at that point, but mixing improves the overall EV of the entire strategy.

So no matter what you do there's no way to encapsulate all the reasons to bet in a single term. You bet because betting in every scenario is some combination of pot building and opponent folding.
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:08 AM   #19
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

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Think of the AKQ game. We don't bet the K because it basically turns it into a bluff.
Did you read Chapter 15 of TMoP?
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:23 PM   #20
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Re: PROTECTION?? is it time to jetison the old "reasons to bet"?

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This actually is the kind of thinking I'm against.
"Protect your pair from being outdrawn?"
Why?
If our hand is outdrawn we lose the pot as opposed to winning? See I think what you're doing here is mistaking maybe an overuse or misapplication of protection betting by some players for an actual flaw in the concept of protection betting. For example a player might have the general thinking:

Good hand: Value bet
Marginally good hand: Protection bet
Bad hand: Maybe bluff

I agree the above is wrong, its akin the "bet when you have the best hand" flaw I pointed out before. Under normal circumstances, the second line should be:

Marginally good hand: check

since we dodge checkraises, dodge check/call traps, possibly turn/river induce bluffs, or maybe get looser turn/river calls. Against a predictable nit however, there's very low chance of any of that happening. Our bluffs do indeed become profitable, but that doesn't mean our marginally good hands (which you seem to agree we should be betting) turn into bluffs. Its still the case that better will never fold. Our reason for betting is precisely to keep worse hands from drawing out, there's no point in calling it something other than protection.

I really don't think the spot is all that rare either. There are plenty of times we're just in small limped pots with one or two passive players. We have something OK, but just betting small/normal and taking the pot down is better than inducing, since the inducing usually doesn't work. It usually just gets checked around and we're giving free cards. Also in PLO equities run a lot closer together. Its more important to protect your random pair of jacks when your opponents just always have overcards and runner runner draws.
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