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Old 06-11-2015, 01:19 AM   #1
DPCharly
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Post Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

Hi everyone,

I just reread (like the 9th time) the interview that Harrington did to Bobby Hoffman, and published at the end of Harrington's "Cash Games, Volume II".

I thought that has valuable insight and bits of knowledge, although I questioned some other stuff (probably in my ignorance) -and I wonder as well if the advice/critiques he does applies to Live Low NL, not only High Stakes.

I have selected some excerpts (with questions and objections, or just the bits that it seemed interesting to me), with the idea of reading some opinions about it from all of you. I hope this is the place to put this kind of stuff.

**
On Buck Buchanan:

It seems the "King of Position", a really tight player from the classics, from Doyle's era. Hoffman says that he played so well after the flop, that he didn't throw any hand away on the button. But he never raised before the flop either, so it was almost impossible to put him on a hand. He could be there with AA or QQ or anything.

Thoughts on this?

**
On Stu Ungar:

"(He was)… just too loose… (once) he was playing with Buckanan, Jesse Alto, Mike Cox (…) tough, tight tight players… and Stuey would raise the flop, and it would come 755 or something, and they'd check and he'd bet, and they'd raise, and he put them on a bluff and call with A high or something. They had trips, you know?"

so:

1-How come tough really tight tight players (super nits?) would have a hand here?

2- You think he's somehow derisive of the figure of Stu Ungar?

3- Also, it seems he identifies a good player with being tight. Incomprehensible, because he identifies himself as being really aggressive…
Another excerpt on this is: "I played Bill Smith. Bill was a very tight player. He was a really tight player and a really good tight player. (…) he is UTG with AKo and he discards it: 'Im not going to play it'. No good for him".

**
On NL Holdem:

"What hurts NL holdem, even in deep stack cash games, is the big reraise before the flop. You get a shut out. And Often the first reraise, from the BB, is a shutout raise. You can't make that play in pot limit. In PL, if the chips get really deep, that second raise still leaves your opponents with big implied odds. At NL, you can cut their implied odds way down. It takes (that) from a good player."

Thoughts? He proposes a PL PF, and a NL Post Flop version of holdem, pretty much like the TV show "The Big Game".

**
About improving the young player's game:

He said something that often is said (in a slightly different way) in chess, that is: You learn analyzing the games that you have lost. You don't learn from the games you have won. Is a dogma for improving chess players.

Hoffman said something similar, but surprisingly, not about hands, no. He said:

"You don't really get to improve your game until you go bad. It changes you." and later adds someone's quote:

"You show me a guy that has been lucky at for a year, and I will show you someone that can't be playing well."

**
On Strategy (and this may be the most important part of the interview)

1-calling reraises
He said that the most common mistake “the good-young players” make is when they call the reraise too much. “I see it over and over again”.

I mean, I raise with AK and I get reraised, I think the reraise is legitimate, I don’t even think about it (…) I throw the hand away. (…) Now, Im talking about somebody that has a big stack. If they have a short stack, I may reraise and race with them. (…) but if I raise, I got two callers, and someone (deepstacked) in late position reraise (…), you have to hope they are bluffing before you touch that call. (…) do they have AQ? Maybe, but not likely, you’ve got an A in your hand. QQ? If so, is a 2-to-1 (…) So, I just muck it. Now if I have 7-5 suited, I can think about it, specially if Im in position

2- trouble hands
I think another mistake they make is not paying attention to the trouble hands before the flop. (…) AQ, KQ, AJ, two big unsuited cards. (…) I rather throw the KJ away and pick any 2 cards from the discards. If I get 6s3s that’s fine (when calling in late position a decent raise from early position). (…) What do you want from KJ? You want to make straight, trips, or two pairs. You don’t want to make one pair because it’s hard to make any money. Now, look at 6-3.: (you raise in a K72 board, and) …when they fold, you take the pot. When they call, you know you are beat. You are done with the hand. (but) they fold more than call, so you make a little money.

Now look what happens when you hold KJ. When they fold (good). But when they call, , what did they call you with? Maybe AK, KQ, 77, 22, bad news. You are (only) hoping that they called you with KT, K9, K8, but most wont call before the flop with that.


3-to the question: Do you ever fold KK PF?

The most difficult hand in NL, without a doubt, is KK. (…) IF your opponent raises, you reraise, and (there is a) third raise (…) you are an underdog. You probably rather have QQ than have two kings (…) because they are only reraiseing with (AA, KK, AK) you are obviously 4-1 underdog.

[This I don’t understand: QQ vs a range of AA,KK, AK is 40% vs 60% (1.5-to-1), and KK vs AA, KK, AK is 48% vs 52%, and if we add QQ to that range, is even ahead. Am I missing something of his reasoning? –DPCharly]

He makes a case about KK in small blind, facing a reraise form a good aggressive palyer in the button, deep stacked. “I don’t know what to do. (…) In a deep stack game, you cant fall in love with KK

4-On the Barry Greenstein Play (or raising /bluffing against limpers from the SB)

“it’s a feel thing. It depends how often the back players limp in and how likely players are to call the raise no matter what. But if they are trying to win and playing fairly tight, a big raise out of the small blind before the flop, when you have some back limpers, can be very effective. But in a really tough game, everybody knows that play. () so we are into multilevel thinking here. And (if) they have the courage to do anything about it?”

**
There is more. But this is already a long post. If this catch the attention of you guys, and you want to continue with some important points of the interview, like seat selection, stack selection, barreling and another plays, let me know, I will post it tomorrow.

So… what about some commenting?
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Old 06-11-2015, 02:05 AM   #2
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

The main thing you have to consider is that Hoff is mainly talking about deep-stacked games. That is not normally the case in LLSNL. Possibly the most applicable part of the interview is that he sometimes likes to buy in shorter than he normally does if someone is raising a lot to make it easier to get it in on the flop.

I have a gear similar to Buck Buchanan in my toolbox, where I limp with a lot of hands and maybe raise only AA, KK, and sometimes QQ. If you have position, you can tell where you are at on the flop just by virtue of having everyone else act first and knowing how they play. This is a gear that I whip out against regs who I know well, not against a table full of unknowns when I play on vacation.

I think he respects Ungar's abilities but understands they were limited. I believe him when he says he wouldn't play three-handed with Ungar. It's no different than thinking that a modern online six-max player might not have the patience to play a slower, full-ring live game with some players buying in for significantly less than 100BB. It's the same thing as saying that an aged Johnny Moss was still a good no-limit player, but a fish in seven-card stud high-low.

Tight is not the same as aggressive. It is possible to be tight but not aggressive. Tight doesn't mean never bluffing or never playing speculative hands. A tight player can still play more hands in a limped pot than against a raise. A good tight player will still open up his range against someone who plays too many hands and goes too far with them.
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Old 06-11-2015, 03:12 AM   #3
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

I actually have never bothered to read that interview and I've read those books more times than I can count.

For what it's worth, a large about of what Hoff is talking about is anecdotal, era-specific, and should be taken with a grain of salt. It was an era of people who didn't understand the game, nits, gamblers, and the people who exploited them. Paying too much attention to it will ruin your game and the advice you get here is more relevant.

The genius of Harrington on Cash was that it was the first book I ever read that addressed strategy and the mathematics of poker in a detailed but approachable way. (Not to discount all the seminal mathematical/strategic work produced by Sklansky etc., but much tougher reads.) And a lot of what he says runs counter to Hoff's interview.

Compare that to something like Super/System or TJ Cloutier and Tom McAvoy's tournament poker book, or some of the stuff Hoff talks about here. Even the early poker boom books, stuff I never bothered to read, like Helmuth or Phil Gordon. A great deal of that stuff was advocating a style of play that the individuals found successful but ignoring or purposefully leaving out huge chunks of the game that would lead to a an understanding of why those styles worked. Style, not strategy.

I actually play with someone who loves that Buck Buchanan style. Never seen him raise pre, never seen him 3!, never seen him lead into a pot before the river. He once told me that NLHE is all about trapping and I knew he would never see how much money he was leaving on the table.

So virtually everything you quoted is inapplicable to modern poker. For example, knowing that people would fold KK to a 3! is why people invented raising light.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AsianNit View Post
Tight is not the same as aggressive. It is possible to be tight but not aggressive. Tight doesn't mean never bluffing or never playing speculative hands. A tight player can still play more hands in a limped pot than against a raise. A good tight player will still open up his range against someone who plays too many hands and goes too far with them.
FWIW, tight/loose is an axis and aggressive/passive is an axis. And those terms mean radically different things than in Hoff's heyday. In the context of the Stu Ungar story he meant that none of those players would be raising to blow Stu off a hand, if they raised, they had it. That's tight. Nitty means a whole different thing.

No disrespect to the man at all, of course. He is a huge part of poker's history. But things are very different now. The best thing you can get from stuff like this is that you will encounter people who still play this old-school way: trappy, overly aggressive to blow people off hands, too tight pre-flop, trying to "put people to the test," etc.

Last edited by PoppaLarge; 06-11-2015 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 06-11-2015, 03:45 AM   #4
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

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Originally Posted by PoppaLarge View Post
I actually play with someone who loves that Buck Buchanan style. Never seen him raise pre, never seen him 3!, never seen him lead into a pot before the river. He once told me that NLHE is all about trapping and I knew he would never see how much money he was leaving on the table.
It has its uses in certain situations. I might not go as extreme as he does, but I like it sometimes at a table where people call too often to make iso-raising a good idea. Knowing how to play that way is better than trying in vain to increase your pf raise size in a desperate attempt to get pots heads-up.
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Old 06-11-2015, 10:08 AM   #5
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

lolol. Just lol at old timers calling KK hard to play. The books are a great intro to the game, but it has advanced far beyond that at this point.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:58 PM   #6
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

Does anyone know if Bobby Hoffman ever played in a 1/2, 1/3 or 2/5 NLHE game?
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Old 06-11-2015, 01:24 PM   #7
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

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lolol. Just lol at old timers calling KK hard to play. The books are a great intro to the game, but it has advanced far beyond that at this point.
Have you ever played in a game where KK isn't an auto 3bet? Would you be able to recognize such a game if you were in it?
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Old 06-11-2015, 02:02 PM   #8
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

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Originally Posted by AsianNit View Post
Have you ever played in a game where KK isn't an auto 3bet? Would you be able to recognize such a game if you were in it?
How would you recognize it? All tight-rocks? All crazy deep? How would you proceed here? Sb, bb, utg, utg+?
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Old 06-11-2015, 02:17 PM   #9
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

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Have you ever played in a game where KK isn't an auto 3bet? Would you be able to recognize such a game if you were in it?
I'd edit the question to "have you ever been in a position at a game..."

since it is going to vary by opponent, stack size, position, and other factors even within a game.
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Old 06-11-2015, 02:23 PM   #10
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

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Originally Posted by DPCharly View Post
How would you recognize it? All tight-rocks? All crazy deep? How would you proceed here? Sb, bb, utg, utg+?
The scenario that Hoff gives, being OOP, deep-stacked, against a great player is one instance where you might not want to actually have the hand you are representing. (For those who think Hoff is giving outdated plays in games that no longer exist, his hypothetical involves Antonio Esfandiari, who I am guessing he played against a lot at Commerce.)

With deeper stacks against regulars who I know well and who know me well, my inclination is to under-rep my hand sometimes. Other people like to be aggressive with a wider range. Against such players, I like to turn more hands into bluff-catchers that sometimes also gain value from opponents making thin value bets.

I've also been known to turn KK into a bluff-catcher against a LAG who respects my 3bet but will try to run me over if I just call.
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Old 06-12-2015, 01:51 AM   #11
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

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Originally Posted by PoppaLarge View Post

I actually play with someone who loves that Buck Buchanan style. Never seen him raise pre, never seen him 3!, never seen him lead into a pot before the river. He once told me that NLHE is all about trapping and I knew he would never see how much money he was leaving on the table.
I just got my book out and took a look at that section and that doesn't sound like a style that's described in the book. Hoff said Buchanan played super tight in earlier positions, and would steal a lot after the flop. So he seemed to rely on stealing, not trapping. On page 340, Hoff said Buchanan "made his living stealing." And he did raise AA, KK, and AK from the back FWIW.

Hoff also mentioned Buchanan having a looser gear where he did open up his PF raising range beyond the other style I just mentioned.
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Old 06-12-2015, 01:58 AM   #12
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

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Originally Posted by dudebroIII View Post
lolol. Just lol at old timers calling KK hard to play. The books are a great intro to the game, but it has advanced far beyond that at this point.
He was talking about games with deep stacks, and postflop play in situations when you don't flop a set. And he wasn't talking about playing against your average 1-2 NL fish.
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Old 06-12-2015, 02:16 AM   #13
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

Quote:
The most difficult hand in NL, without a doubt, is KK. (…) IF your opponent raises, you reraise, and (there is a) third raise (…) you are an underdog. You probably rather have QQ than have two kings (…) because they are only reraiseing with (AA, KK, AK) you are obviously 4-1 underdog.”

[This I don’t understand: QQ vs a range of AA,KK, AK is 40% vs 60% (1.5-to-1), and KK vs AA, KK, AK is 48% vs 52%, and if we add QQ to that range, is even ahead. Am I missing something of his reasoning? –DPCharly]
Sounds like he was putting people on only AA at least occasionally when he raised with kings. He did mention players who only played back with AA. Good catch though. I'm not sure I follow him either on this. Maybe he meant with QQ he would run into more combos of AK? But he also goes up against KK more often.
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Old 06-12-2015, 02:35 AM   #14
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

It's kind of messy, but I think one of his points is that if you are against a range of AA/KK/AK in a deep-stacked game, you will get more boards that allow you to stack your opponent with QQ than with KK and if you are beat it will be easier to fold QQ. If that's at least part of what he means, I don't think he explains it well.
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Old 06-12-2015, 04:05 AM   #15
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Re: Thoughts and questions about Harrington's interview to Bobby Hoffman

Bart Hanson did an interview with Bobby Hoff here ... https://www.deucescracked.com/podcasts/deuceplays

Episode 72.
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