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Announcement: Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games Announcement: Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games

10-19-2021 , 09:21 PM
Hi Everyone:

Two Plus Two Publ8ishing LLC has now started the process of slowly moving all of our books completely into Amazon. One of the things that this means is that we'll be using Amazon's print on demand ability which means we'll never have to print and store books again. It also means that the family of books which Two Plus Two Publishing produces will be available for a very long time.

For every book that we move to Amazon we're improving the editing, eliminating type-os, improving, where needed, some of the formatting, especially of tables that appear in the books. In addition, all the kindles will be redone by a professional kindle builder.

In the beginning. the kindles were done by Amazon. We would send them a hard copy of the book and they would do the conversion. The result was that some of the kindles are not done as well as we would have wanted them to be. But over the next few years, this will all be fixed.

So, whenever we have finished a book and the new version is up on Amazon, I'll announce it here. Also, all our new books, and this includes those we have recently done, will go through this process.

The first book that has gone through this process is Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games; Short-Handed and High-Stakes Concepts and Theory for Limit Hold 'em by Nick "Stoxtrader" Grudzien and Geoff "Zobags" Herzog. And if you're interested in limit hold 'em, this is a very strong book. Here's the Amazon link for the paperback:

here's the Amazon link for the kindle:

and here is the "Table of Contents:"

..........................................Table of Contents

About Nick “Stoxtrader” Grudzien v

About Geoff “Zobags” Herzog vii

Acknowledgments ix

Why This Book? 1

Typical Opponents by Limits 3
...Low Limits ($3-$6 and Below) 3
...Middle Limits ($5-$10 to $20-$40) 4
...Upper Limits ($25-$50 to $100-$200) 4
...Sky-High Limits ($150-$300 and Up) 5

Part One: Pre-Flop Play 7
...Introduction 8
...The Importance of Guidelines 9
...Opening the Pot for a Raise 10
...Playing in a Steal Situation 34
......Stealing from the Small Blind 36
......Notes About the Ranges 69
...Isolating a Loose Player 70
...Re-Stealing 72
......Adjusting to Your Opponent’s Post-Flop Tendencies 77
......A Note on Post-Flop Play 79
...Limping 80
......Terminology 80
......Discussion 80
...Playing when Someone has Three-Bet Before You Act 86
...Playing From the Big Blind in Multi-Way Pots 88
...Blind Versus Blind 89
......Playing in the Small Blind 89
......Playing Against an Opponent Who Three-Bets
.........Frequently Pre-Flop 91
......A Note on Post-Flop Play 93
......Playing in the Big Blind 93

Part Two: Blind Defense 97
...Introduction 98
...Defending From the Big Blind 99
......A Note on Post-Flop Play 125
...Defending When The Small Blind Calls 127
......When to Three-Bet From the Big Blind Versus a Steal and Small Blind Cold-Call 128
......When the Small Blind Has a Big Hand 130
...Defending the Big Blind When the Small Blind Three-Bets 131
......When to Four-Bet 132
......When Holding a Pocket Pair 132
...... When the Small Blind is Passive 132
......When the Small Blind is Very Aggressive 133
...Defending with Pocket Pairs 134
...Why It Is Better to Defend with Queen-Seven Offsuit than King-Deuce Offsuit 138
...Defending From the Small Blind 142
......A Note on Post-Flop Play 144

Part Three: Playing Heads-Up Post-Flop 147
...Introduction 148
...The Bet-Bet Line 149
......Responding to Check-Raises on the Flop 150
......Responding to Check-Raises on the Turn 151
...Betting The River as a Pure Bluff 154
...The Turn Value Check 155
...The Lead Check-Raise Line 158
...The Check-Raise Lead Line 161
...The Check-Call Lead Line 164
......As a Semi-Bluff 164
......With a Made Hand 165
...The Check-Call / Check-Raise Line 167
......As a Semi-Bluff 167
......With a Made Hand 169
...The Check-Raise / Check-Call Line 171
...Playing Fast On The Flop Versus Waiting for The Turn 173
......With a Strong Made Hand 173
......With a Very Strong Draw 174
...Why the “Free Card” Play May Have Negative Expectation in Tight-Aggressive Games 176
...The Free Showdown Play 181
...Counters to the Free Showdown Play 185
......The Turn Three-Bet Semi-Bluff 185
.........Strong Draw 185
.........Tight-Aggressive Opponent 186
...Playing When You Are Way Ahead or Way Behind (But Don’t Know Which) 188
......Discussion 188
......When to Raise 189
...Knowing When Ace-High Is No Good 191
...Making Thin Value Bets 193
...Calling Down With Outs 195

Part Four: Semi-Bluffing 197
...Introduction 198
...Semi-Bluffing Heads-Up Post-Flop 199
...Deciding Whether to Semi-Bluff with Showdown Value 202
...Semi-Bluffing a Loose Player 205
...Semi-Bluffing Multi-Way 208
......Betting and Raising for Value with Strong Draws 210

Part Five: Miscellaneous Topics 211
...Introduction 212
...Playing Multi-Way 213
...Implied Fold Equity 214
...Weighted Implied Odds 216
...Bankroll Management and Risk of Ruin Considerations 219
...Going Pro 221
...Being a Student of the Game 224

Part Six: Hands with Stox 227
...Introduction 228
...Stealing Hands 229
...Big Blind Defense Hands 243
...Small Blind Defense Hands 287
...Miscellaneous Hands 299

Part Seven: Quizzes 307
...Introduction 308
...Big Blind Defense Quiz 309
...Pre-Flop Play 317
...Post-Flop Play 329

Summary 337
...Table and Seat Selection 337
...Bankroll Management 338
...Psychological and Tilt Control 339
...Lifestyle and Happiness Factors 340

Index 341
10-21-2021 , 05:02 PM
Glad to see that Two Plus Two's product is to become even better!
10-22-2021 , 12:57 AM
Originally Posted by Al Mirpuri Announcement: Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games
Glad to see that Two Plus Two's product is to become even better!
It's a project that should take a couple of years to complete.

10-31-2021 , 06:18 PM
And here's an excerpt from Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games:

..............Hands with Stox: Introduction

We have selected the hands in this section because they highlight important concepts for succeeding in tough hold ’em games. In most of the hands, Stox played well and they contain plays you should seek to emulate. However, in some of the hands, Stox made mistakes which we thoroughly analyze, and hope you’ll learn by example not to repeat.

The first set of hands involve Stox’s attempt to steal the blinds and his subsequent post-flop play. The second and third sets show how Stox plays when defending his blinds. And the last set addresses some important miscellaneous concepts. Finally, many of these hands involve multi-way pots. We felt hand examples were the best way to cover more complex scenarios presented when playing multi-way. Stealing Hands

Hand No. 1

Limit: $20-$40; four players

Pre-flop: Stox is on the button with the 3♣3♦
Action: Cutoff folds, Stox raises; small blind three-bets; big blind folds, Stox calls

Flop: (7 Small bets) T♥8♥2♠ (two players); small blind bets; Stox calls.
Turn: (4.5 big bets) 4♣ (two players); small blind bets, Stox raises, small blind folds.

My pre-flop raise is standard with a pair of treys on the button. I would also open with deuces here 100 percent of the time. Some of the time, four-betting with treys can be a good play, particularly against players who are less showdown bound. Alternately, you can call and make a decision about your play on the flop. Either is fine, and folding, of course, is not an option.

The flop is good for me. There are no paint cards, and an undercard to my pair. I definitely could have raised the flop because I have an equity advantage against my opponent’s hand range, but I think it is better to call and raise any non-ace turn. (If the flop had contained an ace, I would have immediately folded after getting three-bet pre-flop.)

The turn is another safe card, and I raise for a free showdown. Raising is better than calling down because the pot is worth protecting and getting six-out draws to fold combined with the possibility of sometimes getting a better hand to fold is worth the risk of having to fold to a three-bet and foregoing a potential river bluff or the chance to spike a trey. Also, after my turn raise, my opponent will probably only bet the river when I am behind, so, I can safely fold if that happens.

The flush draw on board makes the free showdown play riskier for two reasons. They are:

1. My opponent may think I have a flush draw. Thus, he will be less likely to fold a better hand.

2. My opponent may have the flush draw and three-bet as a semi-bluff, forcing me to fold the best hand (although such an opponent is rare).

On the other hand, with a draw on the board, my opponent will have more outs on average, so, I should be more inclined to raise to protect my hand, and I may actually get some additional value out of a looser call on the turn because of the draw on board. Overall, with the flush draw on board my turn raise is a marginal play, but I still like it for a free showdown, especially when there are no paint cards, and taking the small risk of folding the best hand to a three-bet semi-bluff from a flush draw is justifiable. If there was no flush draw on board, a turn raise would most likely be best.

Hand No. 2

Limit: $150-$300, six players

Pre-flop: Stox is in the cutoff with the A♥Q♦
Action: UTG raises, hijack folds, Stox three-bets, button folds, small blind four-bets (cap), big blind folds, UTG calls, Stox calls

Flop: (13 Small bets) A♦4♦2♠ (three players)
Action: Small blind bets, UTG folds, Stox calls

Turn: (7.5 big bets) 6♦ (two players)
Action: Small blind checks, Stox checks

River: (7.5 big bets) A♣ (two players)
Action: Small blind bets, Stox raises, small blind folds

Pre-flop is an easy three-bet versus all raisers who are three seats off the button. A decent range to put a solid player on would be basically what we recommend: 44+, A7s+, A9o+, K9s+, KQo, QTs+, J9s+, T9s, and 98s. (This is 15.5 percent of the hands.)

Ace-queen offsuit has 54 percent equity against this range. Ace-jack has 50 percent equity but plays even worse because of the threat of domination from JJ+, AQs+, and AQo+.

So while we say ace-queen offsuit is an “easy” three-bet against a solid raiser who is three seats off the button, we still would muck ace-jack against that same player. 50 percent equity is usually enough to three-bet when in position and likely to be heads-up post-flop. But since you are not on the button (allowing more players behind you to have a big hand) and ace-jack offsuit faces domination concerns, we would muck it in this situation. Ace-queen is dominated by QQ+, AKs, and AKo which is 2.6 percent of the hands, while ace-jack is dominated by JJ+, AQs+, and AQo+ or 4.2 percent of the hands, and those hands make up approximately 30 percent of the opening hands that a solid player raises with 3 seats off the button.

The small blind caps pre-flop and will probably lead 100 percent of flops, so, we cannot narrow his range from pre-flop when he bets the flop. Against a 6-handed under the gun (3 off the button) raise, and a cutoff three-bet, a reasonable small blind will have a narrow capping range. However, it may not be as narrow as you might think since many players find it difficult to fold a pretty good hand from the small blind even when faced with a strong three-bet. Once the small blind caps, a decent estimate for his range is TT+, ATs+, AQo+, and KQs.

Given that we have ace-queen offsuit and the UTG raiser’s range is 44+, A7s+, A9o+, K9s+, QTs+, J9s+, T9s, 98s, the pre-flop equity distribution is as follows:

UTG = 31.5%
Stox = 26%
Small Blind = 42.5%.

Once the flop comes and the UTG player folds, the equity distribution changes to:

Stox = 67.4%
Small blind = 32.6%.

In other words, the flop is good for me, and I am definitely seeing the showdown. Once it is heads up, I am either way ahead or way behind the small blind’s range. Thus, even though the pot is big, raising to protect my hand is worth less than getting the right number of bets in on the turn and river.

After the small blind checks the turn, his most likely holdings are JJ-KK, but he may be trying to check-raise with AA, AK, or AQ. While he may call a turn and river bet with JJ-KK, he also may fold. So, it seems best to check the turn and see what the river brings. This is a close decision, and I potentially miss value from hands that would payoff on the turn and the river. Conversely, I avoid check-raises from AA, AK, and 66. In addition, my river bet will get called down more lightly on the river because of my turn check, or I may get to raise the river if my hand improves to a flush or three aces.

Although this play is conservative, it might win an extra bet from a lower pocket pair (77-TT). The fact that there is a flush draw on the turn makes my check a bit more questionable since there are plenty of worse hands that will call a turn and river bet, and against the better hands, betting is somewhat less expensive because of my flush redraw. My play basically relies on my read that this opponent can correctly fold a pocket pair below an ace to a turn bet after the pre-flop and flop action but will likely bet the river if the turn goes check/check because he thinks it has value.

When the river pairs the ace, the chance that the small blind has an ace greatly decreases. Thus, my raise, hoping that he will view it as a bluff and pay off with TT-KK.

Note: This hand illustrates some important principles. However, it should not be viewed as the clearly better way to play this particular hand.

Hand No. 3

Limit: $150-$300; five players

Pre-flop: Stox is in the cutoff with the A♠T♥
Action: Hijack raises, Stox three-bets, button folds, small blind four-bets (cap), big blind folds, hijack calls, Stox calls

Flop: (13 Small bets) 9♥3♠2♦ (three players)
Action: Small blind bets, hijack calls, Stox folds

In this hand, a loose-aggressive player open-raises from the hijack, and I three-bet in the cutoff with A♠T♥ because my hand should be a favorite against his range, and I have a good chance to get it heads-up post-flop with a loose player which always has value. However, when the small blind, who is a solid winning player, caps out of position, he has a strong hand — 99+, AQs+, AQo+, and maybe AJs.

Even though the flop gives me two overcards, it appears that I have at most three outs (likely even 2.5 on average) because of the small blind’s pre-flop play, and I do not know which outs are good. If I do have odds to draw (which most likely is not the case), it is by a very slim margin. Also, my implied odds are likely negative here, so, my hand is folded.

Hand No.4

Limit: $150-$300, three players, Stox has $17,463 in chips, small blind has $1,191 in chips

Pre-flop: Stox is on the button with the J♥7♥
Action: Stox raises, small blind three-bets, big blind folds, Stox calls

Flop: (7 Small bets) J♠T♣3♦ (two players)
Action: Small blind bets, Stox calls

Turn: (4.5 big bets) 5♣ (two players)
Action: Small blind bets, Stox calls

River: (6.5 big bets) 9♥ (two players)
Action: Small blind bets $291 (all-in), Stox calls $291

Showdown: Small blind shows the Q♠9♣

As a default, jack-seven suited is the worst suited jack with which I will open-raise on the button. In this hand, my raise gets three-bet pre-flop, so, I have to respect the possibility of a better jack or overpair. But more importantly, my opponent has just enough money to put in one bet on each street. Often someone with a short stack is gambling — either they want to double up or bust and get it over with.

In this particular hand, I had the good fortune of flopping top pair, but any pair would be strong enough to call down with because my opponent would play both ace-king and ace-queen like this. (Notice my opponent three-bet with the Q♠9♣, definitely a questionable play and probably not something he does regularly, but he was likely on tilt.)

So, the only decision in this hand was whether to raise the turn or call down. Against most hands in my opponent’s range, it does not matter as all the money will go in either way. I do think there are slightly more junk hands that would fold to a turn raise but still bet the river versus hands that would call a turn raise but check-fold the river unimproved. So, against my opponent’s entire range it appears that calling down was the best option. (However, it would be better to raise the turn if he might fold six outs.)

Hand No. 5

Limit: $150-$300, four players

Pre-flop: Stox is on the button with the A♣2♦
Action: Stox raises, small blind folds, big blind calls

Flop: (4.5 Small bets) J♦6♦5♦ (two players)
Action: Big blind checks, Stox bets, big blind raises, Stox calls

Turn: (4.25 big bets) 2♥ (two players)
Action: Big blind bets, Stox raises, big blind calls

River: (8.25 big bets) A♥ (two players)
Action: Big blind checks, Stox bets, big blind folds

The pre-flop play is close. If the blinds are loose defenders and play well post-flop, folding is a decent option. Over 316,000 hands of limit hold ’em with limits ranging from $30-$60 to $1,000-$2,000 (with the majority being $100-$200 and above), open-raising ace-deuce offsuit from the button in a 3-or-more-handed game has been a small loser. Notice the smaller number of trials because I do often fold in this situation:

A2o: 89 trials — losing 0.06 big bets per hand
A3o: 279 trials — winning 0.29 big bets per hand
A4o: 260 trials — losing 0.17 big bets per hand
A5o: 276 trials — winning 0.3 big bets per hand
A6o: 274 trials — winning 0.15 big bets per hand.

No other unsuited ace loses money in this spot. But even over 316,000 hands, sample size and related variance is a big issue for such a specific query in limit hold ’em.

Calling the check-raise on the flop is close. I might be ahead of a straight draw, or even a K♦X or Q♦X type hand. Overall, there are a large number of very dirty outs, and paying the 7.5-to-1 price to see a turn card in position is what I elected to do.

On the turn, once I make a pair, my raise is for a free showdown since it is my belief I can fold to a three-bet given my weak hand strength and marginal redraws. The river is an easy value bet after making two pair.