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Old 11-16-2010, 12:50 AM   #1
*Split*
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Exclamation COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Poker is a game that is based around gathering information, processing that information, and using the analysis to create optimal strategies. This COTW will be about information and the processing of that information. Often times we either ignore, or totally miss, great pieces of information that can help us shape future lines and strategies.

Let's first start with information gathering. We do this in many ways. From figuring out what action our opponent made, to using HUD stats, to using HUD stat correlations, to inferring how a particular table is playing. When applicable, we also take this a level further and figure out how our opponent views us, what we represent, what range he probably has, etc. We should be gathering information every single hand, both about the hand being played and about how we might shape future actions. Let's start with a basic hand:


Poker Stars $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter By DeucesCracked Poker Videos

CO: $104.45
BTN: $100.00
Hero (SB): $125.80
BB: $38.85
UTG: $100.00
MP: $60.25

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is SB with :X: :X:
3 folds, BTN raises to $3, Hero raises to $10, 1 fold, BTN calls $7

Flop: ($21.00) 6 6 7 (2 players)
Hero bets $11, BTN calls $11

Turn: ($43.00) K (2 players)
Hero checks, BTN checks

River: ($43.00) 8 (2 players)
Hero bets $22, BTN calls $22

Final Pot: $87.00
BTN shows T T

This hand probably looks like nothing special. But if we think about certain things, we can get various nuggets of information. Here is a rough list of things to consider:

Quote:
Called a resteal with TT IP (TT probably isn't in his PF stack off range in positional pots)
Called a CB (pretty standard, not much to note here given the CB size)
Checked the turn back (probably understands SDV, meaning his turn/river bets are probably more polarized)
Called the 1/2PSB on the river (probably not folding getting good prices + SDV in the future)
Didn't raise anywhere in the hand (solidifies his probable understanding of SDV)
Let's take another hand:

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter By DeucesCracked Poker Videos

Hero (UTG+2): $55.60
MP1: $29.00
MP2: $50.00
CO: $30.25
BTN: $84.70
SB: $60.15
BB: $76.25
UTG: $50.35
UTG+1: $42.65

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is UTG+2 with :X: :X:
2 folds, Hero raises to $1.50, 3 folds, BTN calls $1.50, 2 folds

Flop: ($3.75) 6 Q 8 (2 players)
Hero bets $2.60, BTN calls $2.60

Turn: ($8.95) T (2 players)
Hero bets $6.15, BTN calls $6.15

River: ($21.25) Q (2 players)
Hero bets $45.35 all in, BTN requests TIME, BTN calls $45.35

Final Pot: $111.95
BTN shows Q K

Let's see what information we can take from this hand:

Quote:
BTN called an EP raise with KQs (can probably assume he calls things like AQ/AJ as well)
Given flop/turn call he most likely understands SDV (thus probably polarizing his postflop raises)
He called the river even though the flush filled as well (probably very inelastic with trips+ in general)
His timing on the river was slow, meaning he might take more time with actions he is unsure of
None of this is complicated at all. We are both looking at the same hand, and the possible assumptions are pretty logical. However, the difference between bad and good, and good and great, players is what is done with that information. Bad player ignore the information they were just given. Good players remember those notes for future plays. And great players create a baseline for that opponent as to more perfectly exploit that person in the future.

The great thing about humans is that they are all creatures of habit. “If A works, keep doing A.” People really only deviate from A when A fails (either many times, thus negating their positive pattern, or once, and maybe making results-oriented changes). So in the second hand, I might not expect player A to call my shove in the future if I turned over 88. But if I had a total bluff, I expect player A to call me in that spot the next time. We are all human, we are all dumb...exploit that.

Analyzing information is the next part of the puzzle. Gathering information isn't too tough, especially with HUDs and note taking programs. But analyzing that information is where many players tend to fall down. They either don't know how, or they don't do it logically enough. Everything from analyzing what a 7% cold call stat means, to analyzing a villain's bet size on the turn is important. Let's analyze some basic things.


Poker Stars $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter By DeucesCracked Poker Videos

MP1: $69.00
MP2: $108.50
Hero (CO): $100.00
BTN: $104.80
SB: $152.25
BB: $37.50
UTG: $102.45
UTG+1: $43.75
UTG+2: $98.00

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is CO with :X: :X:
5 folds, Hero raises to $3, 1 fold, SB calls $2.50, 1 fold

Flop: ($7.00) J 8 3 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $4, SB calls $4

Turn: ($15.00) 5 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks

River: ($15.00) T (2 players)
SB checks, Hero ???

So we can gather some basic information. Villain called a steal from OOP (instead of restealing). We can build a range (probably not including super strong hands, but his resteal/3bet stats could help confirm that). He check/called the flop (instead of raising). He has kept a very passive tone this entire hand (called or checked on every action). The interested spot is his check on the river. Is he the kind of guy to check a Jx here?

In most instances, probably not. He has no reason to think that we would bluff (if we didn't bluff the turn, why would we bluff the river?). So any Jx he has would have to bet himself, logically, so we can probably discount combos of Jx from his range. Because of that, we can discount combos of sets, Q9, etc. So his check on the river is probably some sort of 8x, 99, QT, KhXh type hand. But does he call steals OOP with QT? What about 98? Would he fold if we bet? Are we bluffing? What is going on here?!?!

While on the river we could simply ask ourselves “what is our hand strength and what does a bet accomplish?”...but in order to grow and find creative ways to inject value (by bluffing or VBing), we need to dig deeper. We need to analyze information. We need to analyze what his actions tell us about his range. We need to analyze, if applicable, what our actions might tell him. Overall, we need to never stop analyzing and using the analysis to create lines (like overbetting the river to $27 because he wouldn't call with 8x =) ).

The great thing about all of this is that every bit of information is useful. Did our opponent call our 3bet with AA? (sweet, his 4bet range might be tainted). Did our opponent call a 1/2PSB river bet? (did he do it with a really ****** pair? Might he have a calling station tendency?). Did our opponent take a long time to do X action? (how does that compare to his previous actions and timings? Is he giving away timing tells?) Is my opponent playing more aggressively against me? (would he notice if I tightened up entirely? What if I only tightened up a little?) Did my opponent put in of his stack and then fold getting 3:1 on the river? (what we would do that with? Does he maybe have an inability to plan through hands?) Did my opponent call my steal OOP with XX? (if so, I have an idea on his CCvsteal range. Do other hands group with that to give me an even better idea of his future range?) Did he show me he probably understands SDV, polarization, aggressive play with XX hand, etc? How can I play more perfectly against him in the future?

Information is everywhere (in winning hands, losing hands, and hands we didn't paly)...but it is up to you to polish it and turn it into useful strategies. If you see a hand get to showdown, take a note that he does X with Y. Pot size, bet sizes, hand strengths, his PF actions/range, his reaction to Y play, etc. are all notable. Don't be lazy with this, and you should be able more correctly adjust to regs, fish, and anyone you may encounter at the tables.

Let's start a conversation...
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:53 AM   #2
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

first.. good article.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:57 AM   #3
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:01 AM   #4
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Terrible article, no one read it, it's totally wrong

<_< >_> <_>

j/k but please no one read it.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:16 AM   #5
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Great post . Just wondering though split , if this is the kind of stuff we need to know to play micro's , then what do small stakes / middle stake guys think about ?
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:19 AM   #6
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

what is SDV???
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:20 AM   #7
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leroy_Jenkins45 View Post
Great post . Just wondering though split , if this is the kind of stuff we need to know to play micro's , then what do small stakes / middle stake guys think about ?
this isn't really beginner stuff. This is stuff you start improving on as you run out of fundamental things to improve upon. imo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Posiedon View Post
what is SDV???
showdown value

and thanks for the kind words everyone =)
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:22 AM   #8
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

To build on the idea of accumulating information - the next step is to take that info and build better ranges for ourselves. This might involve shifting 3-bet ranges from polarized to de-polarized, greatly expanding/contracting opening/flatting/3-betting/4-betting/shoving ranges, etc.

Sure, stats/HUDs are useful, but there is always the possibility that a player's range of hands for any action is very different in a specific spot than it is overall.

Also, Diamonds And Coal - Incubus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3m3kvTE7XKI
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:28 AM   #9
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Seriously split top draw stuff here will re-read many times.
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:52 AM   #10
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

are showdown value and value betting related??...is SDV something like in hand 1 villian checked turn with TT bcoz he thought they were good enough to win at showdown but he would get called/raised only with better hands if he bet??

is there a detailed post somewhere on SDV??
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:41 AM   #11
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Hey Split,

Awesome stuff, I'll definitely have to be more studious with note taking after reading all of this and praying my opponents won't do the same!

My question is when and to what extent do you synthesize this information? I'd imagine writing as many notes as you did on the sample hands can be kind of tricky when you're multitabling. Do you prefer to note-take mid-session and use those notes for future hands in that session, or do you prefer to finish up, boot up HEM and analyze every play by your opponents for flaws?

And also, it would seem there's a strong possibility about information overload. I'm not suggesting there's too much of a good thing against extremely tough players, but I would guess you get diminishing returns when you note that a fishy TAG will 3bet suited connectors between 56-98 but flat calls all the rest, as this situation comes up rarely and you'd be better focused on other things. Thoughts on this?
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:08 AM   #12
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonkDonkDonkDonk View Post
Seriously split top draw stuff here will re-read many times.
thank you. it's multi-layered...so hopefully each read yields something new

Quote:
Originally Posted by Posiedon View Post
are showdown value and value betting related??...is SDV something like in hand 1 villian checked turn with TT bcoz he thought they were good enough to win at showdown but he would get called/raised only with better hands if he bet??

is there a detailed post somewhere on SDV??
i talked about SDV in my COTW on planning...but I don't believe anyone has done a specific COTW on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshow22387 View Post
Hey Split,

Awesome stuff, I'll definitely have to be more studious with note taking after reading all of this and praying my opponents won't do the same!

My question is when and to what extent do you synthesize this information? I'd imagine writing as many notes as you did on the sample hands can be kind of tricky when you're multitabling. Do you prefer to note-take mid-session and use those notes for future hands in that session, or do you prefer to finish up, boot up HEM and analyze every play by your opponents for flaws?

And also, it would seem there's a strong possibility about information overload. I'm not suggesting there's too much of a good thing against extremely tough players, but I would guess you get diminishing returns when you note that a fishy TAG will 3bet suited connectors between 56-98 but flat calls all the rest, as this situation comes up rarely and you'd be better focused on other things. Thoughts on this?
id say you are on the right track. for me personally, i keep a ton of mental notes. I can often times see a reg a few days later and still be able to recall certain hands/reads that i have on him. that being said, most all of my notes are villain v me notes...because I can get usually generate more global reads from the HUD

yes, you can get info overload...but your main goal is to build a good baseline for your opponent so you can figure out his "waves' before he even does =)
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Old 11-16-2010, 05:14 AM   #13
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Heart Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Split - seriously please lock and delete this thread. The information you are giving away here is too valuable. jk - I mean I love this cotw because it tells us what we need to do, but <0.1% of players will be bothered doing it and incorporating it into their game. But seriously, arguably the best post cotw ever imo.

1 complaint though - I thought you were gonna give away an actual get rich quick scheme. You mean I have to work to get rich????
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Old 11-16-2010, 08:54 AM   #14
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Great post split.
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Old 11-16-2010, 09:47 AM   #15
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Move along, people. Nothing to see here.

But seriously, I know this is probably the most deficient part of my game, and that's really saying something because I suck pretty bad.

I also think this will have quite a direct impact on tilt control by being more prepared for the line a villain will take, rather than just getting AI by showdown and screaming WTF is that ****ing donkey doing calling my pre-flop 3b OOP and flopping the world every damn time mother****ing ****er **** **** ffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.

Spoiler:
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:21 AM   #16
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

These hand examples are gold. (esp. the critical point of hiding our own hand).

I plan on posting lots of example hands in this format so people can teach each other (and me) how to gather this type of information.
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:53 AM   #17
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

its an awesome post split....thanks

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Old 11-16-2010, 10:55 AM   #18
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Nice post, sir.

and +1 on the Incubus link - great band!
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:17 AM   #19
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Nice post, I especially liked "bad players ignore information" part, it's the stuff that we overlook that keeps us from growing, even tiny stuff like timing tells (which I never think about) could be very important.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:39 PM   #20
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Yet another great post split!

Even though there's amazing info on this post. The application of it is much tougher in game. Something I'm still working on. I take notes like this all the time. But I still go back to my bad habits and hate myself right after when I forget to apply it in game. Any advice on how to apply the info one gathers while breaking bad habits?
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:52 PM   #21
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

how often do we need to see villain do X with Y before we start strongly weighting our reads towards our notes? one time? two times? three times?
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:59 PM   #22
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evs215 View Post
Any advice on how to apply the info one gathers while breaking bad habits?
always double check stats and your notes before you make any actions. keep hand flow + game flow in mind while doing so, imo

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcc1 View Post
how often do we need to see villain do X with Y before we start strongly weighting our reads towards our notes? one time? two times? three times?
depends on the action. i can usually figure out if a player understands SDV after 1 sample, sometimes 2 (the line they take makes it pretty obvious, and most good regs understand this).

for instance, my main note i take is "MUSDV" (might understand SDV), and i can usually solidify that for sure after a second instance. While they may sometimes treat SDV different PF v postflop (overvalling JJ in a resteal war or something), the info tends to carry over nicely and almost polarize their ranges.

but things like Callv3bet, float/stab, slowriverbettiming usually take more samples due to the rarity and variance in the "info" that got them there. imo

and thank you all for the kind words. you get better with it in time =)
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:30 PM   #23
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leroy_Jenkins45 View Post
Great post . Just wondering though split , if this is the kind of stuff we need to know to play micro's , then what do small stakes / middle stake guys think about ?
I don't think you need to be thinking about stuff like this to beat the micros. But if you have the basics down, and you are working on learning intermediate and advanced concepts, you will get to small and mid-stakes that much faster, on average (because you'll have a bigger edge at the micros).

One thing you have to realize is that edges are shrinking generally. So, in answer to "what are small and midstakes players thinking about," the answer is: stuff like showdown value and deducing your opponent's range so that you can make plays specifically designed to exploit the player you are in against.

"But wait, this is the same stuff *Split* has us thinking about to beat the micros."

Well, that is right. The players at small and mid are generally thinking about the same stuff that you need to be thinking about to have a big edge at the micros. They need to be thinking about it to have a small edge.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but your edge doesn't really come from secret knowledge or thinking about advanced concepts (there are a few exceptions to this). Instead, it comes from better thinking about the same things.

An example I have been using here in the micros is the situation in which you are on a steal from the button and a fishy lag donks into you on the flop.

A lot of us have seen the training vids advocating raising donk bets because donk bets are weak. Right? Well, the reason donk bets are light is because the fish is thinking on level one, but he is thinking on level one poorly.

So suppose a fish is sitting there looking at A9 on a 2 6 9 rainbow flop. The fish is gonna think about your likely hands as having a face card or two, and he is going to say, "he missed this flop, he can't call a bet," and he will fire at you.

So the fish is on level one, he has read your hand range reasonably well, but the action he took based on his level one thinking was bad. The better thinking here is to say, "well, he missed this flop, so he can't call a bet, so he will probably bet, and I can make fat value by check calling and snapping off his c-bet bluffs."

So you see that the difference between you and a fish is not that he is on level 0 and you are on level 1; it is that you understand the implications of the stealer's range better than the fish understands them.

You are more highly educated in a more advanced topic; in the example, "exploiting villains' aggression," or "optimal value extraction," or something like that.

When you see his donk bet and you are, in fact, holding air, you can say, "well, the lag is donking here because he has a weak made hand or air, but he thinks I have missed the flop and I can't call, and he is right. But if I raise, he has to fold, because his hand is too weak to call a bet and he will just assume that I am on that part of my range that didn't need to hit this flop." So you raise, and you are basically telling him, "bad read, sir, I have KK," and he believes you and mucks.

So you have both made (initial) good level one reads. But you win the hand because you make better decisions on what to do with the same good level one read.

That is generally where your edge comes from.
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:45 PM   #24
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Hand 1 is QQ and hand two is TT/88?
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:01 PM   #25
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Re: COTW - Getting Diamonds From Charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpethybridge View Post
When you see his donk bet and you are, in fact, holding air, you can say, "well, the lag is donking here because he has a weak made hand or air, but he thinks I have missed the flop and I can't call, and he is right. But if I raise, he has to fold, because his hand is too weak to call a bet and he will just assume that I am on that part of my range that didn't need to hit this flop." So you raise, and you are basically telling him, "bad read, sir, I have KK," and he believes you and mucks.

So you have both made (initial) good level one reads. But you win the hand because you make better decisions on what to do with the same good level one read.

That is generally where your edge comes from.

Well put , and when I'm 24 tabling these simple scenarios come up hundreds of times each day, I can just imagine all the leaks I must have
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