Hello all, welcome to my online poker blog.

I've been playing on and off for a decade after being introduced by a friend.

I played regularly for a few years during the poker boom and had a decent record at the micros, particularly Rush and Zoom No Limit Hold'em games (here's one of my graphs).

Around 2012 I began a new career which involved immersing myself completely in study in my spare time, so I had little to no time for poker. However recently this burden has eased and so I have been gradually dipping back in.

I'm an amateur player who still hopes to some day beat the rake.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Mistakes in the $5 HUSNGs

OK, so I've played nearly a hundred games now. Just thought I'd try and come up with the biggest mistakes I think the opponents are making against me. I may improve this post at some point by using some hand histories as examples. For now, I'll just try and explain...
I have lost count of the number of times I've got to showdown and thought : "why the hell hasn't villain bet for value there?!?". Now, some of the time I'd have folded to a bet. But other times I've been left thinking : "thank god he didn't bet there". This is mistake number one. Any time we have a hand that stands to get called by a weaker one a decent percentage of the time we need to bet to get value for it.
This is trickier to explain. Basically you often get maniacs who have watched Phil Ivey raise with 72o and think they should be betting/raising/jamming with any two cards all the time. My favourite type of player. It's often hard playing these guys when the cards don't come your way, but when they do the matches can often last just a few minutes. Easy money. The lesson: When playing poker ranges need to be balanced. What I mean by this is that the hands we bet for value (those hands where we think villain will call with weaker) should not generally be outnumbered by our bluffs. If all your plays have more bluffs in than value bets then you'll be giving money away time and time again. I'll give an example: Often players will bet every single flop after they've been the preflop raiser. Against weak opponents this is actually correct. But against someone who knows what they are doing you'll get reraised/called/played back at LOADS if you do this and just lose money. I generally like to bet when we hit (about 1/3 of the time) and also bluff about a third of the time and check/fold the rest. This way the balance between our value bets and bluffs is equal.
Calling/Folding too much
This is actually another case of balance. Some players only carry on on the flop if they hit some part of it. I played someone tonight who was calling a huge range when I was raising my button and then folding almost every flop to a continuation bet. So I changed my strategy - against someone who folds too much we can break our rule of balance and bet every time. I raised 3xBB every button and then c-bet every single flop half pot. I won pot after pot and by the time he finally hit a hand had hardly any chips to extract value with. This is actually quite a difficult habit to address. It needs study and hard work to learn when to fold and when to play back. The other inbalance in people's play is calling too much. This obv sounds like a contradiction but what I mean is that these villains will call most flop bets with any two cards. Their psychology is "it's not costing much we'll see another card". What they're doing is allowing a good player who notices to stop bluffing (or at least lower the ratio of value bets versus bluffs considerably). Now every time that villain calls the flop bet he'll be giving hero value for his hand. It's also possible to come up against players who have a mix of these two leaks. EG a large % of profit in cash games is currently made from players who call with too wide a range on the flop and then ditch to a turn bet. So good players have started to continuation bet (barrel) two streets with their entire range to exploit this imbalance.
Well I'd actually planned to write more... but realised that all of the mistakes can usually be classed as imbalances of one kind or another. So for the rest of our poker career, we need to spot the exploitable imbalances in our opponents play and taylor our strategy to get the most from them. GL

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