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.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Button Improvement

Well one area where I haven't been that strong over the most recent couple of hundred thousand hands is my button play. Despite opening more hands than anywhere else on the table I'm winning a similar amount of money to what I normally do from the cut off.

So there are two spots I am going to begin to study: playing as the pre flop raiser and also calling a single raise. Being as I am playing the largest frequency of hands from this position it stands to reason that if I can improve my win rate here it will have a big effect on my overall strategy.

As the pre flop raiser (PFR)
I have recently made an adjustment to my c-betting strategy; that is, if my opponent does not show a tendency to fold too much to c-bets (fold to c-bet < 45%) I'm focussing on playing my hands with showdown value passively and betting a polarised range of hands for value and those without showdown value but which still have equity in the pot.

On a Qh7d6d I would be c-betting AQ for value, 9dTd as a bluff (no showdown value but has pot equity) and checking back something like 99 or TT to get to showdown. I'd also be checking back J9o with the intention of giving up and folding to any bet on later streets unless the turn changes things and gives me an open ended straight draw or something like that.

This philosophy is similar to what I was using before but I tended to bluff with a good deal of my hands that had no showdown value or equity, even when villain showed that he wouldn't fold to too many c-bets. I'd also sometimes be betting 99 or TT for 'protection' and I'm not convinced that this is mathematically correct given the fact that we are value owning ourselves if opponent has a better hand. I have to give Matthew Janda (Cardrunners pro) the credit for this improvement in my philosophy. As I said, I still tended to bet a polarised range but also probably spewed a little occasionally with some hands.

Calling a preflop raise on the button
My current strategy is heavily dependent on being the player with initiative in the pot. I'm currently pretty bad when I have position but not the betting lead and I'm certain that I'm folding far too often on the button when facing a single raise. A few posts ago I demonstrated how widely we could realistically call when facing a single raise on the button.

Using 25NL as my example if we face a raise that we estimate is the top 10% of hands and the bet is $0.75 then we risk $0.75 to win $1.10. So our equity must be 0.75/(0.75 + 1.10) = 40% to call. Being in position grants us additional equity, but the frequency we face a squeeze from the blinds takes some away (but in my opinion not as much). So if we grant ourselves 38% to play with my friend HoldemViewer gives us the following range is good enough to call:

{ 44+,A8s+,K9s+,Q9s+,J9s+,T9s,ATo+,KJo+,QJo }

That's significantly wider than I currently call on the button facing a 10% raiser.

The problem comes when sometimes our data is wrong and our opponent doesn't actually raise that frequently. Because against a 5% raiser the hands with enough equity shrinks rapidly to:

{ TT+,AQs+,AKo }

That's much closer to the sort of range I'd be playing facing a single raise on the button. This is obviously too tight against most players who open wider, so I'm certainly folding in some +EV spots. This is something that I need to address, especially since against a 15% open we can suddenly call with 25% of hands and I'm not playing nearly enough in that situation.

I have a couple of days off coming up and I intend to create some standard button playing ranges for tight players, semi-tight players and loose players when facing a single raise. 3 ranges that I can learn and utilise during play. I can create a Hold'em Manager filter that isolates these situations after each session and see what my best play was at the time and what I actually did. I can use Flopzilla (Google it) to help in this regard.

Hopefully after all of this work the button will suddenly become a place where I'm a deadly opponent. I seriously need to improve my win rate in this one spot, and if I do then the only way is up! GL

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