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, 2 June 2012

New job, plus working on my game.

Have been offered a new job in an accounts office so looking forward to getting stuck in. The hours and pay is better than I've ever had before, so as long as I don't mess up during probation my life should settle down again. I'm also working on an accounting qualification (AAT) and will probably go on and attempt to do a chartered accounting qualification too, which will be very very +EV if I manage to pull it off. Even if I don't I'll get tons of cool things to put on my CV.

As for poker, I've been working hard on my OOP play without the initiative. There are quite a few very good strategy posts up on twoplustwo that have been helping me a ton. Look here if you're interested.

A lot of my strategy playing in the blinds involves flatting pre-flop with the hands that are not good enough to 3-bet but are too good to fold (66-TT, AJ-AQ, KQo, ATs). Then I usually check-call pretty often on good boards, I very occasionally check raise bluff or for value and fold the rest of the time. It's a very passive mediocre way of playing. But I'll explain briefly why my strategy has evolved this way.

The check raise is a very strong move (from villain's perspective). In optimal play our strategy should be such that our opponent has equal expected value from calling down with his bluff catchers and folding. I'll not do the maths here but watch Matthew Janda videos at cardrunners.com if you'd like to know more. When we check raise and then bet turn and bet river it turns out that our opponent only needs to bluff catch optimally with a very small range. So as a result of this our actual value check-raise range is going to be very small too. So if we check-raise with any sort of high frequency (more than 30%, say) then our range is either vastly weighted towards bluffs or we're value cutting the bottom of our check-raise value range because there aren't enough weaker hands calling down to showdown. We obviously want some sort of check raise range but I'd imagine an optimal figure to be somewhere between 10 and 20%.

That leaves check - calling and donk betting. Donk betting or leading is something that I want to work into my game. Grabbing back initiative when our range is likely ahead of villains is going to be super profitable. The trouble is, on so many boards our line makes very little sense. Say we have JJ on A92r. If we ever have Ax or 99 or 22 here then I'll never ever be leading because it's far superior to let villain bluff with his entire range after we check to him. So if I'm never value bet leading here, then I can't realistically bluff (although I know that there are villains who will fold too much in these spots). If I'm the preflop raiser and someone donks on a board like this then I'm raising back 100% of the time for this reason. The ideal situation to donk bet is where we're facing someone who doesn't c-bet very often and we can then reasonably begin to think about value betting three streets with a fairly wide range. Like JJ on a T72 with a flush draw (against a button range, I'd be check-calling an UTG nit). This is something that I do not do enough but I'm working on it.

Lastly I come to my main move, the check-call. It's such a passive way of playing and it's the main reason that I have performed so badly in the past when cold calling in the blinds. The trouble is it's the move that makes the most sense the most often after the check-fold.

A practical solution? A line that I've begun to take regularly is the check-call-lead line. Going back to the example with JJ on the A92r. I'll never be donk betting that flop for the reasons I discussed, but I'll often want to bet the turn with a hand like AQ because I don't want villain to check back weaker hands that might call. So with a pretty wide check-call-lead value range I can now take this line as a bluff too. Whether JJ is the best hand to do this with is open to debate but we should certainly have a check-call-lead bluffing range. A little maths. Assume our hand has no equity at all, and we check call a 0.7PSB on the flop and lead the turn for 0.7*turn pot. Then our bluff must work more than 58% of the time to be profitable. But we'll nearly always have some equity when we make this play. It's my opinion that this is a very underused line but also a line that's very credible. A further benefit is that villains play very honestly against it. A turn raise is almost always the nuts. A turn call is almost always a capped range containing good pairs and draws.

So my OOP strategy is evolving. If I call pre-flop in the blinds in future I'll be looking to do one of four things. Against most regs who c-bet too much I'll immediately be planning a check-call-lead line or a check-raise depending on board texture and hand strength. I'll hardly ever check-call-check against these villains because with marginal hands it's probably at least as good to just check-fold. Slow playing absolute monsters in this way would be a good exploit though. Against a more passive opponent who doesn't c-bet very often I'll be donk-betting pretty wide both for value and as a bluff. I'm going to reserve the check-call-check line for monster hands or when I'm facing villains who play very one and done poker.

In the future I may return to this topic with some results from my database. It could turn out that the adjustment doesn't make a big difference to my OOP strategy, but I suspect that it will do nice things for my win rate. GL

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