I've spent the past couple of months experimenting with different styles of play. I've been trying to develop a style more suitable for winning the giant online tourneys that are becoming the norm for me. I think its difficult to fade 3,000 players relying on "big card" poker that is my bread and butter. If I can get all of my money in 5 times with pair over pair, I'm going to go broke at some point. I have to "get lucky" and not have my pairs get cracked an average amount of times. I also have problems with getting enough quality hands to call a raise when these tourneys are full of not-so-good players raising with less than premium hands. Because of my tight style, I need to play my big hands for a large portion of my chips.
According to my normal style, If I'm holding KJ on the button and there's an EP raise, I would fold the hand worrying about hands that really dominate me. In an effort to evolve into a more dynamic game, I am considering the following ideas. Please let me know what you think.
1) Give me AA every time please. It's very difficult to improve this hand to straights, flushes, and sets. It's vulnerable to an opponent who can make one of those hands, but I'm still happy to take my chances with you drawing to two outs or even less common straight and flush flops. Would you be happy getting AA versus an underpair about once every round?
2) Let's talk about domination. I hate being dominated when all-in. You absolutely must hit your live card to stay alive. I think for this reason that you simply cannot call an all-in with A10 because there is nothing to do but hope and pray for a 10 when your opponent shows the probable AK. You have 3 outs to stay alive plus a small chance of hitting a monster hand.
3) What about being dominated when you are deep stacked and playing normal bet sizes? I am considering the idea that it's about the same risk you would take as playing AA vs 22, something I have already agreed that I am willing to do. If I am playing KQ up against AK, there are really only two cards that get me in trouble - the remaining kings. Plus because I am playing normal poker, there is the opportunity to outplay the opponent after the flop if we both miss. If an A flops, it's easy to get away from. I think domination in deep stack poker is a much smaller concern than it is in all-in situations. What do you think?
4) Online poker tournaments require more gamble than some of the big live events because of structure. You simply don't have much time to get a big hand. On poker stars, smaller tournaments start with 1500 in chips and you only get to see about 45 hands before the blinds are 50/100. Certainly, you can't just sit back and wait on big hands. On the other hand, can you do more damage gambling away chips taking the worst of it with the opportunity to outplay your opponent?
5) I think the key is to go ahead and play hands that may be dominated in a deep stack situation. If you hit one of your big cards, you are much more likely to have hit your live one than your dominated one. You have to realize that you could be in bad shape and be willing to fold AJ when you hit your A but encounter lots of resistance. Hitting your ace would be the same bad luck as someone flopping a set on your Aces. You'll actually probably lose a lot less in this situation than you would with your cracked aces because you'll go in knowing that you are a little weak. Does this idea make any sense?
6) I know that I have dimissed the chance of running your KJ, flopped J into QQ. This is obviously a significant risk, but I believe you can make many more monster hands with KJ than you could with AA. You also have to realize your weakness and be willing to dump top pair.
Please throw out your thoughts on these ideas. I'm interested to see what you guys think. I know that this really goes against the grain of the writings of some real successful pros, but have you ever seen a pro fold KJs on the button on tv? I've done it a lot, but watch pros play any two face cards on TV.
Don't be deceived by what you see on t.v . The pros don't always play any two cards , it just makes for good t.v when a player wins a huge hand with 8 3 suited against pocket jacks .
Calling a raise with any two cards could be profitable depending in the situation you're facing . It is impossible to be able to play every single hand for a profit unless you're playing against old Aunt Barbara and drunk Bob .
Occasionally if i'm deep stacked and my opponent is deep stacked , i'll call a raise with suited connectors and play the hand exactly the way I would play pocket jacks or ace king .If you've only been showing strong hands , then this could be a great way to vary your game .
King jack on the other hand doesn't have much straight potential and is a very weak NL hand for calling raises or making them yourself . If you're playing at a 5 handed table and a player UTG makes a raise , you have to fold king jack on the button here as well .
The only exception would be if I decided I wanted to make a play against this person on the flop or turn . Other than that , you shouldn't call raises with king jack against an ep player .
Ohh , one other thing .
If you're deep stacked in a tournament , you should play your hands identically to how you would play them in a cash game . Your variance will increase , and by this I mean your chip stack will go through higher fluctuations but your objective is to think long term positive EV .
When you're medium stacked , you can't play the exact way as you would in a cash game . All it takes is for you to lose several hands and you're busted from the tournament . You have to tighten up considerably and play premium hands and less suited connectors .
I think something to keep in mind is that even though its hard to call a raise with even KJs let alone KJo...using the Gap Concept/Theory, whatever its called, raising with these marginal hands such as KJs, 68s, etc. will help immensely because the times you go to showdown, your opponents will see a different breed of hand. The more moves and such things are crucial to large field success...you have to "gamble" for money flops and see if you can get paid.
P.S. In love with the 180 SnG's...would love to talk some strat. about them, as i think they are obviously a combo of a SnG and a MTT. Message me and we'll chat it up.
2) I've been coming to this conclusion too... if i'm gonna go all-in with a less than a premium hand, I want to be pretty damn sure my hand is not dominated. For this reason, I hate all-ins with K/Q, A/10, K/10, etc... during the last couple of tournaments i've played i've gotten down to the final 4 or 5 tables. I raise with something like K/Q and then someone puts me all-in. I've been reluctant to call the all-in with these hands. I probably would have called with a small pair or 9/10 or J/10.
3) Your point makes sense to me. Worry less about domination when yur stack is large. It's MORE of a concern when you stand to be knocked out.
4) 100% agreed; in online poker you can't sit around and wait... i've been playing mostly big hand poker, not calling many raises unless I have the goods. But, in the last month or so, I've added a little "fear poker" to my repetoire. Once in a while I'll call a weaker players raise knowing that i'm a pre-flop dog. I'm hoping to get a scary flop (for him) so I can exploit the weak player through raises and/or reraises. I believe the key to this is identifying the weak players.
5) uh - not sure what point you are trying to make here.
6) Whether or not I call a raise with KJ on the button would pretty much entirely depend on how i've categorized the raiser. As of late, I've been consciously trying to play the player almost as much as playing my cards. I've written a small software program that let's me categorize a player by keeping track of pre-flop raises, calls, and folds.
Very viable strategy IMO. One very important note that you also pointed out is the MUST that you play well post flop and can get away when your opponent has a monster or hits his flop. Thats a lot easier to do though when you are playing this different subset of hands then your typical TAG because you're more than happy to dump your sub-premium hand when you don't hit. You can still take a fair share of pots by betting out on flops that would be good for your typical hand range and your opponent does not hit or does not want to fight over it. You also get paid off big when you do hit your flop hard because they won't be able to put you on it and think their over pair or TPTK is good. Hands you don't specifically mention like connectors or one-gappers also are very playable with this style in these situations because they have the added benefit of likely being live cards and not dominated. Agreed that being dominated is not such a big deal when deep stacked playing this way because you are cognizant of the fact that it is likely and you are not over-playing your top pair.
i really agree with #5 aww. your example you have say AJ hearts. you got flush potential, staright, and if the flop comes with 2 jacks you are good. like you said about hitting your ace i completly agree, u just might have to let top pair go. Also the facotr of outplaying someone in posistion is a great factor too. good post and great point
1. I would win a tourney if I got AA once per round..haha..seriously though, you might lose often with aces if you saw the river every time, but usually you dont. I like to win small pots preflop or medium pots on the flop with AA.
2. Calling all-in with A-10 in most situations is just foolish. In fact, unless Im the first to enter an unrasied pot, I usually fold A-10.
3. If I understand you, youre question is, if someone moves in and you have a TON of chips if you call and lose, should you take an 80/40 hand? The answer 99% of the time is no. Why double that guy up? I mean, say he has 50 chips and moves in and you have 100,000. Ok, now you call with almost any 2 and hope to get lucky. But what you are likley referring to is your opponant has 50,000 and you have 500,000. Then you fold.
4. Again, if I understand you, you are asking if you should play loose in the beginning of an online tourney with a weak structure. (although I do not think pokerstars structure is weak). The answer is yes, you HAVE to. This doesnt mean playing stupidly, but it does make playing your opponant much more important. Try to put him on a range of hands, pay very close attention to showdown hands so you can see how people are playing certain hands.
5. This sort of seems like the same question as 3. If you have deep stacks, should you loosen up in order to win a big pot. The answer is yes. When I have 100 BBs, my favorite thing is to see a guy tighter than a 12 year old schoolgirl raising the pot. I will almost ALWAYS call him. Calling him knowing full well I am behind, because I know I will get all of his chips if I get a good flop. This is the concept of "implied odds". It can sometimes be correct to call KNOWING you are behind if you feel you can bust the player if you hit your cards.
6. Again, this is tied into #3 and #5. If I can afford it, I will often play KJ when there is a raise and a call or two in front of me. Many think this is a mistake, and thats ok, but when you hit your straight or two pair, you will often get ALL the money from others. I folded AK on an AJ7 board because I KNEW he had AJ, and he showed me (little self promo there..hehe) but most of the time when someone has AK and the flop is KJ2 or something, youre getting doubled up. But this doesnt happen often, which is why you really need to make sure you can afford it. You also need to be able to fold when you have top pair and get check raised on the flop.
All of these concepts seem to be situations that happen a lot on TV. I cant urge you enough not to play like they do on TV. They have edited out about 90% of the crucial hands that allow someone to make the plays you DO see. You dont see Raymer raising and stealing the blinds 4 times each orbit, which allows someone else to make a big reraise with a not-premium hand. Also, position is VERy important in these concepts. I would almost never make any of these plays out of position. Its very important that you can see how your opponent acts first. Also, having a deep stack really opens up options for players.
Guys, sorry for the rambling post. Obviously, I didn't state my case as clearly as it could be stated.
Oriole had the right idea about my real question.
My post had everything to do with playing hands that may be dominated. My idea is that you CAN do it if you and opponent have large stack to blind ratios. Do not do it in all-in situations because you don't have the equity of outplaying someone after the flop.
Let's face it, when you are playing AK versus AQ, you're not going to hit the ace but 1 in 8 times. If you are willing to lay down a good hand, I think go ahead and call raises with AJ, KQ, and maybe even A10. They do leave room for overpairs when you hit your kicker cards, but the risk is not that great of getting into trouble because you are outkicked.
I think this strategy will allow me to play more hands, utilize my experience versus players with less experience, and allow me to compete in bigger tourneys. Mainly, because in fish-fests, a raise doesn't mean what it does in a WPT event.
Regarding pros on TV, I was not at all referring to playing hands like 83. I was referring to playing hands like KJ and A10. You'll seldom see pros fold those kinds of hands that I do every day in online poker.
Thanks for all of the feedback.
"You'll seldom see pros fold those kinds of hands"
I think this is probably dead wrong nutzzy. I think the reason you might think this, is because on TV they are always showing only the final stages of big tourneys. And late in a tourney, youre right, the pros dont fold these much. But in general I think they actually DO fold them. There are pleanty of times that these hands will be played, late position with no one in the pot (or maybe one person), a steal out of the small blind, etc. But rarely will a pro play these hands in early or middle postion.
Tight play is smart for most of the tournament, but there are some key points where it is important to change gears and play more aggressive. I like to stay out of most hands until after the first break in play. Once the blinds are significnt, start attacking the tighter mid-stacks, raise in good position and make follow up bets...things like that. Then i Tighten up again until the bubble, this is when people like to stay put and just try to make the money. If you want to win, this is the time to build a stack, the blinds are significant and there are a lot of players like you who dont want to enter a raised pot dominated by higher cards. Tighten up after that until there are 10-14 players and you are playing short handed, this is another good time to start being aggressive, then play your SNG style for the final table. Obviously you need to not get unlucky...easier said than done.
I see where you are coming from and have been working on it too. Not in the big buy ins but in general. I think that you will find that you can work on this in almost any game and then use it in the trnys. My reasoning for this is that you don't always get the deep stack situations that you are talking about.
Back to your point, I agree with what you are looking at doing. It accomplishes several things. First of all, the implied odds are huge (similar to a NL cash game) when you hit your hand strong against what you know is a better starting hand. Doyle talks about this concept in SS2, but not directly. Most people don't understand what he means by calling when he knows he is dominated. The skill involved in this is the key. First of all, knowing that your opponent isn't the total donk that won't give up QQ with an A on the board and secondly, you can't let others see anymore hands than possible (although this could open up several other doors for your bigger hands and defending your blinds).
Essentially, the strategy you are talking about is a missing key for most people in these over populated trnys, the pros on 'tv' or anywhere LOVE to play post-flop. I heard Ivey on a show once say something like, "I knew he had a big pocket pair, so I called with my 33 because if I hit my set-I was getting all of his chips"
for what its worth,
I've played in 5 WPT main events, 1 WSOP main event, 11 other preliminary events of greater than $1,000 buy-ins. Every poker superstar that I have played with has shown down hands that traditionally you don't call with. Then going back through all of the full table middle stages of WSOP's on tv, you see all kinds of calls with broadway hands.
I try to learn by watching and playing with these guys and I get the idea that early on they'll play these kinds of hands because they know they can lay it down if the action gets too hot. Mike Sexton told me at one event, that really tight players have very little chance of winning a WPT or WSOP event. Of course, he still played about one hand out of every 30 and blinded into the felt.
My real question is does it make sense to say that playing a dominated hand is similar to playing pair over pair. You have the same risk of going broke - one of two cards hitting that puts you in bad shape.
Nutz I agree with you. I play on party where the format is really weak compared to stars (I know you play on party too seeing as you're in EVERY event I enter...) anyways I've had this problem too in the $100/$150 freezeouts where after the first hour blinds are up to 50/100 and if you've stayed at the starting stack you need to double up. This is one of the reasons I like $30 rebuys on party. Anyways, I think you may be on the right track, calling with hands that draw well and playing good post flop poker. Then you get the 200K and larger money guarunteed events with upwards of 2000 players. Raising in later posistion with good drawing hands/ calling that raise with ATs if it's not damaging to your stack to take a flop can really have added value. Now a question.... lets say you're in a $100 freezeout with 400 players. Generally 200 bust by the first hour and after 3 hours you're on the bubble. Basically you need to double up each hour (on average) to be average. Playing hands like you've mentioned can really help you do this. Although you'll get the premium hands, you cannot play only AQ+ and 9's+ and be really succesful in these. What are your thoughts?
I think I see what you are asking now and if so I very much agree with you and its a very interesting concept. It may be well worth playing potentially dominated hands when deepstacked because 1)You assume you can outplay your opponent postflop and take down the pot if neither of you hit. (your kq vs. his ak for example) 2)if an a hits its easy to get away from 3)only time you may lose a lot of chips is when 1 of the 2 kings hits but this is such a small risk (same reason and risk as being willing to play aa allin vs 22) that you can profitably play these hands and accumulate more chips earlier.