Now that a couple of weeks have passed since the end of SCOOP, I have started doing consultations with my students again. Many of them are bringing their SCOOP hand histories to me, wondering what they can learn from them. The opportunity has been great for me, as I’ve been blessed to receive pay for watching and analyzing many SCOOP final tables. It’s something so fun to do that I almost feel guilty charging for.
But, simultaneously, these weeks have also caused me to grow concerned for my students. These guys are some of the best players in the world and yet sometimes they don’t even know what they’re looking to analyze!
If you go through your hand histories alone, it’s akin to constantly asking yourself what the color of a certain wall is. You’ll need someone else to come into the room that you can confer with or you may go the rest of your life unaware you’re color blind.
You can get another low-cost perspective on your play by contributing particular hand histories to the PocketFives forums or organizing group review sessions with your best poker colleagues. However, if you’re by yourself one day and want to go through some of your deep runs yourself, I’d encourage you to look for these occurrences. They came up repeatedly while I was going through my students’ hand histories over the last weeks.
Not Looking at the Flop and Turn Continuation-Betting Statistics
On your HUD, you should have four statistics: Flop C-bet, Turn C-bet, Flop Fold to C-bet, and Turn Fold to C-bet. These four are crucial to your success.
Many people tell me, “I have them on my pop-up HUDs. I check them.” I tell them, just for kicks, to put them on their main HUD and watch a hand history. Every time they are facing a continuation-bet or about to continuation-bet themselves, I have them read out the pertinent statistics.
What they find often shocks them. “This guy folds all the time on the turn and I never double-barreled against him!?”
Most players get into some unprofitable habits. This is one I see all the time. For reference, an honest fold to continuation bet statistic is 60%+. This indicates someone is folding most times when they miss the board. The less a person folds to that continuation-bet, the less honest they are versus continuation-bets.
You’ll find many people who have a Fold to Flop C-bet of 30%, but a Fold to Turn C-bet of 65%. These people are fairly easy to figure out. They float the flop often hoping you’ll check/fold on the turn. You must double-barrel versus these players if you bluffed the flop; otherwise, you are maximizing your losses.
Many people will find when they examine another players’ continuation betting statistics that they never double-barrel. Their Turn C-bet goes down 30%-ish, which generally means they only fire when they have a hand. They should be floating against this player more, but instead they referred to some generalized rule of not floating without a ton of backdoor or over-card equity.
They might also find a certain player always double-barrels, but routinely they just called flop and folded turn. This, once again, is a fine way to maximize your losses. Look for it and stamp it out.
Not Stealing Enough Blinds
I still see so many guys adhere to the same stack size rules that were purported to work back in 2007. Breaking news: the game of poker has changed. People are better now. You can’t play the exact same strategy every day, all day, across every table anymore and expect to make a profit.
Look for these things. When you open, take the amount you’re risking. How much was your bet size? Divide that number by the size of the pot you will win if everybody folds. This will be the size of the pot with your bet in it with all the blinds before anyone else does anything. This fraction will give you the percentage of the time your raise needs to work.
Now look at people’s Fold to Steal numbers. Say you have one person who folds 81% of the time to steals in the big blind. The small blind folds 74% to steals. Multiply these two numbers like this: 0.74 * 0.81. See? It’s just like multiplying fractions in school. I practically dropped out after ninth grade math, so if I can get this, I know you can.
This number you will produce will be how often both players in the blinds fold. If that number is higher than how often your bet needs to work mathematically to turn a profit, than you can raise/fold any two cards from the button: 8-2, two UNO cards, aces, it doesn’t matter. You should have at least seriously thought about raising in this situation. If you repeatedly fold because of a starting hand or because of a fear that there’s no statistical evidence substantiating, you should be worried.
If somebody has a low Fold to Steal, check if they call most of the time they defend. If they do call a lot, see their Fold to Continuation-Bet number. Many guys who “defend” the blinds are really just trying to hit and checking out if they don’t. Stealing versus them is even more profitable because they will be handing you more chips on the majority of the boards they miss.
I could go on and on about stealing and re-stealing, but unfortunately there’s not enough space in this article. I did do a private webinar that is 4+ hours long on unconventional steals and re-steals that are giving some highly-ranked MTTers edges. You can still order a copy of the webinar’s recording. Write us at [email]Assassinatocoaching@gmail.com[/email] if you are interested.
Three-Betting When There Is No Clear Reason To
Here are the reasons you should be three-betting: for value, as a semi-bluff, or as a complete bluff.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t; otherwise, we wouldn’t be so good at screwing it up. When you see one of your three-bets on the game film, ask yourself for what reasons you were three-betting. If it was for value, you sure as hell better have a plan for the four-bet. Many guys three-bet a hand because it’s usually a hand good enough to do so with, only to realize after they’ve flubbed the hand that their opponent never flats or four-bets with worse. They’ve allowed their opponent to play perfectly against them.
If you three-bet with the intention to fold to a four-bet because you know your opponent will flat with the inferior portions of his range and four-bet better, that’s fine, but make sure you knew that going in.
If you’re semi-bluffing, it should be because the person has a low four-bet. You know if you take the lead from them pre-flop, they’re not going to fight to take it back. It also helps if they are honest statistically facing flop or turn continuation-bets and your stack has enough ammunition to make it that far.
With how much people flat from shorter stacks now, this is a great way to avoid multi-way pots where you will have to hit the flop to proceed. Hitting hands is boring! Get it heads-up where it’s likely both of you will miss and take the pot from them.
If you’re three-betting as a bluff, make sure a host of factors add-up. Was their fold to three-bet higher than 60%? Were they raising a wide range from that spot so you know a good deal of his starting selection is going into the muck or was he opening only 10-10+? Was his stack size awkward to four-bet or flat from? Did you have an ace in your hand to block much of his four-bet getting-it-in range?
Not Anticipating the Check-Raise
The check-raise is back in vogue within the MTT community. Not only did I see more check-raise bluffs in all the SCOOP hand histories I’ve analyzed, but I also saw a real lack of players who knew how to deal with it.
Look for this when you’re reviewing your hands: if someone has a check-raise of 10% or lower, that tends to be pretty honest. If you think about it, around one time in ten you will hit a hand good enough to check-raise bloat the pot OOP, such as a nut flush draw or a set. Against these people, you should have been a little more trusting, especially on boards where there are not many clear hands they could be semi-bluffing with.
If someone has a check-raise of 20% or higher, you need to be suspicious. You do not hit a hand one time in five that is good enough to blow up the pot out of position. Versus these players, it’s a great idea to set up a three-bet flop bluff. It’s an even greater idea if their Raise Versus C-bet is high as well (a good statistic to coordinate with to make sure the check-raise wasn’t just a fluke).
Versus these kinds of players, you should try continuation-betting the exact amount you opened for pre-flop, especially on paired boards. This seems to activate their check-raise response systems. Slam the three-bet door on them and make sure your bet forces them to four-bet move all-in with their bluff in order to prove you wrong.
Look for if you set up any of these plays intuitively or if your play caused you to miss out on what could have been the game-changing hand.
Good luck to all of you.
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