Playing Some Hands

Thinking about the online poker from an odds perspective. These poker hand was not played by any of us; they were both played by others. One of them is about playing a draw and thinking in terms of betting odds; and the other is about playing a small pocket pair and thinking in terms of pot odds. Both hands show some errors that are often cause by a determination in thinking about the game in terms of best hand versus a draw.

Playing Draw

Here let analyze a hand that was played in a 15-30 game. It is a hand that illustrates why loose-aggressive holdem games are so profitable; it also illustrates why many otherwise good holdem players don't seem to do well under those kinds of game conditions.

In Las Vegas many poker player argues that the best games are loose-passive games and that loose-aggressive games are not profitable games. The way the player played this hand illustrates why many would think that. The reason is that he doesn't accurately adjust his play to exploit the mistakes that players in a loose-aggressive game are making.

There is a reason for this. There are more poker players per capita in Las Vegas than anywhere else and an aggressive game is the indication that the table has a larger than normal contingent of players. Passive games indicate more number of tourists at the table so Las Vegas players do tend to find passive games more profitable than aggressive games. They conclude wrongly that the game conditions themselves are the cause for that.

The main thing why we are discussing this hand is to illustrate the importance of adjusting your play to exploit the table conditions.

The Situation

It is a loose-aggressive game where the texas tables had several very aggressive players and several very loose players. No one other than our hero was a top local pro. He is on the button having a hand 97.

Pre-Flop Betting

Five players had called the blind and now the time for our hero to act with 97. Should he call, fold or raise? If you are talking an odds perspective to the game, then you need to think about a raise at this point. There is a misconception that you should only raise if your hand figures to be the best hand. This is not the way of getting money in Hold'em. You should raise whenever your chances of winning are greater than the odds you are getting on the raise.

Based on the Hold'em simulations, 97 from a late position against five or seven players will win over 20 percent of the time. That makes the hand about a 4-1 underdog. With five players already having called and the two blinds left to act, you will get between 5-1 and 7-1 on a raise. If you are sure that the blinds will call a raise then there is profit in a raise, and you should take that profit. However, with only five sure callers, a raise with 97 would be marginal. If the players in the hand play very badly after the flop, you might want to raise. Five players are not quite enough to raise with this hand.

There are debates for not raising, based on different theoretical perspectives. We shall not go into those debates because when you are in a hand with four or more active players the dominant perspective to take is an odds perspective. Our hero called. That is the best play in this case. It is a close decision.

The small blind folded and the big blind raised. Everyone called, including our hero but he made a mistake by not re-raising. Now there are six active players and getting 6-1 odds when you are only a 4-1 underdog is almost a good proposition. That's the case even though you can generally expect a player who raised from one of the blinds to have a much better than average hand. That is because even weak players tend not to raise with many hands from the blinds because they will in a bad position in all future rounds of strategy betting.

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