Dr. Sun's Poker Lab

I have a lot of goofy ideas I want to check out, and I don’t like cluttering the board with new ones all the time, so I was thinking, wouldn’t be cool if I just had an ongoing thread where I could add my mental meanderings, strange ideas, and experiments and their results. And, well, here we are.

Which brings us to the deli. So I was waiting for my sandwich, when this beautiful businesswoman strolls in. Classy yet low key, obviously successful, confident, smart and busy, but not too busy to immobilize me with a killer smile. I’m just a man, so I was thinking that, with a little coaching, she could probably make me nearly perfect sandwiches.

Naturally, the barest hint of the word “coaching” makes the mind wander to complex information systems, and specifically the NFL and how they manage to break a very complex game like football into “plays,” and how each of these plays is designed to be the perfect response to a very specific set of circumstances.

So now I’m thinking I want to play around with bringing that approach to my poker game, calling it the Modular Poker Project, and just seeing where it goes.

I’ll probably write more soon, but if you are interested, consider this… what if you forgot about poker in general and just concentrated on 3 specific situations: flopping a set, flopping 1 pair, and flopping a flush draw or open ender. I’m sure you can find some way to get better in 1 or more of these 3 areas. Make up some new plays and see what happens.

If nothing else, looking at specific situations in detail and in isolation should give you a better understanding of exactly what you should be doing when you see that same situation during a game. Think it through now because you won’t have time then.

More soon.

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I really like a good corned beef sandwich

I like the concept but I see flaws in the objectives as stated. If I wanted to maximise my return for each of the three goals, I would achieve them by seeing every flop, which we know is bad science. They are in the same column in the poker periodic table as ‘win as many pots as possible’ which is also relatively easy to achieve, but very volatile and expensive.

My plan would be to find a way to calculate how to decide if the starting hand we have and the cost we are being asked to call can be combined in such a way to make a more stable compound. Lets call it Value.


That’s a very interesting idea you have there SPG. I have a few questions that may just help get you started (as if you need any help). Bear with me please.
So, as a successful business woman you obviously don’t see her as looking for a job at the deli. Do you imagine her buying it?
What other devices play into your “coaching” of this woman in the art of sandwich making?
Have you any photos of said woman?
Glad if I was of any assistance,

Situation : 1 - Flopping a set.

  1. Board has set
    1. u have 2 over cards
    2. u have 1 over, 1 under cards
    3. u have 2 under cards
  2. Board has a pair
    1. Board has 1 over card
      1. u have 1 over card
      2. u have 1 under card
    2. Board has 1 under card
      1. u have 1 over card
      2. u have 1 under card
  3. Board has no pair
    1. u have top set
    2. u have middle set
    3. u have bottom set

There are then 10 basic situations when Flopp’n a set ( trips )
to that we add in all the str8 and flush draws, and how or if they occur.
I’m not sure how we ignore things like stack sizes, seat/button/UTG posistions,
level in MTT, table presence, agression levels @ table, ect ect ect…

I’m just gonna pick 1 of the 10, hopefully the hardest to play …

Board has J :spades: J :diamonds: K :diamonds: … … … and I have J :hearts: 4 :clubs:

as you can see, there is a possible str8 draw, possible flush draw, and possible boat. I have no str8 or flush draw, and a crappy kicker … You hit the flop hard, yet you’re still screwed 10 ways to sunday… So many things can go wrong here. All that helps you is the 4th Jack or a 4, and if you hope the board helps your kicker situation… then all that does is put a easier high str8 out there… You must avoid another diamond at all cost.

This hand has so many landmines … lets hope it was your BB and you can just fold, and say… ohh well I got to see the flop … Obviously, with a big chip lead, you can do just about anything here. 1/3 of the time I fold this hand, as crazy as that sounds.

Playing this hand correctly will more depend on those things above that I said are hard to ignore… and less on the actuall cards in front of you. Along with the fact, that roughly 40% of the remaining cards can hurt you, in some way.


I’m not so sure I’d fold, but I wouldn’t be anxious to call any raises, either. That’s a toughie.

I do hope there will be more soon. :slight_smile: Signed: A Fan

With that hand it depends on position. If I am first bet I would put up a medium bet to let players know I hit and if they want it it will cost them to see another card.

If I am following a big better then I would likely check and call and see if that flush hit comes up on the turn.

If it doesn’t come then I would drive up the bet substantially to see if they are just holding a K or have something like a straight or the other J.

If your opponent is weak and just looking for the straight or flush or has he K at that point they are likely to fold if they are smart.

There are 13 common hands that all players should have a strategy in mind for when they are dealt pre-flop but hands do not happen in a vacuum and depends on several factors as to how they should be played.

High pair A-T is a big bet situation and if it is pocket aces may call for an all in depending on number of players in the hand, position, stack size and if it is tourney or ring.

That is a hand you can quickly capitalize on the flop if your pair is higher than high card.

Smaller pair 9-2 are medium bet and you want to see the flop to hopefully build a set or FH.

Flush hits not connected are good for small bets to see the flop and if you don’t hit a possible get out cheap.

Flush hits with A-T connectors is a great hand and should get a substantial bet pre-flop. You have several ways to hit those cards on the flop for a flush, straight or high pairs.

Flush hits with low connectors 9-2 are good but not optimal so I would play those with a medium bet and see what the flop reveals.

That is just my general strategy for those hands and like I said it all depends on position, stacks, my read on the opponent, tourney or ring and how lucky I am feeling.

I think this is actually the wrong way to analyze your hands and play. Rather than asking how you should react when you make a particular hand, you should always consider the full range of hands you could have in a particular spot, and how that could influence the actions you take.

I’ll only have J4 offsuit in one spot: the big blind in a limped pot. My guess is that I’m facing three to five callers, including the small blind. I don’t have KK or JJ, because I would have raised that preflop. Ditto AK, or AJs. I might have checked my option with AQo or KQs, but I might have raised that pre, so those may or may not be in my range here. Other Kx and Jx, KJo, QT, Q9, T9, and two-diamond hands could be in my hand as well. All of these could be bet for value on the flop. Of course, I could have just about any two cards, except my absolute strongest holdings.

With this in mind, assuming the SB checks to me, I’m probably going to bet about 1/3 pot with all my holdings. That should drive out players that don’t have a decent draw, or a K or J themselves. Anyone with a king is in an awkward spot - they shouldn’t have a kicker above a J, or they would have raised pre - so there’s a strong risk that they’re behind. Inside straight draws may need to fold, since they won’t have the equity to continue unless they try to turn bad run-outs into a bluff. Low flush draws could be behind higher flush draws, or dead to made boats. Low connectors, suited one-gappers, or other hands that completely missed the flop will have to get out of the way. As a result, I’d expect a fair number of folds, and might even scoop the pot with my flop bet.

If someone re-raises pot or less, I probably call it off and evaluate on the turn. My opponents shouldn’t have cowboys since that would be a preflop raise, I block all but three combos of KJ, of K :clubs: J :clubs: should probably raise pre. While I’m behind J9, JT and JQ, I’m in front of K9, KT, and KQo that may have limped in, block straights, and are trying to bump me off a jack or a draw. On later streets I may be able to represent a straight or flush myself, and put aggressors in a tough spot.

By taking this approach, I give myself a good chance to pick up a pot with a wide array of holdings. It also provides me a way to think about my actions and plans for future streets, maintaining the ability to build and win a larger pot with a smaller subset of my range. This is a much more expansive view than the narrow “what do I do when I make trips?” question, and will give you a more rounded perspective on how to maximize EV.

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“Poker” can be a complicated thing, and some people are so intimidated by the “math” that they never really get beyond the beginner stage. Looking at the game as a collection of specific situations makes learning more accessible. Pick 1 situation and get better at it and you are getting better at poker.

You will flop a pair about 1/3 of the time. Is anyone brash enough to claim they will play this common situation, in each of it’s variations, perfectly every time? Get better at this one part of the game and it could make a big difference.

Note that we aren’t talking about preflop strategies, ranges, and betting here. However you got here, here you are, now what? Judging from what I see at the tables, a fair number of people have no idea what to do next, and even the best players could get better.

@Sassy_Sarah has the right idea, I think. Each general situation can be broken down into specific situations, though you will handle many of these the same way. There will also be heads up and multi-way considerations, adjustments for position, player, and stack sizes, and there might also be adjustments specific to tournaments, but you need a baseline from which to start.

Looking at specific aspects of one’s game doesn’t imply a whole new approach to the game. You will be using any new skills or information within your overall approach to the game. Just because we are looking at information in isolation doesn’t mean we will be using it in isolation.

Anyway, that’s where my head’s going on this.

All of those things set the stage for what you will likely do on the flop.

If you haven’t thought about your hand odds before the flop and bet accordingly you are already making mistakes and have probably allowed more players in to the hand which reduces your odds of winning that hand even if you hit the flop.

Taking a specific hand post flop to analyze a strategy without knowing position, stack, read on opponents number of opponents in the hand, pre-flop bet and hand odds is like trying to solve a puzzle with half the pieces missing.

There just isn’t any way to really determine strategy without those pieces included IMO.

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Can’t argue with that. Yet, here we are, now what?

Yes, all that preflop stuff is important. Does that make post-flop play less important somehow? Solid post flop play is a critical skill, I hope you aren’t suggesting we ignore it.

Keep in mind that I write for the less experienced players. They aren’t brand new to the game, but they aren’t quite ready to dive into the deep end of the math pool just yet. There are tons of players like this, and keeping a tight focus on one aspect of the game at a time seems a great way to accumulate skills easily.

Not only am I not suggesting it I also don’t suggest ignoring it pre-flop which appears to be what you are trying to do.

You can’t analyze a hand in a vacuum SPG.

I’m not ignoring anything. But whatever.

I can analyze anything any way I want. I can analyze “flop top pair” the same way i can analyze “right suspension arm,” and just as looking at the suspension arm in isolation gives me a better understanding of its role in “car,” a better understanding of top pair gives me a better understanding of its role in the game.


That is a great analogy SPG!

BUT lets take that analogy and break it down because just knowing you have a great looking suspension arm is ignoring your engine is missing a carburetor or that your opponents are throwing a wrench in to your engine.

In poker terms that is called a blind spot when players just focus on their own hand without also analyzing what your opponent is likely holding and that starts pre-flop by their bet and your read of their play style and the stacks of your opponents and if it is a tourney or ring and your position.

Players that get a blind spot and only focus on that great suspension arm or hit pair will miss that your opponent hit the flush or straight or has a higher pair that you should have picked up on from their pre-flop bet or read of their play style.

Nothing worse than getting to a river and realizing you have been played for a fish and your opponent had you beat from the flop or turn because you were only focused on your great suspension arm hand.

That is all I am saying!

Not to pile on, but I think @BigDogxxx is absolutely right here. Picking up top pair, top kicker on a 9-7-3 rainbow flop, you’re probably far ahead in the big blind against a 3x button open when the rest of the table has folded. If you’d called a 50BB 4-bet along with another reg plus the 4-bettor, you’re probably behind with the same hand. Understanding the preflop action is critical to understanding how to act/react in this spot.

If you ever flat called a 50BB 4-bet with A9, you have bigger problems than wondering if you’re ever good on that flop.

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OK, so I flop top 2 pair. Because I have studied this situation, I know I will make a full house about 8% on the turn, and the same on the river. This, and many other bits of information are true now and will remain true no matter what happened preflop. Is it better to know this kind of stuff, or to not know it?

Now here it is a week later and you find yourself in that situation. Does knowing you will turn a FH 8% of the time somehow create a magic blind spot that makes you forget to consider the preflop action? Is someone suggesting that knowing thing “A” makes you forget thing “B”?

I would like to be in situations that I understand. Since I am thinking about hands beforehand, there isn’t any preflop information to consider yet. You can rest assured, however, that “preflop action” will be one of the several factors considered, both in advance and during actual play.

Of course, this all takes us to the zoo, where I see this guy selling balloons. He had a big bunch of heart-shaped foil ones, each no doubt bearing words so sweet that reading just one of them could give a fella diabetes. My eyes not being what they used to be, I was spared having to actually read them, but I did see them bobbing in the breeze like shining spirits.

Naturally, that got me to thinking about ghosts, so I got a little sad. Being sad made me remember this…


I don’t see my shove on the turn as a bluff. It was more of a prop bet. I was betting that he didn’t have a 6, and that he couldn’t continue without one. I clearly could have had a 6, a FH, or some other pair.

The sad part is that I knew he couldn’t have a 6, but was so totally wrong about him needing… something, to call. I like to see flops and play post-flop, misreading it by that much makes me sad. The stupid luck on the river doesn’t change anything.