Dr. Sun's Poker Lab

Like many players on Replay Poker, your opponent believed in the magical properties of AK and did not respect your smaller stack.

Breaking this down even further, for you … lets now only consider your next action once see’n the flop come out… since remember… you did say, I have Trips …

It still matters how I got here, because that influences how I “use/dont use” whatever posistion I “may/may not” have …

I really like what you’re trying to do here tho. You’re trying to expose the audience to situations now, so they don’t startle them later on when they’re @ a table… the problem is, if I keep breaking this down to its lowest common denominator… I can tell you its 3 things… 1- Raise , 2- Call, 3- Fold. @this point you laugh, and say… haha, you zoomed in too far Sarah, back out a bit …

Thats kinda where I’m @ , and others are, because you zoomed in too close so we are ignoring information that is crucial to making correct decisions.

Obviously if I have a huge stack, and I have trips, and a nut flush draw, and a nut str8 draw, along with my trips are top set … I’m gonna check/call the flop, duhhhh
On the other hand, if I have bottom set, no stack, none of those things … yet they are all possible… I’m gonna check/fold the flop.

This is why , for me personally, its hard to look @ any 1 hand in a vaccum. because what happened on hand #4 might be the very reason you dominate hand #9 … Its also why even replay’s here, if you can’t see ALL of the hole cards, you can’t do a complete de-brief after the hand is over… so if 1 or more folds, then we’ll never know.

Maybe it might help do back up 1 street here… lets start with your hand.
There are only 5 possibilities …

1- your cards match (1)
2- you cards don’t match
… A- your cards are suited
… … a- your cards are connected (2)
… … b- your cards are not connected (3)
… B- your cards are not suited
… … a- your cards are connected (4)
… … b- your cards are not connected (5)

As for the flop …
There are 14 possibilities…

1- All 3 match (1)
2- 2 match
… A- 2 suited
… … a- 2 connected (2)
… … b- none connected (3)
… B- None suited
… … a- 2 connected (4)
… … b- none connected (5)
3- None match
… A- 3 suited
… … a- 3 connected (6)
… … b- 2 connected (7)
… … c- none connected (8)
… B- 2 suited
… … a- 3 connected (9)
… … b- 2 connected (10)
… … c- none connected (11)
… C- none suited
… … a- 3 connected (12)
… … b- 2 connected (13)
… … c- none connected (14)

There are 70 unique situations, if I did all this correctly…
Can we start there SunPowerGuru ???

Not something that’ll happen often, but imagine the following scenario. UTG opens to 5BB, folds to the button and SB who flat. I might squeeze A9s in the BB with a 22BB bet, and be getting decent odds on a call while closing the action if UTG 4-bets small to 50BB and gets a fold and a call behind.

I don’t think there are any major issues with my play here. A9s might be a touch loose for a 3-bet here, but it’s too strong to fold, and I’m not loving a called open 4-way out of position. Meanwhile, it’s way too weak for a 5-bet, and do you really fold to such a small 4-bet raise?

I don’t want to get this thread off track but IMO, this line is burning money from the start. If you are using A9s as a potential 3-bet/squeeze candidate to a 5x UTG open and 2 flats, you are already in a hole. When in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. That “small 4-bet” is going to cost you another 28BB, and then you are in a huge multiway pot with a nearly unplayable hand and a capped range, out of position. What could go wrong?

Let’s just say we disagree on the entire line from the start. I look at this play the same way as I’d look at someone being dealt AA on the button and mucking them face up, twice (you make ~11BB on AA in position).

Ham also makes a good sandwich…

Yes, but we aren’t making decisions yet. All we are trying to do with this first step is to try to get a better understanding of the “flow” of the hand, and use basic statistics to understand the various ways the hand could play out. We can also identify potential danger spots.

I guess I should have laid out the steps first, before giving examples. I got bogged down in trying to explain the first step and never got further. Let me correct that now…

Step one: pick a specific situation and take a close look at the math behind that hand. We can just say each card is 2% and get close enough for this step. For example, you flop top pair. so should turn trips 4% of the time. You will pair your other card on the turn 6% of the time. The board will pair one of the 2 other cards 12% of the time. If your opponent missed the flop, he will hit one or the other of his cards on the turn 12% of the time. We are taking a look at the raw framework of the hand, and the other factors will be built upon this framework.

Step 2: Collect some hands that fit the type you are looking at. Get hand numbers from a nice assortment of results. These will be hands that make it to showdown, and you don’t have to be involved in the hand. Just open a notepad doc and start pasting hand numbers from chat for the sort of hands you are looking at. Include basic information about those involved. Tight/loose? Passive/aggressive? Stuff like that.

Step 3: Study these hands. To continue our top pair example; how does this general hand type win or lose big pots? What did they do right? What mistakes are common? Note that you will need to add in all the other factors for this part.

Step 4: Incorporate what you have learned into your game and closely monitor your results. Make whatever adjustments needed.

“Poker” is a hard game to learn. Breaking it down into manageable pieces makes it easier.

This advice is not aimed at the best players on the site. Many are well beyond needing anything like this, though I do think every player could find some benefit in the general idea. For those who feel overwhelmed by the large number of facets to the game, however, might find this approach to be a path forward.

One must learn how to crawl before they can ever hope to dance.

We were talking in another thread about the importance of having actual data. Having data is important, but having GOOD data is critical. As they say, garbage in, garbage out.

I want to illustrate this point with a game theory classic, the prisoner’s dilemma. The standard solution to this problem not only yields the wrong answer, it gives the worst possible answer, and does so because the starting data is seriously flawed.

Two criminals are caught somewhere they aren’t supposed to be. The police suspect they were going to rob the place, but only have enough evidence to convict them of trespassing. They make each of the prisoners a deal… confess and implicate you partner and we will let you go.

If both prisoners remain silent, they will both be convicted of trespassing and get 1 month in jail. If either of them cooperates, they will serve 0 time while their partner serves 12 months. If both confess, the deal is off and both will get 8 months.
We can grid these results as follows:

The game theory solution is for both to confess and do the 8 months. This is considered the equilibrium point because, for either prisoner, changing their strategy yields no improvement. Both prisoners remaining silent would seem a better solution, but this is an unstable position because your results depend on what your partner does; if he confesses, your position gets worse.

A casual examination of the total times, for both prisoners, shows something is wrong, however. If both remain silent, the total time is 2 months. If one confesses, total time is 12 months, if both confess, total time is 16 months. The game theory solution is the worst possible solution, but it’s not game theory’s fault. It’s the fault of bad data. The grid should look like this…

Maybe doing 8 months as a known snitch seems better than doing 12 months as a stand-up guy if you are in the la la land of professional academia. Your average professor isn’t known for their street smarts, right? But here, in the real world, there are implications beyond the obvious. Known snitches don’t generally last very long.

Once we straighten out the flaws in the data, things look totally different. The “both remain silent” is now a stable solution. That this is the best solution is obvious, and game theory now backs this up.

The take away from all of this s that having data isn’t enough… you need accurate data.

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ok, no decisions … gotcha…
I look’d at “basic situations” allowing for combinations …

You have 2 cards = 5 situations
The flop 3 cards = 14 situations ( for board )
The turn 1 card = 30 situattion ( for board )
The river 1 card = 55 situations ( for board )
Combinations increase from (preflop) 5… (flop) 70… to (turn) 150… to (river) 275

When I think of situations ahead of time, I’m look’n for things like …
I flopp’d 2 pr, no xtras… the board turned both str8/flush draws … what do I do.
or I flopp’d top pr. med kicker… the turn pair’d the board above my kicker … what do I do.
Yea the math is important, but the situation dictates certain possible plays …

Am I on the right track yet ? I do think in a vaccum you can look @ situations.

Snitches get stitches, and confessing might jeopardize future profitable xriminal enterprise by alerting a ripe target and allowing it to be fortified.

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Yes Sarah, you are on the right track. Well, on the track I am talking about anyway, right or wrong.

The general idea is to look at “poker” as a collection of common and not so common situations, and that getting better at any one of them will make you a better player overall.

I would look first to one of the more common situations… flopping a pair. You can, and should, then break this down into top pair, second pair, bottom pair, and then examine a few variations within these groups. For example, you flop top pair. If there are 2 cards of the same suit on the flop, how does this change things?

There are many minor variations like this, but you should understand the basic situation before wandering off exploring all of them. The best way to eat a cow is one bite at a time, and the best way to learn poker is also one bite at a time.

Knowing how hands play out statistically will give you insights for how best to approach the hand in a real game.

For example, we can easily conclude that top pair is a vulnerable hand, and perhaps lean towards trying to end the hand on the flop, or at least make sure that nobody is getting the right odds to chase. Those who chase anyway are making a mistake, and we will profit from that mistake in the long run. This is one of the ways big pots are won with this type of hand, but trying to build a huge pot with 1 pair isn’t generally a great idea.

Anyway, it’s just something I am playing with right now. Thankfully, I am an almost endless supply of goofy ideas!

Good thread but I’m not sure people look at anything beyond their own cards. “I haz top pair” seems is the battle-cry most of the time. Forget kickers or board textures or that there are 5 people in a pot and 1 pair is rarely good by showdown. Just one recent example where I’m in the BB in a limped pot and flop top and bottom pair. I donk lead and get shoved on. Could be a flush draw or maybe this guy is someone who limps JJ? Either way, I’m ahead of these hands so I call. He turns over T9 so he flopped top pair, worthless kicker and no draws to speak of and thought it was a good shove. SMH. Even if he thought I had a T and was leading with 1 pair, what 10’s is he beating? At best he should call 1 street. Someone who was thinking more about anything other than his cards would assume he’s behind in this spot. https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/445624413

Did I need to call with that garbage hand? No, but its a cheap satellite to get me a ticket for another satellite for a 50K ticket so I’m ok stacking off with almost certainly the best hand on the flop.

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These are exactly the people I am trying to help to take that next step. I suspect there are lots of people who want to go further, but are overwhelmed and unsure of exactly how to go about it.

I hope helping people to better understand their cards within the greater context of the hand (and how it’s likely to play out) might help get them going in a constructive direction.


Good luck with that. I don’t know how many people want to get better but I’m all for anyone that does. I’ve run across a good number of people who seem to have no other goal than to screw up the game for everyone else at the table. I guess that is something else that comes with a free poker site. I don’t understand that desire but it’s pretty annoying to deal with when these people drop in on the game you’re in. I have to be careful about what I say here now in case some snowflake has their wittle feelings hurt. However, I do not think I owe these people any respect or kindness or consideration of any sort. If they come to spoil the game for everyone else, I take it as part of my mission to take their chips and send them packing as quickly as possible. I don’t want them to be able to keep repeating their behavior. Life is too short to play bad poker with jerks. If that offends them or hurts their precious feelings, well that’s just a bonus for me.

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ok, so I get my 2 cards, as with anything usually… higher is better…
after that… do they match, are they suited, are they connected …

So many people talk about pre-flop and post-flop , play … as they should.

Pre-flop is the most seen by any player … duhh :sunglasses: because lets face it … if you’re not grey, then you get to play pre-flop … :crazy_face: every hand !!

Decide what your basic kind of starting hands you either play well, or seem to win with. Those will be the most comfortable for you, so lets call those “hands you like”, also decide which basic hands just don’t work for you, or are hardest to play… those are “hands you don’t like”…

Some people yell @ me after see’n my cards, and say why did you raise with that… Well, thats easy… " I like’d my hand ", so I raised with it… sue me :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Obviously table posistion, button posistion, table presense, and chipstack matter… but as you learn to play certain starting hands well, you can then increase the diversity of your starting range of hands you play (well).

As you learn to play any 1 hand well, you will notice… instead of calculating the flop, you’re now looking to the turn or river, when deciding what to do on the flop. You already know what your going to do when that turn & river do come out…

Here is where your post-flop strategies evolve from. Once the flop is out, so much changes because now ppl can do 80% of the math. Basically everyone knows where they really stand, and what can improve or hurt them going forward.

Yes the math is important, but so is who you’re playing against. And prolly as you get better, you already have memorized the math, for all those … hands you like. So you also need to be prepared ahead of time for other players

If your in a tough spot, and 1 of those players you know has a specific reputation, are you going to let that cloud your judgement. Or if its a much higher ranked player, will you let yourself get intimidated ??? you gotta be rdy for this as well …

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I suspect a lot of people have no idea where they stand, so have no idea what will hurt them going forward. Having a working knowledge of the statistical framework and flow of the hand, post flop, can help you to make correct decisions.

No limit lets us use bet sizing to “block” or allow certain types of hands to continue. Blocking a hand doesn’t mean you stop them from continuing, it just means you make it incorrect to continue. If I can force you to male a mistake like that, I will profit in the long run.

For example, let’s say there’s 1k in the pot, and both of us have 1k left behind. I have top pair and you have a flush draw. If I move in on the turn, you will need to risk 1k in order to win 2k, which is 2-1 pot odds. You should make your flush about 1 time in 5, so it’s a mistake to continue. If you continue anyway, I win long term.

If we do this 5 times, you will win 2k once and lose 1k 4 times, putting me 2k ahead. In effect, I make 400 per hand whether you make the flush or not. And yes Sassy, I know you already know about EV, but remember, you aren’t my target audience.

By the way, the modular approach can also be used for pre-flop play. There are, after all, only so many pre-flop situations. When looking at pre-flop play, however, you have to include considerations like ranges, position, stack sizes, and so on.

I think good post-flop play will win you more than good pre-flop play. It’s also easier to get better at post-flop, so offers more potential upside for the time invested.

Liking the thread but I don’t agree with these statementa at all. Preflop is the foundation of any player’s game and probably the easiest to work on because there are the smallest number of factors to consider. Everything you do preflop is magnified street by street so mistakes made here are actually the costliest you can make. Looking at it the other way, if your preflop game is garbage, then no amount of postflop skill is going to make up for it entirely. I’m not saying preflop play is easy but it is the most basic element of the game, along with game selection.

OK, that is interesting. Just out of curiosity, what’s your breakdown of hands won at showdown and without showdown? Mine is…

Pots won… 12%
At Showdown… 55%
Without Showdown… 45%

Not sure if you’re asking me or someone else. I’m happy to share if you are interested. Just tell me game type and I’ll pull up my HUD stats for it.

Well, here it is if you want it for my last 56,567 hands in MTT’s and SnG’s:
PFR: 20
WTS: 26
W$S: 58

There are other stats I can give you if you want or I can pull up ring game hands. I’m not sure total hands won means much but I’m getting to showdown 26% of the hands I’m in and winning those pots 58% of the time.

You can only win a hand pre-flop if everyone else folds. These will usually be small pots.

There are more ways to win post-flop, and the pots are usually bigger.

Yeah, pre-flop is important, but I think I win way more with my post-flop play. Whether it’s squeezing out maximum value with the nuts or stealing the pot with air, post-flop is where the money’s at.

We shall have to agree to disagree on this.

Let’s say you raise to 5BB preflop with KK and I call. Flop comes AJJ, you c-bet, I come over the top allin. What mistake did you make pre? Can you call, even if you suspect I might have nothing?

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I’m good with that. If I agreed with everyone I met, I’d be bored out of my mind. I’m sure there are more ways to approach this game than I can count. That’s part of what makes it fun and would like to see where you take your idea from here.

The KK hand - no mistake preflop. Its one hand and crap happens. Over time, you should make about 5BB each time you have KK. I can go into my hand histories and tell you what I’m making on average with which hands by what position. The little errors preflop wind up being huge leaks when looked at over time. You can’t waste 1 or 2 BB each hand with garbage and expect to be a winning player. No idea what in the world the villain could be jamming with, assuming stacks are relatively deep. Its a spew play whether it gets the fold or not.

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