Thursday, 18 March 2010

Experimenting with Aggression

I've had this idea floating around in my head for awhile which boils down to this in NLHE how much do your hole cards really matter? I don't mean the old 'any two cards can win' argument either that croupiers love to tell you about 'Aces are useless, I know I see them get beat all the time!'. I mean this: how often do you actually see a showdown? Not very often in my experience, especially in tourneys where if u see a river it usually means someone's tourney life is in the balance.

Anyways, it's just an idea that's based on what I know about poker being a very situational game of incomplete information. Even when you read the HOH intro Harrington lists 10 factors that should be considered in a tourney hand before your hole cards! And he's not exactly considered the most flamboyant of players!

I think you get the idea that I have been wondering for a while about which is can you disregard your hole cards in many NLHE situations? I was a bit nervous about writing this and one of the reasons is I've never read a great deal into this argument so I'm not very sure of it's validaty or the issues surrounding it (COMMENTS APPRECIATED).

The problem is I'm at a stage in my playing career where I'm beginnning (belatedly) to experiment with a LAGGY style in MTT's and whilst this idea underpins the LAGGY style, it is not HOW it works (usually). I mean, good LAG's seem to be mindful of this idea but also mindful of the fact that you cannot 'soul read' or see your opponents cards basically. So because of this fold equity alone is not sufficient to base your game around. Instead a safety net of equity should be maintained in most situations unless you feel the situation is too good to pass up on.

This may all sound pretty obvious but it feels worthwhile to put it into words. Especially as I have a recurring leak which is this: I am a black and white thinker in many ways. I tend not to be half hearted. So when it comes to me experimenting with new moves in a tourney I often find myself taking this idea to it's limit i.e. ignoring my cards completely and focusing only on the stacks, images, board texture, relative positions etc.

In summary I think I need to use showdown value as a safety net i.e. not bluff with air because I feel the situation is 'right' too much. Therefore as I'm only really beginning to experiment with a LAG style, I should should pick spots that are less risky but still challenge myself and experiment in new situations.

Some comments from a friend:

-i think the key is that there'll be some spots where a bet is profitable purely from fold equity
and then you can do it with any cards
-but there are a lot of marginal spots where fold equity isn't quite enough to make a bet + ev by itself and then you need some hand value to back it up, but not neccesarily very much


  1. Hey Will. Good post, their's so many factors that are more important or at least on the same level as your hole cards;

    Chip Stack's (BB's or effective BB's)
    Stage Of Tourney (Early? Near Bubble? Big Pay Jumps? Are Villains Looking To Ladder Up?)
    Your Image
    Their Image (Adapting accordingly)
    Fold Equity

    etc etc, particulary in the later stages anyway when 1 most decision are auto. There's a video on YouTube which shows Annette winning a SnG without looking at her hole cards which I decided to try over Circus about 2 yr ago (straight after I heard Annette did it) & I managed to finish 6th (in the money) out of like 35+ if I remember correctly.

    Hope this helps matey ;-)

  2. I know about that SNG, it was a 180 man. I tried it a few times and did OK in most of them lol. I've never tried it live though, nice work!