PokerUnderstanding the Fundamentals 3 November 2011 UCLU Poker Society Training Series
Summary of topics• Position• Hand requirements by position• Trouble hands• Bet sizing• Pot odds & implied odds• Bluffing and semi-bluffing• Flop texture & continuation bets
PositionSo what is position? Well, its simply where you are at thetable relative to the dealer. Since the dealer button shiftsclockwise one seat after each hand, your position ischanging each hand.Above is a screenshot of a PokerStars table illustratingwhat is considered early position, mid position,and late position.
Position Position is important as it allows you to see how your opponent acts before you act, allowing you to make better decisions. It is for this reason that you play stronger hands in early position, thus making your decisions easier. It is similar to negotiating a contract. Finding out how much your employer is willing to pay you allows you to make a better decision as to how much to ask for.The table above shows a players win rates by position at 6-max cash games.We can see that you win considerably more in the CO and BTN and much lessfrom early position. As well as this we can see that playing from the blinds isunprofitable as we almost always find ourselves OOP.This means that we wont to play only the strongest handsin early position, and as we move into late position we wantto start to play more hands to maximise our positional advantage.
Hand requirements by position• Below are the hand requirements by position in a 6-max cash game. This table assumes that stacks are 100BB’s deep and that there is no action in front of you.• UTG 22+, AJo+, ATs+, KJo+, QJo+, KTs+ - 13.7%• MP 22+, ATo, A9s, KTo, QTo+, JTo+ - 18.3%• CO 22+, A9o, A2s+, KTo+, QTo+, JTo+ - 21.3%• BTN 22+, A2o+, A2s+, K9o+, K8s+, Q9o+, J9o+, 67o+, 65s+ - 36.7%• SB 22+, A2o+, A2s+, K9o+, K8s+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o+, 78s+ - 31.8 %
Hand requirements by positionA few words of caution- The chart can be used as a guideline, however deviations should be made depending on your opponents, your image and table dynamics.- Play whichever hands you feel comfortable playing. If you are not comfortable playing 76o or A2o, then don’t play it just because the chart says so- This chart varies for the type of game we are playing. This assumes a cash game. In a tournament or sit and go, your hand requirements will change depending on your stack. E.g you have 13BB’s and are dealt 33 UTG. This is clearly a fold!- For a 9 handed game, simple stretch the position. For instance, at a 9 handed game, UTG would be 22+, AQo+ , AJs+, KQs+
Trouble hands • AT, AJ, KT, KJ, KQ, QT, JT• Why are they trouble hands?• Put simply they are easily dominated by other hands. AK dominates practically all of these hands and AQ dominates the rest. AA, KK, QQ also dominate them.• They may be pretty but they will lose you money/chips long run if you play them too often!
Trouble hands• Example 1: Youre dealt K-J off suit in the cutoff position. The UTG player raises pre-flop. What do you do? Fold. The likelihood of them raising with a weaker hand is unlikely. Think of all the hands they could easily be raising with that you are behind: A-J, A-Q, A-K, K-Q, 10-10, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A- A. Even all smaller pairs such as 9-9 thru 2-2 you are slightly behind (although its nearly 50/50 if you were to see all 5 community cards)• Example 2: Youre dealt K-J off suit in the cutoff position. Everyone folds to you. What do you do? Raise. Same hand, same position, but now were raising instead of folding? Yes. Now you have more information. The 5 people to act before you all folded, and there are only 3 left to act behind you. Now K-J appears to be a stronger hand. The less players left to act, the smaller chance there is of them having a stronger hand.
Bet sizing• Pre flop• You should generally raise anywhere between 2-3 times the big blind. NEVER CALL THE BIG BLIND. This is a horrible mistake and costs you money! How much depends on what you’re playing. If you are 70BB deep or more then 3x is good. If you are playing a tournament or sit and go and have a stack of 22BB, then a raise to 2x is good.• Why not raise more?• A raise to 5bb simply builds a bigger pot. We are trying to avoid building a big pot pre flop. For instance, assume you are 100bb deep. You raise to 5bb, one player calls. The pot is now 10bb. A standard bet would be 7BB. The player calls. The pot is now 24bb and we don’t have much of a hand. We have committed 12% of our stack. Now assume the same example, but instead you raise to 3BB. The pot is 6BB, you bet 4BB and get called. The pot is now 14bb and we have only committed 7%.• Also with a 5bb raise its hard to get called with a worse hand. We are trying to get our opponents to make a mistake. A 5bb raise makes it hard to achieve that.• ALWAYS raise the same amount pre-flop, whether you have AA or 76o!
Bet sizing• Flop• As seen from our previous example, we generally bet the flop between 50-75% of what is already in the pot.• Why not bet more/less?• If we were to bet more than the pot, then we end up building a massive pot for ourselves when called, but more importantly we would make it incredibly difficult for worse hands to call.• By betting less we simply give our opponents good odds to draw out on us (more about that in the next slide)• Turn• Turn bets generally vary a lot more than flop bets in terms of sizing. By this stage we want to be thinking about what hands our opponent has and what bet he will call/fold. For instance if you put your opponent on a flush draw, you may want to bet more to squeeze as much value as possible as a flush is only 20% to come in on the river.• River• Again this is situation dependant, all depends on what the board looks like, what our opponent has etc.
Pot odds and implied odds• Pot odds are simply what price we are getting when calling a bet.• For instance I have 9h8h. It is a $1/$2 game and the pot $9. The flop is Ah7h4c. My opponent bets $6 and the pot is now $15. I am getting odds of about 2.5-1.• The chances of hitting a flush with 2 cards to come is 30%. However, my odds are only 2.5-1, which means that by calling here I am getting the wrong price to draw to my flush and should fold.• This is where implied odds come in. Implied odds indicate whether you believe you can make more money from your opponents in future rounds of betting. So calling in this spot can be correct, if your opponent will pay off future bets. If your opponent wont pay off when the flush comes in, then you should fold.• DO NOT OVERESTIMATE IMPLIED ODDS.• They are rarely as good as you think they are, especially when chasing flush draws!• Implied odds also refers to hands pre-flop. Hands with good implied odds are generally small pocket pairs 22-77 and suited connectors 56s+. These are hands that can generally crack AA. For instance a tight player raises UTG and you have 22 OTB. You are 100bb deep. A call here is perfect as it is likely your opponent will stack off with AA, KK, QQ, AK, on the right flop. Suited connectors usually play better against multiple opponents.• Calculating outs• There is a very simple method to do this. Its called the 4-2 rule. Multiply the number of outs you have by 4x on the flop and 2x on the turn to give you a rough percentage of where you stand in the hand.
Bluffing and semi-bluffing• We bet for two reasons, either we believe a worse hand can call or we believe a better hand can fold.• So when we bluff, we should be able to put our opponents on a range of hands that they will fold on a given flop.• Semi-bluffing and semi-bluff raising involve betting when we don’t have a hand quite yet, but we have plenty of outs.• So, imagine we have AhKh. We raise and get 1 caller. The flop comes Qh4hTc. We don’t technically have a hand yet, but we have a flush draw and a straight draw. Any heart and any J gives us 13 outs, while if our A and K are still live we have 19 outs twice. We are a 57/43 favourite against top pair.• Now imagine this same scenario but instead we call pre-flop. Our opponent bets this flop. This is an excellent spot to raise! By raising we give our opponent the chance to fold. Even if our opponent calls we still have loads of outs to make the best hand!• By calling we have to showdown the best hand, while by raising we can make our opponent fold and win the hand there and then.
Flop texture and c-bets• Flop texture• There are dry flops and wet flops. A dry flop is an uncoordinated board like Jc6h2d, K74, Ad8s4c. These boards have no obvious draws and will generally miss your opponents.• A wet flop is a board that is coordinated. For instance 8c9dJc, JsTd7s, 7d8sTd have both straight draws and flush draws on them.
Flop texture and c-bets• Continuation betting• A continuation bet is when we were the aggressor pre-flop and we continue to bet on the flop (regardless of whether we have a hand or not).• We do this because a 2/3 pot size bet only has to be successful 50% of the time to be profitable.• Moreover, as our opponents only hit the flop 30% of the time, we make it difficult for them to continue without a hand. We win much more money when we are the pre-flop raiser than when we just call.• For instance, the player OTB raises and we look down at QJs. We call and the flop comes Ac9d5h. We check and our opponent fires out a c-bet. It is likely that our opponent missed this flop as well, but we have no hand and have to guess whether our opponent hit the flop.• So this means that we want to c-bet dry flops a lot of the time and check on wetter boards (unless we hit them). Eg, we have AKo and get one caller. The flop comes 8c9dJc. If we know that our opponent calls with a paint cards and pocket pairs and a few suited connectors, then this is a good flop to check back. This board hits JT, QT, KT, KJ, KQ, 98, T9. As well as this we have very few outs to improve our hand. If the board read 952(rainbow), it hits his range much less of the time.• So c-betting is good. A good c-bet statistic is anywhere between 60-75%.
Questions? Alexander MacleodTraining Officer UCLU Poker Societyalexandermacleod@hotmail.co.uk