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Limit Texas Hold'em >> Small Stakes Hold'em

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Ed Miller
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Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels
      #495010 - 01/25/04 07:50 PM

This is a post targetted to the posters who have been around for at least a few months. If you are brand new to poker, ignore this for now (but bookmark it and come back in two months).

How many of you still ask preflop questions like,

"How many limpers do I need to play..."
"Do I have the odds to call with..."

etc.

How many of you give preflop advice like,

"Without at least three limpers you have to muck..."
"You are getting 7-to-1 so you should..."

If you still think this way about preflop play, it's time to take the training wheels off!

Preflop play is NOT about "pot odds." It is not about how many limpers you have. Preflop play is about getting to see flops against players who will give you their money by playing poorly.

The goal of preflop play is to maximize your time spent playing after the flop against weak players and weak hands and minimize it against strong players and strong hands.

You make money in poker from your play after the flop. You've already noticed how poorly many of these players play after the flop. They put in tons of bets as huge underdogs. They don't put in enough bets as the favorite. They hemorrhage money after the flop.

When bad players limp in front of you, you should want to play with them. Say you have a hand like K4s, and two bad players limp in. You should WANT to play. Your hand has no advantage over theirs at this point. But after the flop, you will make good decisions, and they will make terrible ones. Your hand isn't good, but it is good enough.

Now you may decide not to play K4s even though you WANT to play. You might not play because you are in middle position, and the chance someone will pick up a big hand behind you is too high. You might not play because there are strong players behind you who can really interfere with your goal of playing against weak players and weak hands. But you should WANT to play. If you are on the button, then you SHOULD play because there's no one behind you to screw with your plans.

When it is raised in front of you (by a normal raiser) you should want to fold K4s. You are playing against a strong hand, and you want to minimize your exposure against strong hands.

If two strong, tricky players enter the pot in front of you, you DON'T WANT to play K4s. You want to minimize your exposure against good players.

You can play quite loose if you are sure you will only be playing against bad players and bad hands. Your superior skills after the flop can turn very marginal hands into solid winners.


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Bob T.
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495017 - 01/25/04 07:56 PM

Amen.

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balkii
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495018 - 01/25/04 07:56 PM

Great post, major. One thing I think you forgot to mention was "Forget about which 'group' your hand is in." I fortunately didnt read HPFAP until after I had being playing a while, so I never memorized hand groupings or anything. I think this has helped me to see each hand for its unique value in each situation.

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MarkD
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495053 - 01/25/04 08:25 PM

Excellent, although I don't totally agree. There are times when you want to consider the number of limpers, but this is covered by your caveat paragraph near the bottom. Put that whole paragraph in bold as it illustrates the thought process that a players needs to go through.

The paragraph I mean is the one that starts: "Now you may decide not to play K4s even though you WANT to play."


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Al_Capone_Junior
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Excellent post MajorKong! (NM) [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495071 - 01/25/04 08:39 PM



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Ed Miller
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: MarkD]
      #495081 - 01/25/04 08:48 PM

You are right, there are times when how many people are in the pot matters. I obviously oversimplified preflop play just a wee bit.

I just wanted to expose some people to a preflop paradigm they obviously aren't familiar with. BTW, I think my paradigm is more useful and "correct" than the pot odds paradigm under typical circumstances.


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Sleepy Weasel
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495089 - 01/25/04 09:02 PM

So seriously, can I preorder "Correcting common mistakes in Low Limit Hold'em" by Ed Miller through 2+2 now? (ok, maybe the title needs some work).

Yes, I know its probably all in HPFAP, but having someone else say these things it in a slightly different way really does help. Thank you.


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dirty_dan
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495096 - 01/25/04 09:10 PM

This is a very valuable post. I'm not sure when I've started thinking along these lines, but I've found that I now get a little upset when I'm dealt a nice speculative hand that I can't play - Axs or 98s early, 65s in late position against only an MP raiser. Hands that can be big against the blind opponents that regularly sit at my table and pay off with their middle pair. I know I can usually avoid being trapped should I flop a weak pair, so I see the potential profit in all those hands.

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Ulysses
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Well put (nm) [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495129 - 01/25/04 09:41 PM



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colgin
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495180 - 01/25/04 10:20 PM

OK, your point is well taken. Let me just ask this as a follow-up. . . . Instead of K4s on the button, say you have K6s in the cutoff. Now, how many limpers do you need to have in front of you to play this hand?

Just joking.

Another really excellent post.



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bernie
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495189 - 01/25/04 10:25 PM

nice post.

i think it was in jones' or kreigers' book where one of them said basically, on a loose table (assuming passive) you only need to play just tighter than the other players. primarily because of what you said about them blowing chips postflop.

now of course, that's assuming one's postflop play is good and they dont trap themselves the way the live ones do. such as in your example, flopping a K and seeing lots of action on the flop by these passive players.

profiling players and planning ahead would help this greatly. some players only begin to plan once the action is on them. many only watch the action in front and not consider the possibilities behind.

another responder made a good mention about hand groups which goes along with this post. that's an area that should be 'expanded' in one's knowledge as they play a little more and realize what 'type' of hands play against certain 'textures'.

b


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BottlesOf
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Devil's advocate [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495211 - 01/25/04 10:47 PM

I really like this post, and I think this paradigm is a great approach, however... I think the advice is also a little dangerous. It begins to sound like, disregard probability, mathematics, science, whatever and "play your instincts," assuming you're against weaker opponents.

This new paradigm may be great for players with a lot of experience, but I feel like what "the book says" is an important foundation (maybe even more than a mere foundation) for most players.

I have played this game seriously for 5 months, and I have made what I consider a lot of money, considering what I started with. However, I do not think I have the experience necessary to play as spontaneously as this advice seems to advocate. I find myself constantly questioning whether or not to play certain hands given the texture of the game, the playing qualitites of the limpers on that hand (and yes, the number of limpers too.)

In sum, I think this approach is great. It's one I'm growing to embrace, but embracing cautiously and analytically. In many marginal situations, I'm not convinced of that "play it and you'll make the money after the flop" is +EV for me. I would still like to reserve the right to ask some questions that sound like I'm keeping the training wheels on, in an effort to understand why I should do, what I should do.


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Ed Miller
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: BottlesOf]
      #495264 - 01/25/04 11:18 PM

You are absolutely right.

In fact, I fully support the use of training wheels. All I want to do is shake some of you guys out of your preflop rut a little. I want to expose you to how expert players begin to think about preflop play. This post is for the people who don't understand why you should play A3s on the button after one weak limper.

No need to "forget everything you ever knew about preflop play." Just open your mind a little bit...


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Gomez22
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Excellant post - and a few thoughts [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495310 - 01/25/04 11:42 PM

Nice post again, Ed (MK)..... I have a few thoughts to add that relate to this:

I don't know exactly when it happened, but when I first started playing hold em in August 2003, I was constantly counting pot odds versus my outs to determine my calling/raising/folding status; even PF with marginal hands. Now, however, I just take an estimation..... If the pot has alot of money in it for the limit I'm playing, I'll usually peel the turn and go from there, folding if not improving, calling or raising if I do. I don't have numbers to back it up, because I'm too lazy to check back through every single time I've done it, but I would imagine it's made me a wee bit more than if I had played "strictly by the odds".

There have been times I've limped with hands like 76s UTG at a loose passive table (even J9s, or QJo) because I WANTED to play those hands, as you would say because the table "allowed" me to do exactly that. Would I have done this beginning? Hell, no. Would I do this now? Only under proper circumstances.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there seem to be "rules" and "guidelines" for playing hold em, but they sometimes seem to rarely apply very often in every situation. This part I'm just learning, and I think I may be taking a beating doing it somewhat, as I did take about 3 weeks off the game, but it's coming back pretty well now, and I enjoy seeing your posts that really don't spit in the face of "tradition", but expand new horizons for others to think about.

Keep it up, I know I enjoy the reads!

'Mez


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MarkD
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495312 - 01/25/04 11:46 PM

Absolutely agree.

Although I've never seen it expressed as eloquently it's how I think pre-flop. I guess I've just never thought about it before.


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Nottom
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495466 - 01/26/04 02:32 AM

I think this post is a great example of why small pocket pairs often have much more value then people give them credit for.

If there are one or two aggressive players in a pot that will put in a lot of bets with top pair of an overpair, those smallish pocket pairs are looking mighty tasty even for a raise. Add a calling station or two and its gonna take a nasty cold-call for me to let go of my 55 preflop.


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Tosh
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #495583 - 01/26/04 05:24 AM

Good advice here Major as usual.

1 quick question where I think I still get it wrong is with a small pocket pair after 1 or no limpers. Say I have 22 in the CO after 1 weak limper or limpers whats my play. Do I raise ? Do I all hoping to catch ? Do I fold against certain types of players ?

Help here would be appreciated because its an area I still don't quite get how to play.


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kiddo
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: BottlesOf]
      #495674 - 01/26/04 07:55 AM

Quote:

It begins to sound like, disregard probability, mathematics, science, whatever and "play your instincts," assuming you're against weaker opponents.

This new paradigm may be great for players with a lot of experience, but I feel like what "the book says" is an important foundation (maybe even more than a mere foundation) for most players.




Yep, this is important.

What Majorkong basically says is: "Play the player, not the odds." And that is excellent advice! But it cant be used if you dont already have learned the foundations from books.

The advice is a bit tricky on internet - specially if you play multiple tables - because you dont have a good read on the people coming and going. And if you dont have a read on the other players? Well, there are the odds again.

When I play Party Poker $2/4, full table, Im seeing about 30% of the flops. When Im playing 5/10 shorthanded (6max) Im seeing a bit less, abouut 28%. If the players at 2/4 suddenly all would move up to 5/10 shorthanded I think my flops seen % would go up to around 40%. The players make a bif difference in my preflop decisions.


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Redhot_man
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: kiddo]
      #495675 - 01/26/04 07:57 AM

Quote:

Quote:

It begins to sound like, disregard probability, mathematics, science, whatever and "play your instincts," assuming you're against weaker opponents.

This new paradigm may be great for players with a lot of experience, but I feel like what "the book says" is an important foundation (maybe even more than a mere foundation) for most players.




Yep, this is important.

What Majorkong basically says is: "Play the player, not the odds." And that is excellent advice! But it cant be used if you dont already have learned the foundations from books.

The advice is a bit tricky on internet - specially if you play multiple tables - because you dont have a good read on the people coming and going. And if you dont have a read on the other players? Well, there are the odds again.

When I play Party Poker $2/4, full table, Im seeing about 30% of the flops. When Im playing 5/10 shorthanded (6max) Im seeing a bit less, abouut 28%. If the players at 2/4 suddenly all would move up to 5/10 shorthanded I think my flops seen % would go up to around 40%. The players make a bif difference in my preflop decisions.



30% is a lot of hands for any ten handed table...


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Mike
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #496039 - 01/26/04 12:37 PM

I agree with the spirit behind your post 100%!

To find good information or reasonable discussion on topics we should have an interest in, ie, betting frequency, bluffing frequency, game theory application, game type strategy, I find myself back in the 98,99 archives or Google archives where S & M, Lederer and others have something worth saying that goes for 20 or 30 posts per thread with real solid content and thinking that is levels above my own.

How many times must we rediscuss, How do I...., Should I have... when it pertains to odds or starting cards? Any single hand is just that, we discuss the mechanics of proper play of a hand at length but it has little to do with reality of the table if you are really thinking about what is going on.

Perhaps I turned this into a minor rant, sorry. I just meant to say I agree with your thinking here, lets move on to more relevent topics.


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onegymrat
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #496108 - 01/26/04 01:22 PM

Hi Ed,

First off, thank you for taking time to post this well thought-out tip.
Quote:

If you are brand new to poker, ignore this for now (but bookmark it and come back in two months).


I also think that we need to keep this quote it mind. Your lesson for the day certainly made the light bulb in my head go off. This is the type of post that for this forum was built, to learn to play better by helping each other learn. But we need to keep in mind that the advice is for those who are confident in their above average postflop play, otherwise, you become the donater. Perhaps "two months" may be a bit ambitious. Thanks again and good luck.

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slogger
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Are you related to Yogi Berra? [Re: Gomez22]
      #496119 - 01/26/04 01:28 PM

Quote:

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there seem to be "rules" and "guidelines" for playing hold em, but they sometimes seem to rarely apply very often in every situation .





Just kidding, man! No offense. I just couldn't stop laughing when I read this line.


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kiddo
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: Redhot_man]
      #496259 - 01/26/04 02:41 PM

Quote:

30% is a lot of hands for any ten handed table...




I have heard that many times (voluntarily I put in $ 22%). At 2/4 Party Poker I am winning 4,4BB/hour (playing 2-3 tables... so 8,8 or 13,2BB/h) (sample is 220 hours)

Nearly half of my winnings is on the button and there i put $ in preflop 27%. (I think I play pretty aggressive, specially when in position.)

You who are tighter, what are your winrates? If somebody else is making 5-6BB at these tables, playing tighter, maybe I should tighten up. (I understand that 220 hours isnt a lot...)


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CrackerZack
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: kiddo]
      #496332 - 01/26/04 03:29 PM

I play about 90% of my hands and make about 45 BBs/hr. My sample size is about 1,000 hands chosen selectively from my PT database. I attribute my success to drastically inflating my numbers to make me feel better about myself and poor record keeping when I have a bad session.

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JTG51
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: CrackerZack]
      #496375 - 01/26/04 04:00 PM

I play about 90% of my hands and make about 45 BBs/hr.

Wow, you suck.

I won a 35 big bet pot last night. Since I play about 180 hand/hr online, I figure I can extrapolate that to mean I play 100% of my hands and average 6300 BB/Hr. You obviously have a lot to learn Zack.


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kiddo
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: CrackerZack]
      #496405 - 01/26/04 04:24 PM

What did I do wrong in my post?

I played a lot $2/4 in august last year and not much since then. I only have 220 hours in Poker Tracker.

Are you suggesting I am lying about my winrate?

Why? Its an insult. Read my other posts. Im taking this forum very serious. Im studying hard to get better at poker and I cant understand why people cant share there winrates. We are here to learn and winrate is very important trying to understand which strategy is best.

I have heard 1000 times that seeing 30% of the flops is to much at $2/4. I dont think it is because they are so passive, and they pay you off when you hit, that a lot of drawing hands becomes EV+. Average seen flops is 45%, so it is not like I am a loose goose.


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Bob T.
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: kiddo]
      #496431 - 01/26/04 04:41 PM

In a game where 45% of the players are taking the flop, seeing 30% of the flops makes you appreciably tighter than the field, and if you have an edge postflop, you should be able to do well. If you can see most of those flops for 1 bet, (except when you want to make it more) I think a lot of hands are going to be playable in positions earlier than in more aggressive games, and you probably have a reasonable approach.

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rigoletto
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: Ed Miller]
      #496460 - 01/26/04 04:53 PM

I hope you raise that A3s !

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Mike Gallo
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: CrackerZack]
      #496528 - 01/26/04 05:44 PM

Zack,

I gain more respect for you more with each post you write.

I like the satire.

I cannot which post I found funnier, this one JoeTalls about loose passive games.

Keep the sarcasm flowing, its the sign of a quick mind


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kiddo
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: Bob T.]
      #496550 - 01/26/04 05:59 PM

Quote:

you probably have a reasonable approach




Thank you. One man is insane, two is the start of a movement.


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CrackerZack
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Re: Devil's advocate [Re: kiddo]
      #496581 - 01/26/04 06:17 PM

As my PM said, it wasn't personally directed at you, just the type of post. Onto this response...

Quote:

Are you suggesting I am lying about my winrate?

Why? Its an insult.




No. but I believe it is currently inflated. multitabling with no degradation isn't possible, unless you're not paying any attention when playing a single table so its no different.

Quote:

We are here to learn and winrate is very important trying to understand which strategy is best.




I believe there are less than 10 people on this site that know their true win rates and davidross is probably the only one that could give you the most data about it. The problem is that most of the winrate stuff posted here is rarely statisically significant. It may be semi-large data, but it still leaves error margins that are off the charts. And making a comment about pre-flop play is just leaving out too much detail. Sure, I agree, 30% isn't too much against loose passive opponents, but if you suck post flop, it is which is why win rates are also so hard to compare. We aren't robots seeing the same flops with similar situations but tweaking input parameters like flop percentage. We have 4 streets to make decisions and the better your decisions are on future streets, the less the one on the first street matters.

Zack


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Mike Gallo
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the wealth of this post...an add on.. [Re: Ed Miller]
      #496590 - 01/26/04 06:23 PM

I experienced something Saturday night at the Borgata that will demonstrate the potential wealth of this post.

A young man ( Columbia) at the table two seats to my left took out a starting hands chart whenever he did not know what to do preflop. He would refer to the chart quite often. He had no qualms about telling everyone the hands he folded and why he folded them.

To demonstrate the wealth within the original post, I offer the following situation. Our hero Columbia through away the potentially dangerous A3 suited from the cutoff position. He had two limpers and according to Sklansky you never play this with only two limpers. He stated that he needed to know for the certain that neither blinds would raise and the small blind would have called.

Of course as fate would have it Columbia would have turned the nuts and gotten paid off by a set and a J high flush. The small blind only called with Jacks, and the big blind also just checked.

In all fairness to Columbia he never said a word during the hand, however his body language said it all. After the hand ended he gave the play by play.

I do not think a player will beat poker with such a rigid standard.



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Vehn
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #496605 - 01/26/04 06:31 PM

Haven't read any other posts because I'm lazy.

I'll just say that most of the posters here play multiple tables of online poker and have generally no idea how good or bad their opponents are.

Also, I believe you're letting this pro thing go to your head.



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Mike Gallo
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Reged: 09/02/02
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Vehn]
      #496640 - 01/26/04 06:59 PM

Also, I believe you're letting this pro thing go to your head.

Nahhh, he has had to post these free style posts as part of his initiation to the underground poker network.

You do have to admit he has thrown up some high quality/cutting edge posts.

This post seems less irritable, did you get through the cold turkey phase? I found that the hardest.





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Ed Miller
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Vehn]
      #496726 - 01/26/04 08:16 PM

Also, I believe you're letting this pro thing go to your head.

Sweet... I'm finally where you are after two long years.


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Vehn
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Reged: 09/02/02
Posts: 2752
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Ed Miller]
      #496732 - 01/26/04 08:22 PM

Quote:

Also, I believe you're letting this pro thing go to your head.

Sweet... I'm finally where you are after two long years.




................................................ ^^ YM "Dynasty". HTH.


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Stu Pidasso
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Reged: 09/11/02
Posts: 779
Great advice for a 10/20 but much less so for a 1/2 [Re: Ed Miller]
      #497014 - 01/27/04 12:14 AM

Ed,

This certainly is good advice for a middle limit game where you contribution to the rake will not be impacted by playing a few extra hands.

In a $1/$2 your strongest opponent is the rake and the only defense against the rake is tight play.

Stu


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Vehn
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Mike Gallo]
      #497074 - 01/27/04 12:59 AM

Oh yeah its been a lot better since this weekend. Although being at the table right outside the "casino games" room (smoking) sucked ass though. I have to admit I caved and bummed a smoke from JasonM when I was stuck ~$2600, though.

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Joe Tall
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Reged: 04/11/03
Posts: 4238
Loc: Worcester, MA
Re: Devil's advocate [Re: kiddo]
      #497281 - 01/27/04 07:16 AM

Quote:

We are here to learn and winrate is very important trying to understand which strategy is best.




Winrate has little to do with strategy. You should micronize your studying. Analyze every turn of a card and your actions/reactions here. Looking at overall stats and trying to mimic them is not going to make you a winning player.

Anyone could easily drop their flops scene to 22% and be a losing player. The game is just too dynamic.

Peace,
Joe Tall


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Mike Gallo
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Re: Preflop Play: Take off the training wheels [Re: Vehn]
      #497308 - 01/27/04 08:23 AM

I have to admit I caved and bummed a smoke from JasonM when I was stuck ~$2600, though.

Meh, once I lost with AA to a live player who called me all the way with 33 and hit his set on the river and check raised me.

Needless to say, after that I gave in to my nicotine addiction.

Nice to hear you have made a solid attempt at quitting.


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BottlesOf
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Reged: 06/04/03
Posts: 863
I respectfully disagree [Re: Mike]
      #497525 - 01/27/04 11:58 AM

Perhaps it's old hat to you, but to myself who is still quite new to the game, I do not feel I have as solid a grasp as I would like on starting hands, and will coninue to post questions on them. (Hopefully someone will answer ) I have moved past ABC hand groupings questions, and am considering my players' tendencies and their pf actions, so hopefully my questions won't be too simplistic or boring. Although there are probably many situations where I don't know the optimal move, and maybe some of these questions will have been already covered years ago. I would request that anyone who finds these posts redundant/annoying to please ignore them.

However, I'm looking to improve all aspects of my game including pf, and anywhere I can enhance my understanding or add a little to my EV, I'm going to try and do it.


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Mike
addict


Reged: 10/10/02
Posts: 516
Loc: The Sticks
Re: I respectfully disagree [Re: BottlesOf]
      #497611 - 01/27/04 12:48 PM

Good poker is a growth process, but it takes work. Most of the folks here have some awesome knowledge that never sees the light of day because it's never asked. Has anyone asked vehn what to do when the table goes passive and he has control, or Clarkmeister how does he use his persona to his advantage? Or ask Bob T, on how to determine when a table is about to change phases and what adjustments need ot be made? I think topics along these lines is what we should be discussing here in small stakes. Hopefully to help those who want to move to middle limits.

I understand completely what you are saying. I too agree you need to post your questions. On the downside, many posts in small stakes are basic beginner to new player questions and are answered weekly if not more often.

Maybe the forum has outgrown itself and we are becoming more like RGP? I sure do not know.



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BottlesOf
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Reged: 06/04/03
Posts: 863
Re: I respectfully disagree [Re: Mike]
      #498177 - 01/27/04 05:41 PM

I agree with your response completely. I also have faith in this forum, and I believe there have been some very quality discussions recently and that they will continue.

You guys are great, and you've given me much more disposable income


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