Thursday, February 12, 2009

Calling Shenanigans

So-called poker experts do a great job of tilting me when they spread misinformation. I'm here to call them out.

1. Deuce Plays, Episode 5:

"If you do have Ace-King, four betting I don't think is going to show a profit, because it's very unlikely you're going to get it in against a range of honestly, Kings or Aces, and maybe Queens, so obviously that's a horrible range to get it in against." --Sean Nolan

The reality is that in today's games, many players' preflop all-in range includes AA, KK, QQ and AK from any position. You can feel safe shoving or 4-betting AK preflop against that range for 100BB.

If you start calling or folding AK preflop out of position, you're probably losing money against most opponents. You should fold AK against a range of AA and KK, but realistically, even most nits are shoving and calling shoves with QQ and AK too.

As an aside, I have to give Nolan credit for another point he made about six minutes later into the podcast. He challenged anyone to show him that they're making money by playing 66-22 from early position in a full ring game over a large sample. I filtered my stats and found that he's right: in my case, I'm a slight loser in that situation.

2. Two Plus Two Publishing: Mason Malmuth rips Tommy Angelo's book, "Elements of Poker," in the most recent Two Plus Two Magazine. Then he locks a thread in the Two Plus Two forums ending discussion of his critique. Hard-Boiled Poker covered it Wednesday.

First of all, I loved reading "Elements of Poker." It gave new, refreshing insight into the game from a perspective that Two Plus Two's books fail to offer. The book may not be for everyone, but the job of a critic is to evaluate a work on its merits. Just because a poker book isn't grounded in statistics doesn't mean it has little value.

Secondly, I got more out of "Elements of Poker" than any Two Plus Two book I've read in recent memory. Honestly, Two Plus Two's offerings have mostly sucked over the last couple of years. "Harrington on Cash Games," "Heads-up No-limit Hold'em" and "Professional No-limit Hold'em" all fell far short of expectations and didn't do much to improve my game.

On top of those subpar offerings, Two Plus Two is coming out with Harrington books on shorthanded games. Harrington should stick to tournaments because his cash advice is piss poor. Applying it to today's 6-max online games would be a disaster.

Finally, Malmuth's thread lock seems to show a lack of openness toward other opinions.

3. Pope Ciaffone has a problem with the advice that "You've got to give action to get action":

"Now let's look at what many of the players are actually doing who use the expression, 'You have to give action to get action.' They raise up front with the 9 7, then bet the flop into four callers when it comes A-J-3. They call a raise out of the small blind when holding the J 8 when there are five opponents who limped in and the button raised. They reraise preflop with 9-9 because now they have a 'real hand.' The game plan was to look like a wild player and then play solidly afterward, but they unfortunately got stuck so much in their advertising mode that they were emotionally unable to stick to their game plan. To me, they look like they are auditioning for the poker version of Death Wish III."

Ciaffone doesn't seem to understand what the phrase means. It's not that difficult. What it means is that if you play like a nit, no one will ever pay you off when you do hit a hand. His examples don't reflect that concept at all.


cmitch said...

good stuff. I'll have to pay attention when I get around to the latest DC podcast.

I don't know much about Mason, but from everything that I have seen he seems like a very insecure person that has a lot of trouble with criticism. The thread lock is nothing new - he does that every time ppl start to make good points against him. He should be open for reasonable debate instead of locking when the majority disagrees.

Harrrington on cash - "Harrington should stick to tournaments because his cash advice is piss poor." LOL. I never could understand his limp into pots mentality when 1st in in his online hand examples.

Shrike said...

Couldn't agree more about this post. Angelo's book is simply excellent with regards to the "non-mathematical" aspects of poker.

Still haven't made the transition over to DC for Hanson's podcast. It sounds as if its quality has slipped ...


spritpot said...

On the early position pocket pairs: Just because you're losing money playing them in EP doesn't mean it's the wrong play. They're good for balancing your range vs. all the big pps and AK you'll be raising from EP. If your EP PFR gets down to 5 or below, you'll be getting no action with your good hands. Also the low pps hit rag boards that villains might try to scare you off of thinking you have AK or some low overpair you don't want to stack off with. You could also fill out your EP raising range by raising some suited connectors, but I think these are tougher to play out of position.

I'm not necessarily claiming that everybody should be instaraising 33 UTG+1, just pointing out that the sole fact that you're not profitable with them in EP doesn't mean that it's not the right play to raise them.


Gnome said...

You make an interesting point that raising pocket pairs from early position might be good for balancing purposes.
But that opens a can of worms when you start defending too many money-losing plays because you expect a bigger return later. It's hard to measure whether the investment on your loss leader is worthwhile.

Greylocks said...

(1) Mason once criticized a book that hadn't even been printed yet. I think it was Carson's Hold'em book.

(2) I'm not a big Tommy A. fan but I know a lot of people get a sort of spiritual uplift and/or confidence-injection from reading his stuff, and if it helps you play better then it's by definition a good poker book. The classic of that genre was Zen and the Art of Poker by Larry Phillips, uncoincidentally also not published by foo+foo.

(3) 90% of people who sell poker advice should be prosecuted for fraud. (At least I give my bad advice away for free, so my conscience is somewhat clear).

(4) If you're playing in a game where you have to raise 22 in EP to balance your range, you're in the wrong game. It's just insane to have to fine-tune your play that much when there are so many easier targets out there. Game selection, game selection, game selection.

Greylocks said...

And oh yeah...

(5) The quality of Bob C's stuff has deterioriated steadily in recent years. The book he did with Jim Brier was just awful.

(6) There are still a lot of players whose preflop four-bet/all-in range is way wider than AA-QQ + AK, especially in the smaller games. It's actually pretty hard to know what a player's range is for sure, and the way the games are right now, unless you have good historical stats on the player, you should probably assume the a wider range than you probably think your opponent has, as your average opponent is probably a worse, looser and/or tiltier player than you are (if you read this blog).

WillWonka said...

FWIW.. I only have 15K Full Ring hands; but I am up 1 1/2 buyins over that time playing 22-66 from EP. But it was funny, before I read this post, I was thinking I need to eliminate at least 22-44 from EP.

this above sample size is obviously not big enough to ascertain anything; but interesting none the less.

Great Post!!

I need to check to see if DC has made it over to ITunes yet.

I've more good than bad about T Angelo.

spritpot said...

It seems like Sean Nolan is completely missing the point with his comment about 4-betting AK don't have to be ahead of the opponent's getting-it-in range to 4-bet profitably, because often you'll get a fold, which is a monster win (10-12 bb in risk-free profit). If you're up against an opponent who will only get it in with kings, aces, and maybe queens, AND is only 3-betting those same hands, then you can lay down AK.


Sean said...

Hey there, found this via google.

I'm not positive but I believe the AK commentary in question was specifically related to under the gun raises, and not all raises in general. I also am fairly sure I said it wasn't necessarily always the case but just something to be cognizant of.

My memory may be wrong, but if not I meant what I said about 4 bets and hands like AK solely in reference to early position raises from good tight regulars...


Gnome said...

Thanks for commenting and clarifying. I still think that in the games I play, most solid regulars will get it in preflop with AA, KK, QQ and AK from utg.
But I see your point that you're burning money against a tight opponent whose range is limited to AA and KK.

Peter said...

Hey Gnome, whatever about the technical stuff, Sean Nolan comes across as a great guy who's got his head in the right place, well spoken and a kid who's going to go a long way. I for one was bowled over by his interview.

Hoping you'll get the blogging bug again soon; it's dull out here without you!