Sunday, April 26, 2009

State of the Games

The characteristics of the NL games I play on Full Tilt change slowly as the regulars learn new tricks, the fish bust out and new challengers attempt to break through.

What follows are some observations based on my recent impressions, not hard statistics:

I'm seeing more cold-calling preflop in position rather than rampant 3-betting. Players are realizing that frequent 3-bets will get 4-bet by savvy opponents, forcing a fold and sacrificing equity. The value of position is so great that it makes sense to see flops with hands that hold some value. Position is more valuable in a single-raised pot than in a reraised pot.

Postflop play is always becoming more sophisticated. I'm encountering plenty of check-raise bluffs and check-raise value bets, which get very expensive when I incorrectly read one check-raise for the other.

Everyone is trying to play optimally. They all want to make the right move at the right time based on the situation instead of playing the player. There's a bit of both in everyone's game, but more strong regulars are defaulting to the book play rather than making what could be a profitable move against an easy-to-read opponent.

My understanding of optimal play is that it can't be defeated, which means the best strategy against these opponents is to play more optimally than they do. Put simply, that means playing mistake-free poker, which is difficult to do for hours on end.

Fish continue to swim in the 3/6 and 5/10 waters. I don't know where they come from, and there certainly aren't as many guppies as there used to be, but some show up every day. There's still easy money around if you look for it.

Some of the worst players now are those who go off the deep end when it comes to aggression, raising and check-raising every bet they can. Those players may look solid at first, but they almost always end up hanging themselves.

The game is continuing to evolve, which says to me that it remains healthy. Many players are working to learn more and improve their game, but I don't think NL games are too much closer to becoming "solved" (whatever that means).

A solid player will still win, and there are soft spots to be found. But to make the most of the games and maximize your winrate, it's best to change with the times.


havin_a_laff said...

Really nice post which injects a bit of sanity into the 'are poker games getting tougher' debate.

With my foot on the first rung of the poker ladder I 'worry' that everyone is a member of a poker coaching site and the games will just get tougher and tougher. But in my more optimistic moments I realise that constant evaluation of sessions / hands should highlight subtle or not so subtle tendencies which I can try to adjust to.

spritpot said...

In the end, poker is difficult to really play well, and there will always be an edge to people who have more skill and spend more time working on their game. However the money is definitely not as easy as it used to be. If UIGEA gets repealed, that will change REALLY fast.


Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Anyone who regularly runs poker tracker should be able to tell pretty dam quickly in black and white that there are a constant supply of fish ever replacing the ones who just lost their roll to you last night.

Good post.

Gugel said...

You ranked 65th for the top 100 poker blogs. Congrats :)

Mike G said...

So since you've been studying poker so long and hard I'd be curious what your average win rate is. Because clearly a skilled and learned player yourself must be beating the games. Certainly the minute influence of chance in this game couldn't be affecting your results. How much are you up this month playa'? Is that in dollars or cents?

Gnome said...

Mike G.,
I won $10,706 in April and $5,312 so far in May.
My winrate over the last 22 months (the amount of time I've been tracking stats on this computer) at $5/10 NL is 7.92 BB/100, and 5.11 BB/100 at all NL levels.
So no, the "minute influence of chance in this game" is not affecting my results.

Gnome said...

A correction:
My winrate over the last 22 months at $5/10 NL is 7.92 bb/100 (3.96 BB/100), and 5.11 bb/100 (2.56 BB/100) at all NL levels.