NoPayPOKER editor note
– In this free online poker
coaching and training tips lesson, part 5 of 7, we continue our journey into the dark realm of online poker cash games. The mission, to learn how to win bucketloads of cash online by the application of a fine mix of skill – skill in your poker game and skill in your ability to avoid the “natural” and “manmade” pitfalls that exist in this, at times, murky underworld.
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The contents that follow are not intended for the newcomer or novice to the game; you may well find that it would be a bit like reading a foreign language. If you possess limited experience with No-Limit Texas Hold-Em, prior to reading these materials, please first read the three series of Articles entitled 'An Introduction to The Game: Poker 101' (7 Chapters), 'Building a Bankroll' (11 Articles), and 'Expanding Your Bankroll' (10 Articles). Then, please read Articles 1 through 4 of this series of Articles (in the end, there will be a total of 7 Articles). Once done, the 'foreign language' will simply become a 'language of poker'.]
This Article is a continuation of the previous post (July, 2011); ‘Premium Pockets Dictate Your Game Play – Part 1′ (Article 4). And, while the overall theme to the text and tutorials that follow will categorically align with ‘Premium Pockets’, please note that we’ve already handled the ‘heavy’ pockets in Article 4.
The focus of these poker words, sentences, and paragraphs relate to the ‘light’ pockets: Ace/Paint, Paint/Paint, Low Pocket Pairs (22 through JJ), and Ace/Rag suited (A5s, A4s, A3s, and A2s). All of which, dependent on your table position, can possess a Positive Expected Value (+EV).
Let’s begin with Ace/Paint….that would be:
- A/Q offsuit
- A/J suited
- A/J offsuit
- A/T suited
- A/T offsuit
Remember that A/K suited, A/K offsuit, and A/Q suited, were all included in the ‘heavy’ pockets category contained within Part 1 of this Article).
And, as a fitting start to our playable pockets strategies regarding Ace/Paint , allow me to ask what would you do with pocket A/J suited when you’re seated in the Under The Gun (UTG) table position (immediately to the left of the Big Blind)?
Well….I hope you answered with the word“fold”. A/J suited in early position holds a Negative Expected Value (-EV). However, if you answered in any other way, you’re not alone.
Actually, you’re in some fairly good company; greater than 99% of all ‘solid’ poker players would not have said “fold”.
They’d be eager to play the suited A/J. And, their eagerness is not difficult to understand; the 2 pocket cards tend to create a ‘hidden smile’.
Yet, given the extensive study performed by the University of Chicago, given the results of that study (where every 2 card pocket combination by table position, after running a ‘billions of hands’ simulation, was assigned a Negative Expected Value (-EV) or a Positive Expected Value (+EV), given your experiences with the 2 cards in early position, given my experiences with the 2 cards in early position, playing the A/Js in early position on a consistent basis will unquestionably generate long-term loses.
Plus, as a memory refresher, the ONLY pockets that are playable from early position are A/A, K/K, Q/Q, A/K, and A/Qs….these are the ONLY pockets that carry with them a Positive Expected Value.
Not happy with the above? Yes? It’s both understandable and OK. No clones, no robots, no duplicitive play. You need to blend your game play with your personality, your nuances….and, more importantly, with your ‘reads’ on the players at your table.
Should you be competing with a group of only conservative individuals, people who are only going to participate in a hand when they hold ‘heavy’ pockets, the A/Js can, and will, bring about profitability.
- If you call the BB, and everyone folds except the Small Blind and Big Blind players, your suited A/J has become a dominant pocket….
- we could, for all intents and purposes, even go as far as labeling it a ‘conditional heavy’ pocket.
- Afterall, you’ve ended up playing against what should be called two ‘average’ pockets (Q/8 being the traditionally described ‘average’ pocket).
Or, should you be competing with a group of only loose and aggressive individuals, people who are going to participate in an inordinate number of hands, in a non-justifiable number of hands, in hands where they routinely hold ‘garbage’ pockets, the A/Js can, and will, bring about profitability.
However, if the players at the table replicate the ‘include all styles of play’, as was the case in the University of Chicago study, your suited Ace/Jack is a ‘long-term’ loser. And, as such, it becomes a mandatory fold.
So, when ‘all one style of play’ dominates the table, play the A/Js with a limp-in bet, and, when ‘multiple styles of play’ dominate the table, lay down the A/Js. In the end, you’re gonna’ win money.
Do we now create a dictum for the other Ace/Paint pockets? The A/Q offsuit, the A/J offsuit, the A/T suited, and the A/T offsuit. Sure we do!
From early position at the table these pocket cards are long-term bankroll drainers. And, since our principal reason, in fact, our singular reason, for playing at ‘real money’ Internet poker sites is TO WIN MONEY, we fundamentally have zero interest in dumping cash to a pot when we hold pocket cards with a Negative Expected Value (-EV).
Oh, sure, Pukie is inclined to give away money at the poker tables, and, sure, his/her ‘loser’ friends are inclined to give away money at the poker tables….but, you’re not; nor will you ever be.
Alternately, we have every reason to be investing cash in a pot when we hold pocket cards with a Positive Expected Value (+EV). And, the Ace/Paint pockets all possess a +EV when we’re seated in middle or late position. Plus, the Ace/Paint pockets from middle or late position should be cause for us to push around the weak players, possibly with a 3x the BB raise, maybe more.
And, they should be cause for us to conservatively approach the solid players, possibly with only a ‘limp’ to the BB. Again, though, any and all decisions as to how you play these +EV Ace/Paint pockets is conditioned on your knowledge about the competitors at the table. No clones, no robots, no duplicitive play.
Next, y’all should have a fairly constant approach to the way in which you handle Paint/Paint pockets; K/Q, K/J, K/T, Q/J, Q/T, and J/T….both suited and unsuited.
- First off, none of these pockets are playable from early position.
- They all merit a ‘fold’, they all hold a Negative Expected Value (-EV) (from early position).
- But, when you’ve been dealt these pockets in both middle position at the table and late position at the table, the Negative EV turns into a Positive EV.
- All 12 of these pockets become playable, all will win money for you on a long-term basis; not necessarily in any one hand, nor in any one playing session.
The soundest and most profitable manner in which these pockets should be played is ‘conservative’ with unsuited Paint/Paint, a ‘limp’ to the BB is acceptable, and, ‘passively aggressive’ with suited Paint/Paint, calling a raise to 3x the BB is acceptable.
This baseline takes into account the fact that while both suited and unsuited Paint/Paint pockets have the potential to witness a ‘high pair/decent kicker’ flop, they also have the potential for a ‘Broadway’, or near ‘Broadway’ Straight.
And, the baseline also takes into account the fact that the suited Paint/Paint pockets have the added potential for a Flush. Where, the possibility of the Flush justifies the 3x the BB call….yet, if no one raised to 3x the BB, there is no need for you to be the player who raises; take a free ride to the flop, simply call the BB.
At this point, I doubt that there is a demand for any additional ‘scribblings’ on Paint/Paint pockets.
However, there is a need for both a ‘tale of caution’ and a ‘tale of passive aggression’; and both tales involve the same circumstance.
- When you’ve flopped a pair, and the flop includes an overcard, be damn sure that you know your opponent extremely well should he/she be betting into the overcard.
- And, as is often the case in ALL of your ‘real money’ poker play, the overwhelming importance of knowing your competition’s game is paramount to your success.
- …the more you know about your opponents, the more you’re gonna’ win.
As an example, it’s perfectly OK to lay down your flopped Tens, Jacks, Queens, or Kings when a ‘solid’ player is tossing money into the pot because an Ace or an overcard (versus your flopped pair) was included within the flop; that would be the ‘tale of caution’.
And, conversely, as a secondary example, don’t be quick to fold when a Bozo is betting into the overcard after you’ve flopped a pair; that would be the ‘tale of passive aggression’. And, to take the latter one step forward, to change passive aggression into true aggression, knowing full well that it was a ‘pinhead’ who bet into the flop, consider coming over-the-top.
You understand his game, and you’ve often seen him bet a draw, a bluff, or some other equally stupid play against one or more flopped overcards.
Always be completely aware of your opponents betting habits, quality of play, and tendency towards utter ignorance….just because it’s a ‘real money’ game doesn’t mean that the minions who emulate the play of ‘PukieDumbo’ are not present.
Often these documented ‘bananabrains’ have yet to lose the whole of their bankrolls, and they’re at the table, your table; practicing ‘stupidities’. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon you to open the door to ‘Dummyville’.
Heck, for all you know, they may thank you for the rapid demise that greets them in the doorway’s portal, and, they may be equally grateful for the subsequent ‘gooseneck’ ride to the ‘farm animal’ pastures; where stench, slop, dung, muck, mire, and fly infestations rule supreme (tell me….what could be more fitting for these donkey-like critters?).
Moving on, the Low Pocket Pairs (22 through JJ) take center stage.
And, as many of you may readily surmise it’s a ‘favorite’ topic of mine….it’s often in my poker writings, lectures, and classroom sessions. For the best of reaasons!!!!!!
- These cards are the foundation to set-mining.
- Which, if you recall, were assailed by ‘Pukie’ in an absurdly stupid chat lobby post at NoPayPOKER (written about in considerable detail within Article 1).
And, while there is no reason to repeat the ‘tutorial’ contained within Article 1, there is every reason to remind you that set-mining is one of only two poker strategies that produce a 100%+ Return On Investment (ROI).
And, translated into ‘real money’ lingo, an ROI at that level means for every $1.00 you put into the various pots you’re playing in, you will win $2.00, or more.
Consider the following data about the Low Pocket Pairs (22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, TT, and JJ):
- Pre-flop, there is a 1 in 8 chance that you will hit a set with a 3 card board
- There is a 1 in 6 chance that you will hit a set with a 4 card board
- There is a 1 in 5 chance that you will hit a set with a 5 card board.
- And, importantly, anytime that you do hit a set, you’re at least a 5 to 2 favorite to win the hand (on average).
These facts are pure arithmetic; there’s no speculation, no projection, no wishful thinking, and no ‘PukieDumbo’ insanities contained within the aritmetic.
Plus, in that the 1 in 5 chance exists, be certain to allow a few thoughts about Implied Odds to rattle around in your brain….Pukie can’t do that, but you can; he/she doesn’t have a functional cranial area, you do.
So, how should the Low Pocket Pairs (LPP) be played?
- My first answer is “your way”; you’re capable of rational thought; you ain’t Pukie, you’re not Stuck On Stupid (SOS).
- You can capsulate into one formula both the 1 in 5 chance of hitting a set and the presence of Implied Odds; while PD and his/her imbicilic followers have no such ability.
They simply engage all of their chips, throw them into the pot, and, with every ounce of ‘shallow’ that represents their game, they holler out the words “All In”….allowing them to briefly satisfy their miniscule ego’s, and, allowing them to summon up the false pretense that they’re actually playing poker. Hey! Do the words “Ruby Bagonia” or “Stupid is as stupid does” mean anything to ya’?.
My second answer is “you might want to try my way”. Yet, once again I’ll offer up sage advice: no clones, no robots, no duplicitive play.
However, I’ll tell you with absolute certainty that ‘my way’ produces greater than a 100% ROI. And, while I am now a retired professional poker player from the Gulf Coast Rounders Circuit, my 9 years of Brick and Mortar experience can’t be overlooked. I won tons of money playing the LPP’s ‘my way’, and there’s no reason that you shouldn’t win a whole bunch of cash on the Internet playing the LPP’s in like fashion….you decide: your way, diligently constructed, or ‘my way’, with a bit of duplicitive play.
Here, then, is a description of the LPP strategy employed by me during the 9 years of B & M cash game play (principally $5/$10 No-Limit games with a buy-in of approximately $2,500….sometimes higher).
- First, divide the Low Pocket Pairs into 2 groups.
- Group ‘A’, which includes 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, and 88
- Group ‘B’,which includes 99, TT, and JJ.
- Group ‘A’ is intended to pursue pure set-mining.
- Group ‘B’ is intended to pursue both set-mining and post-flop dominant pairs (where the pocket Nines, Tens, and Jacks end up as the post-flop high pair; i.e. a rainbow flop of 2/5/8, while you’re holding pocket Tens)
The Group ‘A’ pairs (22 through 88)
- Should always be a reason for calling the BB from any position at the table.
- And, they should always be a reason for calling up to a 3x the BB raise in late position….
- ONLY late position.
- When playing to the BB in early or middle position, and a raise occurs, fold.
- When playing to a 3x the BB raise in late position, and a second raise occurs, fold.
Also, when a set comes with the flop, and there is no straight or flush draw, it should always become a ‘slow-play’ situation.
We want one or more participants at the table betting into the pot, rather than having ourselves betting into the pot; in many respects we’re looking for someone who caught the high pair/decent kicker to take on an aggressive approach to the hand; while we timidly (and falsely) play the part of the sucker who’s calling.
Post river, it’s our hope, expectation, and frequent reality that their aggression is cause for a large ‘real money’ movement from their stack to our stack….and, remember, on average, we’re a 5 to 2 favorite that such will occur.
The Group ‘B’ pairs (99, TT, and JJ) are played in similar fashion.
- However, there is one added element to our play regarding the higher pocket pairs.
- The set-mining is described above, but the pocket-held overpair is not (nor can it be; we won’t often hold a pocket overpair when we’re playing the low pocket pairs (22 through 88)).
- Yet, with Nines, Tens, or Jacks, there exists the possibility that the flop will not produce a card that becomes an overcard to our pair.
- And, when the flop fails to show an overcard, we need to take an aggressive approach to the hand.
- Certainly, a pot sized bet, at a minimum, is necessary.
- But, a bet that is 100% greater than a pot sized bet is a much more advantaged play.
The pot sized bet gives a competitor 2 to 1 Pot Odds.
And, many players with any number of hands, including ace/rag, when the rag showed in the flop, would be willing to call the bet.
Obviously, they’re disenfranchised from sensible thought, since they’d be calling from a disadvantaged position. However, a bet that is 100% greater than a pot sized bet, gives the competitor Pot Odds of 3 to 2.
And, while one might argue that there isn’t significant difference between Pot Odds of 2 to 1 and Pot Odds of 3 to 2 (where I would strongly disagree), there remains a very big difference in the image created by the larger bet.
The average competitor will view the larger bet as a statement of dominance, creating some momentary emotional dismay. This alone is often cause for the competitor to fold.
Plus, on a personal note, given my own level of disdain for all ‘ace/raggers’ (the individuals who always play ace/rag suited and unsuited from any position at the table, and, always play ace/rag suited and unsuited regardless of the amount of money bet), you could have actually seen me make an all-in bet while playing professionally.
And, any such first hand witness to me doing so would have likely been in the above overpair situation: i.e, I had Jack/Jack, the flop was 3/7/9, and the ‘ace/ragger’ made a large bet (holding pocket A/9).
My ‘over-the-top all-in bet’ would often be called, and I was about a 7 to 1 favorite. However, keep in mind, I knew with certainty, because of my player notes, that my opponent was an ‘ace/ragger’….and, without that knowledge, you can’t do likewise.
With it, you can. Also, I was playing in a hand with a 52 card deck; it was not a ‘juiced deck’. And, whether you like it or not, when you’re playing on the Internet, there is a very high probability that you will be playing with a ‘juiced deck’.
Therefore, if it’s a Random Number Generator with a 92 number database, there is a 3x greater chance that an Ace will hit on the turn or river….and, this reduces the 7 to 1 favorite status down to a little over 2 to 1. [Another reason to be playing at an Internet site with a VERIFIED Random Number Generator.
See if you can find a site where the RNG has been certified by a firm like Price Waterhouse Coopers (the most prestigious and trusted public accounting firm on earth).
The last of the 'light' playable pockets is Ace/Rag suited; which includes ONLY A/5s, A/4s, A/3s, and A/2s....
- Each of these 4 pockets possess a Positive Expected Value (+EV)
- That +EV is founded in the potential for ending up with a flush or a straight.
It's NEVER, again, NEVER, A/9s, A/8s, A/7s, or A/6s....these 4 pockets all possess a Negative Expected Value (-EV).
- Additionally, the A/5s, A/4s, A/3s, and A/2s are ONLY playable from late position at the Table
- They're ONLY playable as a 'limp' to the BB
- They're ONLY playable with 3 or more participants in the hand
- They're ONLY playable when one or more 'large stack' competitors are playing the hand.
- [Note: all 4 conditionals must be met; else you're folding.]
When you’re dealt these pocket cards in both early position and middle position, it’s an ‘autofold’ in your brain; see the cards, fold, and watch the hand being played.
When you’re dealt these pocket cards in late position and a raise to the BB has been made, it’s also an ‘autofold’ in your brain; see the cards, fold, and watch the hand being played.
However, in late position, with ALL of the ‘conditionals’ met, you have approximately a 1 in 11 chance of winning the hand; or, in other words, you are a 10 to 1 underdog. Thus, you’re playing the hand ONLY because of Implied Odds….and, those Implied Odds better be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 1 or better (generally 5x your underdog status).
Over every extended period of time, you will have saved a bundle of money by ‘tossing’ these suited Ace/Rags into the muck when you’re not in late position at the table and when you weren’t able to meet all of the conditionals while in late position at the table.
Alternately, over every extended period of time, you will have made a bundle of money by playing these suited Ace/Rags (A/5s, A/4s, A/3s, and A/2s) when you were in late position at the table and ALL of the ‘conditionals’ were met….again, ALL of the conditionals.
Plus, there is one added play associated with the 4 pockets: If you’re the Small Blind (SB) or Big Blind (BB), and you can get away with playing for only the cost of the BB, do so.
In summarizing all of the above:
- Ace/Paint is a fold in early position, and it’s a play in middle or late position.
- Paint/Paint is a fold in early position, a ‘conditional play’ in middle position, and a play in late position.
- Low Pocket Pairs are a ‘limp’ in early position, a ‘limp’ in middle position, and an ‘up to 3x the BB’ play in late position.
- Ace/Rag suited is a fold in early position, a fold in middle position, and a ‘conditional play’ in late position.
- Plus, in light of our creed, “no clones, no robots, no duplicitive play”, any and all of the above pockets are playable from anywhere at the table dependent on your ‘reads’ concerning the opponents at your table.
- You’re in the game to win money, and if you can take advantage of a ‘loose and aggressive’ group, or, if you can take advantage of a ‘conservative and passive’ group, you gotta’ do so.
Also, while the above summary might have come across as simplistic, the truth is that everything to do with Playable Pockets is far from simplistic; it’s relatively complex.
- It involves a considerable amount of arithmetic.
- It’s a test on your level of patience.
- It requires an ability to slide in and out of different styles of play.
- It mandates that you develope a ‘read’ on the players at your table.
- Additionally, it’s always an adjunct to your goals; where, in a cash game, you hold a singular goal, and in a Multi Table Tournament (MTT) you hold a miscellany of goals.
The cash game goal is only about winning money….nothing else. However, the MTT goals include pre-requisites to the ‘winning money’ goal.
You need to reach the general area of the bubble, you need to get into the money, you need to exceed your ‘buy-in’ within the money payout positions, you need to make the final table, and, quite naturally, you want to win the tournament.
All of which, except the latter, should be regularly accomplished; provided, of course, that Patience and the Playable Pockets guidelines are generally adhered to.
The exception, winning the tournament, requires one additional factor….Lady Luck has to visit you at least once or twice; you’re usually not going to win any tournament without her help.
Best of Luck at the Tables,
(c) copyright, August, 2011; all rights reserved by D. M. Vadnais