In part 2 of this free online poker coaching series it’s time to learn about the cards you should play and when to play them - and vice versa – as proven in some very heavyweight university mainframe computer sims.
None of us….as members of the NoPayPoker free poker site….needs to hold a PhD to be a ‘good’ poker player, to be a ‘winning’ poker player.
Anything remotely close to an average intellect is all that is required of us to attain the necessary skills that will lead us to ‘Building a Bankroll’.
We don’t need the Doctoral Degree held by Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, and we don’t need to have attended the University of California (UCLA)….as he did.
What we need is a fairly simple understanding of the ‘skill sets’ possessed by the many players who regularly depart tables with stacks of chips; chips once held by countless ‘Farm Animals’.
And, make no mistake about it, the overwhelming majority of these ‘Farm Animals’ ultimately abandon poker, then end up roaming their pastures in hungered circles not knowing how the ‘good’ players got the grain, and they got the shaft.
Let’s face it, though, the Farm Animal Hoedowns are here to stay. NoPay is a free online poker site….new clueless critters join on an everyday basis.
So, we can’t expect the quality of play to improve much beyond the level of penny poker. Heck, just about all of the games played on the site are, in fact, penny poker events.
There are only a limited number of ways for us to escape the insanities that perennially manifest themselves in every freeroll tournament we enter.
- One of the ways would be to totally remove ourselves from the registration process; thereby never getting an opportunity to ‘fatten our wallets’….to ‘fill our purses’.
- Another way would be to allow ourselves to only enter the buy-in games.
- Yet, absent a bankroll, we can’t pay our way into the bigger tourneys.
So, the remaining option, other than packing it in and saying “good bye” to NoPay (unacceptable to me; the site and most of the membership are just too much fun), is to participate in the ‘chip-flinger’ infested tournaments with a decided edge….a distinct advantage; one that permits us to cautiously, intelligently, politely, and continuously remove chips from the ‘Hoedown’ initiators.
Plus, to expand our wallets, to grow our bankrolls, we need to initially defend ourselves against the Farm Animal’s moronic play, and subsequently deploy a stockpile of weapons….our skill sets….to inflict the appropriate punishment upon the residents of Donkeytown.
We can do this; it’s not hard to accomplish. In candor, I believe it’s a relatively simple task.
Previously, in Article 01, we came to realize that PATIENCE will serve our primary goal with considerable success.
This goal….our primary goal….is to survive the first 20 minutes of the ever present Donk promulgated madness; it presents itself at the outset of each game.
And, while you may not envision a 20 minute survival period as a success of consequence, simply take a moment to recall the many times your premium pocket cards were pounded to oblivion by a Bozo who went all-in with 6/9 unsuited.
It’s happened to me, to you, to all of us, more times than we could cumulatively count.
Thus, surviving the first 20 minutes of any free poker freeroll is a success. It’s the first success we’ll need to ultimately attain a monetary gain.
The Donks will forever play semi-worthless pockets during their ‘exercises in stupidity’. They truly expect that almost any 2 cards will magically, serendipitously, dump chips atop their stacks; we know better.
We didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. We’ve played a while, and we have some sense of which pocket cards are playable, and which pockets cards belong in the muck.
Possibly we each have our own playable pockets list….sourced from a book we’ve read, or simply built from our own playing experience.
Now, while I mentionioned UCLA earlier….Dr. Ferguson’s alma mater, it’s now time to turn our attention to the University of Chicago. It’s also one of the very best institutions of higher learning in the United States.
It’s academic ranking is always amongst the top 10 US schools….most often, it’s amongst the top 5. Of note, was a research study conducted at the University almost a decade ago. It had to do with playable pockets, and it was part of a Game Theory project.
Mainframe computers spent hundreds of hours playing 10 handed Texas Hold Em poker games.
The 2,652 possible combinations of two pocket cards (52 x 51 = 2,652) were each put to the test….how would they individually fare, by table position, in terms of ‘a winning percentage’?
In total, more than 2 trillion hands of poker were played by the computers.
And, the results of the effort unquestionably defined pocket cards with a Positive Expected Value (+EV); as well as pocket cards with a Negative Expected Value (-EV).
Positive Expected Value means you would win over the long-term by continually playing pockets with a +EV, and Negative Expected Value means you would lose over the long-term by continually playing pockets with a -EV.
There’s nothing complicated about either the computer science work done by the University of Chicago doctoral candidates, or the published results.
Certain pockets consistently produce long-term winnings, and other pockets consistently produce long-term loses.
This being the case, what are the pocket cards that produce the long-term winnings?
Not so fast, First, we must come to understand table position.
All poker tables are divided into three; or, simply stated, three areas of position: Early, Middle, and Late.
- The Early Table Positions are the Small Blind, the Big Blind, and the Under the Gun (UTG) players; UTG being the person sitting to the left of the big blind.
- The Middle Table Positions come next. Count left from the UTG player; Middle 1, Middle 2, Middle 3, and Middle 4.
- Last, are the Late Table positions: Late 1, Late 2, and the Dealer Button.
For future reference, since I’m inclined by habit to label a player at the table with his/her seat identification, I’ll start clockwise at the small blind bettor with the 2 character codes I almost always use….SB, BB, UG, M1, M2, M3, M4, L1, L2, and DB.
Ten players, ten seats, ten abbreviations; one for each position at the table (kindly note that UTG was shortened to UG).
Now we can talk about playable pockets.
Because pockets are defined as playable only in relation to the table position to which they are dealt.
In Early Position….SB, BB, and UG (the 3 seats to the left of the Dealer Button player)….the only pockets that possess a Positive Expected Value (+EV) are as follows:
- AK suited
- AQ suited
- AK unsuited
- That’s it….every other possible pocket you could be dealt while seated in an Early position has a Negative Expected Value (-EV).
In Middle Position….M1, M2, M3, and M4 (the four seats to the left of the UG player)….the number of playable pockets increases.
All of the following pockets possess a Positive Expected Value (+EV):
- The same as early, i.e., AA, KK, QQ, AK suited, AQ suited, AK unsuited
- Plus -
- AJ suited
- AT suited
- AQ unsuited
- AJ unsuited
- AT unsuited
- And any 2 suited paint cards (picture cards; any combination of K, Q, J, and T).
- That’s it….every other possible pocket you could be dealt while seated in a Middle Position has a Negative Expected Value (-EV).
In Late Position….L1, L2, and DB (the three seats to the left of the M4 player)….the number of playable pockets gets even bigger.
All of the following pockets possess a Positive Expected Value (+EV):
- The same as early and middle: AA, KK, QQ, AK suited, AQ suited, AJ suited, AT suited, AK unsuited, JJ, TT, 99, AQ unsuited, AJ unsuited, AT unsuited, any 2 suited paint cards.
- A5 suited
- A4 suited
- A3 suited
- A2 suited
- A9 suited
- And any 2 unsuited paint cards.
- That’s it….every other possible pocket you could be dealt while seated in a Late Position has a Negative Expected Value (-EV).
There is one exception to the playable pockets by table position as presented above. It relates to the low pocket pairs; 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, and 99. It is a very major exception, and, as such, these pockets will be discussed in detail within a subsequent Article….the March, 2008 Article.
Also, all of the playable pockets by table position can only be used to participate in a hand when the cost to see the flop does not exceed 3 times the big blind.
Naturally, pocket AA, and pocket KK, can be excluded from the ’3 times the big blind’ advisory.
For now, since we’re talking about free poker freerolls and pennies, aggression can be the ‘rule of thumb’ with the two premium pockets.
It’s now time for a PPG….a Playable Pockets Guide; 3 inches by 3 inches, laminated, and always available in close proximity to your PC screen.
Take a few minutes to create it from the information you’ve just read. It needs to contain 3 sections.
- Early Position, with the associated playable pockets.
- Middle Position, with the associated playable pockets.
- And, Late Position, with the associated playable pockets.
- Within a very short period of time, the PPG will be memorized; you’ll then be playing instictively.
In the end, we’ve moved from 50% to 70%. Correct? True? Absolutely!
Patience represents 50% of all the skills we’ll bring to a poker table, and, playing only pockets with a Positive Expected Value (+EV) represents 20% of all the skills we’ll bring to a poker table; 50% to 70%.
And, with this simple move, we’re now in a position where we can begin the process of creating a pile of pennies….a dollop of dollars….or a horde of hundreds.
Sure, we’ll only have a ‘Flops Seen Percentage’ that hovers in the area of 15%.
However, we’ll also have a ‘Flops Seen Win Percentage’ that consistently resides at a level exceeding 60%. And, when we’re winning more than 60% of the hands we participate in, we’re ‘Building a poker Bankroll’.
Best of Luck at the Tables
(c) copyright 2008; no reproduction, all rights reserved by D. M. Vadnais
Next, part 3 of free online poker coaching : Winning Big With Low Pocket Pairs
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