Monday, 8 January 2007

Pot Building v Pot Commitment

This is the first of my articles, as you will soon see I am not a writer by nature so I may go off track a lot. A project manager once said of me that reading a report was like reading a brain dump, so buckle up as I try to get this very simple concept on paper and make it sound very complicated.

Anyway to get to the point when you play poker the aim of the game is to win money not pots ( so how do we do this? ), we win the big pots.
That is to say it is not the number of pots we win that counts it is the size of the pots that we win. Leave competing for every little pot to the fish, they will fight over them and not notice the sharks waiting to spring on the shoal.

Well that was obvious so how does it relate to the title of the article well when we see a flop which we will do between 25 and 40 percent of the time we will look at the flop and make a decision.

That decision will let us know one the following 3 things
1. I am likely best at the moment so I should protect.
2. I am no way gonna win this so I will get out.
3. I have a good chance of being best on the river so I will pot build.

Now a lot of people will disagree with me about this but I believe that option 3 is where the money comes from (for me anyway). Maybe in tougher games than micro limit the money comes from option 1 above but in the soft world of microlimits the money comes from option 3.

What am I getting at you ask?
Well it is simple when we have a strong draw such as an (OESD) Open ended straight draw, (FD) Flush draw or both we should bet as if we had the nuts,

WHY you ask what if we miss?
We will miss 2 out of 3 times but that should not deter us this is a soft micro limit game and we are getting the odds to do this. we are getting many callers plus the implied odds of the river bets. (please read up on implied odds or ask me about them if you don't already know).
We only need to win by the river 1 out of every 3 times for this to be a very profitable bet.

To add to the above we should take into account many draws such as a gut shot draw and back door straight or back door flush draw will be a profitable bet if there is enough already in the pot and enough callers, I will let you do the maths.

The above approach is a profitable bet as we will win enough times to make it so however we also have the added benefits of being the aggressor.

Which gives us the following.
1. Experience for when we move up a limit (we will not play weak tight).
2. The possibility of bluffing the river when we miss (only against a weak tight caller with a high win percentage at showdown)
3. Amongst any players who are paying attention we are seen as a bluffer by either folding out after being aggressive or showing down with what was a draw.

I imagine that the above info was fairly obvious to any experienced player and was an eye opener to other less experienced but at micro limit this is where the money is. The game of top pair top kicker is for tougher and NL games, you will at my level lose a lot if you rely on them as you will get outdrawn by atm's all the time.

Now you have this weapon we will get to the other side of the equation, like all weapons it is a double edged sword, it has a downside and that is pot commitment. You and all the other players are now pot committed (especially if it is 4 bet (capped) which it often is at this level). That is that they are playing correctly on the turn and river or near to correctly to call with any draw as they are also getting the odds, and poker is about making people make the wrong decisions.

What does this mean you ask? or you think what terrible writing style lol. well it means that if you miss your draw you may still be correct to call or bet the river with only a mediocre hand (WHAT YOU ASK). This negates the benefits of implied odds surely, well yes it does but you must remember that the pot is large and you will only have to win occasionally to make this final bet or call a winning one. Please note though use this final method with caution as if abused it will knock your results way off. most times fold. BET if you sense weakness and call if you have a pair else fold.

Well to sum up this article although very badly written attempted to let you know about the concept of pot building and pot commitment- It gave no examples ( as I am lazy lol ). It let you know that betting without the best hand is a very profitable way to play at micro limits if you have a decent draw and also warned you about the dangers of pot commitment which is result of a missed draw when you have aggressively pursued your draw, as a final note I will dispel a myth which is you have to mix it up - NO YOU DON'T - not at this level. they aren't watching and if they are then you move tables. This is a profitable bet every time and should not be missed +EV is +EV and there is very little +EV in mixing it up at the micro levels.

I hope this has been useful and would love to discuss the concept with anyone who wishes to post there opinion.



Razor Ramon said...

i just played that way and its working, i might lose some chips, but playing the position right, raising the flop with a good start hand and trust my feeling and folding at the right times i win a lot of the big pots !!! ... think im a tight strong player now :) THX

another article about how to play small pocket pairs up to 88 would be nice as well ;)

Razor Ramon said...

now i lost nearly everything playing that way .. i played perfect, and lost nearly everything i had within a couple of minutes :(((

Peter said...

Hi Razor

Expect normal variance, you will soon find that you will go up and down, if you check any of my graphs I have losing streaks of up to and including 200bb and more, this is normal.

I would also like o say that this method takes some practice and should be used with caution, Aggressiev gets the money but there is a fine line between aggresive and maniac.

Anyway post a hand history of a hand where you played this way with your thought processes and any reads ou have on the opponents and I will try and see if you are playing as I advise.

Thanks Peter

Peter said...

Also razor just checking, it is micro limit poker you are playing???
as a couple of minutes is very fast to lose that much on a limit game-how many BB did you lose?


Razor Ramon said...

i forgot to say i mean my daily losing limit of 25 $ i nearly lost within some minuts at 2 limit tables with 0.25 / 0.50 $ blinds 10 player tables

i just felt not comfortable playing that way, i first one some rounds but then lost thinking i can make my hand on the river with flush or straight draws, also the players were really raising all the time no matter what they had so i was sucked in the pots if there are 5 players left in a round and everybody raises a big pot is build and if you lose it it is real bad :( maybe i should have switches tables

still working on setting up a xp system to get all the software and tools installed :)

Razor Ramon said...

i dont get it, i lose every round i play that way, even if i have a full house LOOOL ... i dont get it .... im freaking out !!! :((

Razor Ramon said...

bow im on a table with everything left, its not much .... all or nothing now, all o nothing ... im crying right now ... cant belive it .... i lost every round i played the last hour, every pot, every big pot .... i dont get what i do wrong :(

JJS said...

Razor - I'm not sure what to make of your posts, but it sounds like you need to slow down. You shouldn't read one article and try to "play that way" putting a lot of money at risk. Post some hands here so Peter can see if you are really doing what he meant.

Peter - I think implied odds can make a marginal hand playable, but doesn't turn a junk hand into a playable one.

Example, you have 4 5 os and flop comes 6 7 K rainbow. I would toss that. The OESD does not compensate for the fact that I only have 5 high.

Another - have K T suited, flop comes T 9 8 you have OESD, FD, and pair of tens. I think that's the hand to push hard. You can also hope to hit trip tens as well as the other draws. And if you miss everything, at least the pair of tens will win once in a while.

Is this the idea, or is there more to it?

Razor Ramon said...

i won everything back, just to lose it again within the next hours, this is really not funny anymore to me, why cant i win constantly ?

i just go up then down again uop and down up and down .......

sorry cant post any hands since i have no history with the java version here :(

Peter said...


Thanks for jumping in and this is what I was after a discussion.

Razor there is no way to win consistently but if you play better than the average player at your level you will have positive EV. Do not consider any method perfect for every table as table situations change and you have to adjust.

There are a thousand rules and circumstances and the article I wrote outlined how I play in 99% of cases at the micro limit on my site.

JJS as far as the OESD is concerned it would really depend on the pot odds and how many people were in the hand, where I play you have a lot of people see the flop and they stick with it so you get paid of when you do hit, hoever being on the Dummy end of the OESD may make me think twice.

Razor you know I have seen you play and I know you have a decent vpip, you are obviously at the stage where you are trying to gather as much info as possible to be a good player.
FRom what I have seen I would guess that you have a problem with emotion, scared money is dead money, read zen and the art of poker, take some time off but play well when you play and ignore results-if you can't ignore tresults you cannot really afford to play, my article attempts to explain a single part of MICRO limit poker that works for me and fits in with the style of my play.

It is possible that it works for me because I am looser than you so people see me as a donk and show me down on my best hands.

Articles like this should help your game and help you understand other peoples games, they will not make you into a winner overnight but they will help.

What I would say is this POKER IS NOT A GUARANTEED get rich qick scheme, you can with decent play make a few bucks, which is what I do. If you wish to make a fortuine you have to be lucky and brilliant or just lucky. just brilliant won't cut it.

Please though post hand historys and myself and other excellent players such as JJS who I bet is far better than me can help.

Peter said...

As a side note having PAHUD and Pojer tracker running is probably essential to play my way as it gives a read on what teh other player might have.

This also takes practice.

Razor Ramon said...

thx a lot again for your thoughts and comments ! i just found a new home at some higher micro tables, they work well for me so far, was able to get more than 50 % of my chipstack back winning, if you fold early you wont lose much but if you win pots they are really ok at 15 - 30 $ each

still trying to get those poker tools working, was not yet able to install them, but hope to do so soon !

thx again !

Peter said...

Hi Razor

Glad things went better, but I would like to make the following points.

1. You should ignore results make good decisions.
2. Table selection is very important.
3. The level you are playing at is less important than the players you are against.

For example I was on the 25/50 last night at my site which I think is the same as yours and the tables were full of LAGS and TAGS, The method I outlined in this article is very volatile at tables like this and I would either adjust or move on in these circumstances. I like a single LAG at my table when I am playing this way, to help me pot build.

Anyway as I said work on

1. Emotion (you should not care about results)
2. Table selection do not move up a level thinking here they will respect my raises you will get torn apart


razor ramon said...

i know got some pokerroom hand histories, but how can i show them to you ?

Peter said...

use this

razor ramon said...

and where can i get some info about the rakeback and bonus programs you once told me ?

razor ramon said...

the converter somehow doesnt work for me, well even dont know how to use it or how you can see the progress or any details of my game from that ? :(

sorry for all the questions :(

Peter said...

Hi razor I cannot help with how to use hand history stuff as i pull it fromPoker tracker.

Plesae just describe hand and cards in english if you want.

As far as rakeback is concerened I can tell you how to get rakeback on eurobet but you have an account there I believe so you will have to search for this yourself.
literally just search for rakeback you will find it.