Magic 10s, A Victorius Iggy, and Week Recap

“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark. “
–Barbara Hall
Well it was a wild week for yours truly, culminating in the Monty Memorial Blogger tourney, in which the mighty Iggy took first (with Monty’s help, methinks). With a miraculous hand that nearly quintupled me up, I managed to get knocked out 21st by none other than the tourney winner (he hit a runner-runner straight with his QJ against my A7 after I pushed all-in with my short stack). I was crippled the hand before after raising with AQ in late position, only to have the BB push all in with AK. The queen hit on the turn just to mock me, and the king came on the river, and my stack was gone. Three players from my second table ended up making the final table, so I guess it was a tough table. Luckily for me Grubby was seated at my table, and he kept track of the fast and furious action much better than I did:
“And the final hand. h0trod11 raises the equivalent of me all-in (I think T895), I call with JJ. Hdouble raises all-in with 10-10. I think one other person calls. h0trod11 calls with QQ.
And Hdouble more than quadruples up when the board gives him a set! HD invoked the name Varkonyi for Kahrhoff’s early luck and running over of the table, but he ended up with magic 10s (a previous hand where he doubled up had him push with 9-10, a caller with KQ, and he hit a 10). Here’s hoping he 10s all the way to the top.”

Ironically, I thought that the extremely aggressive Kahrhoff was Grubby (the mystery player), but it turns out that Kahrhoff was far too lucky to be the grub himself. My repeated Wendy’s jokes were no help in determining Grubby’s true identity, which is a shame because I would have done a jig had I known I knocked him out with an inferior hand.
After I busted, I chatted with Helixx who took a string of bad beats worse than any I’d ever seen. His stack was swallowed up by the table over a string of 5 hands, when he finally was knocked out with AK vs. AQ. He also had the fortune of running into AA with KK, and the poor guy played perfect poker only to bust out on the bubble. That’s tournament poker for ya.
I won’t recap the final table (you’ll find better writeups from the bloggers actually at the table), but basically Iggy just dominated the rest of the tourney. I did win a $20 bet with The Fat Guy, by correctly predicting that the final table would take less than an hour. So since the tourney was a freeroll (thanks Iggy), I ended up ahead $20. Interesting note: the only bloggers to crack the top ten were The Blogfather, Maudie, and Johnny Flopboot. Maybe I should spend more time reading blogs and less time writing them. Check out Maudie’s site for an excellent writeup of the tournament.
Congrats to the tourney organizer, who in the end managed to get us a freeroll (even if he rigged it so he’d win) with all of his hard work (and the help of many angry bloggers). I’ve been wanting to play a heads-up blogger tourney, where 64 players fight through the brackets to reach the final showdown, so maybe that’s next on the menu…
While we’re recapping the tourney trail, another big congrats goes out to my protege Monk, who cashed in $555 for his $72 entry fee in a monster field, finishing 18th out of several hundred. Pretty soon I’m going to be asking for advice…
Week recap or Variance sucks
Monday: With my new dedication to 4 tabling (scroll down to the previous post for a more detailed account), I started off with a bang, winning $300 in just over an hour. The cards were good, and I was able to avoid too many beats. Poker the way it’s supposed to be.
Tuesday: Uneventful. 2 hours of 4 tabling leaves me down $10.
Wednesday: Again uneventful. 2 hours of 4-tabling leaves me slightly down ($40). A couple bad beats where my 2 pair loses to a set.
Thursday: Disaster strikes. My worst $3-6 session ever, I get demolished for $400 over 2 hours. Never have I lost on all 4 tables. The bad beats were ridiculous, and by the end of the night, I had won 3% of the 400 hands I played. That’s 12 for 400, and a few of those were hands where I stole the blinds. You wonder where that 300 big bet number comes from? It’s somewhere around the maximum number of big bets that a winning player can lose if the poker gods are unkind. Losing 67 big bets in 2 hours was pretty painful, but I’m happy to say that my concentration didn’t slip and I played all of those 400 hands as well as I could. I guess I’m getting closer to tilt-proof, which is a good thing. On the other hand, the “thrill of victory” has somewhat disappeared. The Poker Chronicles has a great post about this, I recommend it to anyone thinking about the evolution from a gambler to a hardened poker player.
Luckily I have PokerTracker to reassure me that I was on my game, and it was only cruel variance that plunderered the bankroll. After a night like that, it’s tough not to be results-oriented, but looking over the bad beats reassured me that bad luck and not bad play was the culprit.
Friday: Another uneventful day. I end up down $30 after a quick half an hour session (most of it losing to a runner-runner flush after flopping two pair).
Saturday: Live poker at Hollywood Park. I pull a Mike Caro and do the “poker olympics” while looking for a good game. I start out at the $15-30, and drop $300 quickly before coming back and ending up +50 in about an hour of play. The table is tough, so I bail out for a new $200 NL game, where I plan to sit tight and double up. That table is also very tough, so I try a $50 satellite for the pot limit tourney that night, but end up getting 3rd when I run into AK. On to the $100 NL, where there look to be a couple soft games. I don’t catch any cards, and finally make some money when I flop K Q J to my KQ. A good player who I’ve played with before calls me down, and ends up having QJ. But the table tightens up, so I take my $50 winnings to what looks to be a soft $6-12 game at the adjacent table.
And like Moses in the desert, the Poker Gods finally reward me. In three hours I was able to hit some flops (and yeah, a few rivers) on the loose-passive table, and I walked away up 40 big bets to the good. I even laid a bad beat on none other than Maxwell Smart himself, who happens to be a decent poker player despite his old age. All kinds of people at Hollywood Park…
So what did I learn this week? Well, $3-6 is not exactly a cakewalk (I think the games have gotten slightly tougher than they used to be), and despite popular belief, it is possible to lose money there. Second, my “tilt armor” is a lot stronger after absorbing some terrible beats at $15-30 and $10-20 short. The unlikely arrows of the poker gods bounce off harmlessly, and I’m able to forget results immediately. Third, table selection is everything. A lot of authors have been saying this forever, but in the world of online poker, it’s a lot more difficult to sort through the identical virtual tables to find the best game. In the live world, you have familiar faces, stacks of chips, and a variety of other visual cues to help you pick a live game. The lesson is that the extra time spent on diligent note taking and careful use of PokerTracker is time well spent– without it you’re missing out on a lot of big bets donated by the fish.
Thanks for reading and spend more time picking a table before you sit down.

Back to the grind: Genesis, Poker, and Crackling Aces

“Online poker seems old, but in fact is brand new.”
–Dan Mezick
Running bad. Again. After one of the worst poker weekends ever, I’m happy to say that at least I came to a realization that hopefully was worth all of the bad beats. PokerTracker shows me that this realization cost me around 5 big bets per hundred hands, which adds up quickly at $15-30 and $5-10 shorthanded. It was comforting to see that most of the losses came from missed draws and bad beats, so I can take some solace in blaming some of it on variance and the fickle poker gods.
For a long time, I’ve had the gut feeling that the biggest advantage buried in the new medium of online poker is centered in the quantity of hands that the internet player can play. It’s now possible, via multi-tabling, to approach that mythical “long run” that’s been so talked about. So all the while I was playing a single table of $15-30, my gut was nagging at me: “you’re missing out!”
Yes, the $15-30 games are good, and I’m sure I can beat them. But the variance is extremely high– the nature of hold ’em is that even the best hand is not usually more than a 70% favorite. Our (limit) poker winnings come from continously collecting small bits of positive expectation, and our bankroll represents an accumulation of the small mistakes of less disciplined players (and a little bit of luck).
I defer to Poker Primate’s Dan Mezick for a concise explanation of the differences between the “new school” of poker with it’s “old school” B&M counterpart:
“Many observers and pundits in the poker space have written about the new online poker medium. But none have spoken the obvious: online poker is a new form of poker that rewards specific adaptations to that form. Online poker games are beatable with new technical tools and new technical skills that are in fact required to play well in this new form of of the game.”
So yesterday I went back to the green pastures (fishy waters?) of $3-6, opening up 4 tables and playing ABC poker. Amidst all of the beeping and quick decision making, it felt much like the gaming days of my youth, where hours of Madden football filled summer vacation days. 4 tabling requires full attention and feels a lot like a video game… you build up a little knowledge base about each table in your head, and the quick decisions you have to make rely on combining your “rules of thumb” with your stored knowledge (hey I’m a programmer, what can I say). 80% of the decisions are no-brainers, but the few times you get three playable hands simultaneously require full focus– if all three hands go to the river, there are around 24 Big Bets on the table, so mistakes are very costly.
Anyway, I did quite well on all of my $3-6 tables, and it was nice to have a winning session after getting killed all weekend. Of course, half of my winnings disappeared in a 3 hour session at Hollywood Park, where I lost a couple big hands in a juicy $15-30 game. I lost a $500 pot on the river when my Aces were cracked by a flush (yes, I had the ace of that suit) and a $300 pot when my rivered flush got beaten by a higher flush. So instead of walking away up $650, I left down $150. I’ll take it.
The thing I didn’t like about the return to ABC poker is that it made me feel like a coward. Choosing the relatively thoughtless, robotic grind over the beautiful and courageous poker at $15-30 was not a choice I enjoyed making. But alas, I’m too conservative to put my entire savings account at risk, so I have to accept “paying my dues” at the low limits while building up the bankroll fortress. At least I’m motivated to build the bankroll fortress high enough to keep variance from climbing the walls and busting me at $15-30. But I shall return…
So that’s my new plan. $15-30 live, where the games are soft and I can be assured I’m not getting cheated, and 4 tables of $3-6 online, where I’ll grind away until I build the bank enough to multitable $15-30. Throw in a little No-Limit when the game looks good, and hopefully I’ve got a recipe for success. It’s not surprising that this (grind online, play as high as the bankroll will allow live) was my original plan way back when, and that I had to learn “the hard way” that this is the best course for me. Maybe all those hours spent in front of the Genesis will actually turn out to have made me a better online player.
$15-30 101: What I’ve learned so far
Every time you step up in limits, there’s a whole new learning curve to climb. The jump from the mid-limit games to $15-30 is pretty big, and I still have a lot to learn, but it’s been fun making the adjustment. As you might guess, the most notable difference is the amount of aggression in the bigger game. 3 bets preflop are relatively common at $15-30, and many pots end up heads up. In the smaller, loose games, you’ve got odds to call (or raise) any flush or straight draw, whereas this is usually not the case in a heads up pot in $15-30. Bluffing is common, and you’re forced to call down preflop raisers with as little as bottom pair if the board is ragged. I find most of my sessions depend on whether or not I make the correct read in heads up pot. Is the preflop raiser betting AK or AQ? Is middle pair good or does he have an overpair? Blinds must be defended (see my earlier post), and limpers punished, and “fit or fold” is pretty much out the window in these games. The rules of thumb are almost completely different in these games, and it’s going to take me a while to fully adjust to the differences of the more aggressive game. So far so good, I just wish my Aces had held up last night…
A big thank you
A huge thanks to Three Kings Halverson, who took pity on a cableless poker fan and sent a set of DVDs covering much of the poker in the last year. Not that I have time to watch them, but I can’t wait to see Gus Hansen suck out some more, as well as Fox’s coverage (I can’t wait to hear Lederer’s commentary).
Also big thanks to Iggy, who went through the administrative agony of setting up the blogger tourney on Pacific, only to have them screw it up and ruin everybody’s Sunday. I gave up a Sunday of live play (and ended up getting killed on Party) so I could play in the tourney, so like everybody else who signed up to play, I was not a happy camper. But Pacific has put $2375 in the pot to make up for their incompetence (I don’t think we really could ask for more), so I will be ready to go next Sunday. I don’t like my chances, but maybe it’s my turn: I think my highest finish in a Blogger tourney is 8th, and I’m hoping to beat that (and knock out 2-time champ Papa Otis in the process, who I believe has knocked me out of 2 of the 3 tourneys).
Now go read Dr. Mezick’s new essays on Primate Poker. He’s quickly becoming my favorite non-strategy poker writer.

A Brief (boring) Trip Report

“The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty.”
Alas, I don’t have very much to say in my Vegas trip report. Usually trip reports are my favorite posts to write up, but this trip was more of a family thing. Since I rarely get to spend much time with my younger sister, most of the trip was spent counting cards and rolling dice while sitting or standing next to the birthday girl, who turned 23 last week. She hooked up free rooms at Paris, but we fought through the distractions of the strip and spent most of our time downtown, where the smart gambler’s Expected Value is at least close to zero.
I also got to hang with RDub, who was gambling it up on negative EV games for his 21st birthday. We did make it to the Horseshoe Saturday night for a couple hours after younger sis went to bed, where I sat the no-limit game for a couple hours, bailing when the fish busted and left me with some weak tight types. Total poker take: -$20 after missing a flush draw in the $2-4 game while waiting for NL.
I ended up dead even (actually I think I was up slightly if you discount the cab fares) after many hours of blackjack and craps, and never made it to the Bellagio $15-30. Next time…
I’m still exhausted, so rather than a good post, I’ll briefly give you the trip highlights (photos soon to come).
1. The Stuff Magazine Celebrity Poker Tournament
RDub’s buddy Phil Gordon hooked us up with a VIP entry to the Celebrity Poker tournament at the Palms. Apparently, when Nicky Hilton caught sight of me, she rushed to the wedding chapel immediately, the poor girl. But seriously, it was cool to meet Phil (briefly, he was running/announcing the tourney) for the second time, and to see a few celebs mixing it up at the tables. The few that I recognized:
–Lakers Luke Walton, Devean George, and Kareem Rush
–A loud Tara Reid
–The girl from “That 70’s Show” who finished 480th in the world series
–Lance Bass
I felt old, only being able to identify about 1/3rd of the “celebrities”. I guess that’s what I get for not having cable and never reading an issue of Stuff magazine.
The highlight was getting a free copy of Phil’s yet-to-be-released book, which offers an insider look at the world of poker from the eyes of a TiltBoy. The few pages I read were pretty cool.
2. Little Sister rolls at the Fitz
The Fitzgerald (downtown) had a promotion going where the person with the most rolls on the craps table wins $100. They had a little digital counter on the table which kept track of the number of rolls, and my sis made it to 27 before the dreaded “seven out”. Shame to miss out on the $100 prize (the high for the day was 36), but the stack of chips accumulated during the streak looked far better than a single Benjamin. What do you mean craps is -EV?
3. Lunch with PokerProf
I had a nice chat with PokerProf and Flipchipro about what it’s like to live and work in Vegas. They’ve lived there for 22 years, and hearing an insider’s look at the craziest city in America (coupled with the great view at the top of the Stratosphere) made for an excellent lunch. Check out a terrible picture of me and some of the highlights of the conversation here.
4. Some of the worst blackjack I’ve ever seen
The basic strategy cards for blackjack cost $1. My favorite play of the weekend was when a guy split tens twice on the same hand when a dealer showed a 10. Ye gads. Or maybe it was my last blackjack hand, when a confused dealer thought my 18 was good enough to beat his ace-8. I couldn’t grab my chips fast enough after he rapped the table for a push, and the best part was that the floorman stood there and watched the whole thing without a word. Ahh, late-night at the Horseshoe. The same dealer also stayed on a soft 23 with two aces in front of him.
So those are the highlights (or lowlights, you decide). I’m gonna get back to playing poker, but make sure you sign up for Iggy’s blogger tournament, and test your skills against some of your favorite poker bloggers. My tourney game is so rusty that the Tinman has a better shot that me, but I’ve yet to money in one of these events so I’ll bring my A game. Rumor has it that the field will be pretty big and there will be some sort of bounty on my head, so do your best not to knock me out.
Keep on truckin.

Moving on Up: Playing Defense

“Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.”
–Thomas H. Huxley
My first real foray into the big games is now a week old, and I’m happy to report that it has been (mostly) a success. Back when I was playing $3-6 I used to think that the $15-30 players were all sharky mathematicians who had memorized the odds of every possible situation. It was a bit depressing to discover that the PartyPoker $15-30 doesn’t play that differently than the $3-6 game. Yes, there are a few sharks and a lot more 3 betting preflop, but otherwise the game isn’t much different. Fewer showdowns and tougher calls to make, sure, but there are plenty of $3-6 players that would clean up in these games. I’ve been extremely lucky to avoid too many suckouts, but I’ve seen plenty of terrible beats. Before I move to playing these games full time, I’ll be sure to have plenty of big bets to handle the variance.
The main difference between these games and the lower stakes games is that fewer people see the flop, making heads-up play more common. This forced me to improve my play in the Big Blind, since you’re often facing a steal raise, getting 3.5:1 on calling the raiser in middle position. I ran this by a grizzled veteran and he of course dug through the archives to find some literature that proved my instincts to be true. One reason Hold ‘Em is so popular (not including TV) is that no hand is that big of an underdog before the flop. So getting 3:1 against what is likely a steal raise means that you should defend your blind unless you’re holding one of the worst preflop hands.
Here’s the gold nugget dug up by Ignatius (check out this post for more):
“Suppose in Holdem an early position raiser who happens to hold AKo raises your big blind. Everyone folds to you. You hold 98o. What do you believe is *your* most profitable action here? Let’s assume no one says reraise, so that leaves call or fold. You are getting 3.5-to-1 on your call. Depending on how the suits are lined up, if both hands always went to the showdown, you would be about a 64/36 underdog, or less than 2-to-1.”
Yeah the raiser may have Aces or Kings and punish you when you flop your 9, but this is poker! Have faith in your postflop play and take the odds when they’re in your favor! Defending the blinds requires everything that’s beautiful about poker– knowledge of odds, reading players, and of course, gambling. Heads up in the Big Blind is one of the few frequently occuring events in limit that allow you to go beyond ABC poker and use your skill to make a profit.
But enough preaching. I braved the dangerous waters of the top section at Hollywood Park last weekend and came out a big winner. My 3 biggest pots all came from flopping big hands in the Big Blind, so it seems the Poker Gods thought highly of my newfound courage to defend my blind. The HP $15-30 was MUCH different than the $6-12, and it felt good to actually be able to put people on a hand and make some tough calls (without the nuts).
And yes, getting rivered at higher stakes is considerably more annoying than at lower stakes.
Alright, this post is going down the drain, but what can I say, I’m going to Vegas this weekend with my younger sister, who was able to hook up free rooms at Paris. Not a big fan of the place, but hey, it’s free. We’ll also be meeting RDub there, who is making his first trip out… who knows how much poker will be played, but I’m determined to sit the Bellagio $15-30 for a couple hours at least. From what I’ve heard, it’s the softest game in the country, and I’m determined to verify the truth of these rumors. So that means no posts until next week’s trip report.
While you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for my return, go over to Pacific Poker and create an account if you don’t have one yet. The Iggmeister is hosting another Blogger tourney, and this time its open to readers. Check out his blog for details.
Some congrats are in order. First, congrats to Monk who’s been on a tear lately, cashing in big in a tourney this week. My favorite part is that he actually sprinted to work IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FINAL TABLE ACTION. He ended up getting fourth, and won almost enough money to cover the cost of a new laptop poker machine. It’s only a matter of time until his winnings dwarf my own meager loot…
Also a shout out to Poker Dealer Extraordinaire OJ, who’s been on a rush that poker players dream about. The high point was a win in the 99 player limit tourney on Monday night, taking the biggest slice of the $75 * 99 prize pool. We’ve been playing at the same table a fair bit the last couple weeks, he’s just won about 10 times more money than I have. No I’m not bitter.
Viva las vegas!
hdouble bet $160, collected $592, net +$432 [ 9h Th ] [ a straight flush, ten high — Th,9h,8h,7h,6h ]
hdouble: nh
Dealing Flop…
hdouble: tx

No Limit Part Two: RDub manipulates the pot

It looks like my low-limit no-limit tips provoked a little bit of thought out there in poker world, judging from the kind comments you nice people left. Even better, it made my buddy RDub bang out a guest post (in which he points out some of my incomplete thoughts). RDub is an up and coming player who’s finishing up at a prominent Southern University where he’s majoring in math. Sklansky would love this kid. He’s got a lot more NL under his belt than I do, so I’m gonna listen to him. Anyway, this makes for the second guest post ever, and the second this week. Less typing for me, and better advice for you.
Why RDub hates the “bet pot” button and manipulating pot size in No-Limit poker
”Unless you are trying to do something tricky, always make your bet equal to the size of the pot.“
When I first starting playing online, there was no ‘bet pot’ button. I mainly played on UB, where the sit-n-go’s started you with 1000 chips, and tiny 5-10 blinds. So here’s a hand that would come up frequently:
I make it 30 with a decent hand (AJ, KQs, 88, etc.), someone re-raises the minimum amount behind me. Usually means a big pair, so I’ll gladly call the 30 looking to bust him. Flop comes, they know they still have the best hand, and how much do they bet? The minimum, 10 chips. I’m usually getting 13 or 14:1 at this point, so I still usually call with some chance to bust them. They either end up winning a small pot, or going broke when I hit a ‘miracle’ gutshot, set, or backdoor flush on them.
These people were lazy…they knew they wanted to bet, but they didn’t want to type in their own bet amount, let alone think about another amount to bet. So they hit the one betting button available to them, which was bet (or raise) min.
So when the ‘bet pot’ button came along, I’ll admit I wasn’t very happy. The same lazy people are playing the same hands, but now they are making pot sized re-raises pre-flop, and not giving the implied odds to crack their hands. They are betting the pot on the flop and shutting out draws. A lot of them didn’t know why or how, but that damn button was making them play a lot better.
With deep stacks like these, I like your advice.
Now for the counterpoint. The other night I hosted a small no-limit game with some of the regulars around campus. One player has read a ton about poker, and is very concerned with looking and sounding like a pro. Luckily for us, his play rarely follows suit.
He started a hand with about $25 in chips, blinds were .25-.50. I think someone raised pre-flop, and he re-raised, leaving himself about $18 to bet on the flop. The flop came, and he made a point to count how much was in the pot, which turned out to be exactly $15. He counts out $15 in chips, says “TJ says you should always bet the size of the pot to shut out draws.”, and bets $15, for some reason leaving himself $3. This is clearly an example of someone who can read a poker book and try to do what it says without having any clue about the underlying theory behind what “TJ says” to do.
As a sidebar, if someone looks like they know how to play poker, AND they talk like they play poker well, odds are they play about as well as a cheerio. This is why they wear the “mirror shades”, to hide the fact that they are cheerios. The good players are the ones keeping silent and save the grandstanding for when it actually might help them win a pot.
Back to my initial hatred of the “bet pot” button online, it was after UB that I gave Party Poker a shot. The sit-n-go‘s have a lot less play, giving you 800 chips, starting at 10-15 blinds, and escalating the blinds much faster. After playing a fair amount of these, I found myself making a particular two-word note very often on a certain type of player that I felt I could easily exploit. It wasn‘t “Loose passive”, or “Total fish”. It was “Pot bettor”. When the stacks aren‘t deep, you can be very easily exploited if you fall in love with the “bet pot” button.
Let‘s say it‘s 15-30, you make it 100 pre-flop with AK and get two callers. Flop is K83 with two hearts, they check, and you bet the pot (300). You are giving a potential flush draw 2:1 on their 4:1 shot, and you are protecting what is likely the best hand. Here’s the bad news. You are now totally pot-committed. Assuming you started the hand with 800 or so chips, if you get check raised all-in, you have to call. If you flop a hand on a “Pot-bettor” once you get past level one, it is too easy to bust them. Just like your calling $20 with pocket deuces example to bust a guy’s Aces with a $200 stack, you are now always getting implied odds. Against the min bettor, you were getting implied odds to bust them on the flop by cheaply hitting your draw. Against the pot-bettor, you are getting implied odds to outflop them. A simple check raise on the flop and it’s over. One adjustment to make, is that a hand like 109s will often bust the min raiser by making a straight or flush on the turn or river. Against the pot bettor, you’d do better with a small pair since your hand will pretty much be defined by the flop. It also means you should tend to smooth call with AA or KK against them, since you know they will often commit themselves on the flop if you check to them.
Back to the AK on Party, let’s play it slightly differently and see what happens. You make it 90 pre-flop, which really shouldn’t change anything. If they would have folded preflop for 100, they will fold for 90. If they want to re-raise your 90 bet all in, they will do the same to your 100 bet. It doesn’t matter.
Flop is K83, two hearts. 270 in the pot. You have 710 left. They check, you bet 135. Now if they have a heart draw, they are getting 3:1 on their 4:1 shot. You still aren’t giving them the right price to call. Now here’s the best part: you aren’t pot-committed anymore. If one of them check-raises all-in, you can do what all good poker players should want to do in hands: Make a decision. Good players tend to make better decisions than bad players, so if you are a good player, this is how you show it. Read the board, see what you know about the player, and make the best decision. Maybe more importantly in this hand than the pot odds you are laying them, what are their implied odds”‘ I say they are poor. If a heart hits the turn, you can shut down completely, and your stack isn’t crippled. If a rag hits the turn, you have enough chips to move in, and give them another incorrect price to chase. If they have KQ or 1010, then the 3:1 you are giving them is nowhere close to the correct price they need to call, plus I think it’s a lot more likely you’ll get called by these hands with a half pot bet than a pot sized bet.
Here’s another example that made me think about this a while back. A friend of mine in town won a WSOP trip online, this is day 3, $300-$600 blinds with a $75 ante:
“It was folded around to me and I had AsQs and raised it to $2k. Only the big blind called. There was about $5k in the pot. The flop came KT2. Giving me a gutshot straight draw. The big blind checked and I bet $5k hoping he had a small pair that he would be forced to fold with the two big cards on the flop. He came over the top of me for all-in. He was a fairly tight player and I had to fold. That moved me back down to about $12k.”
Of course hindsight is 20-20, but here”‘s a case where a $3,000 bet would have worked out much better. To me, your pocket 8‘s look the same against a $3k bet and a $5k bet. Your AJ looks the same. And your set of tens looks the same. So with his relatively short stack at the time, I think a half pot sized bet is a lot more optimal. He had to fold to the all-in either way, but saving those $2,000 chips would have been pretty big at that level. And if the other player wants to “sense weakness” at your $3,000 bet and move all-in since you didn’t bet the pot, he is more than welcome, since you would also bet the same amount with AK, AA, or KK on that flop.
Enough rambling…My thoughts come down to this: In gambling, when you are deciding how much to bet, you should take into account your edge on the bet, and your bankroll. In no-limit, your stack is your bankroll for the hand. A chess player has to look 20 moves ahead to work out his best strategy, but in hold’em you only have to plan to the river (or maybe less if you’re setting up an all-in on the turn). Don’t hit the “bet-pot” button because “TJ” said so, hit it if it’s the right amount to bet for your style, your hand and your stack size. And of course tournament prize structure plays an important part too.
And in fairness to Hdouble’s post which was a beginner’s guide, so a lot of this is not in the same context. But whatever you do, don’t bet the min…