PezRez and md261 are two of the poker world's most consistent 6-max SNG players. Together they run, which offers coaching and staking services. Here they dissect hands and games they've played. Also found at:

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Avoiding the Cooler

PezRez on 18 March 2010

Sometimes when you have a good hand and your opponent is throwing chips at you it can be tempting to slowplay. Here is an example of a spot where you shouldn't slowplay, to avoid the cooler card killing all your action.

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50)

Seat 3: Player 3 (2848 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (2906 in chips)
Seat 5: Hero (3246 in chips)
Player 4: posts small blind 25
Hero: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Tc 7d]
Player 3: folds
Player 4: calls 25
Hero: checks
*** FLOP *** [9d 8c 2h]
Player 4: checks
Hero: bets 50
Player 4: calls 50
*** TURN *** [9d 8c 2h] [6s]
Player 4: bets 250
Hero: raises 400 to 650
Player 4: raises 400 to 1050
Hero: raises 2096 to 3146 and is all-in
Player 4: calls 1756 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (340) returned to Hero
*** RIVER *** [9d 8c 2h 6s] [5c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Player 4: shows [2d 2s] (three of a kind, Deuces)
Hero: shows [Tc 7d] (a straight, Six to Ten)
Hero collected 5812 from pot

So obviously I check my T7o, flop a nice draw and when he checks, take a cheap stab. He calls. When the turn gives me the nuts, he bets, I raise and he three-bets. Most people here develop a hard-on and then slowplay. 'I got the nuts! I'm in position! He's betting and I don't want to lose him!' they cry as they rub their hands in glee and writhe sensually in their chair. I was briefly tempted to do the same - but then I remembered about the cooler.

The cooler is the card which comes on the river that kills your action. You are so pleased with having the nuts and having your opponent nearly drawing dead that you forget there are bad cards on the river that will not give your opponent a better hand but stop him from stacking off to you. In this hand, I guess my opponent has a minimum of two pair. But lets say the river is an A. If he has 98, he might get cold feet. Where he might joyously have snap-called your push on the turn - things have changed now. Things are worse if that river is a T, 7 or 5. Your decision to slowplay might easily cost you the stack you would have won if you just did the straightforward thing and stack with the nuts.

So in this hand, with the guy three-betting the turn he obviously had something he was willing to go with. Even though my all-in is a big one, I'm pretty confident he will call, and I don't want the cooler to ruin my fun.

So he calls, with a set of twos.

The river: 5c - the dreaded cooler. But that's ok; I got my chips on the turn.


Monday, 15 March 2010

Playing it safe

md261 on 15 March 2010

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20)
Seat 1: Villain (1500 in chips)
Seat 2: Hero (1500 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 3 (1500 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (1500 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1500 in chips)
Seat 6: player 6 (1500 in chips)
Player 5: posts small blind 15
Player 6: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [9s 9c]
Villain: raises 60 to 80
Hero: calls 80
Player 3: folds
Player 4: calls 80
Player 5: calls 70
Player 6: calls 60

I found myself in the sweetest $38 sit'n'go last night. All the other players were truly terrible. I figured they would knock each other out and I would be able to coast to the bubble, only playing quality hands.
With this in mind, I picked up 99 the very first hand, the loose-aggressive villain raised it from under the gun. Normally I would consider a reraise but I know the villain would reraise with a wide range of hands, and would be unlikely to fold anything before the flop.

With this in mind I decided to just call. Although normally I would want to isolate the original raiser and get the pot Heads-up, I was more concerned about not creating a large pot early on in a soft sit'n'go, and was confident I could play post-flop better than the rest of the table.

Run good


Friday, 12 March 2010

Adjusting to opponents ranges

md261 on 12 March 2010

People tell me about hands they have played, and ask me if I think they played it well. Even if they remember the stack sizes correctly, it is often hard to give a definitive answer without more information.

Unless it is clear they have played the hand terribly, I am left wondering: How aggressive is the opponent? How has he played the last few hands? Has he recently won or lost a big pot? What are his Tracker stats?

Without this context, a bad move can appear good, and a good move can appear foolish.

In the hand below the villain had raised 5xBig Blinds from both the button and the big blind 4 out of the last 5 hands of Heads-up.

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200)

Seat 2: Villain (4289 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero (4711 in chips)

Villain: posts small blind 100
Hero: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ks Jh]
Villain: raises 800 to 1000
Hero: raises 3711 and is all-in
Villain: calls 3289 and is all-in

Without knowing how the previous few hands had been played by theVillain, reraising all-in looks like a foolish move, it's for 21 Big Blings, and usually an opponent who raises this large is not intending to fold. The range which the Villain will raise 5xBig Blinds is so wide, I had to adjust my repushing range. With knowledge of the previous few hands a move which looks bad, is actuallly correct.

Against his range, KJ is a very robust hand, although it will be slight underdog to a low/medium pocket pair and weak ace, it is unlikey to be domimnated when called and behind.

Run good


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Destroying Value Pt. 1

PezRez on 6 March 2010

I just played a long session where I saw an opponent make a classic mistake of wasting the value of his hand.

PokerStars Game $35+$3 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30)
Seat 1: Player 1 (990 in chips)
Seat 2: Villain (2150 in chips)
Seat 3: Hero (1535 in chips)
Seat 4: Player 4 (2630 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1695 in chips)
Player 1: posts small blind 15
Villain: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Qs Qc]
Hero: raises 60 to 90
Player 4: folds
Player 5: calls 90
Player 1: folds
Villain: raises 210 to 300
Hero: calls 210
Player 5: folds
*** FLOP *** [7h 2c 7c]
Villain: bets 1850 and is all-in
Hero: calls 1235 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (615) returned to Villain
*** TURN *** [7h 2c 7c] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [7h 2c 7c 5s] [5c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Ts Tc] (two pair, Tens and Sevens)
Hero: shows [Qs Qc] (two pair, Queens and Sevens)
Hero collected 3175 from pot

In this pot you can’t really blame the guy for wanting to go all-in with his pair of tens. They are an overpair after all, the pot is big, and they look vulnerable. The problem is that when this bet gets called, he will nearly always be behind. His hand figures to beat my range, but my range, having called his reraise, consists exclusively of medium to high pairs and high cards. Lets have a look at how I will respond with each of these hands:

THE ALL IN: Will always fold to his all-in (unless the holder is particularly fishy and can’t let his AK slip through his fins).
MODERATE BET:May call a moderate bet with AK or AQ hoping he has a smaller Ace.

THE ALL IN: Might just call figuring it could be a man panicking because his AK missed. However as the pot odds are fairly poor, it is early on in the tournament and if the medium pair is behind it is drawing very slim, I think many players, if not most, will fold to the all-in.
MODERATE BET:Definitely will call! I am nervous he has an overpair, but will definitely not be in a rush to throw away my own. This is a great spot for the TT, with possibly multiple streets of action and his opponent crushed.

THE ALL IN: Ship it! Most players will try to milk a high pair in this spot a little, so even JJ is a cheerful call.
MODERATE BET:Let’s be honest, however it goes down, he’ll probably lose all of his chips here, so it’s all the same really.

So when you look at it logically, his bet is a losing play, forcing out almost every hand it beats and getting called by pretty much every hand that beats it. Next time you’re in this spot, if you go all-in, slap yourself.

Incidentally this theme of terrible bets manifests itself in many situations, of this is only one. I am sure I will post some others soon enough.

Until then, GL to all


The Importance of Stack Sizes

md261 on 3rd March 2010

I am writing this while playing. The tables are tough so rather than play 7 tables where i'll make $2 a table, I am playing the 2 most profitable, while writing this post.

PokerStars Game $70+$6 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level V (75/150)
Seat 1: hero (2635 in chips) 17.5BBs
Seat 2: villain (2005 in chips) 13.4BBs
Seat 3: player 3 (2280 in chips)
Seat 5: player 5 (2080 in chips)
hero: posts small blind 75
villain: posts big blind 150
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to hero [7s 7h]
player 3: folds
player 5: folds
hero: raises 225 to 375 (2.5BBs)
villain: raises 1630 to 2005 and is all-in
hero: calls 1630
*** FLOP *** [Js 2s 2d]
*** TURN *** [Js 2s 2d] [As]
*** RIVER *** [Js 2s 2d As] [Ks]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
hero: shows [7s 7h] (a flush, Ace high)
villain: shows [7d Ad] (two pair, Aces and Deuces)
hero collected 4010 from pot

One of the most important factors in deciding what action to take in a hand is the stack sizes of yourself and your opponents at the table, in relation to the blinds.
In the hand above it is folded around to me in the small blind, the villain is an aggressive regular player who seems to play hyper-aggressive against me. As the villains stack is about 13-14 Big Blinds, my effective stack is also 13-14BB's, as I can risk no more than this amount of chips.
Against a player this aggressive, pocket 7's is a very strong hand for a Blind vs. Blind situation with stacks of this depth. As it is strong enough to get all in with, I want to find a way to make him get all his chips into the pot with the widest range of hands.
Pushing all in would make him fold many worse hands which he may make a move with. Raising a full 3BB's to 450 may make him question if I will fold to a reraise after commiting so much.
If I limp he will raise with alot of hands, including many rubbish ones, which he will then fold if I go all in, I will win the chips he raises, but when I am called, I will hardly ever be better off than 50/50, furthermore there is always the possibilty he checks behind me, which leaves me playing a medium pair, out of position, against an aggressive player.
Raising to 2.5BB's will put him to the test, I know he is aching to make a move against me, and this looks weak, he thinks I bluff all the time, so he will reraise all-in with any semi-decent hand, as well as occasionally with a terrible hand, just because it's how he plays against me.