Sunday, October 11, 2009

Analyzing NLHE:TAP Concept 16

Okay, let's keep the ball rolling. Here's the next installment in my analysis of the concepts at the end of No Limit Hold 'Em: Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.

Concept No. 16: Occasionally overbet with moderate hands to disguise your overbets with excellent hands.

No; this seems like terrible advice. By "occasionally," I think Sklansky and Miller mean something like "randomly," and I've already discussed in my Concept 3 analysis why I think this idea is vastly overrated. In their discussion, S+M say "as long as you don't do it too often, these overbets won't cost you too much, and they will support you those times you make big bets with excellent hands." I think this is wrong. If a play costs you anything in the long run, it should be considered "too much," because you can just fold and lose nothing more. If you determine that a certain play is +EV, you should do it every time, not just occasionally. If it's -EV, never do it (except maybe in some extremely rare instances if you really know what you're doing). Something I forgot to mention about randomizing your play in my Concept 3 analysis is that if you ever make mistakes when you play poker (ie, make a play that is -EV), you are already randomizing your play. Don't make matters worse by adding extra mistakes to your game! Of course, I assume everyone makes mistakes, so this advice should apply to everyone; to some extent, human error automatically disguises your hands.

There's another, more obvious, explanation for why this concept's advice is bad. If you want to "disguise your overbets with excellent hands," the best way to do this is by overbetting with draws as semibluffs. The example in the book suggests occasionally overbetting with KQ on a board of Ks9s7c. This is going to force your opponent to fold most of the hands you can beat. When you are behind, you will be called or raised and have only about three outs. I would suggest simply value-betting KQ while overbetting with hands like T8 or flush draws as well as with your monster hands. Semibluffs are great because your opponents are likely to fold better hands than yours, but you have lots of outs if you get called. Neither of these advantages exist when you overbet with mediocre hand like KQ on this flop. Moreover, semibluffs actually do a better job of "supporting" your overbets with excellent hands, because if your opponent has KJ or KT, he might think about calling if he suspects you are on a draw. If he thinks you have at worst KQ, he will fold right away.


Anonymous said...

Hi Keith, these last two posts are really good as usual, and as usual I agree. But I think maybe in this last post, at the very end, you meant "KJ or KT" instead of "QJ or QT"? Or are people sometimes calling you down with queen high after you make a big bet?

By the way, I think another small possible reason why complementing your bets with big hands by semi-bluffing with draws is better than overplaying top pair is that some people might think you are crazy if they see you make a big bet with just a flush draw, and the next time might call you with really weak hands like middle pair. Then again, somehow if your name is Keith Wilson, you can bluff like 6 hands in a row and people will still fold to you when you bluff on the 7th.


Keith said...

I swear I proofread these posts, but you seem to always find an error or two. I edited the post to say "KJ or KT."

I think the trick to bluffing a lot is to wear nerdy glasses and to think really hard when you play. Then when you bluff for the 8th straight hand, people think to themselves "could this guy be bluffing 8 times in a row? No way!" And then they fold their overpair.