Episode 122: Ethics and Strategy

Nate and Andrew field some mailbag questions related to both poker strategy and ethics, including collusion, what exactly a “guaranteed” prize pool should entail, when to rebuy, and how to add more aggression to your game.


Villain #1 opens to $4 from the hijack. His stack is ~$100. Villain #2 calls. His stack is ~$450. The button folds, the SB folds and raises to $12 with Ts Th. Both players call, so it’s $37 in the pot going to flop (no rake).

The flop is 6c-7c-8s. Hero bets $24. HJ shoves for $70 more. CO raises another $100 on top. Hero folds.


Episode 121: Joe Giron

Joe Giron has been photographing the World Series of Poker and other major poker events for nearly ten years, and in that time he’s learned a lot about poker and the people who play it. Before that, he worked as a newspaper photojournalist and a music photographer. We talk to him about the art of photography, his unique perspective on the poker world, his experiences with some of the world’s biggest rock musicians, and how technology is changing his industry.

You can follow Joe on @joegironphoto. You can (and, if you’re a music fan, definitely should) check out his gallery of both poker and music photography.


0:30 hello
16:04 baltimore red
37:30 joe giron


This hand stack sizes are 42k for her and 58k for me. Blinds are 250-500 ante 50

8 way play

Hero is on the button with 10s10h. UTG folds. Villain raises to 1500, folds to Hero, Hero 3 bets to 3700, villain calls.

Flop AsKc7d

she checks, hero c-bets 4500, she calls

turn Kh

she checks, hero checks behind

river 3h

she checks, hero bet $9000…

A Bad Time to Balance

$5/$10/$20 game with $2500 stacks.

UTG2 opens to $60, gets four calls, I call with 85s in the BB.

Flop A85r (no backdoor for me), checks to the second caller, who bets $170. I call, everyone else folds.

Turn A. We both check.

River 4.

At this point I’m almost certain he has a bare Ace, and 85 is the absolute worst hand I could have. In fact, my range otherwise consists only of Ax, straights, and flopped sets. In one sense, that makes it an easy bluff with 85, and I shouldn’t even really bet that much as Villain has an easy fold with most Ax (not that he should be betting that on the flop anyway, but this guy would). Then again, LOL at some live player, even a nit (which this guy is) folding trips for one bet on the river. $525 down the drain.

Don’t take the wrong lesson from this. There are plenty of situations where you should be thinking about how you’d play different parts of your range and actively thinking about your best bluffing candidates, using the strength of your range to determine whether you can value bet or what sizing to use, etc. Those are situations where you aren’t sure what your opponent will do with a specific hand, or you aren’t sure what he has. This just wasn’t one of those situations.

Episode 120: Matt Savage

Matt Savage, tournament director extraordinaire, talks shop about it takes to put on a great tournament series. We discuss the Tournament Directors’ Association, some of its more controversial rules, and Matt’s role as its public face and mouthpiece, as well as the delicate balancing act required to accommodate the interests of professional players, recreational players, and the casinos themselves. You can and should follow Matt on Twitter @savagepoker and pester him with all of your rules questions, whether mundane or arcane.


0:30 hello and welcome
13:28 strategy
33:12 matt savage


Live Holdem NL Level 1 Blinds 25/50
First hand of the tournament so everyone has 15k in chips
Hero is dealt KsKh
SB posts 25
BB posts 50
(Hero) UTG raise to 150
UTG+1 raise to 325
UTG+4 call
SB call
BB fold
(Hero) UTG call

Flop (1350): 9s4h6s
SB check
(Hero) UTG check
UTG+1 check
UTG+4 check

Turn (1350): 4s
SB bets 600
(Hero) UTG call 600
UTG+1 fold
UTG+4 fold

River (2550): Jd
SB bets 1200
(Hero) UTG call 1200

Selling Action in SCOOP Package

I’m going to be in Vancouver next month for the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, and I’m selling action in a package that will include all of the High buy-in events that I play as well as the $1000 Medium main event. There are 24 events, all no-limit hold ‘em games, that could be included in the package, but I’m not necessarily going to play all of them – in many cases it will depend on how I’m feeling the day of the tournament, what the field looks like, etc. I’m collecting money up front based on this tentative schedule, and at the end of the series I’ll return your share of any unused buy-ins along with your share of the winnings.

I’m selling in increments of 5%, with each 5% costing $1954.15. This includes a 10% mark-up. Obviously that’s a lot to invest in a guy you’ve never met based on a blog post, but I’ve run packages like this before and can provide references, if you’d like, to attest to the fact that you won’t have to worry about me scamming you.

If you’re interested, please comment here or e-mail me at andrew(at)thinkingpoker(dot)net and I’ll send you some more details as well as a spreadsheet with all of the events that could be included in the package.

What’s Your Play? Suited Gapper In Position, Deep Results

Thanks for all the comments on What’s Your Play? Suited Gapper In Position, Deep. The very first comment, from Zach, pretty much nailed it:

[E]ven though position is important, and the stacks are deep enough to make 74s less ghastly than if we were 100BBs or shallower, there just aren’t enough reasons to play it. Furthermore, our image is bluffy, and that’s going to make it hard to barrel through this hand if we flop a draw/some equity and miss on the river and have to make a large bet because we either flatted a 4x pre (or 3-bet to even more) and raised or floated the flop and fired the turn. With a stubborn/bluffy image, I’d rather have a hand that wants the call it’s going to get (because our opponents are keen to look us up) instead of one that wants a fold. Sure, the flip side is with deep stacks if we make a well-concealed monster we’ll get paid off huge, but how often will that happen compared to the regrettable number of times we are forced to play into our own image and bluff?

This wouldn’t be much of a thread if Hero did fold, so I imagine there’s going to be a flat here and a float to take advantage of villain’s c-betting tendencies and predictable play from out of position.

What Do Ranges Want?

My latest poker strategy article, What Do Ranges Want?, is now appearing in the Two Plus Two Magazine. And it’s inspired by some of your What’s Your Play? comments:

Some of my blog comments highlight this point starkly. When the Hero in the hypothetical hand example holds a strong hand and is trying to get value from something marginal, some commenters will argue for a small bet, on the grounds that marginal hands need to be offered good odds in order to call. Others will argue for a large bet, on the grounds that it will look like a bluff.

In a real life situation, you might actually have sufficient evidence to make a good guess about how your opponent will interpret or respond to a specific bet size, and in that case, you certainly should play accordingly. My hypotheticals don’t always offer that kind of evidence, though, which makes clear that many people are just blindly guessing about how their opponents will respond. Even in real life situations, blindly guessing is not the most profitable strategy.

Your AK wants a call, your bluffs want a fold, but what does your range want?

I also realized that I never told you about my last article, which is now a month old. It’s called Making Money With A GTO Strategy, and it, too, is a response to some common objections to a game theoretical approach:

What’s Your Play? Suited Gapper In Position, Deep

Sorry but there’s no new podcast this week. The show will return next Monday, April 6, with Matt Savage as the guest. In the meantime, here’s a What’s Your Play? to occupy your mind:

The game is $5/$10 with $2500 effective stacks. Hero is widely perceived as tough but a bit too stubborn/bluffy.

HJ is a straight-forward, experienced recreational type. He’s TAG-ish with his pre-flop hand selection, continuation bets too much, and rarely barrels the turn with either a made hand or a bluff. Unless he has a huge hand, he usually c-bets the flop, check-calls or check-folds the turn depending on whether he has anything, and then check-decides on the river . If the turn checks through, he’s capable of both bluffing and value betting rivers.

The blinds are also recreational players, though more loose and passive than HJ. Their standards for calling pre-flop and on the flop are pretty low, but they tighten up a bit as the bets get bigger.

HJ opens for $40. Hero is on the Button with 7d 4d. What’s your play and why? Posts your suggestions in the comments section below. I’ll do my best to respond throughout the week, and I’ll post my own thoughts along with results on Friday.

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