Episode 72: Strategy with Optional More Strategy

After last week’s interruption, Nate and Andrew are back with an all-strategy episode plus exciting news about how to get even more strategy from us! You’ll hear our thoughts on Ed Miller’s new book (more from Nate on his blog), folding a straight in a multi-way pot,  folding a set on the river, and folding AJ to a four-bet on Day 6 of the WSOP Main Event. #nitcast

The Big News

For those of you who can’t get enough Thinking Poker strategy, now you can get more! We’ve released a series of premium podcasts featuring more than five hours of strategy content relating to tournament poker in general and drawing specifically on examples from the 2013 WSOP Main Event. Whether you’re preparing for the World Series of Poker or another big event yourself or just enjoy hearing stories from the world’s biggest poker tournament, there’s something here for you. You can score your Thinking Poker Premium Podcasts here for just $19 at www.nitcast.com.


:30 – Hello and welcome; Andrew at Lucky Chances; Thinking Poker Premium; Poker’s 1%
25:39 – Strategy from the Mailbag

45 thoughts on “Episode 72: Strategy with Optional More Strategy

  1. Gentlemen,
    Congratulations and good luck!
    Frankly, I think this is the tip of the iceberg. Think big.

    • The Commodification of the Veganists continues! Some things arent meant to be bought or sold… but poker strategy is not one of them :D.

      Just wanted to echo Russ, congratulations, and I will be making the puchase. Cue Jalen Rose singing “got to give the people, give the people what they want!”

      Also, SkinnyBrown, who made a mailbag appearance on the TPP over a year ago (episode with Nate and I), is a regular/legend at Lucky Chances and a good friend. He’ll get a big kick out of this episode and AB’s description of the room.

  2. Listening to the episode as I comment. Are the hands disscused posted anywhere, so I can follow the disscusion?

  3. Guys, just a brief note to say that I have purchased it, largely as a thank you for your often great podcasts.

  4. In the first part of the podcast you praise Ed Miller’s new book. However, in the strategy segment you laud the hero’s fold. If you follow Ed Miller’s strategy in his new book, I think he would say you have to call. Is there something I am missing?

    • Ed might say that the turn card is a “dramatic card” (I forgot his exact terminology) which changes the relative hand strengths dramatically. A common misconception is that if villain makes a pot-sized bet on the river, then we must not fold more than 1/2 our range, game-theoretically speaking. This is a misconception because it’s only true *on average* on all river cards. There are certainly river cards that smash villain’s range, on which we definitely should be folding more than 1/2 our range. The turn card is one such case: it smashed Internet Kid’s range, and thus folding a lot of our range is not necessarily exploitable.

      Another way to see this is to consider Andrew’s “He’s gotta Have Something” article from two plus two magazine: A ton of draws got there on the river. What bluff are you putting Internet Kid on? He’d have to have a hand that he overcalls on the flop and then feels the need to bluff with on the river. I don’t know many people who would play AA this way (although it’s certainly a valid play on this runout). So, assuming villain does not turn made hands into bluffs, basically the only bluff he can have here is the one he ended up having. This matches our analysis based on “dramatic cards”: the turn card was so dramatic that villain almost has no air hands to bluff with, because so many of the draws got there.

  5. I’m just commenting to say that I snap-called the premium podcasts, and I’m really nitty about these things. You guys have given me so much incredible content that I’m proud to give back some financial support.

  6. I’ve decided to add some graphics to the strategy discussions for those of us who are visual learners. Please let me know if this helps or hurts.

    WARNING. These include spoilers. Do not look at the hands unless you want to see the full board.

  7. The 5 Stages of Listener Grief

    1. Denial. What? They’re saving their best stuff now and making us pay to hear it?

    2. Anger. Those greedy assholes. How can they do this to me, after all the hours I’ve given them!!!

    3. Bargaining. $19 is absurd. I’ll just wait a couple weeks until they see that nobody is buying it and offer it up for three fiddy.

    4. Depression. Ugh, I used to look forward to Monday evenings, but why bother getting excited about listening to the material they thought they couldn’t make money off. I may as well listen to Dope Stories again and take up crack.

    5. Acceptance. You know, if there’s anyone in the poker world who should get $19 of my money, it’s these guys. Not only am I sure it’s worth it, but there’s really no way this is going to impact the content on the regular podcast. I’m still taking up crack though…

    • I guess it’s inevitable that people are going to have your concern from 4, but I’m glad you came around to 5. The truth is that we put a lot of thought into how to differentiate the Premiums from the regular show such that the weekly shows wouldn’t just be “leftover” content. The Premiums are likely to be collections like this one, much more thorough and comprehensive in addressing a single subject long-form than the weekly shows could be, and with a much heavier emphasis on strategy.

      Thanks for giving us a chance!

  8. I don’t really care about tournament poker. (Or even about holdem for that matter: I’m a PLO player.) But I snap-bought the premium episodes. Not only because I feel I owe you guys way more than those 19$ for all the great podcasts you’ve made, but also because yours are among the only hand-analysis of NLH that I feel are insightful enough to be relevant to my PLO game. Thanks for all the great stuff!!!

    • Thanks, that’s a great compliment! Thanks for your consistently thought-provoking comments here as well. Your most recent one saved me a few minutes of having to type out nearly the same thing, only in a lot more words.

  9. Hey guys,

    Thanks for another great podcast. I certainly got a lot out of it. Im glad I played my hand ok up until the river, but given I am a tourney player by enlarge, rivers are where I have the most problems, hence why I sent the zoom hand in.

    One small gripe – you absolutely butchered my username, and made it sound like bennymaccacacaca! the last bit, macca, rhymes with packer, and is a common nickname in australia for people with a last name starting with Mc. We even call McDonalds “maccas”

    So other than that, it was an awesome episode.

    I too will be buying the premium podcasts, but i have a question – will they be a regular occurrence? Weekly? or just as self contained packages every once in a while?

    • After listening to your Zoom poker hand i wanted to scream at the screen for you to fold. While their strategy for the hand is pretty sound, anyone who plays .25/.50 zoom would notice almost no one bluff re-raises the river in those games. Especially not in that situation where it was a very significant river bet.

      I have over 100k hands at zoom, and would estimate at minimum 1 in 50 times that hand would be a bluff. People often call flop bets pretty lightly, with gut shots or just over cards. Those unexpected raises seem to be generally a gutshot hitting a straight on the river, or a blank card actually give a low pocket pair trips on the river.

      I hope that helps, loved the podcast and will be buying the premium with my next $19 of poker profit.

      • yeah to be honest rivers isnt my strong suit, but I wasn’t expecting this to be a bluff, but I thought there was as many two pair hands in villain’s range as there was straights. I think shoving is really bad, but do we ever think he is raising enough worse hands for value to call?

        • a8 and a7 i think are potentially hands that they may raise for value. But you have blockers to the 8, and his check on the turn makes a7 unlikely also. But yeah i think occasionally top two pair and second top two pair re-raises here, although i don’t think its often enough for a call to be profitable. I’m always amazed at how conservative river play is in zoom games at this level.

  10. Echoing yusef, mobius, and others, I had to pop for the premium strat-pack. I just spent 10 hours in the car this past weekend listening to the nitcast, so I feel obligated to show my support. Looking forward to the content. I’m sure it will cause me to re-evaluate my thought-patterns, as your strategy sessions usually do.

  11. Ditto comments above. Snap-buy if for no other reason than you guys have generated enough free material to improve my game (and long driving journeys) that you deserve some $$$….

    Watch out TPE?

  12. About the hand analysis on George Wong’s hand, here is a technique for dealing with ICM considerations without actually doing a full-fledged ICM calculation. (A variant of this technique is also useful for calculating the value of knockouts in knockout tourneys.)

    Here are the steps of this technique:

    1. The crux of the technique is to quantify the value of the last few big blinds in your stack in the context of the pay jumps. In George’s case, we know that his last few big blinds will just about guarantee him the 50k$ pay jump, and won’t be relevant for future pay jumps (because they’re very far away).

    2. Now we convert this 50k$ worth of pay jump to *chip equivalent*. That is, we ask how many chips are equivalent to 50k$. We can’t quite calculate this exactly, but we can often approximate this reasonably well when we’re far from the final table, by just taking the total amount of cash remaining in the prize pool, dividing it by the total amount of chips in play, and thus getting an approximate dollar-to-chip conversion rate. In George’s case, we know that there were 190M chips in play, while there were 32M$ left to be paid out, so 50k$ were worth around 300k chips, or 3BB. This number stays pretty fixed throughout each payjump bubble, so one can simply compute it once every payjump bubble. Call this number, 3BB in our case, the “payjump chip equivalent” (PCE)

    3. Now we make all our decisions as if we were trying to maximize chip EV, except that whenever we encounter a decision that could result in our bustout, we imagine that if we lose our stack, we lose 3BB more chips than our stack actually is. So in George’s case, we make all our calculations according to basic chip-EV, except that when we lose our 27BB stack, we actually treat it as if losing 30BB.

    The reason this works is that we know that the last chips in our stack are worth he equivalent of 3BB, so losing them is roughly like losing 3 extra big blinds.

    In knockout tournies you do something similar, except that you quantify the value of busting out villain in terms of chips, and then add it to the calculation in the event of busting out villain.

    • Wow – thank you MD for taking your time to explain this. I think it’s going to take some practice before I feel comfortable implementing the idea in game, but it’s a really clever idea.

    • That is a really smart idea. I am not convinced that it is entirely accurate, because I think those chips are still worth more than just that pay bump, but in terms of a rough and ready calculation that you can do at the table, I think it is an excellent way of thinking about it.

      • Well it’s also not actually worth 100% of the pay bump. Given how far you’ll be from the next pay bump (need to outlast 1/3 of field) and how small the next bump is, I think MD’s approximation is a reasonable one. Maybe call it 3.5 BB. Could be larger with an edge on the field, but this was a pretty tough field.

  13. Sorry to ask such a rookie question, but I am unclear about something Andrew and Nate discuss in Hand #1 (Seth’s hand). AB says villain #1, the “internet kid” is more likely to have a flush and better able to represent a flush. I don’t completely understand why that is.
    I assume that as the early position raiser, this villain has a range loaded with suited broadway cards. Villain 2 has some of these as well, but also has lots of pocket pairs. But since villain 2 does not re-raise preflop, I am guessing he has fewer suited Aces. So I think villain #1 has a range more weighted toward flushes, but is that it? Is this simply a hand reading exercise or does the postflop action also point to this conclusion?
    I would appreciate any help on this.

    • I’d say it’s mainly the postflop action.

      Villain 2 raised the flop, then checked the turn when a spade dropped. His raise on the flop mildly skews his range away from flush draws because at NL100 it typically indicates mostly a value range. Then on the turn his check *strongly* skews his range away from flushes, because we’d expect him to bet a lot of his flushes, for both thick value and protection, while we’d expect him to check a lot of his non-flush made hands because the turn is such a scary card when the turn is seen 3-way.

      Villain 1 bet-called the flop, then checked the turn when a spade dropped. His bet-call strongly skews his range towards draws, both because a check-call at this level often corresponds to a draw, and because we’d expect him to bet-3bet with a strong made hand on such a wet board OOP rather than just flatting, especially considering hero’s flat. Basically, with almost all his non-draw hands, a typical NL100 player will mostly either be raising or folding in this spot. So the call strongly indicates a flush. Then the turn check maybe slightly skews his range away from flushes but not as much as Villain 2’s range, because in this level players often check to the last aggressor when their draw hits, hoping to be able to check-raise: this would probably be a bad move on this particular texture with a flush, but people often do this anyway.

      • Thanks Mobius. This is very helpful.
        Sounds like at a different level of game, you might interpret these actions differently? For example, villain #2’s flop raise might be a draw at some levels, but not here?

        • Agreed that MD did a great job there. In a more aggressive game V2’s flop raise will be a draw more often, but I’m still not sure how often he’d check the turn after getting there.

  14. Listening to the WSOP hand and ICM discussion.

    Do you think that the fact that November Niners get additional equity in sponsorship’s and media attention as a result of making the Final Table makes any difference?

    Could this make ICM less relevant in the sense that the prizes are even more top heavy?

    • I think I understand your question. In a winner-takes-all single prize tournament there is no ICM consideration because there are no pay jumps or bubbles to distort the value of chips. That is of course a top-heavy payout scheme to the extreme.

      However, you cannot equate the added value of sponsorships etc for wsop ME final tablists to a winner-take-all single prize payout. The key differences are:
      -nine players are affected by the sponsorship equity instead of one
      -the sponsorship equity value is probably not large enough relative to the other prizes to matter

      The main reason ICM is obviously a huge issue in this case is that a November Niner with a single chip can claim sponsorship equity just like the chipleader can going into the final table. The 10th place finished gets no FT sponsorship offers. An extreme scenario of course, but it illustrates that ICM becomes even more important at the FT bubble because of the hidden sponsorship equity that isn’t reflected in the pay jumps. 10th place is already an exaggerated ICM spot and that amplifies it.

      I think though that you may have implied in your question that earlier ICM bumps may be less relevant because there is so much money up top from prizes and sponsorships that it can maybe be thought of as similar to a winner-take-all situation where ICM isn’t a factor.

      I think in order for this to be true, the ME champion would have to be receiving sponsorship equity that is off the charts compared to the typical 1st prize. I’ll let someone else do the math but maybe $100 million in bonus equity for just the eventual winner would allow players to disregard the other prizes ICM considerations and play only for first? Maybe that number would have to be even higher? Nate?

      • Your post made me think of things differently than I initially had done. I’ve no gone full circle and think that the ICM is way bigger because of this,

        There could be a case for treating this mtt a bit more like a satellite whereby the top 9 get tickets to a different event (assuming all the 9 get significant sponsorship).

        I don’t mean this in a literal sense and we’re never gonna fold AA pre flop obviously…but I now actually believe that this could create a high bubble factor in the late stages of this event.

        Obvioulsy we cant be too accurate when creating tournament equity like this, but i think its reasonable to be conscious of the added equity of making an FT when contemplating close decisions.

        Am I way off here? Do you see where i am coming from?

        • Yeah, I think that sounds right. You summed it up perfectly when you that there is a high bubble factor in the late stages and Benny points out that it is at one of its highest peaks going from 10 to 9 players remaining.

          The sponsorship types of deals are absolutely significant, but I don’t really know how to begin to calculate the value and I would think that it is dependent on a variety of factors like how marketable a given player is. Another interesting element that I hadn’t considered before this discussion is how the value of sponsorship type deals isn’t a one-time thing like a prize payout in a tournament, but rather a gift that keeps on giving. Interesting stuff! Thinking of it as the top 9 getting tickets to sponsorship is a cool way to think of it.

    • I think it would certainly affect things, particularly when going from 10 to 9, where there would be a decent pay jump, but the sponsorhip opportunities of just being in the november nine would be very significant

  15. Wait Andrew youre NOT CHINESE!!!??? WTF!!! I guess if you were you’d have made the offer $18.99 instead of a whole $19. OkOkOk Im buying.

  16. i am ashamed to say if i still haven’t finished the last brokos tpe series on bluffing, gonna get on that and then buy the premium podcast

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