Episode 115: “Professor” Ben Yu

Ben “ProfessorBen” Yu is an accomplished multi-table tournament player with three WSOP final tables to his name across a variety of games. He talks to us about ditching school to play poker, ditching poker to play Magic, and learning to play a variety of games. We also consider the possibly perverse nature of PLO tournaments, including strategy discussion of a key hand from the bubble of a WSOP event.

You can follow Ben on Twitter @professorben and read his articles in Cardplayer.


0:30 hello and welcome
6:00 strategy w Cyrus
43:21 Ben Yu


$2/$5 NLHE. Two limps in early position, one limp in late position, Hero makes it $30 with AJo in the BB, all call.

Flop ($115) J86r. Hero bets $70, first limper raises to $210, second limper calls all-in for his last $85, folds back to Hero, Hero calls.

Turn ($620 in pot) 2. Hero checks and folds to $150.

Edit: Corrected flop, should be J86.

Episode 114: Gavin Griffin

Gavin Griffin once held the record for youngest WSOP bracelet winner, and he remains one of a select few players to have won WSOP, EPT, and WPT events. Yet in 2012, he found himself writing this essay about rebuilding his bankroll and his confidence, starting at $8/$16 Omaha/8. In our interview, Gavin talks about his early success, how he stumbled, and how far he’s come in the last three years.

You can follow Gavin on Twitter @nhgg and read his column in Cardplayer Magazine.


:30 hello
7:57 fat harry potter
23:05 GG


$1/$2 NLHE at MGM Grand. Hero is HJ with Kh9h. There are 2 limps in EP, Hero makes it $12 to go, BB calls, one limper calls.
Flop ($37) is 6h 7h Kd. Checks to Hero, Hero bets $25 as i know the young lad will be calling if he hit anything and doesn’t seem to be sensitive to bet size. However, he folds and the good player calls.
Turn ($87) 9c, Limper bets $60, Hero raises $125, Villain shoves, Hero calls.

What’s Your Play? Big Draw vs Bad LAG Results

Thanks for all the comments on What’s Your Play? Big Draw vs Bad LAG. I hope you’ll find the results and analysis more interesting than the typical bad beat post, which if I’m being honest was part of my motivation in sharing this hand.

The reason I find it interesting is that it reminds me of an important conclusion from Mathematics of Poker that I’d forgotten about entirely until I reread that book. In “Playing Accurately, Part I: Cards Exposed Situations”, Chen and Ankenman demonstrate that there are situations where a player with an obvious (exposed, in their hypothetical) draw actually does better by raising all-in on the flop, knowing he’ll put the rest of his money in from behind (though with sufficient pot odds) rather than calling and giving his opponent the opportunity to bet him out on a blank turn or check-fold when the draw comes in.

Of course there are any number of reasons why that may not be applicable to this hand. It presumes an opponent who will correctly bet the turn when ahead and correctly check-fold when behind. If, as Eddie argues, Villain can be expected to run a big bluff on cards that complete Hero’s draw, then there is more room to outplay him on future streets.

On Calling

Episode 113: Ed Miller Made Simple

Ed Miller talks about his latest book, No Limit Hold ‘Em Made Simple, as well as the Las Vegas poker economy, his experiences with the Clark County foster care system, and how his perspective on being a parent has changed.

Ed’s previous appearances on Episode 25 and Episode 71 are among the best strategy discussions the show has seen and are well worth checking out!


:30 hello
3:39 strat
24:53 EM


PokerStars – $0.50 Ante $0.10 NL (6 max) – Holdem – 4 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

SB: 202 BB (VPIP: 67.16, PFR: 49.25, 3Bet Preflop: 32.26, Hands: 72)
BB: 214.74 BB (VPIP: 42.27, PFR: 25.71, 3Bet Preflop: 6.80, Hands: 1,191)
CO: 197.16 BB (VPIP: 32.68, PFR: 14.35, 3Bet Preflop: 5.68, Hands: 1,172)
Hero (BTN): 323.84 BB

SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB, 4 players post ante of 0.2 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 2.3 BB) Hero has A♦ 7♦

fold, Hero raises to 3 BB, SB calls 2.5 BB, fold

Flop: (7.8 BB, 2 players) 7♣ 3♣ 5♦
SB checks, Hero bets 4.82 BB, SB calls 4.82 BB

Turn: (17.44 BB, 2 players) 7♥
SB checks, Hero checks

What’s Your Plan? Big Draw vs Bad LAG

This is from a $5/$10/$20 NLHE game. Villain has some natural disbelieving/trying to win every pot tendencies that have been exaggerated by positive tilt. He’s got about $10K in front of him (max buy-in is $2500 because this is technically a $5/$10 game, we’re just playing with a mandatory straddle). His hand reading is OK in the sense that he recognizes spots where people are repping narrow ranges, but then he does really unbalanced stuff to combat that, like raise when he himself isn’t repping anything or calling down really light. More fundamentally, he simply plays too many hands pre-flop and is insufficiently sensitive to position.

One example, he bet-called 99 vs a huge check-shove on Qh Th 5d and won vs Ah Kh. Exploitively, it may be a correct call because that player probably does have a draw there all the time, but winning in spots like that has definitely emboldened him.

His strategy probably OK against the weaker regs, but I’ve been punishing him for it. That’s not to say I’ve never backed down when he floated or raised me in spots where I suspected he was unbalanced, but but we’ve tangled a fair bit in spots where we both had wide ranges and the money has on balance flown to me.

What’s Your Play? Suited Broadway on the River

Thanks for all the comments on What’s Your Play? Suited Broadway on the River. I’m going to start by speculating a bit about what GTO strategies might look like on the river considering the (probably non-GTO) ranges with which each player gets to the river. Then I’ll say a bit about adapting to this particular opponent.

Should Villain Check the Nuts?

Matt says, “I am highly, *highly* disinclined to believe that V checks the Ad on the river here (not to say that it would right or wrong to do so). I find that a lot of people at roughly a live 2/5 skill level have a really hard time checking from out of position on the river with their very strong hands and risking the possibility of having the river check through.”

I agree with this as an empirical observation about live 2/5 players. But should Villain check the nuts? My guess is no, but that a successful shoving strategy with the nuts will also require turning some pretty good pairs into bluffs, which is another thing that 2/5 players are notoriously bad at.

Bagging TAG

Here’s Carlos just after bagging up chips for the first time! Hear the full story on Thinking Poker Podcast episode 112. Photo courtesy of PieFarmer, who apparently doesn’t know how to use the Zoom feature on his camera.

New Strategy Articles

I’ve got two new poker strategy articles to share with you. The first is the conclusion of my analysis of the infamous Mark Newhouse bustout hand from the 2014 WSOP Main Event (the first part of the article is here):

“[T]his looks like a textbook example of a “leveling war”, with each player trying to anticipate and stay one step ahead of his opponent’s exploitive strategy. Clearly, Tonking got the upper hand in this case.

That’s not to say that Newhouse was completely misguided to think that a bluff could succeed at an extremely high frequency. It was the final table of poker’s most prestigious tournament, both players had a lot at stake, and he’d already made clear that he did not want to finish in ninth place for a second year in a row. Then again, Tonking may have known and taken all of those factors into consideration.

The point I want to make is that Newhouse did not have to enter into this war at all. When you are genuinely unsure of how your opponent will respond, there are alternatives to taking your best guess. There is more to poker than good reads and “heart”. The fundamental mathematics of the game limit how much you can get away with, at least against a skilled opponent, even when you have the right read and the nerve to act on it.”

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