## Basic wagering for the uninitiated

Deuces Cracked members should be all over this, but for the newbies and the uninitiated I wrote a 101 guide to why we put money in when we're more likely to lose the money than win. It was for a thread on DC, but it came out pretty good so I reckon it's blogroll worthy:

BASIC WAGERING FOR THE UNINITIATED

Q: (why do we bet on things when we don't have a good chance of winning?)  A: (the price)

I approach you and say let's flip a coin and bet on it. I'll take heads and you take tails.

Only I say that if it comes tails, I'll give you \$2... if it comes heads you give me \$1.

Would you take the bet? Hells yeah right? That works on an intuitive level without doing any math.

But the math of it is that you're putting 33% of the money into the "pot" and with evens odds of winning, your expected value is 50%. So whether you win or lose, you've made a good bet, and I'm a betting fish.

So... what about one where your chance of winning is much less than 50%?

Say we roll a normal 6-sided die and bet on the outcome.

You choose a number. "6" If you succeed in rolling a "6" I'll give you \$2... if you roll anything else, you give me \$1...

Would you take that bet? Probably not... or at least you shouldn't. I'm laying you 2:1 odds on a 5:1 (against) chance of winning. So out of every 6 rolls you lose 5 times... you're contributing that same 33% of the money into the pot of this bet... but with an expectation of winning only 1 in 6 rolls your equity is only 16.6%

So if you were to take this bet you'll be contributing \$1 to the pot, of which your equity will then only be .50cents (16.66% of the total pot of \$3)... for an instant EV loss of .50 cents regardless of the outcome of the roll of the die.

The "break-even" point on the die-roll example would be for me to offer you 5:1 odds on your money. \$5 up against your \$1. So you're contributing 16.66% of the total pot on a 16.66% chance of winning. A perfect break-even bet in expected value terms.

Of course if I have a mild stroke in my brain and decide to offer you ANYTHING better than 5-1 odds on the roll of a 6 sided die... then that's a bet where, despite you NOT being a favourite to win (your odds of winning never change in this example of you picking 1 number on the roll of a 6-sided-die, they're still 5:1 against) you are being laid juicy enough odds to take the bet anyway. You would just have to be satisfied that you'll often lose your \$1 (5 out of 6 times you can expect to just lose it) but know that you made a +EV bet all the same.

The more blown out the odds of winning are... the higher price needs to be laid.

You can pick a card from a normal deck of cards and bet me I can't tell you what that card it. Well... the odds of me being right are 51:1 against and as long as you put up more than \$51 to each of my \$1 I'll take the bet and have a stab. I expect to lose most of the time, but the price I'm being laid is good enough for my acceptance of the bet to be +EV.

Now all those examples above refer to situations in which there is no overlay or like... extra money in the pot that is not part of the immediate wager.

ANY extra dough in the pot makes your life better by making your odds better.

Well... If you have 50% or more equity in the pot in a hand of pokerz... well then you're a favourite, and you'll never be asked to invest more than 50% of the money that goes into the pot from this point... so you might as well toss your car-keys, house-keys and first-born into the pot... because for every \$1 you're investing at that point, your equity is more than \$1.

Which is why ALL these pot equity discussions are about times when you have more than 0% but LESS THAN 50% equity in the pot. As in, you're an underdog to win the hand.

But say on the flop heads up... the pot is \$50, and your opponent shoves all in for his remaining \$50... then there's \$100 in the pot... and you're being asked to contribute \$50 to call. In this situation, you're contributing 33% of the money.

(please note at this point it doesn't matter where the money put in preflop came from... you don't care that some of the money in the pot was yours... that doesn't matter now coz it's gone. It's in there... and it's just a part of the money you can win from this point.)

So... being asked to contribute 33% of the money at this point... if you have more than 33% equity in the pot... you can call. An example of this would be if you have a flush draw and your opponent shows a set... well assuming you've got 9 clean outs there... you'll have about 35% equity. More than the 33% required to make the call. It's thin, but slightly +EV.

## Black Friday, From the perspective of "Next Year's" Poker Player

While many of the high stakes guys are handling their situations as they are, the small stakes grinders are throwing up their arms in terror...

What about those of us whose journey in online poker is just passing the gate at the bottom of the garden?

Well if you're outside the USA, I can't see why it would be anything other than business as usual.

Inside the USA, at my level your poker game needs a lot of work, and that work can continue to go on. If you are dedicated to understanding this game properly, and being ready to take on the second boom if (hopefully when) it comes... then you have your work cut out for you.

Other than studying theory and poker stovings galore, how do you get a good amount of practucal experience?

My suggestion? Form a poker club of 6 players dedicated to further development, and organise regular games on a non-money site. I recommend the pokerstars.net play-money tables.

That way you can get in some volume vs other learning, thinking opponents, where the emphasis is on making the right decision and right move at all times.

## Playing "Fit or Fold" in the micros

A thought about feeling like you're playing "fit or fold" in the micros.

So I've this week been feeling a bit like I'm playing fit or fold from the turn on.

But here's the thing I'm reckoning.

You can say of them that they put a lot of dead money in preflop, with ranges too wide, and often fold their air on the flop. So c-betting liberally vs them for value and thin value plus taking down dead money is going to be fine.

But once they proceed past the flop, depending on board texture, your fold equity is going to be enormously reduced most of the time for the rest of the hand.

So on the turn when you're running the process, can I bet for value, well, if not, can I bluff so what's my pot equity + fold equity then? Well if your fold equity vs these players is most often greatly reduced, you have to rely on pot equity to continue any aggression on the turn.

Which is why vs these opponents I think you find yourself in many more "1 and done" spots than you'd like, firing the flop for value and to pick up dead money, and then having to shut down on the turn if you don't have a hand you can continue to value bet, and don't have enough (pot EQ + fold EQ) to continue aggression.

So being careful with hand selection preflop will be a good way to ensure we make it to the turn with more pot equity more often, which would be an argument for not opening up TOO much in late position just because we're at a table full of fish. If we start playing cards that are just a little TOO crappy from the button we get in spots where we're gonna spew the turn too much, or have to check it back and see the fish get to showdown and take it... etc.

So I've been thinking over those factors and how they play together. I reckon it can lead to you feeling like you're playing super face up firing a lot of flops and then shutting down. But I must be careful when playing this way not to convince myself that these 2NL players are all picking up on this and floating my flop bets all over the place to fire me off the turn or whatever. Which will occasionally happen, but not enough for it to make sense starting check calling turn bets with air or bad draws or whatever else coz I'm convincing myself they're "playing back"...

## New Learning Regime.

I'm turning a corner tomorrow.

It's a new month, and I'm working through some series and I'll be assimilating the concepts as well as I can one by one. Bit by bit.

Up to this point I haven't really been terribly structured in my learning, some here and some there... all the while afraid to play much in case I can no longer delude myself that I haven't put the work in yet to know what I'm doing.

So that's going to stop. I will be playing to learn (thanks Tolerance Series).
I will be working through concepts before a session, playing a short session of a couple hundred hands focusing on those concepts, then reviewing properly in HEM (Thanks The Haj School Series)
I will be starting with a few fundamental concepts and focusing on getting those right. (ThanksCoaching Kristy Series) Once I reach a point in my session reviews where I think I'm consistently doing those things properly I will add more concepts and repeat.

I work full time shift work so it can and probably will be fairly brutal, the last thing I like doing is playing when I'm tired, but I cannot use that as an excuse anymore. A shift worker whose shift pattern spans around the clock lives in a constant state of permanent jet-lag 365 days a year. I must fight through it.

At work, my small mistakes have massive consequences and small lapses in concentration cause small mistakes. I have combated that at work by becoming extremely methodical. I handle the complex concepts at work by breaking them down into methodical thought processes that work even when you're dead tired on a night shift, because all the steps are individually simple to execute, and it's a matter of running a bunch of interconnected mental subroutines.

I plan to achieve the same with my poker game. I plan not to assimilate received wisdom but to break it down into forms that I respond to, and rebuild it in my mind so that I can respond properly to what's going on in a hand.

As I start out, the hand count will be low, but I hope to ramp it up to about 10000 hands a month as quickly as possible, more than this I think will inhibit the learning process. As I don't give a crap about the money, but learning to solve this puzzle in my mind; I have no interest in "grinding".

I've got some cash set aside for coaching but it would be wasted if I used it now. I have far too much I can still learn from active learning with the videos and other resources out there.

The reason for all this is that there is a polarised level of engagement in poker that yields happiness.

Either none or almost none, in that you either don't play the game or you play it over beers with friends and enjoy it as a purely social, non-serious endeavour.

Or, you work hard enough to get good enough to feel like you're playing and understanding the game well, making good decisions and decoding this multilayered monstrosity for your enjoyment.

The huge grey area in between those two polarised positions yields frustration, über-tilt, bankroll destruction, countless BBV threads, result dependence and more.

I noticed the same in language learning, either you go somewhere with a travel phrasebook, and get some enjoyment from getting a few words together in a café... or you work hard enough to be at least upper intermediate at which point you can hold your own reasonably well in most conversational settings. The area in between is all of it extremely frustrating. You're better than the tourists, but not good enough to really have any enjoyment from it. It's just one awkward failure after another.

I might have chosen not to continue, rather to have the beers and joke with mates and find something else.

But fuck it. DC fo' life foolz!

Mik.

#### April 07, 2011

Well I've had my first week of my new learning regime, It's been very interesting and there has been lots of discussion in a thread on DC.

I can already see my own mistakes much more clearly, which is an obvious first step to correcting the mistakes. I made some big mistakes and lost some big pots as a result, but feel like I've learnt a lot.

I found later in the week I was playing a very different style and the affect it was making me feel like I was playing weakly. So I thought about it a bit... but the strength of the fundamentals showed that it was the correct way to play vs those opponent types.

If you think you're playing weakly on the turn and river in the nano to micro stakes at a table with multiple loose passives and loose aggressives... cheer up, you may be playing correctly.

A thought about feeling like you're playing "fit or fold" in the micros.

So I've this week been feeling a bit like I'm playing fit or fold from the turn on.

But here's the thing I'm reckoning.

You can say of them that they put a lot of dead money in preflop, with ranges too wide, and often fold their air on the flop. So c-betting liberally vs them for value and thin value plus taking down dead money is going to be fine.

But once they proceed past the flop, depending on board texture, your fold equity is going to be enormously reduced most of the time for the rest of the hand.

So on the turn when you're running the process, can I bet for value, well, if not, can I bluff so what's my pot equity + fold equity then? Well if your fold equity vs these players is most often greatly reduced, you have to rely on pot equity to continue any aggression on the turn.

Which is why vs these opponents I think you find yourself in many more "1 and done" spots than you'd like, firing the flop for value and to pick up dead money, and then having to shut down on the turn if you don't have a hand you can continue to value bet, and don't have enough (pot EQ + fold EQ) to continue aggression.

So being careful with hand selection preflop will be a good way to ensure we make it to the turn with more pot equity more often, which would be an argument for not opening up TOO much in late position just because we're at a table full of fish. If we start playing cards that are just a little TOO crappy from the button we get in spots where we're gonna spew the turn too much, or have to check it back and see the fish get to showdown and take it... etc.

So I've been thinking over those factors and how they play together. I reckon it can lead to you feeling like you're playing super face up firing a lot of flops and then shutting down. But I must be careful when playing this way not to convince myself that these 2NL players are all picking up on this and floating my flop bets all over the place to fire me off the turn or whatever. Which will occasionally happen, but not enough for it to make sense starting check calling turn bets with air or bad draws or whatever else coz I'm convincing myself they're "playing back"...