I have not played a lot of LHE in years, so please excuse me if this is an ignorant question. You are constantly talking about things like protecting your calling range by not raising with your stronger holdings. No particular time stamp, but I'm sure you're aware that you mention it time and time again. While I agree this may be optimal against villains that are paying attention and optimal game theory wise, is it really necessary against guys you have marked as fish? I'm aware that the player pool for $5/10 LHE must be ridiculously small on Merge, and I'm aware that even the fishiest of fish will eventually catch on if raising always means strong and calling always means weak, but wouldn't it be more profitable to play at least somewhat exploitably against your weaker opponents? As an added bonus, the good players who are paying attention may believe that's how you play against anyone, so when you flat your entire range against them they may not give you as much credit.
I'm really enjoying watching your vids BTW. Almost enough to make myself endure the horrible variance and nigh unbeatable rake that is SSLHE.
yeah, you raise a good point, and it's a classic argument/discussion that's been around for a while, as far as balance vs exploitation. in general i will stop balancing and turn to exploitative play once someone's demonstrated themselves to be really bad, ie super spewy preflop or something. if that guy 3bets my open with atc i'm going to start 4betting him hu oop, and so on. the no cap on merge i think especially lends itself toward that, as every now and then you'll just get in 9 or 15 bets vs someone.
vs unknowns, okay, or good players, or guys who are only kinda bad (say a tagfish like 26/14 or something, or a 45/20 guy) i usually keep trying to play balanced, assuming that these guys have some semblance of aggression, and some understanding of ranges. i do think i should be playing exploitatively vs bad loosepassives (60/5 types) more than i do.
i also think what you mention in general highlights something (call it a phase, or whatever) in my poker development. for a long time i was really exploitative, probably to a fault. now i think i've shifted probably too far in the other direction. having just played live poker for almost a month (40/80 in LA) it's definitely the case that if you go for balanced lines instead of just the straight exploitative line you'll be passing up a lot of value. classic example is they love to try and make the free card play on the flop out there. if i took my normal online approach of calling a taggy-seeming opponent's flop raise, planning to checkraise the turn or whatever, i'd be whiffing on lots of turn checkraises. instead, i got to cr/4/6 the flop several times, and ontherail15 had a hand where he got to c/r/4/6/8 the flop in a similar spot. there were several hands where i had to catch myself and force myself to bet3bet the flop with say an overpair, which almost feels gross to do online vs anyone competent, since i can get to c/r/sometimes4 the turn instead. and some times i definitely forgot and the guy successfully cheap showdowned me or whatever.
anyway i'm rambling now but yes you raise a good point, yes it's something i need to work on in my game a bit (going back a bit more exploitative), and yes the cliffs notes answer is that vs really bad players you don't need to balance really. i think the non-cap structure on merge also means it's even more important to look for spots where you can say raise/4/6/8 preflop hu vs a spewbot, or jam a flop in the same situation.
anyway, glad you're enjoying the series. the rake is kinda gross on merge so it's important to have a good rb deal if possible. dunno if you have other sites available to you.
edit: one thing also to keep in mind is that in general my opponents who i have pegged as 'bad' are usually not very foldy. so in a lot of spots where i can usually get one more raise in (say a guy checkraises me on the flop, i'm medium-strong (like top pair), and i can either 3bet the flop and bet down, or call the flop to raise the turn), the latter line is going to net me an extra small bet, which adds up over time