Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stupid System 009: Advanced Concepts

Note: This post originally appeared in Full Tilt Poker's Poker From The Rail blog. It's reprinted in full on The_Goat_Speaks for the first time, in order to A) allow readers whose work blocks Tilt to read this very important groundbreaking work, and B) make it look like I'm posting without actually doing any work. Anyway, go to Poker From The Rail, even though you will run into a lot of my poker writing there It's good, it's fresh, it's organic, and it is reasonably priced.

OK, no time for dilly nor dally; let’s get down to the brass tacks. The nitty gritty. The hardwood floor. The pork tenders. We’ve covered a lot of ground over the past eight chapters, but up until now, we’ve been sticking with the fundamentals of MTT poker play. By now, you should feel pretty good about your ability to count your outs, create the proper odds to call, and think with positive expectation. You should understand (in a general way) the advantages of Aggression Through Calling (ATC), flop avoidance, and the proper table image.

Now we’re going to explore some of the more advanced poker concepts, the ones that will take you from being a losing player with thinning hair who is begging for five bucks at 2:00 AM, into a bronzed-skinned Adonis who regularly rakes in “Big Dollars” (commonly referred to these days as “Canadian Dollars” or “Medium Euros”) while cruising in your private jet on the way to meet Jessica Alba for a few relaxing weeks in Aspen. So really, you’d better pay attention, you bologna, you.

That’s right, you heard right. As of right now, we’ll start delving into the sorts of insights and secrets that Doyle Brunson keeps locked deep in his freezer behind the gold bullion and the venison jerky. These are lessons that can only be learned one of two ways; either (1) over millions of real life hands and situations, coupled by rigorous note-taking, review, and mathematical analysis, or (2) buying this book for about as much as you’d spend on a pizza at Papa John’s.

We’ll be covering these and more concepts in great detail in upcoming chapters, but first it is probably a fine idea to define some specific terms and concepts.

Bubble, The - This is the point in every tournament when the remaining players are near the money. (This is often called “The Cheddar” – try using this lingo at the table to really impress everybody with your patter. “We’re near the cheddar now!” If they don’t compliment you right away, just say it again, but louder. If this doesn’t result in instant admiration, you probably have halitosis and should pop a mint or some gum right away.) The main thing about the bubble is that everybody plays very tight so as to make it into the cash. “Tight play” is when you fold even though it’s SO boring to fold. You should be aware of this, and play even tighter than everybody else. This will give you a great chance to “shift gears” and get aggressive for some steals immediately after the bubble bursts.

Dry Side Pot - I have no idea what this is, but people are always yelling at me about it in chat. I think they just don’t appreciate my game, you know? Whatever. Donks.

Folding - This is what happens when you throw your hand away instead of calling or raising. This is an advanced play and only used in certain situations that come up at specific points in a multi-table tournament. Warning: Always remember that if you fold, you will not win the hand. Use this play with discretion.

Hand Ranges - This refers to the hands that your opponent might have in a given situation, based on information you have picked up along the way in the hand and in previous hands. This is actually really freaking hard to do, because most players keep their cards face down and covered with something, and there’s like 170 different hand combinations, I think. I’ll count them again if I ever get sober.

Inflection Points - These are pressure points at nerve clusters around the major joints of the arms and of the neck, which, when applied, can cause extreme pain in your opponents. This is good to get a call or a fold when you want one, though you should be aware that it will result in a substantial penalty.* Inflection points are pretty useless in online play.

Praying - This has been shown to have a salutary effect on the cards that come out on the flop. It is well known that all the best pros have mastered praying, though obviously Jesus Ferguson has an advantage. We’ll cover praying methods in detail, as well as whom to pray to if you want a good flop versus good starting cards or a good turn (Note: As Satan is known to control the river, praying is usually ineffective on this street).

Semi-Bluff - This is when you bluff by betting or raising the minimum to scare people out, usually when you’re holding nothing. It’s a good way to feel out your opponent, and try to “see where you are.” For example, say you are in a five-way pot and the flop comes AJQ, all spades. You are holding 74 of diamonds. You should consider betting the minimum of 200 into the 1,000 pot, to see if you can win it right there without risking too many chips.

Squeeze Play - This is what happens if you find yourself sitting in between a couple fat guys, which might cause you to squeeze forward, spilling your chips onto the table and past the betting line. If this happens to you, I recommend that you counter by being very skinny, a style that Daniel Negreanu and Allan Cunningham have all but mastered. If you haven’t mastered being skinny, try eating a lot of Subway sandwiches like that Jared guy. If that doesn’t work, kick that Jared guy in the shins for me. I’ll pay you five bucks (Note: No I won’t).

Nose plugs are also recommended when countering the squeeze, because those guys smell like your hockey bag. For reals, y’all.

Suckouts - This is what happens when you somehow lose when you have a great to slight statistical advantage. For example, you raise all in with JJ and get called by AK and lose. As my consigliore and noted poker authority Rakewell points out, “this is utter and complete garbage. I swear, it seems like I’m losing nearly half of those hands.”

Races - This is how you win chips. You get all in. You should try to “get the best of it” which means that you have the coolest sunglasses, and also the statistical advantage in the hand. (See also Suckouts). However, you shouldn’t worry about it too much, because even if you are “getting the worst of it” (which means you are behind statistically and also do not have a branded hoodie), you can still pull out a win (See also Variance).

Either way, you need to practice winning races. Winning races is what you do if you want to win those precious Loonies.

Variance - This is what happens when you win a pot when you have a great to slight statistical disadvantage. As my consigliore and noted poker authority Rakewell points out, “that’s poker.”

* Penalty not applicable for “Not Really A” General Phil Hellmuth Jr., though he will be warned very very very very very sternly, you can be quite sure of that.

[© 2008 Julius Goat. Cover Image by Mookie “Big O” Pokeroom]


NumbBono said...

Literally spit beer out on my keyboard when reading your definition of squeeze play.

You owe me a mouthful of beer.

Rakewell said...

I'm stunned that you do not understand the concept of the "dry side pot." It is a carryover from the days before indoor plumbing. Players were each given the equivalent of a chamber pot to keep next to their chair, so that they didn't have to miss hands with a trip to the outhouse. As you might imagine, this resulted in some interesting tells. If you think a player's hand shakes when he's holding a monster, you should see it when he's holding The Monster--if you see what I mean. Everybody who has been in a elementary school theatrical production has experienced how nervousness leads to the urge to relieve onesself. Well, when you've got a chamber pot right under or next to your chair, the temptation can be overwhelming, even in the middle of a hand. So if a player's pot was dry, that implied that he wasn't really nervous about the situation and probably was completely comfortable with his cards--e.g., he had something unbeatable like a 2-4 offsuit. If you failed to recognize this and raised or bet into him anyway, it was considered a major donkey move. This explains why people yell "dry side pot" at you when you fail to notice an opponent's strength.

You think the advent of online play reduced the number of tells available? It's nothing compared to what indoor plumbing did.

Julius_Goat said...

And that right there is why I'm going to have Rakewell right the introduction to Stupid System if it ever sees print.