Exploiting People’s Tendencies To Not Fold Enough

Guide To Winning Poker (13)

  • Some players simply play too many hands, so we can beat them with better hands
  • Loose players generally don’t know how to adjust to this
  • We can tell a lot by how often they do certain things like bet, call, or raise

There’s Even More Money To Be Made From Loose Players

Just as we can make money from people folding too much, and giving us pots uncontested, we can also make good money from their not folding enough, which includes both their calling and their willing to bet or raise. In all of these cases, they are willing to put money in the pot, and in some instances we’ll be looking to take the pot away from them from getting them to give up on their hands prior to showdown, but this falls within the fold equity category. What I’m going to be dealing with here is our looking to show our hands down with them and win that way, which means having the better hand and getting paid for it.

So this is what we call value equity, and as opposed to fold equity, where it often doesn’t even matter what we have, in this case it matters and it absolutely matters in fact. So we know what we have, as always, but once again we don’t want to just compare this with a random hand as far as what our opponent may have. While there may be all sorts of information that goes into putting he or she on a range of hand strength, as discussed in previous articles, it’s a matter of having a solid and accurate idea to use as a foundation, which we then would use the particular information we have about how this particular hand has been played out to modify.

We’re Still Playing The Player Here

So we’re looking to start out with the general and move toward the more specific, and our general foundation can’t just be how our hand does in general if we’re planning on playing good poker. For instance, if we know we have top pair on the flop and he is betting, and we know that this hand will win a given percentage of the time, that is not enough. We need to try to figure out as best as we can how our opponent plays, as our hand is only good when it’s ahead of what our opponent may have based upon both what he’s doing now or may do, and his general tendencies to do that particular action.

For example, if we’re on the flop, with second pair, and our opponent bets into us, what might he have? It will make a great deal of difference if he’s a maniac and always fires out here, or if he’s a rock and would only bet with top pair or better. In the first case our hand is ahead of his range and we can profitably play on, and in the second it would be foolish to do so, for value at least, and we’re limited to try to see if it’s profitable to get him off his hand and get him to fold it prior to showdown.

Once again, we’re going to be looking to his or her playing frequencies to get the information we’re going to need to decide these things. Now, all good players do this sort of intuitively, thinking in broad terms such as how aggressive or how loose a player is, and so on. That’s far from good enough for us, especially since we have the tools to get a much more exacting idea of these tendencies simply by looking at the numbers involved. In fact, just by knowing this, we can use game theory to beat the crap out of people, especially those who do not know how to adjust properly.

Even Newer Players Can Benefit From These Strategies

I don’t want you to think that this process is a simple one though, as it certainly isn’t, but on the other hand I don’t want you thinking it’s so complicated as to not be of any real use for anyone but an extremely advanced player. As is the case with just about everything related to poker, our skill in using something is commensurate with the skills we have built up over time and our experience using them. It’s never too early in the game to be thinking properly though, as I’ve been saying all along, and even if you’re fairly new and just looking at the numbers involved and getting some sort of idea about what’s going on from it, you’re well ahead of most players.

In fact, as I’ve said, very, very few players are even looking at the proper stats at the table, and no one to my knowledge is using them properly even if they are looking at them. The very concept of average hand strength which I’m about to explain to you in more detail is thus far my own, and becoming familiar with it, as is the case with taking advantage of the numbers in gaining fold equity, will present you with some very serious advantages indeed. This isn’t just true for newer players, it’s especially true for them, as you’ll be taking some very advanced concepts and using them against people who have little idea about what they are doing, and even less of an idea on how to handle your abusing them at the poker table.

You Need To Look To What Will Make You The Most Money Against Players

So we once again need to look at all the possibilities here, which by the way are going to almost always include both fold equity and value considerations, as most of the time there will be elements of both that need to be accounted for. For example, we may be betting with the best hand and hoping to go to showdown, but we may also need to take account of a player’s likelihood to fold, and then come up with the best strategy to get the most money out of the hand.

Or, we may be looking to take a hand down but also may have some value in it as well if that doesn’t work, which adds to the overall value of the play and needs to be added in if we’re to calculate the move properly. However, for now I want to focus just on the value side, and we’ll deal with the two in combination in later sessions.

As I’ve said, this whole thing can get rather complicated, as you’ll particularly see in later lessons where we’ll be going into this all in much greater detail, so for now I just want to give you some of the basics of what you need to be thinking about here. So there’s two main things we’ll be looking at, which are aggressive frequencies and passive frequencies. With the aggressive ones, which include bets, raises, 3 bets, etc, we’ll be looking at the number of times that an opponent does this as a percentage. So if someone bets half the time and checks the other half in a situation, then the frequency will be 50.

It’s All About How Often Players Do Certain Things

So this does give us some very useful information. While good players will be looking to balance their ranges here by betting some weaker hands and checking some better ones, to keep us on our toes, we’re going to set that aside for now, and the important thing is to just grasp the basic concepts for now and worry about that later. This has to do with the way we’ll be looking to modify our reads, and the good news is that for the most part only very good opponents know how to properly balance their ranges anyway, so unless you’re playing high stakes, it isn’t going to matter much. We’ll get into that much more when we discuss range balancing down the road, including our need to do so to best take advantages of situations, and in learning that, you’ll also learn what to be on the lookout for and how to adjust to it.

So we’re going to have a frequency number, and whatever the number is, an average hand strength is going to be represented, and that’s what we’re looking to find out at this point. Then, if our hand strength is better than the average hand strength that they represent, then we’ve got value equity.

Most Players Don’t Know How To Handle All This Properly

As long as a player is playing fairly straightforward, as almost all players do, and we’re not just talking about mixing things up a bit here by throwing in a few bluffs or checking a few good hands, then this will be a very powerful weapon. Only the most skilled players in fact are going to be able to get away from the normal aggressive thinking that dominates poker to be imaginative enough to give us any real trouble with our reads here, although I’ll be teaching you to use that against them as we go along, which will give even very good players fits.

A very important thing to need to keep in mind here though is that, as is the case with all proper poker thinking, we’re only looking to establish advantages over the long run, meaning that in a certain spot, we’ll win more money over time than we’ll lose. A lot of players and even some very experienced ones let individual outcomes influence their thinking way too much. You don’t have to look any further than the way most people handle bad beats to see this, where their play has been good, the outcome has been bad, and they get upset.

This is absolutely foolish by the way, although this type of myopic thinking has bigger consequences than just losing your cool. Any time you let individual outcomes influence your playing strategy, you are making a mistake. An obvious example of the damage that can be done here is players looking to take down pots more when they should be going for value, in fear of their losing what they consider to be too many pots. In actual fact, losing this many is very often ideal, but they don’t understand what ideal is here since they haven’t thought things through properly. Like Pavlov’s dog, they are merely responding to stimuli, which isn’t the kind of poker players we want to become.

What They Have On Average Is A Very Informative Tool

So getting back to aggression frequencies, we’re going to start out by looking to be ahead of what a player is betting or raising with here. So simply from a game theory perspective, if we can figure out how often someone does this, we can then figure out what they are doing it with, on average. This is where my concept of average hand strength is derived from. As we get better at translating frequencies to hand strength, then we can really gain the upper hand here by getting involved in showdowns where the numbers are on our side overall, and avoiding those where they are not.

So in the next section I’m going to continue this discussion and then show you how you can start thinking along these lines and better ensure that you look to get the most value out of your good hands.

Ken’s Guide To Winning Poker – Index

Starting With A Solid Foundation

Aggression Series

Position Series

Various Poker Strategies

Mistakes Series