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At a loss


I have been playing live 1/2 NL in local casinos for about 5 years now. For a while I thought I was doing fairly well but in the past two years I've lost about half of the money I had made and I can't seem to make any stride. In fact, except for occasional good size wins due more to luck than skills I've been losing an average of 7 or 8 BB per hour. I've been training regularly on this website for almost two years with decent results (I'm averaging a 110 poker IQ with over 40 BB wins per hundred hands. What I find is that at a live game I tend to be tighter that a lot of players and that I don't see as many flops as I'd like to. However, I cannot resign myself to calling 6 or 7 BB raises with small or medium pocket pairs or medium suited connectors, even with 4 to 1 in pot odds. I've also tried various raising approaches when dealt good pre-flop hands: 3 or 4 BB, which gets me a lot of callers, or 7or 8 BB which narrows the field to 1 or 2 opponents but leaves me with very expensive C-bets. Nothing seem to work. People call with all sorts of crappy hands (like 8 9 offsuit) but somehow end up hitting hard while i'm completely in the dark as to what their holding is.
Has anyone experienced this issue and figured out a way to handle these loose passive players in a cost effective way?
Any input would be appreciated at this point. Thanks


  • seattles
    I know this sounds stupid, but if you're a decent player (you did well for 3 years at 1/2 NL) AND you have the bankroll, try moving up just one level to a higher buy-in for a while. I did that with online microstakes (I actually went up two levels) and I've been doing much better over ~8,000 hands. Reason: the lowest level players are gamblers and their play is largely random - higher level players play more rationally so you can analyse and exploit their play. This specific point is occasionally discussed in poker forums like 2+2.
  • dhirigoyd

    I was thinking about that but felt that if I couldn't do well enough at lower stakes I probably wouldn't make it any better at higher stakes. Anyone else has had Seattle's experience? Also, looking at my track record (I've kept a record of all my poker outings since I started playing for real money) I find that I have much better success in one casino than at the other. I can't really explain that. But has anyone else experienced that as well?

  • highfive
    Difficult question. We can't assess your game. It could be variance. Variance takes longer to play out sometimes in live bc of the lower volume.
    I wouldnt put much stock in the IQ. It's a measure of APT style as compared to other APT players. Who says we are any good?

    40 bb/100 at KGB could be better but not shark-like. It just means you know how to beat a table of nits.

    If your 40 bb/100 is at any of the " easy " levels, that's not good. Sorry I am straightforward person. 150 bb/100 is showing something at those levels.

    If worse hands are beating you, that can't continue. No one overcomes the math in the long run.
    Seems as if game improvement is in order as well as pushing thru some bad luck.

    Do you watch vid replays of your APT sessions to find leaks?
    What does your training plan say about areas of improvement?

    How about taking a different path? Train more. Play less until your confidence improves???

    Highfive @dhirigoy
  • dhirigoyd

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. My BB performance on this website is mostly achieved playing medium and hard tables. I don't really play at the low levels. I've been trying to find a level that reproduces what I find in live games but it's not easy. My weekly training plans tend to hover around too aggressive plays on the flop, which I don't do live, and issues with specific hands, such as suited connectors or suited aces. I acknowledge that I have problems with those, especially when facing a pre-flop raise. I'm struggling figuring out when to call a raise with these types of hands. What I do find also is that I tend to call bets more often on the flop and turn on this website than when playing live. This allows me to catch weak hands or bluffs or even catch a fitting card which I wouldn't live.
    I don't believe I'm a good player by any mean but when I see people calling big raises with crappy hands and flopping a straight or even a full house against the guy who tried to thin the field with aces and gets completely blindsided, I wonder what it means to be good in these circumstances...
    I feel that being very aggressive preflop is the best way to go, but you have to be a really good postflop player to do that. Otherwise you're going to leave a lot of money on the table.
    It's truly a tough balance to find...

  • highfive
    Ok. So now we are getting somewhere. We have a leak. Knowing when to call or not knowing is an area of improvement. You determine when to call by the price vs equity against villains range. If you are 2/1 dog against villains' range and you are getting 2/1, then you have a breakeven call. If you have 2/1 equity and are gettimg 3/1 + , its a profitable call. Here's where people get glassy eyed. It doesn't matter if you win the hand, you made the right decision. If you make correct pot odds decisions consistently, you will win over time.
    Get a free equity calculator. Give villain a range and give yourself a random holding such as 98s, the app will give the equity vs villain's range.
    Example: villain opens utg +1. Put in a range. Keep that range static but put various holdings for you.
    Answer this question: given this range, what equity/pot odds do I need to call with a given holding?
    The thing is you dont need a complete hand chart in your head. You just need the parameters. If villain is laying 2/1 odds the weakest holding I can call with is X (76s or whatever). Getting 3.5/1, i can call with this......and so on.
    Pot odds are determined by direct odds + perceived implied odds if any.
    The premiums are easy: utg +1 opens. I have AA. Here comes the big 3bet.
    Also watch utg +1 hands shown down. Oh utg+1 opened K5o from there? Time to attack with 3bets bc he/ she is too wide there. 3bet big and be prepared to barrel villain off the hand.
  • dhirigoyd

    Ok. So it's fairly easy to identify my odds, let's say my flop odds, if I hold a pocket pair. I'm roughly a 7 to 1 underdog to catch my set. Now, I would need 8 other players to get in the pot preflop for it to be worth it, right? Well, we know that doesn't happen. So now may be I need to look at implied odds beyond pot odds, like, how much more money will I be able to get from my opponents if I catch my set. But how do I go about that? Some poker articles suggest that you look at other players stacks and if they have more than 20 times the bet then it's worth calling. Is that a good gauge?
    Then with suited connectors it gets even more complicated. On the flop, you have less than a 1% chance of flopping a straight or a flush, and less than a 10% chance of flopping a straight or a flush draw. So how do I compare these odds to the pot or the implied odds? This is where I really struggle

  • highfive
    So if utg+1 has a 25% range from there, my equity calculator says you are a 54 to 46 favorite against villain's range holding 88. You dont need pot odds there. It's possibly a raise. 98h is a 2/1 dog so you need those odds or better to call. This is why a calc is needed. Play around with it and over time you will learn to approximate better in live. Online the software automatcally gives this info.

    No. 8 players dont need to call. Pot is $3 preflop. 2 callers makes it $7. A call is good here with small prs or suited connectors as you will likely get a cbet added on the flop or some other implied odds.
    You must mean small suited connectors bc AK and KQ are suited connectors too?
    It pretty simple in live low stakes with mulitiple limpers or a raise and multiple callers either of which gives good odds to get involved at a good price from late position.

    Who says you need a hand to win money? Design a 3bet range from late position. Some light holdings should be included. Then at an opportune time 3bet big and barrel. Bluffing is allowed.))
  • dhirigoyd

    If the pot is $7 and the bet is $2, the pot odds are 3.5 to 1, right? So, if i flop my set 7 times out of 8, if i can't get more money from my opponents, i will lose $14 for every 7 times i call while i will only win $7 on the 8th time. So the maths tell me not to call. I would need to extract at least $7 extra when I hit my set in order to break even. Am I missing something?
    And yes I was talking about medium or low suited connectors.
    Also which equity calculator do you use?
    And thanks for being so forthcoming

  • highfive
    Correct but sets are 2nd highest implied odds hands just behind single separator straights because of their hidden nature. Many times you will check fold and a few times get set over set wins and losses. Sometimes you wont get paid. That's reality.

    Your comments assume you need to hit the set to win. You can C/R with top pair and open enders and several other hands. Remember villain misses the flop 2/3 of the time just as everyone does.
    Making a monster and getting paid is rare. You have to find other ways to win chips.
    Example: I 3bet on the button my last session live. Original raiser folds AQ face up. All others fold. I scoop $33. I had AQ too.

    I'm always an advocate of getting caught bluffing in a small pot. Then I get paid on my value hands as long as the table doesn't change.

    My calc has a genius name: Poker Equity Calculator. I have Android but likely there is an IOS version.
    There is one on this site too. I prefer mine.
  • dhirigoyd

    Thanks highfive. I do realize that I'm too tight at this game. I rarely 3 bet, except with QQ through AA and AK, and I've had a tendency lately to give up C-betting, as I find that it rarely works in small stakes live games, especially when facing 2+ opponents. I also realize that in order to get the highest chance of winning a hand one must see as many community cars as possible, not just the flop. I tend to give up very quickly when I don't hit the flop, which is probably another leak. Anyway, thanks for all your inputs, it's been very useful

  • aplus77a

    "i'm completely in the dark as to what their holding is."
    You seem like you have a good hold on the math...have you thought about focusing on your player to player skill? Body language, etc? Unless you are playing against stone cold pros, I'd imagine that the normal 1/2 player you should be able to get a decent read on.....

  • dhirigoyd

    Interesting what you're saying. I've read in many places that we need to play the player, not the cards. It's really hard to do though. I've only been able to do it a handful of times, but it's extremely powerful. Body language was not really part of it though. What I found more powerful was to assess their actions, i.e. bet, call, raise, in relationship to the board, the pot and their stack. Often times for example bets are out of line with the situation, like a bet that's too small in relationship to the pot or really big in relationship to their stack, making them inevitably committed. Those are often "tells" with respect to their holdings, especially in 1/2 NL. Nevertheless, it requires to remain very focused and of course it works better heads up than in a multi-way action.

  • davortd

    You are not giving enough value to pocket pairs. They only hit 1 out of 8 times but they can win huge pots.

    IF you have a pair of 5's and the flop comes something like A J 5, anyone with an ace will loose atleast one more bet. a bad player with a mediocre ace might loose more. a player with A K will loose a lot. a player with A J will loose their whole stack You don't need a lot of opponents, in the pot, just one that kind of hits the flop. when the flop has 3 of one suit every one gets nerviolus and its harder to win a big pot, but when you hit a set, no one sees it coming.

    and if the flop comes QQ-lowcard, chances are the raiser does not have the lowcard (unless he is really aggressive, not too many lowcard hands are raisable) and chances are he doesn't have Q because 2 are accounted for on the board. Chances are you have the best hand. you don't want to go crazy with it but you can stand up to a bet that is most likely a bluf continuation bet. you can also occasionally reraise that continuation bet. an occasional "light" reraise is ok, if you don't do it too often, it will make mediocre hands fold.

  • dhirigoyd

    Actually, medium and small pocket pairs never seem to pay as much as I'd hope when I hit a set. Often times there are two of a suit on the flop and considering how many players limp or call raises with 2 crappy suited cards I never feel really comfortable trying to trap in this situation. So if I face this situation on the flop and there is some drawing threat I will bet and often trigger a fold. Then I end up winning a pot that's 10 or 15 BB at most, which is not going to last very long if I call PF raises just because 3 guys are in the pot. And if I get a caller on the flop there's no telling how strong the set will look like once the turn card appears. I can't tell you how many times I've faced possible flushes or straights when that turn card hits. Sets are often the best hand on the flop, but they don't always last as the best hand all the way to the river. And in 1/2 you see a lot of players chasing draws, even when they clearly don't have the odds.
    And as far as calling PF raises with pocket pairs (especially small and medium ones) is concerned, you need to do the math.
    As you're mentioning, the odds are 7 to 1 to hit a set on the flop. Which means that, if you call $6 raises, you'll have to extract at least $42 from your opponents when you hit your set, just to break even. In 1/2 that's generally 1/4 of people's stack, sometimes even more as a lot of people buy in for just 50 BB. It might seemed very easy to do it in theory, but in practice it's a lot harder than it seems. There has to be a confluence of things happening here, like them hitting 2 pairs from example. Anything less and they'll become suspicious if they face a big bet or a CR.
    Now clearly, there are other ways to play pocket pairs than just set mine. But that's a whole different ball game all together.

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