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This is True

I received 7 very well thought out responses to my post yesterday asking which is true:

Statement A, Better players will suffer from more suckouts because they get in with the best of it more often than not.

Statement B, Better players will appear to be more lucky because they can make plays with marginal hands due to chips accumulation.

When I formulated the question in my head, I was actually emailing back and forth with DP from Wired Pairs. We were not talking about this subject specifically, but more generally about some tough situations in a cash game where he kept suffering from suckouts. I think DP has what it takes to eventually be a top player if he has the opportunity to make that leap, but at the very least he has a great aggressive style and the intelligence to think about his game critically. All that said, suffering repeated suckouts is tough and the only advice I could offer is that he was playing well and making the right decisions.

Let me backtrack for a moment and comment on some of the responses to my last post. Hoyazo was the first person to respond, and he believed that A was 100% accurate, but B could also be accurate. He correctly pointed out that B (which I had disclosed as an idea from Doyle Brunson's Super/System) actually addressed Brunson's playing style specifically, and his willingness to gamble after accumulating a bunch of orphaned pots in a cash game. That said, Hoy thought you could argue Statement B either way.

Gadzooks64 and Teresa, both from a blog I had never read before but plan on adding to my read list, Adventures of the Poker Sluts, both commented seperately. First, let me say, kudos on the blog name, ladies. Gadzooks pointed out that it depended on what side of the bad beat you were on. As for statement B, marginal players may think great players are lucky because they get "good hands", and I think this is a very smart analysis. Imagine getting constantly pushed off of pots by an aggressive good player. It isn't a big leap to see some players assume that the aggressive player keeps hitting his flops. Lord knows people have said this to me in cash games when I was really betting with air...repeatedly. Teresa agrees, but adds that Statement A is more about tournaments and B is more about cash games. This is interesting, mostly because it somewhat is opposed to what I said earlier about "getting lucky" with marginal cards when calling a shortstack's all-in. But she makes a good point, as we have all suffered suckouts from pushing donkeys in tournaments, and Statement B is attributed to Brunson's analysis of his NLHE play. She also adds, sort of as an addendum to Gadzooks ideas, intentional or not, that only "bad" players (and by those I assume, players who don't think about the game in the right way) would assume that the good player in Statement B is "lucky." I'm not 100% with you on this one, as I've explained my bluffing with air scenario, but its definitely true that less experienced players are more likely to fall into this type of thinking.

DBrider, from the PokerBus (and, former DADI sponsor and host of the Blogger iPod tournaments) believes, as most due, that Statement A is simple fact. He makes an interesting point, though, in regards to Statement B: "ood players will often get their money in from behind in situations where they either have +EV pot odds or the shot at knocking a player out with little risk. To win, they will have to get lucky, but it's still the correct winning play...." Well said, DBrider. The issue of pot odds is one that no one else brought up, and while I didn't envision it when I came up with Statements A and B, the concept clearly fits in there. This actually relates to Teresa's comment that bad players are more likely to believe B. After all, they may neglect to even consider pot odds and therefore think that the player calling them down with middle pair, inside straight draw is a moron, when in fact the bettor is just not betting enough to the "moron" to fold his hand. I have been on the business end of a bitch and moan more than once when a player small bets his way into pot committing me. When I suck out, my opponent has, in the past, asked (none too politely) "WTF are you doing calling me with that!" The answer, which I usually will not share is, "You priced me in...bitch."

TripJax seems to really sum up the overall consensus when he points out that Statement B is the more interesting of the two. He also references the section in Super/System as something he vividly remembers from the huge book. Me too, Trip. For some reason that idea by Brunson really stuck with me, likely because it is so contrary to common beliefs. I'm a contrarian at heart.

PokerWolf is one of the only people to put a qualifier on Statement B. While he acknowledges that great players will build a large stack and then take more shots at pots, he also notes that great players will also lay down those marginal hands when they don't have the best of it. I suppose if you take into consideration pot odds, then it is true. The great players are going to lay down their marginal hands when the odds are against them, so you won't see them hitting the river with bad cards as often...unless they were in a position to draw out comfortably. I don't know if this was exactly what he was getting to, but its at least something I was able to extrapolate from his qualifying statement.

Finally, SIF brings up the implications of pot-size in regards to the two statements. SIF postulates that Statement A is more about big pots, and Statement B is more about small ones. I can see his point in A. Great players are not going to get all-in with the worst of it if they have to risk a deep stack. They are more likely to pick their spots instead of playing for a lot of money in a marginal situation. On the flip side, he says that B applies to small pots in very specific situations, where the great player is betting with a semi-bluff. This will make it appear that he got lucky when he was betting with air and/or he will win the pot without a showdown and appear to be getting lucky on the flop or with his hole cards. I suppose it can also apply to a pot-odds situation where the pot is small because of the weak bets (pricing in our good player with a bad hand). Whatever the case, the distinction is an interesting one.

Let me put in my final thoughts. Clearly, both statements are true depending on the situation. In a sense, they can be simultaneously true: It appears that a great player is getting very lucky because he keeps hitting flops or turns and is able to win pots without showdown (statement B), but when he does get to an all-in situation or showdown, he may suffer more suckouts because in THOSE situations, he is only willing to get his money in with the best of it, since he "knows" he isn't pushing players off of hands. I agree largely with the commentors, but I also have one thing to add: Statement B is probably more true for loose aggressive players but Statement A can apply to loose or tight players. Aggressive players are, in my estimation, more likely to make the semi-bluffs and attempt to steal from or call all-ins from short stacks, putting him or herself in a position to look like they are "getting lucky." Statement A applies to tighter players because they are usually in with the best of it due to their tight play; it applies to loose players because they may get called down more (eventually) due to their loose image.

I guess that is all for now. There is a lot of pontification in here, and I am glad to have been able to dip my toe in an obscure area of poker theory. If you have any further thoughts on the subject, please feel free to comment. And thanks for reading.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:42 AM,


At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post.


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