Tuesday, August 19, 2008
In order to keep this blog active, I will post a few of my poker coach's best hints. Please e-mail me if you are looking for a poker coach and I will put you in touch with Aaron. He's the best!!
Blind vs. Blind
Play in blind vs. blind situations is a little different to be sure. Remember that your opponent will miss the flop 2/3rds of the time. That means a couple things:
1) Hands that can win a showdown unimproved (like Ax and pp's) go up in value, while drawing hands go down in value.
2) The aggressor will win the pot more often than not.
The first thing to assess is your opponent. Are they too tight or too loose? Do they understand #'s 1 & 2 above and adjust properly, or not? Obviously these are questions you may not immediately know the answer too, but you'll want to assess this as the game goes. And make your best guess until you know better... for instance, if a player has been very tight thus far, then the first time I'm heads up in the blind with them I would assume they will remain tight until I see differently.
After you've got the best assessment of your opponent you can make, then utilize a strategy to take maximum advantage of them. If they're tight, be aggressive early in the hand. If they're loose-passive, see more flops with them and continue to value bet when you connect/back off when you miss and they call. If they're aggressive and have position on you, tighten up a bit preflop but trap them when you do pick up a hand. Etc.
Lets say I've got an "average player" with me in the blinds, not excessively tight, loose, aggressive, or passive. (All players are in this category the first time I see them, until I get information on them). My general approach from the SB is to limp fairly liberally. I love post flop play, and believe I have an edge vs. the average joe in this arena. So being out of position I'd like to see a cheap flop with marginal hands and decide how to proceed post flop. If I have a decent hand (the type that can win a showdown unimproved), I'll often make my standard raise in that case in order to help define my opponents hand and take control (or win the blinds right there). If I get called I will lead on most flops, in line with the 2/3rds miss thing. That goes for a total miss or top set, I'll lead away as the preflop raiser is expected to do. Please note again I'm talking about an average player, or someone new to me. If it's a player I know well and knows me, my approach may be different depending on the opponent. If I'm in the BB and they limp, I will raise somewhat liberally and make a continuation bet on the flop if checked to. If the SB raises, I will take a flop with them liberally since I have position and relish the post flop play. I'll reraise them with any reasonable holding that could win a showdown unimproved.
All of this doesn't mean to play or contest the blinds every time, there's no shame in folding. If you never throw away your hand in a blind vs. blind situation, you'll rapidly get little respect in these situations. Some people like this, feeling their big hands will get paid off hansomely (and they will). But I disagree with that strategy. Big hands don't come all that often... most of these situations post flop will be marginal hands faced with tough decisions. If your opponent doesn't respect you because you contest the pot every time, they're more liable to play back at you, and their hand will be much harder to define.
I hope this helps.