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Hitman's blog

/Dec/2008

Preflop Planning

By: Hitman @ 19:46 (EST) / 515 / Comment ( 0 )
I want to share with you a hand that was posted on another forum for analysis. Our hero in the hand is soliciting opinions on how to proceed on the flop here (and if you do proceed, what your plan is for the turn and river). Hero wrote: All the guys on my table are loose passive. What do you and why? Full Tilt Poker Game: $8 + $0.80 Tournament, Table 3 - 60/120 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:31:02 ET - 2008/12/17 Seat 1: Seat 1 (2,719) Seat 2: Seat 2 (5,410) Seat 3: Seat 3 (2,240) Seat 4: Seat 4 (6,865) Seat 5: Seat 5 (5,950) Seat 7: Seat 7 (5,750) Seat 8: HERO (3,660) Seat 9: Seat 9 (1,045) Seat 9 posts the small blind of 60 Seat 1 posts the big blind of 120 The button is in seat #8 *** HOLE CARDS *** Dealt to HERO [8c 8h] Seat 2 calls 120 Seat 3 folds Seat 4 calls 120 Seat 5 folds Seat 7 folds HERO raises to 480 Seat 9 folds Seat 1 calls 360 Seat 2 calls 360 Seat 4 calls 360 *** FLOP *** [4h Ts 9d] Seat 1 bets 120 Seat 2 calls 120 Seat 4 calls 120 HERO ? As played, I think hero has an easy fold here. He’s in the pot with weak players who won’t fold top pair type hands if you put a gun to their heads, so raising to make a move seems exceedingly risky with a large dose of foolishness. And calling to try and spike a 2 outter is leaking chips, especially when your 2 outter makes a straight possible, which devalues it somewhat even beyond the fact that it’s 23-1 against hitting on the turn. But that’s not the real topic of this hand. Hero took some heat for his preflop play here, including from yours truly. The raise in this case was really bad. Hero stated his reasons for raising as follows: “ I raise here for two reasons: 1) I have position 2) I want to build the pot” Here’s the problem with hero’s line of thinking… he’s trying to accomplish the wrong thing in building the pot on this depth of money, multi-way. Hero needs to have a better preflop plan, so he knows what he’s trying to accomplish, and then take actions that are congruent with those goals. Having position is always preferred, but that's not a reason to raise by itself. There are 2 primary reasons to raise... to thin the field, or to build the pot. Building the pot is a not a good objective in this spot. You have to think about what type of hand you're most likely to flop with your holding, and how it will play out post flop. With 88, you are most likely to flop a very marginal made hand, typically 2nd or 3rd pair. That's not going to play well at all in a multiway pot. Now, the 1/8 times you flop a set you would like to play a big pot for sure. But the biggest pot you can play is for stacks, and on the depth of money you are, you'll be able to play for stacks easily in a limped pot if someone hits top pair or better. If you added a zero to everyone's stacks, now the raise as a pot sweetener is fine... not to thin the field (because it won't, it's too small) or to outplay them post flop (a multi-way fish fest isn't good breeding grounds to bluff them out or get them off hands). But it works simply because it builds a bigger base pot which will facilitate winning a monster pot when you hit the set... it's probably the only way to stack someone post flop adding a zero to everyone's stacks, and it's also a much smaller % of your stack to sweeten the pot... a sound deep stack play. Because building the pot preflop with a hand that will flop marginal 7/8 times isn't a good idea, you have 2 options: Raise to thin the field, or don't raise. If you want to thin the field (even win immediately), it's going to take a real solid raise to do it, at least 800 to go and more like 1K realistically. The reason I don't care for that option as much as just calling to set mine these guys is because they're weak... most likely even for 1K you'll get a caller. That's not very attractive to me because 7/8 times we'll flop a marginal pair only. Now we'll be in a big pot, close to the commitment threshold for stacks, with no idea where we're at vs. a weak player who you'd have to pry top pair from his cold dead hands to get him to fold it. So my preference in this spot on this depth of money is to limp in. If we flop an 8, we'll hope the guy with top pair doesn't die mid-hand, because the preflop pot is still big enough that we can structure the betting to get all in by the final river bet. Being in position virtually guarantees this. And if we miss and there's action in front of us, we just pass having invested a very small portion of our stack. And if we miss and there's no action, we may pick this pot up anyway by virtue of our position later in the hand. Hope that makes some sense. It’s important before you act to think about what your goal is for the hand, and if the goal involves post flop play, what kind of holding are you MOST LIKELY to flop, and how is the hand most likely to play out? That’s the difference between swinging with your eyes closed, and keeping your eye on the ball. You'll have a lot more success doing the latter.
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