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The Relevancy Test

By: TheLangolier @ 13:02 (EDT) / 994 / Comment ( 1 )

This blog entry is a piece of advice that will be a reminder for some, and a new idea for others.  I call it the relevancy test.  

Simply put, when asking a question about a poker hand or spot, the critical value of getting a good solid answer defined and understood, is proportional to the relevancy of the spot at hand.

What reminded me of this was a recent hand analysis post.  In the hand in question, there is a raise and 3B, and our hero is sitting in the blind with QQ.  This was a cash game spot with about 100bb’s effective stacks.  Hero wants to know how to proceed, flat or 4b.  Obviously I’m leaving out details here like reads etc, they’re not important to this blog post.  The responder replied that they would 4b in the situation given, an assessment I agreed with, for the same reasons they gave.  

The OP then came back to the thread and asked, if they 4B and the original raiser 5b shoves, and the 2nd villain calls his all in, what should we do?  My first thought was, this question isn’t really important in terms of the relevancy test.  Don’t get me wrong, it is fine to think about such things, but in reality this type of scenario almost never happens.  If you play a lot of volume, this type of spot may come up once a year, if that.  So while thinking about it is fine, the impact of making a mistake in a spot like this is extremely minimal to your overall bottom line, simply because it (almost) never occurs.  The original question posed (should we flat or 4b) is a more relevant question because this spot, while not necessarily frequent, does come up from time to time.  

I recently read a question posed that went like this (paraphrased):  “How should I proceed with a medium strength hand when it’s folded to me in middle position preflop in full ring with 100 bb stacks?”  Of course this is very much an “it depends” sort of question, sometimes you should fold, sometimes raise, etc. depending on a number of factors.  They gave a scenario and one of the responders said it probably doesn’t matter much because either way if they do the wrong thing it’s only a small mistake.  I couldn’t have disagreed with this responder more… they are failing to apply the relevancy test.  While it’s maybe true that on an individual trial a mistake made in this type of spot may be small, the actual spot of having a medium strength hand in middle position comes up all the time, over and over again.  If you’re routinely making small mistakes over and over again in this spot, the net effect to your bottom line quickly becomes large due to the frequency with which you’ll be making these small mistakes.  Therefore it’s a pretty good idea to iron such a mistake out of your game and the spot is worthy of a large scale learning effort to do so.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about some of the more exotic scenarios that get thrown out there in poker discussions, flexing your poker mind is always a good thing.  But keep in mind the relevancy test and weigh your time investment accordingly… don’t spend massive amounts of energy fretting over a situation that you will expect to face extremely rarely or maybe never, and likewise don’t dismiss a situation simply because it’s close, if it’s one that you’ll face all the time.

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