The Poker Game of Life

Poker and scotch on the rocks. Below are my reflections on life and poker. My journey from $4-8 as a past time to $30-60 for serious money and my life experiences in between.

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Location: seattle, Washington, United States

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Poker - Playing Fast vs. Slow

I've had many requests for my excel tracking spreadsheet which I'll load up onto the site by the end of next week, so please keep checking back. Sorry about not posting more but I wanted to finish strong at Microsoft. Now that I'm no longer working and playing full time I have more time to post. :)

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Lately I've been thinking a lot about the bet on the turn and the implications of it when deciding to play your hand fast or slow. In Limit Texas Holdem the turn bet is double the preflop and flop bet. This is really the bet where you shake those pigeons in that small limit loose game (if you can shake them at all :) ) and where the real money comes into play.

Consider the fact that calling one bet on the turn is the same as if you called a preflop bet and a bet on the flop. That's quite a difference. So now you're thinking, "Where the hell is Trav going with this, I already know that?" Well, let's look at how this affects the total amount of bets you can get into a pot.

Scenario 1 - Strong play early:
Preflop: Call
Flop: Bet, get raised and reraise
Turn: Bet and get called
River: Bet and get called

The total amount of big bets in this pot is 4.

Scenario 2 - Check raise on the turn:
Preflop: Call
Flop: Check and call when your opponenet bets.
Turn: Check and raise the turn. Your turn raise gets called.
River: Bet and get called

The total amount of big bets in this pot is 4.

Analysis:
Both of these assume your opponent likes his hand enough to raise and/or lead the betting and call you down. Notice that if you play your hand strongly in the beginning of a hand and if you wait until the turn you get the same amount of big bets into the pot (4 big bets in both scenarios).

However, in scenario 1, you give the strength of your hand away early on (when you push 3 bets on the flop). But because you pushed it early in 1/2 bet increments you may be able to get your opponent to call you down. For example, let's say that your opponent raised preflop and you were in the big blind with a medium pair and flopped a set. In this scenario you may be able to stick your opponent in the pot the whole way if he has an overpair (aces or kings). Many opponents (even good players) have a hard time getting away from a pot that gets pushed on the flop where the bets are in 1/2 bet increments when they have a strong hand.

In scenario 2, the strength of your hand is revealed on the turn. Many opponents, myself included, have a hard time calling a check raise on the turn. A lot of opponents can't check/raise on the turn unless they have a really strong hand. Thus, many of the same players who would've called you down if you had 3 bet on the flop in scenario 1 would fold their overpair if you waited until the turn to check raise. This can also work the other way as well, some opponents feel that the pot is big enough on the turn so they will call the turn and the river.

Naturally, every opponent is different as is each scenario. I was just thinking about the differences between playing my hand fast in a straight approach manner and waiting until the turn. Thoughts?