Everything Has A Limit

Poker, economics, and personal crises, a three-for-one deal

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Needless to say, when the non-farm payrolls dropped 4,000 instead of rising by the estimated 110,000, the markets, as predicted, overreacted. The dollar dropped a cent against sterling (because everyone decided that a rate cut was a certainty and a half-point rate cut was a strong possibility), the markets got spooked because everyone decided that consumers were going to stop spending money. And, generally, it swas "THE SKY IS FALLING!".

And, as usual, it took about 90 minutes for some sanity to prevail and for the markets to recover somewhat. Sterling slipped back, the markets moved back up a bit.

The farce of all this is that the figures are always revised within four weeks and this initial data is often not all that accurate. Add to that the fact that, even if it was accurate, it could easily be a blip (these shifts are well within the land of single standard deviations) and you can see what I mean whan I say that the market's close attention to it is little more than herd instinct. For example, how come the figure for M0 or M4 is no longer even mentioned? 20 years ago, a big shift in that could move markets. Now people say, "so what?"

And I guess we can all remember when in the UK the trade deficit was headline news every month. It could even be argued that the released figure in June 1970 (later revised, btw) cost Labour the 1970 election. These days the deficit for the US is so enormous that economists have to come up with ever-more inventive reasons why it doesn't matter. And the deficit in the UK is nothing to write home about, either. Per capita, it is not far off that of the US. Over there they solve it by selling Treasuries (and, now, companies and land...) while over here we seem to have some "invisibles" keeping us afloat. All that foreign money supporting the London housing market, for example.


I popped into the Gutshot last night for the first time in two years or so. Since the expansion and shrinkage back, the old area where there was seating and dining tables has been turned into more poker tables. This allowed all of the £100+£7 to be played upstairs (a good idea) but left no area for relaxation and chatting (a bad idea). In a way, it was more reminiscent of The Dungeon and less reminiscent of a "club" where you could meet people to talk. Of course, the tables might not be there if there isn't a tournament. But the sofas and the like were nowhere to be seen.

It was busyish. A fifty quid buy in game downstairs at a smallish table (a bit reminiscent of the 3-6 games in the dubgeon, while a full table of people, none of whom seemed to be enjoying themselves, occupied the corner. I guess this is the £250 table now, but I didn't ask. The final of the afternoon small tournament was coming to a desultory end.

The bigger tournament upstairs got its requisite 70 players and all the tables were dealer-dealt. I hung around long enough to see one guy get knocked out --- i.e., two hands. Then I headed back home. Having set fire to a ridiculous amount of money during the day, it was quite nice to win about 5% of it back in the evening. At least I stopped losing every hand that I played.

Here's a rough summary of a hand. I think that a couple of people made some errors, but I'll give you no more information. See if you come to the same conclusions.

Blinds are $1 - $2

MP2 has 7s 8h and $125
CO has 8d 9d and $260 (effective $200)
BB has Qd Jd and $200

One limper to MP2, who limps. CO limps. SB completes and BB checks. $10 in pot

Flop comes 6d Td 9h

MP2 bets $8 (leaves $115 behind).
CO raises to $30 (leaves $168 behind)
BB calls (leaves $168 behind). Pot size now $78.

MP2 goes all-in for his last $115.
CO raises all in for $168.
BB calls. Main pot of $372. Side pot of $106.

Turn brings Kh, River bring 2s.

BB wins side pot and main pot with a straight, nie to the king.


Back in the weary world of FMM and PLNHE, here's a hand I played this morning. I'm quite happy with the way I played it, but it doesn't seem to fit into the standard FMM style. Perhaps this makes me rather LAGgier than they are, but this doesn't seem in line with the common consensus.

$100 buy-in

Seat 1: Starr22 ($100)
Seat 2: SlimeyMagey ($94.10)
Seat 3: Villain ($17)
Seat 4: Hero ($103.65) (Button)
Seat 5: AllFel ($39.40) (SB)
Seat 6: Tiltx ($63.70) (BB)
Seat 7: PKRNUT7 ($51.30)
Seat 8: Sitremba ($102.95)
Seat 9: Tom Pion ($62.60)

AllFel posts the small blind of $0.50

Tiltx posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #4

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [7◊ 7♡]

PKRNUT7 calls $1
Sitremba folds
Tom Pion folds
SlimeyMagey folds
Villain calls $1
Hero raises to $5.50

The FMM line here is to limp with the implied odds, looking for a stack-off if you hit your set. The Birks line is to raise and either win the hand preflop for $3.50 profit or win it on the flop for $8. If I get called on the flop, I give up unless I improve (net loss of $14 or thereabouts). Sometimes, of course, I hit my set.

AllFel folds
Tiltx calls $4.50

I don’t really like this. This guy isn’t too loose and he’s cold-calling with action still to come. However, people often don’t think about the implications of calling when you fail to close the action by so doing.

PKRNUT7 folds
Villain raises to $17, and is all in

Very unlikely to be AA given his position and original limp. Probably two paint cards. If he has Pokertracker, he knows my raise on the button might be thin. Just perhaps he has AK.

Hero raises to $28.50

I don’t want this three-way. I don’t think BB has a very big hand because he has failed to reraise. Some people cold-call in the BB with very big pairs at this level (incorrectly, in my view), but I’ll take that chance. The only strong counterplay Tiltx has here is to reraise me all-in. That’s almost unheard of in full ring games at this level.

Tiltx folds

Well, that bit worked

Hero shows [7◊ 7♡]
Villain shows [Q◊ K♣]

Well, that bit worked as well.

Uncalled bet of $11.50 returned to Hero

I’m about 54% here, and I’m getting about five-to-four for my money. I’d happily run these all day; the hand has an EV of about four bucks a hand in my favour (55 hands win $21 while 45 hands lose $17). Sometimes this line goes belly-up, but most times I win pre-flop or on the flop when my one opponent misses. And sometimes I hit my set. So let’s reduce the EV slightly to $3.50 a hand.

*** FLOP *** [T♠ 5◊ 9♠]
*** TURN *** [T♠ 5◊ 9♠] [J♣]
*** RIVER *** [T♠ 5◊ 9♠ J♣] [3♠]

Hero shows a pair of Sevens
Villain shows a straight, King high
Villain wins the pot ($38.95) with a straight, King high

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot $41 | Rake $2.05
Board: [T♠ 5◊ 9♠ J♣ 3♠]

Seat 3: Villain showed [Q◊ K♣] and won ($38.95) with a straight, King high
Seat 4: Hero (button) showed [7◊ 7♡] and lost with a pair of Sevens
Seat 5: AllFel (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 6: Tiltx (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 7: PKRNUT7 folded before the Flop

Now, what happens FMM style? I limp. Assuming that the Big Blind doesn’t try a squeeze play (which he may well do, given that he’s cold-called my button raise and is not that loose), Eight times in Nine I miss the flop and fold. Result, minus a dollar. Let’s say one time in 10 the BB raises. I guess that I also fold, on the grounds that my implied odds are very marginal. That’s another minus a dollar. So, about 10% of the time I get in for a buck and hit my set. The question now is, what’s my average expectation? Since I’ve lost $90 in 100 hands from limping and folding, and I’m looking for an EV of at least $3.50 a hand, that means I have to make up $440 in the 10 hands remaining out of the hundred. I.E., I have to make an average of $44 a hand in profit. That could be a $85 pot heads-up or a $65 pot three-way.

If you’ve got a loose and lively game, that’s not impossible. Suppose two of the hands are stack-offs. Well, that could be $200 of your required $440, leaving just $24 profit a hand on average required from the remaining eight. In a live game, all of this is eminently feasible. So, live, I like the limping line, if the game is loosey-goosey.

But in an online game, stack-offs are tougher to hit. And something like one time in 100, you might hit your set and get stacked-off yourself (by a straight or flush or higher set). I don’t see you making up the $340 in the 10 hands. We are in guesstimation territory here, but my gut feeling is that six times in 10 you’d win not much more than you would have won if you had raised preflop (say, in the five to ten bucks region. Three times in 10 you might win another ten bucks on top of that. One time in ten you might get a turn call and win $25 on top of that, and one time in ten you might get a stack-off for an average of $60. That adds up to about $200. Subtract your $90 in losses for the hands where you limped and missed or limped and folded to a raise, and you have a net of $1.10 a hand.

At short-handed higher stakes games, the ballgame changes, because you are far more likely to face a three-bet from one of the blinds. I'd be interested to see how the raising line averaged out in a higher-stakes shorthanded game. How many times in 100 would the Small blind or Big blind three-bet? How often would the original limper (with a decent stack) reraise? More often than at this level, certainly. But would it make a big difference to the final EV? They would have to reraise a good percentage of the time (say, half of the time that they fail to fold, cold calling the other half of the time) to shift the final numbes significantly. Even a $200 pot where you (the raiser) are 30:70, if it occurs one hand in 100, only shifts the EV by 80 cents a hand. I think this is part of the error in focusing on these big hands rather than on the "insignificant" hands. Because the "big" hands are very rare, their influence on the total EV per hand is surprisingly small. It's only when you are playing in more "active" games, when all-ins are much more common, that the "big" hands start to have a significant impact on the EV of a particular pre-flop play.


  • 1
I'm not sure anyone did make a mistake on the first hand. Checking the equity on the flop, the straight has 46%, QdJd has 43% and 9d8d has 11%, so if anyone made a mistake it must be 9d 8d. But look at it from his perspective: he's flopped a flush draw, a pair, a gutshot, even a gutshot straight flush draw. I'd be ramming and jamming with that. After the QdJd just calls there's even more incentive to shove for 9d8d as the caller might now fold.

It's a tragedy for 9d8d that he needs to improve to a flush or better AND nearly all his outs are counterfeited. Just one of those things. It does graphically illustrate why bigger suited connectors are better though - you aren't going to get caught at the "idiot end" of straight flush draws.


I recounted the hand as it was decribed to me. Actually the hand as played is available on www.fishiswa.blogspot.com, and this eliminates one fo the errors.

I think that you head towards where I think one of the errors was made when you observe that the player with 11% equity didn't really do anything wrong because he had every right to think that his equity was higher than it was.

By logical extension, at least one of his opponents had every reason to think that his equity was less than it really was.

I felt that the two errors were made by the player with the made straight and by the player with the big draw. I think that the strong draw should check-raise all-in in the hand as described above. I feel that, if the BB cold-calls, the flopped straight should not shove, but just call. If a rag card comes on the turn he can shove. I don't think this is a case of "losing one's market", because there are two opponents.

If a diamond comes or the board pairs (as surely the most likely combination of opposing hands here is one hand being a set and the other being a big diamond draw), I think that the made straight can then get away from the hand. The way the made straight played it has the merit of taking away a difficult (and possibly wrong) decision on the turn, but I don't think it is maximum EV. It's a rare situation where the flopped straight is the hand with negative implied odds. So, keep the pot small on the flop, and commit, if you must, on the turn.


You couldn't be more wrong on this. Really.

"If a diamond comes or the board pairs I think that the made straight can then get away from the hand."

Yes. Except that the board pairing still leaves you with the winning hand. Or an off-suit King comes and you go broke drawing dead to QJ. This 'take a card off' approach pre-supposes you can correctly assess it's impact. You can't. Not with a made hand. It's the drawing hands who know whether they've improved or not. Declining to re-raise with the nuts and a hand that can't improve is just ridiculous really.

Lets do the maths ...

If the straight shoves he has a 46% chance of a 375 pot which is worth 172.5 or +47.5 from his starting stack of 125.

There are 7 remaining diamonds and 8 cards to pair the board so 15/43 of the time you'll be folding (despite being the lead half the time).
You'll be going broke drawing dead to the other 3 kings and chopping or losing with the other 2 sevens. The other 23/43 you'll be getting it in as a decent favourite against probably one caller or just taking it down uncontested. If they both folded on blanks your total EV would be [Fold] 15/43 * 93 + [run into K/7] 5/43 * ~(140/5) + [Take it down] 23/43 * 193 or around 139. So if both opponents play rationally you've just flushed 33.5 EV away. How bad is that?

Of course this is pessimistic. Sometimes the paired board will get checked round. Sometimes you'll get called for say 40 on the turn incorrectly. But it illustrates the point. You seem to have a mental block about raising with the best hand - here the stone cold nuts for chris-sake!! Charge the drawing hands the maximum to outdraw you. You know it makes sense.


But my point was that he doesn't know that he has a 46% chance. Obviously if the board is double-dummy, things are different. You haven't factored that in.

In other words, your maths are comparing apples and oranges. Just as the drawing hand which actually has only 11% equity is not making a "mistake" (because his EV is much wider against opponents' ranges) so the flopped straight can't know that his EV is 46%. Let's assume that it's a two-coin 50:50 scenario. That would mean that 25% of the time he would be up against a hand where there's two flush/straight draws, 25% of the time he'd be out against two Full House draws, and half the time he'd be out against one of each. He's got 55% of the pot against the two set drawers, 46% against the two straight/flush drawers, and, 33%ish of the pot against one of each. So that reduces his EV to a max of 40% I would say, rather than the 46% you state.

That reduces his EV to 150 max, or an EV of 150, not 172.5. That's = +25, not +47.5.

As you say, you can't assess the impact perfectly, but that doesn't mean that you can't assess the impact at all. If you do not raise and the board pairs/flushes, then 15/43 times you fold. Half the time this will be right because one of your opponents has made his hand. A quarter of the time it will be wrong because both opponents were going for the "other" option, and a quarter of the time it will be right because both opponents will have hit their hand. However, the quarter of the time that both opponents miss, they will not necessarily bet (as you say). In addition, sometimes they won't fold your shove bet on the turn when the rag comes. All these things add up. And you've only got an EV of 25 to make up with some lumpy bets going in on the turn.

You also haven't allowed for the eminent possibility that you are up against another 78 which has a diamond (or two diamonds!), where you don't have the nuts, you have a vulnerable half-nuts with an opponent who is freerolling.

(to be continued)

What you are doing matt is taking "ranges" when it suits you, and playing "double-dummy" when it suits you. In the above, you do both in the same calculation! Absolutely no way have you flushed 33.5 EV away by not shoving here (this would imply that the QdJd gains 33.5 EV by flat calling, which is quite obviously total bollocks -- because you in the past have said that the QJ of diamonds should shove in this kind of situation). What you have done is exactly what the QJ of diamonds wants, which is to get the money is as quickly as possible and to see two cards with no further betting.

From the point of view of the QJ of diamonds, which would you prefer, to get all the money in, or to call a pot bet on the flop, and then (when you have missed) face a pot bet on the turn?

By implication, if the reraise is best for the straight, then it's worst for the QJ of diamonds. But that clearly isn't the case, because this kind of hand wants to get all the money in. Similarly the set wants to get all the money in. The last things these players want is a situation where they have to fold the turn if they miss, or they lose their opponent if they hit.

It's simple logic that if it's a zero sum game, if one person gains EV from an action, the other person(s) lose that EV. The Drawing hand gains from getting all the money in on the flop rather than taking it one card at a time. Therefore the "made" hand must gain from not getting all the money in on the flop, but from betting his hand one card at a time. if you say that the made hand gains EV from getting all the money in on the flop, then you MUST say that that the drawing hands lose, because you can't have both players gaining from a move.

You seem to be saying that all three players are right to shove the money in on the flop. How can that be, in logical terms? A maximum is that two out of the three gain and one of them loses. If you can show me in simple logical terms how all three gain, I'd be fascinated to see. What you COULD show is that two gain "double-dummy" and one gains from "expected range", but that's your favourite apples and oranges trick. If you have two players starting from one premise and one player starting from another premise, you can come up with any numbers you like.

So, in simple terms, if the hand is double-dummy, the QdJd should go all-in, the made hand will call and the 11% equity hand will fold.

If the hand is against "expected ranges", then the QdJd should shove, the made hand should call, and the 11% equity hand should call. However, if the QdJd hand fails to check-raise, the made hand should take a card off and fold to a diamond or a paired board. That would maximise his expected value from the hand.

The thing is, Matt, I can see what you are saying. I don't think you can ever see what other people are saying. I'm not the one with the blind spot (or mental block) here. It's you. As you can see from the second hand history, I have no prejudice against raising when I think it's right (and when I think I have the best hand!), but I'm quite willing not to raise when I think it's wrong. It's a seven card-game. Why do you want all the players to shove all the money in when there are still two potential betting rounds to come? Logically, for at least one of the players, it would be better to see the turn before committing. Which player do you think this is in this instance?

In fact, let's make it simpler. It's double-dummy. One player has 7s8s and the board is 6c9dTd. Player B has QdJd. Both have enough chips to bet the pot on flop, turn and river. Which of the two players gains by shoving all the cash in on the turn?

Now, let's suppose that it isn't double-dummy. Player A knows that B is on a big draw or has a set (equally likely as far as A is concerned) while player B knows that player A has either a set or a made straight (once again, equally likely).

Who gains from getting the money all-in on the flop, and who loses?

Now, add Player C. Player A now knows that player B also has a big draw or a set (equally likely as far as he is concerned). Now who gains from getting all the cash in straight away, and who gains from taking the hand a pot bet for each card?

All of this adds up in favour of the straight taking it "a card at a time". But the key flaw in your argument is that you yourself have argued in favour of the drawing hand putting all the money in on the flop. If it's the best move for one player, it can't be the best move for the other. It just can't. One of the players must prefer there still to be cash available for betting on the turn. There's nothing complex about it. Since we agree that it's right for the big drawing hand to get all his money in, then you can't say that it's right for the made hand to get all his money in. Not unless you have one player playing omnipotently and one player playing against "ranges".


And, as one final point, I recall a live hand I played a few years ago where I flopped a top set of tens against a drawy board. I bet, opponent raised the pot, and I pondered about "taking a card off". However, the board was so drawy I decided that there was no way I could know whether the next card helped opponent or not. So I shoved.

No prejudice about reraising in that scenario. So, why should I think one thing in one scenario and another thing in the scenario above? I don't just toss a coin....


In general the (big) drawing hand does want to get it allin on the flop, yes, and I'm a big advocate of it. :) Here there are two problems for 8d9d: one obvious, one more subtle. The obvious problem is that a straight is already possible, the more subtle is that he has the idiot end of the straight flush draw. I may well have misplayed this hand too but those two problems could have steered him towards a call rather than a raise.


But I'm talking about the QdJd here, Matt. Given past posts from you, I would assume that you would argue that the QdJd should try to get all-in, even if it's heads-up.


I'm not quite sure what you mean by double-dummy ... I guess you mean we can analyse perfect play with the benefit of seeing the exact cards.

Well in the specific example, if the straight shoved the flop then I believe both players would call [the 8d9d making a big mistake in doing so] and I got the 46% from a poker calculator. In this scenario (where one of the drawing hands dominates the other) you make a lot of money from the dominated one. The (very rare) case where they both have a set is similarly very profitable for the straight.

If one has a set and the other a flush draw then it's more even, sure. Both will hit approx 1/3 of the time but sometimes both will (the set penalising the flush draw) so the straight does better than 1/3 ... let's say 40% yes. And that's the worst case. A made straight must know he's somewhere in that 40%-46% range against two opponents - which is of course highly +EV. And if one of them drops to a shove - fine that means he's more like 2/3 against a single opponent. [OK occasionally someone will have the same hand.]

The conclusion is that the straight can't be making an error getting the money in on the flop against two opponents. One of the drawing hands might well be if they have a dominated set or flush draw. But that's their problem.

In the two-handed case with deep stacks the straight gains by delaying the shove, sure. But in the example you gave (a) it was 3-handed (b) if the straight just called the flop he'd create a 100 pot with just 93 behind. Very different situation.

In the second case the player with position has a big advantage on the turn. But two handed is a very different beast. Everyone knows that a set is 1/3 to improve by river, a flush draw 35%, and an open-ended straight flush draw a small 55-45 favourite to come in but still a 40-60 dog against a set [sometimes the straight/flush no good].


Double-dummy is a Bridge term. Sry, I shouldn't assume that it's universally understood.

"The conclusion is that the straight can't be making an error getting the money in on the flop against two opponents.".

Your line has a logical flaw. I'm not saying that if the made straight gets all the money in it is negative EV. All you prove above is that getting all your money in on the flop is positive EV. From this you non-sequitur into "it can't be an error".

This is a case where B does not follow A. B may follow A, but what you write here does not prove it. You can still make a positive EV play and be making an error.

What you have to show (and I would contend that this is an impossible one to prove and a very hard one to demonstrate as "very likely") is that getting all-in on the flop maximises EV, not that it is positive EV. Obviously a shove from 78 is positive EV. This is why I write that I can see what you are saying but that I sometimes feel you don't see what I'm saying.

My point here is that the two opponents make a difference from the one opponent, because you are "protected". A check-round on the turn is much more likely if both players miss, because they are afraid of each other.

Secondly, because the player doesn't have a very deep stack, he reduces opponents' implied odds if a blank comes on the turn and he then goes all-in. IN fact with this hand I'd be worried about a "very" deep stack, because then you could be facing a horrible decision on the river, whereas you probably won't get any callers if you still have the nuts and put in a pot-size bet. What I want ideally is a stack that can bet the pot on the turn to get all-in, after a blank has come.

This gives opponents an opportunity to make a mistake, an opportunity that they would not have had if you had reraised all-in. Now, as the cards lie, we know that 11% equity is making a big mistake anyway, but if it was set vs draw, they are not actually making a mistake getting their money in on the flop (btw the made straight is a 25% shot against a set and a straight/flush draw... I just checked it). However, if the made straight does not shove, and a blank hits on the turn, and then he shoves, he is getting the rest of his money in with the best of it.

Now, I'll accept that if both opponents fold 100% of the time, the "delay" probably isn't right. But, hell, opponents make mistakes. If player A calls then player B is probably going to call "for value".

So there's a whole line of possibilities, given that flop, to argue in favour of 78 playing it cautiously. Just like is often the case in Omaha, being "in front" is not always synonymous with "having the best hand", particularly if you have more than one drawing opponent.


The 25% came from

9d9h (35.2%)
8h7d (25.6%)
QcJc (39.1%)

Flop of 6c9cTs

If we change the Qc to Kc, then the percentages are 35.4% for the set, 30.2% for the made straigh, and 34.3% for the KcJc "big draw".

If we make the "big draw" QcJd, then the made straight becomes favourite at 38.3%, vs 35.5% for the set and 26.1% for the big draw.


I'm advocating re-raising with the nuts against two drawing opponents. Not a very controversial thesis in NL Holdem I feel. I've also outlined a (pessimistic) scenario where I illustrate how superior the allin strategy is given the hands/stacks in your example.

I haven't proved it's optimal, but if you are claiming that not raising with the nuts is better I think the onus is on you to provide the proof. Extraordinary claims require ... etc.

Suppose the straight is first to act. Should he bet, knowing that drawing hands might take a free card? I think everyone would agree the straight should bet. OK, so one calls, and the other raises, now it's back to the straight again. Why should the strategy suddenly change? If betting was correct before then why would calling now be right? You're really barking up the wrong tree here.

No I would not advocate getting it in with QJ against a possible made straight. The worst-case with a OESFD is a set when youre 40-60 and you usually fade that in tourneys or relatively short stack cash. With the additional risk of being against a made straight, and deeper stacks, you don't want to be getting it in necessarily.


I think that we've arrived at the key here.

You wrote that "I've also outlined a (pessimistic) scenario..."

I think that I showed a scenario where the made hand was just 25%. All-in against two opponents when you are 25% is not good. So I showed that your pesimistic scenario wasn't as pessimistic as you thought.

"Why should the strategy suddenly change?"

But it hasn't! The "strategy" is to break down opponents' calls into separate bets, rather than to make one big bet so that they can call just once. In most cases, this has the potential to make your positive EV better. In some cases (as I outlined, where you are against a set and an OESFD)) it turns a negative EV play into a positive one.

Because one opponent raises, this now perforce becomes a "two-bet" hand (flop and turn) but that doesn't mean you should suddenly make it a "one-bet" hand (all the money in on the flop).

My line that not raising here has a potentially higher EV (for reasons I thought I did explain in the previous post) isn't groundbreaking. You simply gave it as read that "I couldn't have got it more wrong". That's the tunnel vision that I'm referring to.

I think that you started with the 'conventional wisdom' conclusion of "I'm at least equally first, therefore I should get the money in as fast as possible" and then you found the maths to prove that your conclusion was right (hence your 'not a very controversial thesis' line). But I showed that certain lines of logic that you followed (e.g., the fact that something is positive EV necessarily implies that it cannot be an error) were not necessarily so. I also showed scenarios which illustrated why this is so. I don't have an "onus" on me to prove that a call of the raise is right. I just said that I thought reraising was an error and I thought that I came up with a logical line of thought that explained why. You were the one who took it as a given that I "couldn't have got it more wrong".


Obviously I picked up on the reference, but I'm still not quite sure how you transfer this to poker.

Working in OR as I do at the moment, I understand "expected range." This is quite easy. All you're doing, albeit you're doing it in poker terms, is to take a series of linear equations in boolean algebra and resolving them to an "expected range," ie a pair (or set of pairs) of limits.

If I understand you correctly, the "apples and oranges" come in where you are contrasting two sets of logical processes (applied to either two or three hands, depending upon complexity): either "double dummy" or something else, which I would assume is EV.

I assume that, by "double dummy" here, you refer to an explicit assumption about opponent's hand, on the equally explicit assumption that opponent judges your hand in the same way. Or, to use your example above, 78s vs QJd.

Now, clearly, this isn't a real "double dummy," because the cards aren't on the table, and each player is merely assuming that they are for the purpose of betting on the remainder of the hand.

Which is the "apples" to the "oranges" of playing off EV, or expected range, or even Commitment Thresholds. Basically, it seems to me, you play off the style that suits your game, but you mix them at your peril, and you certainly don't analyse hands off a mixture of styles.

That way lies sub-prime disaster. But, as Socrates would say, I could be wrong.

Matt said that the made straight was 46% to win the hand, so the made hand would shove. But then he justifies the call by the hand with 11% equity on the grounds that against opponents' expected range of hands, he is getting value for his call.

My point is that if the player with 11% equity can justify his play on the expected range of opponents' hands, the player with 46% equity has to justify his play against the expected range of opponents' hands, not the hands as they actually are. The latter is the "double-dummy" reference. Player A can say "obviously I shove here because opponents are both on a draw for a flush", but this is unrealistic, because in reality he won't know exactly what his opponents hold. To justify the reraise by player A, it is not enough to say "it's right because he has 46% equity, and here's the maths to prove it".

It's not enough on two levels. One is, it's not showing that it's right in all likely situations (the "expected range" argument), given the way the betting has gone (which is one thing that makes the maths in these situations so messy, but not necessarily unsolvable).

Two. It does not show that it's optimal (a point that Matt later admits, but then dismisses on the grounds that the onus is on me to show that it isn't optimal, rather than on him to show that it is ... the famous line "extraordinary claims....")

In other words, he's saying that because he thinks my line is controversial and his isn't, then the onus is on me to prove my line than on him to prove his. I'd personally take issue with this line of thought, but then we are heading into areas of moreal philosophy... dangerous ground indeeed.

The classic example of a play that is positive EV but is not optimal is when you get Aces in the small blind. Raising all-in is positive EV, but it isn't considered optimal. However, proving mathematically that it isn't optimal is not so easy, because it requires that opponent make plays that he would not make if he knew that you had Aces. Quite often things are "true" but are unprovable (which is what makes the maths not just messy, but in some cases unprovable). In the Aces in the small blind case, you just show the Pokertracker records. But you can't prove it mathematically.

In a sense, I'm stuck in a similar hole. I'm relying on opponents making a sufficient number of errors on the turn (or, if it had just been called on the flop, on the turn and river) to more than counteract getting all the money in on the flop.


I should have written "when you get aces in the small blind and everyone passes round to you"...



I (think I) realised that that was the "double dummy" reference. And I'm sure I've got it wrong.

As I think I stressed, and whilst I have no knowledge or opinion concerning various approaches to poker, the problem is not amenable to what we in computers call "the silver bullet." Easy proof or not, the idea that raising all-in on AA in the small blind is optimal (or not) is dependent on positive EV seems bizarre. It doesn't matter whether you can prove it mathematically (read, slippery statistics) or not.

Quick: You've got three bodies in the asteroid belt, massively bigger than every other body in the asteroid belt. The only other significant gravitational effect comes from the Sun. (We're assuming here that Jupiter is too far away, at least according to mass ratio.). Find a way of describing the interaction of these three bodies.

Well, you can't.

It's not possible.

Translating to poker, you can piss around with the odds all you like, but eventually you get to the classic insoluble problem. At which point, you need to use your own judgement.

In other words, keep on relying on opponents making "a sufficient number of errors." There's six billion of us idiots out here, and only one of you.

Hee hee hee.

Re: Double dummy


Re: Double dummy

You're somewhat delusional about this. Could the trauma of being sucked out on the turn in 100,000 limit hands have warped your brain in some way so that now you can construct these intricate fantasies that calling, not raising, with the nuts is correct.

You flop the nuts against two drawing hands and are first to act? Is it correct to bet? Yes.

One calls, one raises. After counting off the chips to call you now have the option to call or raise - essentially betting again. If it was right to bet before then can't you see that it must be right to bet again (ie raise)?

Its not about EV, ranges, hands, %-ages, or moral philosophy. It's just common-sense.

Your own example of AA in the SB. You bet some amount, the big blind raises. Is it correct to call or re-raise? The *amount* is open to debate, of course, but it must be correct to re-raise - you have the nuts.


Matt. You wrote:

"it's not about EV".

Every decision in poker is about EV.

Three things have changed from when you put your original bet in. You might say that you have considered them and discarded them, but here you seem to pretend that they don't exist ("If it was right to bet before then can't you see that it must be right to bet again (ie raise)?").

1) Your call closes the action for this round;
2) Your stack is now proportionately a different size compared to the pot;
3) Opponent's actions have narrowed their ranges.

Sure, say that these things don't matter, that they don't make any difference. But don't fail to consider them at all before making your decision to reraise (or not), simply saying instead that: "if it was right to bet in the first place, it must be right to reraise".

You are simply starting from the premise that it must be right to get all the money in as soon as possible if you have at least the equally best hand. If that's your opening premise, I don't have a chance. I'm just saying that this is not necessarily the case. Your entire justification here seems to be "it's just common sense"

Your fourth paragraph is like my teachers used to be at school. They would simply say "that's just the way it is, it's obvious". Unfortunately, that doesn't get anyone very far at all, and was one of the reason that I learnt nearly everying I learnt from books rather than from teachers.

I mean, I've explained in many ways, with specific examples, and Pokerstove numbers, why I think a call with 78 here can have a higher EV (sure, disagree with the line, but don't head into the area of insults ... surely you don't think I'm just holding this line for fun :-)). I don't know what else I can say to explain it.

The AA example I gave was one of how a positive EV move could still be an error (because you had stated that if a move was positive EV, it couldn't be an error), not a direct comparison to this hand.


Re: Double dummy

All of this is very interesting. Now when are the three of you going to solve the problem of where to put the screws when you're up on a ladder changing a bathroom lightbulb?

I made sure that I was wearing a shirt with a breast pocket. Cunning, huh?

I then removed fitment, and took out bulb.

I thennoticed that the bulb I had in my hand as a replacement was the wrong type of bulb.

I called out to second journalist to supply alternative bulb.

Unfortunately, only me in house. Damn.

So, "kludge" bulb now in place. It works, although it's a spot bulb, so it throws out the light in an odd way.


  • 1

Log in

No account? Create an account