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Empty Set

I’ve been reading the “Double Barrel Challenge” hand histories with curiosity.

There are, on the whole, two things to be learned.  One, aggression rules.  Two, poker players are mostly in the dark about what they are doing.  I suppose these theorems work very, very well for the likes of Ed Milller et al, who have built a tidy Switzerland of poker knowledge from the idea that “everyone is terrible.”

For every strong betting decision in the Challenge, the hand histories feature one of blind aggression into boards that favor the caller, yet where mysteriously, there is no reprisal.  Is this because blunt aggression really does work?  It’s hard to argue otherwise based on this sample James Sweeney has summoned into existence.  The other possibility is that posters are not submitting hands where they are check raised, floated, and punished.  Here are some very useful spots to think about:

This one is simply Napoleonic in its successful suicide charge.

This is a terrible board to barrel flop on into one player, never mind two, with little equity and every reasonable calling hand having some sort of piece.

How does villain fold this river here to these small bets?  Here hero simply has more heart than villain, but none of it makes any real sense.

Very loose barreling here.  Board smashes villain and then turn hits villain harder than hero.  Pure spew, yet hero’s bet sizing is very strong and saves the day.

This one is an aberration to the sample, a rare example of villain fighting back. It’s interesting to me in light of my recent thoughts and experiences on playing against the blinds.  The turn is poisonous as it only appears to be a blank, as it doesn’t help hero but improves some of the blind’s holdings.  Queen high was likely still ahead but just can’t continue.

Here villain doesn’t fight back, the cards do it for him.  What is the purpose of the bet on the turn- is it value or a bluff?  Do we want to be blowing up the pot in a tournament?  Check flop with backdoor equity and value out of position is a sweet and smooth line.

Overall, one wonders about many of these spots. How are these bets made?  How do they get through?  Reminds me of that famous exchange between the brash young Antonius and Brunson still at the end of his long, slow prime, that sums up much of poker.

The culture of folding (Las Vegas) and microstakes online culture seem to share common territory, and can’t be a coincidence that these fields comprise a great deal of the poker battleground for Red Chip and its participants.   In the Double Barrel Challenge we are taught to be aggressive, but what we really learn is that opponents have a propensity to surrender irrationally.  Do the two thoughts always work hand in hand?

This hand from the Wynn here is interesting, because first of all, it’s not a double barrel but it does intersect with the idea.  Hero plays off his opponents’ ranges and actions boldly, and the villain with A10 underscores my point.  Why is villain betting and inviting what he fears? If he checks he wins pot from hero on the river most of the time.

Here, a perfect turn card to barrel for value or a bluff, putting pressure on a naked seven.  But it will require a three barrel in either case, as a bluff to work, or for full value.  What cards do you want to see?

This one is very strange.  Betting into the flop or turn as a bluff seems insane, yet the poster concludes that villain will not throw away top pair, and he might be right because betting into this board looks ridiculous. This can’t possibly be a GTO flop bet, but what else is there to do? Are some hands so strong they are bets anyway? I think the answer might be yes- yet one must find some balancing holding for this board, in that case.

Yes, aggression does seem to be the answer overall.  In closing, this one is interesting because the decision to give up on the turn is highly questionable.  You can see that villain’s slowplay range is wildly overrepresented in the poster’s analysis, and that hero still has range advantage on the turn.

Maybe you just can’t make everyone happy. More to the point, in tougher games, default aggression will not always work so well, and barreling strategies must become far more nuanced.  When the hands you represent constitute a near null set of value, you will suddenly find that everyone is not so terrible after all, and that’s double the challenge.

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