No Gamble, No Future

I have a very strong idea about how I want to play and I acknowledge examples of my mistakes in posts and in the forums, but one whole area of NLHE is giving me a lot of grief right now. Pairs that are likely behind to a preflop raise can be flat called profitability given a certain “set” of conditions. Unfortunately, set mining is not hard strategy in the true sense and it does not fit into my game as easily as it once did. This has been costing me my daily earn recently.

The rubric for flatting pre with dominated pairs works best in theory as follows:

A. The implied odds are sufficient to cover both the negative equity of the original call and the reverse implied odds involved.

B. Odds can be distorted if postflop play is possible.

C. Position will increase or decrease the value of the original flat.

Here are some recent examples of how my more rigorous approach saves me money that others often burn up:

1. Loose UTG raises, I fold 66 UTG2, LP inclined to 3b raises. Positional awareness.

2. Pro open LP wide, I three bet 66 with tight image, pro folds. Lack of implied odds but ahead of range.

3. EP open, MP small raise, I fold 88, EP flats, wins with top set on J86. EP incentivized to reraise and RIO.

However, this approach has also been working against me in the most aggravating way. Here are some hands in the last 48 hours that represented potential rent money.  How do I get involved while still playing well?

4. 5/5 game 600 effective straddle from maniac, UTG1 raises to 35, I fold 33. Maniac elects not to raise, goes nuts on Q73.

5. 2/5 game Fish (200) opens LP to 15, I flat 33, nit 3 bets to 50 with 250 back. Fish calls. I fold. Fish goes nuts into AA on J53 with A5.

6. 5/5 game 600 effective. I open TT UTG, loose payer calls, erratic UTG2 3 bets to 150, folds to me. I have dead read on him and fold to perceived KK+. Loose player calls and loses to AA on K104xx.

Number (4), I now see the answer right away. The EP raise is protected.  While it is still not the best flat, the maniac can only raise a few hands in this spot, even if he wants to. Just as importantly, the rest of the field is less inclined to raise than in (1), even though they look similar on the surface. I also seem to have forgotten to flat very strong hands from UTG1-2 to protect a limping or flatting range – I’ve lost track of so many moving parts and needed a refresher about why I used to do that, protecting limps being a big part of it.

Number (5), I would normally take advantage of the missized raise.  Why didn’t I?  Because of the implied odds problem. I am asked to call 35 to win 115 plus 250 from the preflop raiser. This about 11-1, which is okay since I know he is always stacking off. However, I think I forgot that the fish might spaz out even though I know the PFR has queens plus.  That’s almost another six bets I can win, pushing me past 16-1 in what would also be another auto stack off. In other words, condition (A) was met. This was a “flat” out error.

Number (6) is much harder. If I have the dead read on him, I can’t rip it in, which is the only stack size thing I can do.  I am calling 120 to win 660, and loose player behind me can back raise all in, which he is capable of. This one is tough to solve, other than to just be a fish and gamble.

These aren’t the only examples, and I think I already covered what would have been a week making pot if I had decided to get involved in a four way 3 bet clusterfuck in January.  I had thought the PFR did not over enough of a stack to merit it, but if there is a theme to that one that unites (4) and (5), it’s that players don’t necessarily play well enough post flop to justify such a cautious approach. Considering one of my primarily observations about low stakes players is that they cbet too indifferently, I should be able to count at least one bet guaranteed in close implied odds calculations.

What I want to do is maintain my solid positional play, my hard strategy, while loosening up a little. Are they contradictory? I’m not sure yet. These short stacked games are tough to navigate. However, they are my present… if not my future.

3 thoughts on “No Gamble, No Future

  1. As i was reading this i was itching to respond because i remember during my cash game journey i came to a frustrating point with my pairs. My experience and study lead me to believe that set mining is a more of a skill than one gives credit for. Its more than meeting mathematical requirements, its about the nature of one range and tendencies. Whats good is set mining someone who will not be willing to commit AA postflop in a single raised pot? Whats good is set mining against a wide range who doesnt hit often? As i venture down this path i realized just how useful pairs can be in balancing bigger pair combos in ones range that plays better in a dynamic table that isnt in a fit or fold preflop game. Fold equity, range capping + easy postflop play is something that is more useful than really set mining in a sense, and for the times you do flop a set under these conditions your chances for capturing a stack is wildly increase due to the value of pairs in 3bet pots, etc. seems like you do 3bet them occasionally but if you realizing that people are a bit more aware and cautious like even holding a strong holding then its time to mix it up imo. Plus by having pairs balance your bigger pairs, using Axs blockers or suited connectors, which ever you prefer, becomes easier to balance out the rest of your range and still allow you to flat stronger Axs and stronger suited connectors. So your range looks a bit more harder to figure out.

  2. “Fold equity, range capping + easy postflop play is something that is more useful than really set mining in a sense…” yes my game revolves around these things and set mining is a somewhat passive strategy, so it has been tricky now that I play a much more nuanced game.

    I agree that it is not profitable against a wide range, hence example (2).

    I agree with you that it is a real skill to do maximally profitably, especially in capped games or tough games… not many people get this. In example (5) villain is 100% stacking off, whereas in example (6) I would have had to lead into Villain in an unbalanced way that I would not normally do, as he got scared and went into a shell, though I doubt he was ever folding, so the IP may not have even been there. All these factors need to be in the plan from the beginning.

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