The Poker Zoo 58: Pinnock’s Zenith

Mysterious poker training philanthropist? Imperturbable doctor who RNGs your diagnosis? Legendary Zynga shark? For our first podcast of the new year, I’m pleased to welcome Thomas Pinnock, the enigma who has created one of the most comprehensive poker learning communities on the web. Zenith Poker features every aspect of serious study, including a learning path, an advanced background text, long-form video lectures, challenging tests of concepts including follow-up teaching videos, a staff of coaches, a busy online chat room, a full sim library, and even the development of its own solver. Most of this is offered at no charge.

Sounds pretty great. The challenge, however, is always the same: how do you put all this into action? Thomas gives us the bad news in his best bedside manner: it’s work… but he (and his community) is here to help.

Some of Thomas’ strategy writing, pre-Zenith Poker, hidden on Upswing. (Speaking of free stuff, the burgeoning Upswing article trove is excellent, but hey, who reads? More crazy talk.)

Regarding the OOP live deep-stack game in LV that Dean mentions: contact me or look for announcements soon.

The 50% Rule of Poker (a.k.a Pinnock’s Razor) states that in no-limit games, in a heads-up pot, on any street, the player who is out-of-position (OOP) should attempt to construct their checking and betting strategy in such a way as to force the player who is in-position (IP) to bet or raise at most 50% of the time.

The 50% Rule has many interesting consequences for the range construction of both players:

  1. OOP should always ensure that their checking range is strong enough that IP should check back at least 50% of the time.
  2. If OOP does not have enough strong hands in their range to prevent IP from betting more than 50% of the time when OOP checks, then OOP should check their entire range.
  3. If OOP has a betting range, and if OOP checks, then IP should check back more than 50% of their range.

On the River, with stack sizes larger than the pot, the 50% rule holds most strongly. In other words, in any River spot with the SPR > 1, IP will check back at least half the time when OOP checks. IP will attempt to bet as often as possible, which means that IP’s betting frequency will be close to (but still less than) 50%.

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