Friday, November 09, 2007

Sit and Go Strategy Showing Hands

Time to return to the subject of 'Ego Players' those people who somehow feel the need to appear smarter than the rest, who play poker not just for $$$ but to boost their own ego's...

Showing cards is in general a bad idea, there may well be specific scenarios where this is a positive play - when you are playing with the same crowd all the time for example, or playing with sophisticated opponents at a high level. In a lower limit SNG there is never any need - you will not be playing the same opponents often enough and, in my humble opinion, any perceived benefits will quickly be outweighed by the negatives if anyone is watching closely.

These are the scenarios;

1) Showing great made hands.
2) Showing bluffs and or Monsters
3) Showing rags in the big-blind when folded to.

1) Showing Great made hands.

Here is a real-life example, you will see this again and again. An early position raise and 3 callers, flop 10 10 4, first raiser Cbets and an opponent pushes. Everyone folds and the pusher shows.... Q 10 off suit.

Pretty standard at the 16s! Here is what the Q10 guy told me:

- "I think 2 unsuited broadway cards is a big hand"
- "I do not understand position" (called a pre-flop raise in mid-position)
- "I am not a tricky player" (pushed on a drawless board scaring off hands that might have called a raise).
- "I want to show people that I had a monster after the flop so they do not think I was bluffing"

He made 3 errors here, calling an easily dominated hand in a multi-way pot early, shoving his concealed monster when the only hands that would call are likely to have him beat (A10 / 44 etc) and showing the cards afterwards!

So we take a quick note, overvalues broadway cards (loose player) and 'straightforward' (kind of player who will raise good hands, check with draws and fold everything else). His ego let him down, we can now exploit this player!! At the bubble we can tighten our pushing range against him (likely to call with similar hands), if we raise on the flop we can get away from a medium strength hand if he raises and watch the board closely for draws if he flat calls, and we can call him in position with the knowledge that he will show the strength of his hand before we act!

2) Showing Bluffs or Monsters.

Will start with monsters... several ways of looking at this, the very best opponents will show you their AA when everyone folds on the river - now you can take a note of how they played it on each street. Someone who limps or mini-raises their Aces is a goldmine, the key point for me is that when they next raise to 4 times the BB you can rule out premium hands!! Add this to other tendancies for the player (likely to fold to a push after raising??) and you have a chip ATM at the table... wait for the BB to become worthwhile and shove over their raises here with semi-decent holdings - they already told you that you are not dominated!

Now bluffs... the point for me here is that someone who bluffs and then shows is likely to bluff again and again, even if you do not play another pot with them in the current game you must make a note - they will be doing it the next time you play them. In practical terms when deciding whether to call this opponents raise you can not always assume they have nothing, the thing to do is to increase the % chance that they have junk when deciding whether you have the odds to call. Harrington suggested there is always a 10% chance in any given situation - I like to make it 30% for the ego bluffers!

One more way to exploit a bluffer is to make sure you give them the maximum opportunity to bluff - let them control the betting when you have a monster, if that is not possible then checking the turn after leading preflop and on the flop can induce a bluff on the river. At the bubble do not push into these guys with great hands, give them room to come over the top of you with junk from their BB. If you have a reasonable hand then push as normal, it is not possible to bluff someone who is already all in!!!

Someone who pushes a lot and shows you a good hand say once in 3 or 4 hands is also slave to their ego. They think they are sending a message that their pushes are always strong to the table - in fact they are doing the opposite. Read this as "I am pushing junk but want you to think that all my hands are strong by pushing this one".

3) Showing Rags in BB when Folded to...

Now this can be irritating but also gives you some valuable information. Folded to the BB who shows you his 94 off suit... his ego is saying 'haha - got you' but what is he really saying about his play?

Well to start with he is saying 'I lack the understanding that the others at the table are deciding their actions based on their assessment of strength / stacks / player tendancies, based on the range of possible holdings for the remaining players'. So this opponent is also unlikely to have a good understanding of Bubble play.

They are also, more subtly, telling you they would not have defended this blind - great information! If you are to their right you should be raising every single blind from here on (and I do!), put them to the test - if someone never defends their blinds without a premium holding then they are unlikely to make too much money in the aggressive late-game of SNGs, they scored a couple of points for their ego but the result was to lose a huge number of blinds!!

Finally, levels of thinking should be mentioned, a sophisticated player might well employ one or more of the 'tells' above to throw others off their game - keep an eye out for these opponents! As a rule never show if you do not have to... Texas Holdem is a game of information - the less information you give to your opponents the better!!

Cheers, Mark


Game101 said...

very good article... nh sir.

Game101 said...

Gold! came back to look for this.