Friday, February 23, 2007

Ladder Challenge - Starting Hand Analysis

Sorry for the delays getting to this, but I just got back from a 1 week snowboard trip to Lake Tahoe. This will be the first in a series where I look in detail statistically at the ladder challenge. This post will just look at starting hands. Below are the starting hands sorted descending by BB/Hand. This is where you would normally see the "top 10" hands. With just under 9000 hands in the sample, it is still a little small to read too much into, but it is still some good info.

As expected you see the big pairs (AA-TT) on the list. With a much larger sample these would normally be found in order from the top, but the sample is a little bit small. My winnings with AA and KK alone exceed my overall winnings from the challenge. This is actually pretty normal. If there were no blinds in Holdem, the best way to play would be to fold just about all of your hands except AA and KK. The blinds destroy this strategy as we will see in a later post. Nothing is really to unusual about this distribution, other than the lack of AK or AKs on the list. There are reasons for this that I will get to later. Also, with a smallish sample size, you will see some hands that made it on the list because of one or two big pots. A few small pairs should be expected, and you can see 88 and 33 made the cut.

Below is the sort reversed to look at what hands were my biggest leaks during the challenge.

If you do not use PokerTracker, this list may be surprising to you. There are some pretty good starting hands on the list (no hammer though?). The AKs is a bit of an anomaly. I lost a 700+ pot at 2/4NL by overplaying AKs preflop. That hand alone made this a loser hand for the challenge. Ax(s) and suited connectors are usually highest on this list. This is true because people know how to fold junk preflop, but get themselves into trouble with suited connectors, Axs and small pairs. I know to fold the smallish suited connectors early preflop, but as you can see I still have some work to do. JTs and KQo are great starting hands in theory, but as you can see, I probably would have been better off just folding them.

So now for pocket pairs.

Pocket pairs are GOLD in NL holdem. From above you can see that I won almost $3,000 with pocket pairs during the challenge vs. $1,328 for all hands combined. This means that I lost almost $1,700 when playing non-pocket pairs. If you were dealt PPs more often, you could only play PPs and be profitable (assuming that nobody notices). Big PPs are the best, and small PPs are only marginally profitable. If you removed 88, you can see that there was pretty much no profit for 22-99 for me. Playing break even type hands is very important to make you not seem too tight, so I feel like I am playing these well.

Now for the suited connectors.

I suck at playing suited connectors, and I know this. Yet here they are again costing me money. The small suited connectors I only play late and in multiway pots with good implied odds. The one big AKs hand is throwing this list off. Normally that would be a winning hand, and the overall list would be break even. The takeaway here is that you need to play your suited connectors carefully, and they will probably just be a break even group of hands anyway. The bigger suited connectors have value on there own, and should be played. Just don't expect to make much money playing the small ones (expect to lose). They are typically a pretty big leak in most peoples game.

More to come so stay tuned

Labels: , ,


At 8:36 AM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I love this post, and I wish more other bloggers would do something like it.

Am I completely insane that I resist ever using something like pokertracker? I have no stats to review, but I do take avid notes on other players and don't think I would really need tracker for reading other players and their tendencies.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Blinders said...


PokerTracker is best for cash game players. Tourneys are too dynamic to get very much useful info. If you are a cash game player, it will pay for itself pretty quick as you start plugging the bigger leaks.


Post a Comment

<< Home