Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Complicated Inner Workings of a Balanced Strategy

The low variance playing style or strategy that I outlined earns me 6 Big Bets/100 hands long term (per PokerTracker). Long term meaning over 25,000 hands. People can run much hotter than that short term or even over 1000s of hands, but 6BB/100 hands at full-ring NL is pretty solid IMO. The truly great can probably do 10BB/100 or possibly 12BB/100, but that's about as much as you can extract long term playing semi decent competition. For me 3-4 tabling 1/2 NL it means about $45-50/hr in profit. While the strategy I am employing is low variance, it is also balanced. Fuel55 mentioned that I could be exploited because I would win small pots with my big pairs and lose big ones. I can get away from over pairs and TPTK post flop. You need to extract the most you can while set mining, yet at the same time minimize the extraction that the set miners can get on you. When you are playing well, the other players are not getting the huge edge with sets against you that you are against them. So doing all these things in combination, makes it difficult to pick a line against me that's profitable. The average line chosen is -6BB/100h for the table as a whole. There are some things that can be done to counter my system by the very skilled, but I don't run into too many of them at 1/2 nl. If you want to suggest a line of attack, I will let you know if it is what I am thinking of. Of course because I know what the main weakness is (at least one of them), it is pretty easy for me to spot someone trying to exploit it, and take counter measures or find a different table. But now to the actual point of the post.

I kind of did a little trick here. I am getting 6BB/100, but 10BB/100 is possible. I need to add variance in very selective areas (so other areas are not broken or overly effected) to start dialing my game up to 10BB/100. So I figured if I laid out a semi-complete strategy for the low variance style, it would get picked apart by the high variance players at its points of greatest weakness. I figured that they would not attack everything, because some of it is required for high profits, but they would single out the area's that I should focus on. So far I would say this is the limp/call line in EP to MP preflop with middle to small pocket pairs. Auto raise all pocket pairs in all positions is the preferred high variance approach. I have to say that this was one of the things I thought would come out, but lets examine this a bit further.

If you tweak one aspect of your style, or strategy it can have profound effects on the other aspects. Making a change to something in one area can improve profitability there, but lower it in other places, possibly reducing overall profitability. Your over-all strategy should be balanced, and you should consider all the different areas that will be effected by a change. So the hypothesis is that raising up all pocket pairs from all positions increases overall profitability for the high variance players, and potentially for me if I only tweak that one area of my approach.

So I am going to look at this from both directions. What if the high variance guys played mid to small pp like me, and what if I played them like they do. My take is that for the high variance (and profitable) players the switch would increase the profitability of the mid-small pairs as a group, and decrease the profitability of the big pairs as a group. Overall profitability would be decreased (if the hypothesis is correct). Why do I think this? It is based on preflop raising percentage. The higher your preflop raise percentage, the more likely that your bet will be called or reraised preflop, and the more likely your continuation bet will be raised or called post flop. The high variance guys are playing looser in the amount of flops that they see, and the number of pots they raise, independent of how they play the mid to small pairs. Intuitively, I see the raise them all up line as not the most profitable, but it must get your bigger pairs paid bigger more than enough to offset lost profits if the hypothesis is true. So for the high variance guys, they will not get quite as much "bang for the buck", by expanding their preflop raising range. Their big pairs are already getting paid. So they make this adjustment, and the mid to small pair profit goes down because their preflop raises and c-bets will be challenged even more, but they squeeze out some more incremental profit with the big pairs.

With my style, I am raising less preflop, so my raises and c-bets earn more respect. It is possible that this adjustment could be win-win for me. I might be able to grind additional profit from the pairs, by winning preflop on the raise, or c-betting it when missed. When the set hits this way the pot will always be big. So my overall profit for mid-small pairs could go up. The profit from my big pairs should go up as well, as my raises preflop and c-bets will get less respect. I may have to give this a shot and see what happens to my win rate. So my point here is that all adjustments to your game should be taken within the context of a balanced strategy. Tweaking one thing in one type of overall strategy may work. The same adjustment for another player may backfire. Grinding out some more profit from one class of hands may mean less profit from another. The inner workings of a balanced strategy are pretty complicated.

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At 5:56 PM, Blogger smokkee said...

raising 77 or higher from any position is a good strategy IMO. i don't like messing around with low pocket pairs OOP tho. i might call a pre-flop raise with them in LP or from the blinds if it's a multi-way pot. but, most of the time i just dump them. this is probably why i don't run into set over set situations very often.

also, raising middle pocket pairs and getting paid after hitting your set is more likely.

it's difficult for most players to believe you're coming out with a raise in EP with 77 and then hitting a 7 high board. the big pocket pair guys who like to just smooth call or minreraise your preflop raise and try to trap you will pay you off almost every time.


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