Thursday, April 19, 2007

Redux, Redux, and is the +EV term used too loosly

This latest HHH, has depths that I did not imagine when I did my first Redux. In commenting on the preflop action, I may have put my foot in my mouth a bit when stating the EV values of the preflop action. I don't really have a problem with any of the post flop action, so lets slice through this hand one more time just looking preflop, and just looking at EV specifically.

First off let me formally define EV a bit. EV is expectation value, or how much on average you would make on a hand or decision if 1000s of trails could be run. It is complicated by the fact that the EV value changes by postion for all specific hands. EV in general increases for all hands as your position improves. We all know that AA is a +EV hand from any and all positions. So no matter how you play it preflop, it is +EV. But what about a decision to limp UTG with AA vs. raising 3x? The EV is different for one play vs. the other. If one move has higher EV, then the other move is lower EV (even if still positive). So even though AA is +EV from all positions preflop, deciding to limp or raise UTG is either a +EV decision or a -EV decision. You can lose some of your expectaion value by playing it one way or another, even though both ways are +EV. This where I screwed up a bit on my redux. So lets go back one more time and look at the Expectation values for the three key players based on the decision to fold, call, or raise preflop.

Smokkee has AJs UTG (a top 20-25 starting hand). AJs is a borderline EV hand in general. There are some really good players who can squeeze some EV out of it, but most players probably play it break-even or for a loss. The fact that he is UTG lowers the EV quite a bit, making this a very marginal hand. So smokkee can fold, limp, or raise it. Rasing it up to me is the most negative EV way to play it. You are raising a marginal hand into the rest of the table, and will be out of position post flop to any callers or reraisers. You can't stand a reraise with this hand, so you either take it down preflop (not likely from UTG), get reraised preflop and release it, or get called and be forced to act first post flop. So you have to c-bet with air, or bet an ace that may be dominated post flop. Not a lot of ways to make money by raising preflop, but obv. a lot of ways to lose money. Next he can just fold it (EV=0) which is a better move then the 0>EV of raising UTG. So the decision lies on if limping AJs UTG is +EV or not. The limp preflop line needs to include fold to a big reraise, call a small reraise to have any chance of being +EV. Best case is that you limp into an unrasied multiway pot and hit the flop big, or catch a huge draw. Smokkee, also had limped a few hands earlier with AA UTG and won a nice pot, so in his mind, the limp would look strong and there is a good chance that he would not be reraised preflop. He was right, as he did not get reraised and got a mulitway pot with his AJs. Another deciding factor is that this is an MTT, and you can't keep folding top 25 hands like AJs and expect to win or go far. So based on all of this, I would say raise UTG is -EV, and limp or fold are close, but with the factors considered the limp gets enough weight to make it better than fold, but just barely.

Bayne_s has AKs which is +EV in any and all positions (4th/5th best starting hand overall). Folding would be EV=0 so that is obviously the worst choice. He can raise it preflop which will be +EV, or limp preflop which is also +EV as he will be the favorite post flop in a multiway limped pot (unless someone limped with AA or KK). So the question is what is more +EV, limping or raising this hand in this position? My take is that raising is more +EV, but I understand the deception angle and limping is still +EV, so it is not as horrible of a decision as I stated. The other big complication is we are talking about +EV in relation to chips in a pot. This is an MTT, and the -EV choice, may be +EV with respect to how much money you win in the tourney as a cash. If Bayne_s is limping hoping to get reraised light or by a mid to low pair with the intention of jamming back preflop, this might be more +EV with respect to an MTT cash. If someone would like to better analyze the EV difference from Bayne_s limp vs. raise please do so.

Hoy has TT which is the 6th best starting hand preflop and +EV from any and all positions. Folding it preflop is EV=0 so that is the worst choice. So in this position and with this action in front, what is more +EV, limping or raising it up preflop. As I said in the Redux, I would have my MTT cap on for this analysis, and I that is what I did. In a cash game, I like the limp a lot. You have a couple limpers up front, and will get a few more behind so the set mining implied odds are huge. Also the blinds are smaller with respect to the stacks in a cash game, which greatly helps the limp line in a cash game. If you raise you may not lose the limpers, but you will be set-up for a c-bet if you miss. In cash games, I will first-in raise TT every time, but in this situation, I limp like hoy did. But this is not a cash game, it is an MTT. In MTTs you just can't let a hand like TT go to waste, and your implied odds are greatly reduced. Calling 120 with a stacks around 3k is less than 30BBs where it would be 100BBs in a cash game. Raising gives you the chance to take it down preflop, sets up your image for future raises in position, and sets up a c-bet in position if you miss. A agree that hoy would have been called, but he would have had lots of info to work with when it came his turn on the flop. Also the MTT EV factor is here as well. Does one way or the other make it more likely that he will cash or cash higher in the event? Based on all this, I say the raise preflop line with TT is the highest EV, and limping is lower EV (though still positive). In a cash game the limp line's EV goes up a bunch and it becomes the best choice.

Fun Stuff.

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At 12:21 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

Saw this comment comment from Hoy on Smokkee's blog this morning: "I was impressed with your patience for good hands (i.e. you play this very different from the blogger events, see the above comment)". Having bumped into Smokkee a few times at cash tables and in several non-blogger tournament I have seen him play as tight as Blinders.

Since the start of the BBT and move of the MATH to Full Tilt the number of participants has doubled and the play is more similar to the Riverchaser's tournies. This has also got to lead into some adjustments in play.

With TT in late position Hoy might take down pot right away but he also might find himself in a situation where some "fonkey" will re-raise with KJ off and another "fonkey" will shove with AQ. Do we all have time in our workday to read that rant if he doesn't fade the 4 overs after calling?

Isn't there a FullTilt ad that says Poker is not just about the cards?

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Lifesagrind said...

In any EV discussion where your dealing with an escalating blind structure, I believe the blinds and stack sizes will determine "any" hands EV value.

At the stage in question I agree that the AJ limp was prudent. Had the blinds been higher I believe limping AJ is disastrous.

Then if I could actually put my thoughts into coherent words I'd be writing well thought out strategy posts like you guys.

Keep it up.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

#1 I love that poker as a game is open to so many different interpretations and so many possible ways to play a hand and still get maximum value (or minimal pain) out of it. Even though most of what has been said by people other than me on this point is completely incorrect, I do thoroughly enjoy hearing everyone's analysis of what I previously thought was a painfully obvious hand, and there is definitely (at least to me) a major benefit to hearing how others think about particular hands like this and what their line would be.

#2 honestly as I read this stuff, I am reminded once again of why I love playing nlh tournaments with bloggers. I absolutely adore reading people say how the UTG limp with AJ was the right move. It's not enough that one guy actually limped UTG with AJ, that I can handle (barely). But when you've got 2 or 3 other guys weighing in in agreement of that move, that shit gets me downright excited man, if you know what I mean. I may have to play Riverchasers tonight after all.

I will definitely try to get up some questionable hand rants in the future so you can parse it out like this. Good, good stuff man.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger smokkee said...

another good analysis.

not sure why Hoy keeps getting his panties all bunched up on my limping with AJsooted UTG.

i think it's a smart way to play it in an MTT. esp after limping with AA earlier.

i don't mind limping with big pocket pairs like AA or KK and dubbling on sum sonk. it puts the whole table on notice. i limp with monsters. so be careful. this gives me the opportunity to see cheap flops with drawing hands later.

AJsooted is not exactly garbage. u can't wait around for the top 5-6 starting hands to play before u get involved in a pot in an MTT.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Smoke, the "AJsoooted is not exactly garbage" argument is lost on me. I never said you should fold here. Me, I would have raised it up. Then I know exactly where I'm at, I win a small but not meaningless pot if no one has the cards to call, and I don't lose anything more if anyone calls or raises me from here on out. So when I advocate raising it, I'm not saying it's garbage either. Surely you're correct that you can't wait for top-5 hands all day in an mtt, especially as the Ms decline.

It's frustrating to me that we have to evaluate all this argument in light of the way that particular hand just happened to shake out. In 90% of the situations that begin just like that hand in the Hoy did the other day, you get utterly stacked and crushed by not just one but both players who you allowed to limp in behind you preflop without getting any information as to what they were holding. Instead I have to keep reading about how right your limp was, all just because you happened to lucksack your way into that recockudonk 3-outer Jack on the turn. That should not be changing anyone's mind about the "right" play in this hand. Because of how you played it, you ended up in a 90% chance of getting irrecoverably stacked in the tournament. *That's* the only relevant point -- not whether your 10% shot managed to lucksack for you in the end. I don't know why it's so important to me to make anyone else understand why the AJ utg limp is the worst of the three options, so I guess I won't go on about it anymore. I will repeat my offer though of anyone to please show me a poker book, or any kind of poker authority -- other than you, Smokkee -- who advocates limping utg with AJ. There's no way you could find that. You could find plenty of tighty donks who'll tell you to fold (fewls), and otherwise the majority of writers who will suggest a raise. Nobody's gonna tell you to limp utg with AJ. Show it to me if someone does, I want to find that donk and play at his table.

Also, I'm the original UTG limper with AA (not so much KK, but sometimes). Generally speaking limping with monsters is -EV though, that much is a guarantee. And yes Blinders, when I say "-EV" here, I simply mean a lower +EV than if you raise with them.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Blinders said...


It was easy to find so, I am sure I can find several more. This is from page 136 of the Daugherty/Mcevoy classic "No-Limit Texas Holdem" on how to play AJ

"from front to middle position, you can limp with AJ, from late position you can make the normal raise of 3-4 the BB if no one has come in the pot".

It continues on to say the for aggressive blinds you should limp it late as well.

I challenge you now to find the author reccomending the UTG raise with it. Mike the Mouth and Gus Hansen don't count.

At 2:25 AM, Blogger smokkee said...

ok so, I should raise AJs from UTG. but, u should limp from the button with TT 3-handed? wtf ?!!??

where did u learn that?

weak / tight homie

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Blinders said...

Harrington 1 say to limp/raise AJs UTG 50/50%. First-in raising requirements go down with position. AJs as a first-in raise from MP or LP is an obvious play. UTG not so obvious. I would guess from thinking more that AJs is slightly -EV UTG overall (for the average player). Raising a -EV hand OOP is not a great way to improve its EV.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger lucko said...

I am raising every one of those hands in any of their positions in an MTT pretty much 100% of the time.

I pretty much only open limp when I misclick or have some massive read on the table and know it will accomplish a specific goal.

Raise, raise and raise some more.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

That advice is so donkey that I refuse to believe it is included in any of those books. If anyone, Harrington the tightydonk (who must be your idol, Blinders) would not surprise me, but even then it is recockulous advice. But if that is in any book you can find, then I stand corrected in saying you can't find a tightydonk enough who says it. Limping utg with AJ is still a recockulous move.


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