Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Automatic NL Holdem Decisions Part 2

I played just over an hour of .25/.50 NL Holdem Cash the other day at Lock Poker, and tallied every decision that was made as either automatic or requiring some level of thought. During the session I made 332 decisions, of which 329 were completely automatic, and just three required any level of thought process. The auto decisions fall into two categories. One is where just looking at your own cards is enough. For example if I was dealt T3o outside of a blind, I simply hit the fold button without any additional thought. The other is where you gather some readily available information that takes less than one second to get. This is basically examining your position at the table, and the action before you. For example if I picked up 22 preflop, I need to see my position, and the action before me to make the decision, but once that info is obtained the decision is still automatic and without any thought. I still consider that type of decision as automatic. So during the entire session only three times (about 1% of decisions) did I need to go to any additional level of thought process. If you are a cash game player, I highly recommend that you go through the same exercise that I did, just to understand how much of your NL Holdem cash game is on auto-pilot. Now I am a little bit rusty on my cash game, so I am not in total command. If we look in detail at the three decisions that I thought through, you may be able to argue that 2 of them should have been automatic. Let’s take a look at the three decisions that required some additional thought.

Decision #1.

I am dealt QJo from two off of the button, and it folds to me. I thought it through, and there was a case for folding, limping, and raising here. I ruled out raising with it, because there were 4 players behind me, and QJo is not that strong. I elected to limp, but the correct move was probably auto-fold. I think I limped because this is low stakes where I feel I have a decent post flop advantage, but I was questioning the move internally right after I made it. In this case, only the blinds called, and I missed the flop completely. The blinds checked to me, and I bluffed at the pot and took it down. That result is unimportant. I think if I was not so rusty, this one would have been an automatic decision.

Decision #2.

I am dealt AQs in middle position and open raised it 4x. I always raise 4x preflop in cash games when opening which helps make your decisions automatic, while also disguising your hand. A blind, and a player behind me called. The flop came out all low with one of my suit. The blind led out for 3/4th of the pot. I am looking at two overs, and a runner runner flush draw, for about 8 outs total, assuming an A or Q would be good. Running through the math, it became clear that this was a borderline decision. Because I was unsure the A or Q would actually be good, and there was still a player behind, I elected to fold. I think that it will usually take a bit of thought to see the decision is borderline, and some more thought to decide what to do in a borderline decision. Again, I am a bit rusty here. If I was on top of my game, I think I could have determined instantly that this was a borderline decision. If you have a line in mind for borderline decisions, you can then automatically act. Since I was rusty, I did not have a line in mind for this type of decision, and had to think it through. This one was close, but it was possible the decision could have been automatic.

Decision #3.

This was a hand where I called a small raise preflop with AQo. I hit my Ace on the flop, but it was a high flush flop. I was in position against one other, and after he checked, I bet out 2/3s of the pot which was called. The board was also high, with some straight potential. The turn was a low offsuit card, and it got checked to me again, and I elected to check behind to manage the pot size against a scary board. All three decisions were automatic so far. The river was another blank, and this time I was bet into for close to the pot size. I was basically put to the test here, and when this happens you need to think. This was definitely no automatic decision. After a bunch of thought, I elected to call, based on the two blanks that came on the turn and river. Other guy flipped over AK for the win.

I think in general the decisions get tougher post flop. If you are playing a tight/aggressive style, you usually end the hand before a tough decision ever needs to be made. I rarely get to the river, so I am rarely put to the test, where a thoughtful decision is required. If you are going to 4+ multitable, a tight aggressive style is almost required. A loose aggressive player needs to take much more into consideration before acting, and you just do not have that kind of time when multitabling. The other thing that I noticed is that a much higher percentage of players are playing tight aggressive now versus before the UIGEA was passed. This would tell me that the tight aggressive line should not be as successful as it was before. You are probably better off playing loose aggressive now to go against the grain of the table. So there is this tradeoff that must be made. Can I make more money per hour by playing less tables in a loose aggressive way, or by playing say 2x as many tables tight aggressive? I am not sure what the answer is at this point. It may be time to test the loose aggressive style out and compare win rates per table.

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At 12:42 PM, Blogger Champ said...

Is it safe to assume most of your "automatic" decisions were PrF folds? If so, you are folding way too much of your range. (300+ hands)

You're not playing TAG your playing Nit. Which is exploitable and not optimal. While perhaps semi-profitable, you're losing value.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger bastinptc said...

To make the kind of assumption Champ is making, I think we would have to know what your range is when in position. If JQoff is the bottom end, and if you had not bluffed with it, then you might be a nit. Otherwise, you're good to go in my book. We would also need to know what were automatic raises, besides the AQ. By and large, I think your self-assessment of playing TAG is right on, at least given the little bit of information we have.

With this said, I would be very interested in knowing what you consider LAG. Perhaps once you knock a bit more rust off of your mouse you'll provide us an outline.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Champ said...

ATC...AT freaking C.

Sounds like you are playing 16/9 ish. Totally a guess...but am I right?

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Blinders said...

Results are not important, but it was a profitable session. Btw, I love giving off a nitish image. Helps the bottom line. The main point of this is that once you have your game figured out and polished, nearly every decision becomes automatic, and you are able to multitable with ease. In the old days when I was a cash game grinder my long term hourly profit rate was about $35 3 tabeling at $1/2 NL. Not too many "nits" could pull that off.

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