Wednesday, June 29, 2005

First Strike Is Deadly

For if they hit you just one time
You have just faced your doom
- Testament, when metal was metal....


I have a LiveJournal account, mainly for the ability to read and post comments in other LiveJournals. One of the features of that system is the ability to make other people your "friend" and grant them access to non-public features. In browsing through other people's friend lists, specifically that Paul Phillips guy, I came across the journal of Jerrod Ankenman. I confess to not knowing who he is with respect to poker, but reading his journal indicates he's well versed in game theory and applying that theory to poker situations. I believe he's writing a book and I anticipate its release.

In one of his entries, he speaks of preemption betting. In a nutshell, it's a bet designed to foil a bluff attempt from your opponent. I have an example hand where I applied that theory and it seemed to work:

In a 5-handed 100NL game, I'm dealt the rockets, AA. I'm in 4th position and raise the $1 BB to $4. The button smooth calls and everyone else folds.

The flop is Kd,7s,Td.

Into the $8.50 pot, I bet $7. The button smooth calls again. Kx? Two diamonds? Still not sure.

The turn is 8h.

I bet $13 and the button smooth calls again. Calling $13 with two diamonds is not justified, but at this point I have no read on the player so I can't really eliminate such a donkey play. By the way, I love that word. Donkey. Especially after Daddy's historic post.

The river is the Jd. Ugh. Not only does it complete the flush draw, but it makes any hand with a 9 in it beat me. Here's where the preemption part comes in. I'm thinking to myself that if I check the river here, my opponent can bluff all-in and I'd have to make a real tough call. Without any additional information on my opponent or his hand, I'd be inclined to fold.

Right now the pot is at $48.50. We each have about $70 remaining in our stacks. I decide that I'd be willing to invest $20 into a preemption bet and fold if the guy comes over the top all-in. My bet makes it more difficult for him to bluff now. It gives the impression that perhaps I've just hit my hand on the river and doesn't open the door for a bluff attempt like a check would.

The end result was another smooth call by the button who held QTo.


Taking things a step further, I've tried to use this principle on the turn as well. My goal here is to make a bet that if called will yield appropriate pot odds for me to see the river to catch a draw.

Another example:

I have 78s and the board reads 56K2. I'm not in position against my lone opponent and the pot is currently $17. If I check, my opponent can push me off of a draw with a properly sized bet. In this instance, I lead out with a $4 bet hoping for just a call. If I'm raised, I can drop the hand, but against a weaker player who may simply call, I've achieved the proper pot odds to see the river.

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