Playing strong deep stack poker requires that one think like a chess player

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Deep Stack Poker Playing strong deep stack poker requires that one think like a chess player, constantly looking ahead to action on later streets and thinking through the implications for the decision at hand. Deep stack tournament poker is similar to cash game play, so some of the examples in this chapter will come from cash games.

Suppose that you are playing heads-up $50-100 no-limit hold`em. Both you and your opponent have $15,000 in front. Your opponent has the button and opens for $300. You call with king-queen. Sometimes you would re-raise here pre-flop but often you will just call ? It`s a hand that will frequently punish you for building a large pot out of position.

The flop comes Q-5-6, rainbow. Is this flop suitable for a check-raise? To me, the answer is clearly no. I will check-raise in this spot with a set of queens, a set of fives, a set of sixes, Q-6, Q-5, or 5-6, or, much more frequently, with nothing, but I wouldn?t check-raise with K-Q. A-Q is only marginally better than K-Q; I wouldn?t check-raise with that hand in this spot either.

You should check-raise only when you can confidently answer the question: Am I prepared to put all my chips in with this hand? A tactically sound raise will allow you to answer that question with confidence. If I call pre-flop with J-T, it might well be correct to check-raise with Q-5-6 flop given the high probability that the raise will take down the pot uncontested.

Say your opponent bets $600 on the Q-5-6 flop, and you check-raise to 2400, then he pushes. Are you calling with K-Q? I`m not. If you somehow know that he?s going to either push or fold after you check-raise, then you can say for sure that check-raising with king-queen, one of the best possible hands given this board, yields equivalent results to check-raising with a hand that missed the board completely.

Say your opponent just calls your flop raise. Are you happy now? On the turn, you will be facing a Q-5-6-X board, out of position, with $5400 in the pot and $13300 each behind. What?s your plan? It will fairly surely entail a lot of discomfort. You have, of course, two options נcheck or bet. They?re about equally bad. let`s look first at the option of betting. Say your plan is: bet the turn and fold to a raise. let`s first assume that your opponent will respond to your turn bet by either folding or raising you all-in. If this is true, then your payoff profile still hasn?t changed from the J-T scenario. Think about that for a second ?raising the flop with KQ, then betting the turn, yields the exact same results as raising the flop and betting the turn with nothing. If you bet the turn and your opponent just calls, you still aren?t in great shape. Assume you pot-bet the turn, such that there is $16,200 in the pot and $6900/each behind. It`s not clear what the best line will be on the river נall that I can tell you is that tactically unsound play has forced you to confront a very uncomfortable river decision and It`s very probable that you will make a costly mistake. It`s possible that your bad play will pay off for you. Maybe you bet the river and he somehow pays you with QJ. QJ is really the only plausible scenario where your check-raise->bet->bet line works out better with KQ than it does with XY (where X an Y bear no relation to the board). Maybe you choose to check-call the river and you induce a bluff from someone who paid too much for an open-end straight draw. All told, though, your decision to check-raise the flop with KQ still looks like a serious tactical blunder. let`s look quickly at the case of the check-raise->check line of play. Here you can only hope for the turn action to go check-check. If you check and your opponent bets, K-Q is probably buried. I?d fold to a pot bet in that spot. I believe such a fold is correct despite that chance that your opponent holds QJ or QT נthis again demonstrates that the flop raise was flawed. If you had just called the flop, the likely action would have been: check-check on the turn, then bet-call on the river. In the first case, you are taken off a better hand to lose a big pot. In the second case, you win a $5400 pot. If the turn goes check-check, you?re probably in good shape despite your mistake on the flop. If the potential flop draws miss on the river, you can check hoping to induce a bluff. If they hit, I would probably bet the river (I`m not going to fold here, so I might as well bet and hope that my opponent has QT or QJ). Intuitively, many players believe that a high probability of having the best hand is sufficient grounds for a raise or re-raise. In deep stack poker, that is not true.



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