Lessons for TheWakko - Nov 2020

Nov 4 / TheWakko

MTTs and cash games: it is the same game

When you open a solver and put in the variables you want it to take into consideration, I have yet to see a button where I click if I am playing a MTT or a cash game. That is because theory doesn’t see the two as different, and neither should we. If we would play a cash game, without rake and with antes, preflop ranges would look similar, giving it the same range interaction postflop, which will lead to the same strategy.

In tournaments, the stack size is often smaller, which is what causes an impact on our flop strategy. That impact, in this example the stack size, is what we should be studying, not the outcome itself. This way we can learn concepts which will apply in other spots as well, in both cash games and MTTs.  

Value bets make way more EV than bluffing

A lot of professional poker players are always looking for that next cool play to make. That spot where they can make a nice bluff, while at the same time when they have a good hand, they just try to bet a size to get called and don’t think much about it. They get so obsessed about the ‘cool’ part of poker, overestimating its importance and the EV it generates. A nice bluff will never outperform a good value bet.

If you look at the EV's of a value bet compared to a bluff, bluffs are usually a bit better than not bluffing. Whereas a value hand played optimally can give you a huge boost in win rates. It sounds so obvious, but for me it was a good wakeup call to have once again: the majority of your winnings in poker come from good hands!

There is no such thing as balance

Do you know if someone’s bluffing frequency is balanced optimally? On every street? On every texture? In every line? I will answer it for you: no, you don’t. Over my career I have paid a lot of attention to this, probably most of any players, and even though I got a better idea, I still didn’t know for sure in many spots. When I caught myself being worried about balancing my ranges, I told myself I needed to be honest if it was really that important. If I could not spot it in the game of my opponents, how could they spot imbalances in my game? And is it even possible to balance correctly?

We cannot balance like a computer. In practice, there is no balance, there is only constant adjusting and re-adjusting going on between players, always trying to stay one step ahead. So, never make a play based on balancing arguments, always go for what is most +EV with your hand at that moment. This is actually what a solver does as well, it does not balance for the sake of balancing, it plays hands in the most +EV way. However, certain hands make EV in different lines, making the overall result of the strategy look ‘balanced’ but a hand is not played in a way for the sake of balancing. And for those of you who are worried about opening themselves to be exploited, in our upcoming course we have some extremely interesting stuff to show you!
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