Start Enjoying Loose Games!

Posted By:
Izmet Fekali
Date: Tuesday, 18 April 2000, at 12:10 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Loose ones KILLING me!!!(long) (Gary Carson)
2+2 Forum

Optimal hold'em strategy is a defensive one. You make yourself unbeatable, you let your opponents bang their heads & weapons against your fortress walls. They are not playing optimally against you (they are either trying to find cracks in your armor and are zigging and zagging around or they are simply stupid and don't have a clue how to play) and must therefore be losing money to you.

Now imagine an opponent that is zigging so much (i.e. he starts raising utg with 54s to confuse you, so you are folding KQo in middle position) that he is starting to walk on the razor's edge, playing with matchsticks. The defensive optimal strategy will still get the money against this guy, but seeing 54s utg makes you think, "hey, this sucker is trying to give money away and I'm not getting my fair share!" Indeed, somebody else, probably some poor fishy excuse for a player, a let's-see-the-flop guy nails him with A7o. You are winning, but you are not getting what's coming to you!

Exploitation time!

So next time, you reraise the smart ass with KJo to isolate. You kick his ass. You take the dough. You humiliate the poor wannabee. You start building chip towers. You are one slick sunuvagun. His suboptimal play opened up your opponent, and you jumped at the opportunity to exploit him by adjusting your play (in Abdul's words, the no. 1 guy in hold'em defense, you are zigging as the opponent is zagging) a notch. However, you are playing suboptimaly yourself now! You opened up to exploitation too now and are counting on the fact that nobody at the table is smart enough to make use of it. More so, you could be losing money now to any player playing solid poker, but even if that happens, you figure to offset the losses by robbing the fish.

Now loose opponents are a similar story. They are playing suboptimaly. The situation is crying out for the heavy guns. You start playing K4s in early position as you know the fish will school limping behind you. You are playing suboptimaly now, trying to nail the stupid. People are saying stuff like "the value of suited aces and kings went up." It works.

Of course, as you dropped the Enterprise's shields, you opened her up to Ferengi attacks. No big worries here, the Ferengis are playing the $30-60 tables now, banging their heads against Klingons and each other, it's some kind of an ego thing, I guess... (do Sklansky's words "game selection" ring a bell here?...). Just watch out with the corner of the eye for any suspicious activity towards your table. If a couple of dangerous characters sit down, you are done with the fish exploitation, you must get those shields up pronto. If not, you are dead meat when you get your ass raised playing 33 utg.

My point is, a good defensive strategy (we are still searching for a true game theoretic solution to hold'em) will get the money in any game. You simply have to learn how to defend yourself. The next step is exploitation if you want to be greedy. Loose games provide marvelous opportunities to do that. The money is out there for grabs. Stop whining about bad beats. Chips are floating your way in loose games (if you play goot), you just can't see it because of the variance muddying the waters.

Any suboptimal play by your opponent drops a coin in your pocket, but you must have the pocket at the right place to intercept. When opposition is stupid, you can start shoving your hand into *their* pockets (and be aware that while leaning over somebody could have his hand in *your* pants).

People, stop whining. Learn to play solid. Start enjoying loose games.

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Izmet Fekali
Burek Experts Ltd.
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