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Leak #8 - Not Changing Direction enough

seeing draws

Leak #8 ""not changing direction enough" is symbolized by a sailing ship in an extreme storm, forcing it to change direction suddenly. What this means is that you should not expect smooth sailing when you play any hand, even big ones.

As the action develops from preflop to the river, you need to incorporate any new information along the way and change your plan accordingly if necessary.

It is not a good idea to be stubborn in holdem poker. A typical example is the infamous aces cracked case. One of the ways to determine how good a player is at holdem poker is to observe his ability to fold AA. Some people can't, some people may, but the poker stars definitively will if the situation requires them to do so.

The example of very big pots lost by AA when the betting action meant that the villain had at least two pairs is symptomatic of players who do not change their mind. They started with the nuts, so they thought that they still had the nuts by the river.

They had a plan when they saw their hole cards and the plan was to win the hand no matter what, but they did not take into account additional information that emerged during the hand.

Let us see one example of aces cracked during a hand played at PartyPoker in a NL100 Texas Holdem full ring game. The hero sits on the button with A♠A. UTG+2 raises to 3 bb, MP1 3-bet to 6 bb and both UTG+2 and hero call. Normally the best play for hero is to 4-bet, but it seems that he was in a trapping mood.

The flop is 7Q9. This is a drawy board but not yet too dangerous. UTG+2 checks, MP1 bets 15 bb into the 19.5 bb pot, hero calls, UTG+2 check-raises allin to 37.5 bb and MP1 folds. What should the hero do?

In this case, the villain's statistics were 22/14/1.7 over 234 hands. These are the statistics of a solid but not too aggressive LAG and his action indicates either a huge hand definitively bigger than one pair, or the nuts flush draw. This is most probably the big hand. Calling costs an extra 22.5 bb in the 87 bb pot, offering excellent 3.87:1 pot odds. The decision to call depends on the pot odds being enough to pay for the chance of hitting the winning hand.

Against A9 representing middle pair plus the nuts flush draw, hero has 56.9% pot equity. Against a made hand such as a set of 7s, hero only has 9.2% pot equity. Let us say that there is 20% chance that villain has the nuts flush draw and 80% chance that he has a set, the weighted average pot equity for hero is 11.9% pot equity. Or 7.4:1 odds.

Pot odds are not enough to pay for the unlikely chance that the aces come ahead by the river, and this is generally so when aces are cracked by a set. It is time to change direction and to fold but hero was stubborn and called to discover his opponent holding 77. No miracle card came by the river and the hero lost a big pot because he did not change direction.

In another hand, the hero had TT from UTG and made a standard 3 bb raise. Only UTG+2 called. The flop was 9♠K 6 and both players checked. T♠ came at the turn giving a set to hero who made a pot-sized bet, only to be raised 4 times by villain.

What does this tell us? That is it time to change direction and to fold as hero is probably facing a bigger hand. His set of tens can be beaten by a set of kings or a straight. Both are likely candidates given the aggression expressed by villain. Instead hero kept the same course and decided to 3-bet allin. Villain called. The river was a blank and hero showed QJ for a turn straight.

You must be flexible in poker if you want to be a profitable player. Change you plan if new information indicates that things were not as you thought they were.


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