Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Damn Lies

'Tis interesting looking at my .50/1 stats for the last two months or so. Granted, they're not a large enough sample (only about 6,000 hands), but it's interesting to see the numbers back up my general impression of how I've been making loot in .50/1 games.

I'm averaging 21.6 BB/100. That's a ridiculous number, which I'm well aware. Not sustainable, a complete fluke, etc. But that's what it is.

The five most profitable hands (just looking at total net profit) from the above data set have been, in order: 78s, AA, 810 (?), KK, 56s.

The only seat at the table I'm not showing a profit in is the 5s, and that one is only slightly negative, less than a buck. I'm showing the biggest profit out of the BB (?), even with the rake included. UTG is next (?), followed by the button.

If you asked me where that ginormous BB/100 number came from, my off-the-top-o'-my-head response would be that I've been getting more than my fair share of cards, coupled with extremely loose and passive tables. Plus a healthy dose of play-any-two-card-itis in late position, with lots of luck thrown in. (Well, I exaggerate, but close.) At good tables, where 5-6 people consistently limp to see the flop, you can get away with playing a wide variety of cards. And that actual numbers back that up, to a large extent.

One big adjustment I've made, when I find a good .50/1 table, is to play one, two (and sometimes three) gappers, even if they aren't suited, even out of position. I play any pocket pair in any position. I'll play any Ax and Kx if suited, from any position. I play most group 5 and above Sklansky hands in any position. If raised pre-flop, I'll muck most of the above (except for pocket pairs). In late position, I'll call up to two bets with the above craptacular hands, but not three. If the wee pocket pairs don't flop a set, I pitch 'em immediately. If the flush draws don't hit two like suits on the flop, I immediately pitch 'em (unless they pair, of course).

The more debatable adjustment is that I almost never raise/re-raise with powerful cards pre-flop. I'm not sure of a way to back that gut feeling up with stats, but the idea is that the perfect .50/1 table (in my reasonably limited experience) is one of stasis. People want to play, and will play almost any two cards, but they don't really want to think, or to question their play. Making it easy to call definitely doesn't allow you to milk strong hands for every penny they're worth, but it also lulls the table into a state of stasis where you can lurk with a much wider range of hands pre-flop, for minimal cost.

Extending that, I only check raise when I've got what's likely the best hand but one vulnerable to flush draws. Even when I have the nuts I often don't push it. Just keep 'em calling, over and over and over. Because they want to. Badly. Sacrifice a few BB here and there for never, ever rocking the boat or calling attention to yourself. Do not tap on the aquarium. Simply stare at the mesmerizing bubbles coming out of the little diver guy.

In early position, I predominantly just check and call, even after flopping a strong hand. If 6 or 7 people limp in, someone will bet. Encourage the check-check-check-check-check-bet-call-call-call-call-call syndrome. It's mesmerizing, once it gets rolling. If I have what I think is the best hand, I'll bet out on the river from early position, if there are still 3-4 people in the hand, but that's about the only time. Yeah, sometimes this sucks as you can't clarify the strength of a monster hand that would normally re-raise you, but that's also not the worst EV play in the world, if you'd normally pay it off anyway with a crying call.

All that said, is the above play +EV long term for .50/1 tables? I dunno. My gut says yes, if you can find good tables and are able to multi-table 3+ games at a time. It'll never maintain a +20 BB/100 rate of return, but I think it's reasonably solid. It sacrifices some EV if you have dedicated calling stations willing to repeatedly see 2 and 3 bets to the river with their bottom pair, but I think it gains some EV by making it hard for more skilled players to put you on certain hands.

Long story short, who knows. It's too small a sample to make any conclusions but vaguely interesting.

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