It’s actually a great phrase for poker.
Many poker authors and coaches tell you to plan ahead or have a plan with poker. But the mechanics of how this is done is elusive. Chamber philosophy is a “big picture” plan for the hand – how many bets before all-in, how a strong player can manipulate the pot size. But I want to talk here about the practicality of hand planning in poker. Specifically, always think of how the action will go down on the next street.
Preflop, consider the flop action. For example if a player has a fit-or-fold style on the flop, you should be isolating with a raise or 3bet preflop (with perhaps any 2 cards) and betting to take away most flops (since they miss most of the time).
On the flop, consider how turn cards will affect the board and the action. On the turn, consider the river and how the hand may or may not arrive at showdown.
I’ll go through a hand I recently played while being staked at 2-5 NL live cash in Vegas demonstrating a “streets ahead” philosophy.
I was dealt 88 in the small blind. There were four limpers, two of them very loose and splashy, one a straightforward TAG reg, and the other moderately loose and clueless. The BB seemed passive.
With so many loose players in the pot who weren’t afraid to splash around postflop, I think calling is a better option than raising here. The loose splashy player on the button (whom we’ll call Splashy Samir) was the kind of player who was “in for $5, in for $35.” Also, he peeled on the flop often and was not afraid to put in bets or raises with wide holdings, which would make my life hell when the board runs out overcards (as it would most likely do) and I’m left out of position.
I also noted that the TAG reg limped first in from early position (we’ll call him Live-Reg Larry – a “live-reg” is a certain breed of reg, to be sure). Therefore there was a small chance he held a big pair and was playing it circa 2003. So if I raise and get 3bet, I cut myself out of a ton of value had I called and spiked a set versus this same overpair.
The flop action thus considered, I decided to call with 88. The big blind checked and we saw the flop 6-handed.
The flop was QQ8 rainbow. With all the loose splashy players in the pot, this is no spot to slowplay. We are also at a “main table” (fed by a must-move) so the stacks are a little deeper. The effective stack size (which happens to be mine) is $750. I lead out for $25. I expect to get raised or called by a queen, 8, TT+, JT, J9, or T9 by the various players in the pot. If I get raised, I’ll call and check raise the turn all in (playing a 4-chamber pot). If I get called, I’ll probably overbet the turn and shove the stacks in on the river (turning the pot into a 3-chamber pot).
As you can probably guess from my setup of the story, Live-Reg Larry and Splashy Samir were the two players to call me.
At least one of them is “slowplaying.” Gutshots and weak one-pair hands are also in Samir’s range.
The turn is a J. I tank. Any brick and I was prepared to bet $200. But a J, T, 9, K, or Q would give me pause to reconsider the data available to me. On the flop, I planned ahead for the turn. Now on the turn, I had to plan ahead on the river.
What I realized mid-hand was that Larry and Samir would often be “slowplaying” on the flop and turn. But there is no more slowplaying on the river.
On the turn with about $720 remaining, I was committed against Samir at this point since I believed he would get his stack in with a straight or trips vs. my full house. But Live-Reg Larry would play more cautiously with such hands. I made the observation that if this hand skipped ahead to the river, Larry would never raise a river bet (given the action that two other players, Samir and myself, have put into the hand) without the nuts.
And while Larry’s range is still relatively wide on the turn, two hands just made better hands than mine, JJ and QJ, and both I put in his preflop range. QQ for quads is still in his range, though of these three (improbable but not impossible) hands QJ has the most combinations.
So I thought of the river.
I thought that if I could create a situation where I bet the river and could fold to a raise, I could extract value from my bet when worse called, and know that I was done with the hand if Larry raised my bet on the river. (Again, I was totally committed against Samir at any stage of this hand postflop.) This was based on my read on the turn that Larry would not raise a river bet without the nuts or second nuts.
So on the turn I thought of how I could best create this river situation.
Larry had a hand. And he would bet it for value against Samir. Because I saw this, I knew he would bet if I checked to him. But I didn’t know what a raise from Larry would represent on the turn if I led by betting again. Is he raising trips with a strong kicker? A straight? A better full house? It would put me in a tough spot if I bet and was raised on the turn. I would have to call, and I would not be able to execute my plan of betting the river for value and being able to fold to a river raise from Larry.
So the move on the turn (in order to create the river situation I planned) is to check.
Larry bet $55 into the approximately $100 pot. Samir called relatively quickly.
Larry’s range is at least trips, possibly a straight, possibly better full houses or quads. Samir still has weak 1-pairs hands (not including the QQ on the flop), gutshots, trips, and better in his range.
I call, completing my turn plan, ready to donk the river.
The river is a blank 3. I donk $175. I’m extracting value from all the worse hands still in the pot with me that I think will call: the trips, the straights, etc. If Samir stops his “slowplaying” now on the river and raises, I’m getting it in. If Larry raises, I have to fold according to plan.
Live poker is not boring. I’ll go so far as to say this: there is more data to be gathered per table in live play than in online play, even with sick custom stats like those found in The Destroyer HUD. It’s just 99.99% of live players don’t know how to gather this data. They don’t know where to look or what to look for. I see so many players on their Iphones, or Ipads, reading a magazine, listening to their music, and overall missing what the other players are literally telling them.
I saw Larry look at my bet size and then look left to Samir.
The data came to me.
He was thinking which move was more profitable: overcalling to keep Samir in the pot or raising.
After my bet of $175, there was about $490 left to be bet in my stack, the effective stack size. I saw Larry’s “wheels turn.” He thought Samir and I were strong but not “that strong.” So he sized his raise an amount he believed bare trips or a straight would call, and made it $450 total, or a raise of only $275 more. This was my read. (Incidentally, this was a raise amount $100 more than he would get by overcalling and inducing Samir to stay in the pot. Whether he made it this amount consciously or subconsciously, I don’t know, but I thought it was an interesting observation.)
Samir groaned and tanked as he faced a bet of $450 on the river.
I thought of what hands I would call in this spot in Samir’s shoes and in my shoes. My analysis had me folding everything but the nuts.
Samir called the $450 cold and I quickly and quietly folded my flopped full house gone awry.
Live-Reg Larry flipped up QJo (for the turned nuts) and Splashy Samir disgustedly slammed down his Q8o (for a flopped full house that I should have lost my stack to if Samir had the sense not to slowplay).
Street: Sixth Street
I stood up to stretch. (Lots of tanking in that hand!) A tough winning player who was a former mid-stakes grinder on Full Tilt and now mostly plays 5-10 NL live cash in Vegas (yes, all that data came from his own mouth and was echoed by his play) was at the table and asked me, “What were you doing in the hand??” I stared at him. “Nine-Ten?” he asked. I continued with my blank stare.
When I play, no one knows that pages of analysis are going on in my head. No one knows that on each street I am planning ahead for the next street. I play mum poker ala Tommy Angelo; and while my mind is constructing a complex decision tree my expression and demeanor betray nothing.
In my opinion, the greatest cinematic fight scene of all time is the scene between Long Sky and Nameless in the movie Hero. In this scene, the battle plays out in various scenarios in their minds before the fatal blow is struck. It’s masterfully done. It begins at 4:30 in this clip.
This is what “streets ahead” poker is. Envision the different scenarios the next street will produce. Plan this street’s action considering the action that may occur on the next. Then strike the fatal blow.
Recent Forum Posts
by blood on February 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm
by blood on January 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm
Data mined hands vs HUD ranges and frequencies
by RegularGuy on January 14, 2013 at 8:37 am
So i have to decide between NoteCaddy and the Destroyer HUD?
by blood on November 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm
How to import the individual stats in PT4
by blood on November 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm
- Free Poker Software for Poker Tracker 3
- Plan Your Poker “Streets Ahead”
- Seeking Staking For Live Cash In Las Vegas
- What To Look For In Staking Poker Players
- 4 Mistakes I Saw Players Make At the WSOP
- Seeking Staking for the WSOP
- I Quit Playing Online Poker To Do What?!?
- Flop Defense Notes Updated
- NoteCaddy Custom Definition Contest!
- Color Code Your Full Tilt & Poker Stars Notes
- The Destroyer Custom HUD for PokerTracker 3
- Free Upgrade to The Destroyer HUD
- Big Developments at CTG
- 640 Custom Note Definitions for NoteCaddy