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Bart Hanson: Crushing Live Poker With Twitter

by Bart Hanson |  Published: May 02, 2012

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March 17th – If the rake structure is correct or the stacks are deep enough you should not chop the blinds. People take it personally and play bad.  

If you have ever played in live cash games you know that there is a decision to be made when everyone folds to the small blind – ”Do you chop?” For those of you that are unfamiliar with chopping, basically this means that both blinds fold their hands and there is a reduced or no drop. This makes a lot of sense in smaller stakes drop games as a good percentage of the pot is taken when only two players remain. In a $1-$3 no-limit game where the drop is $4+$1, eighty percent of the pot is dropped if limped when heads up. 

In deeper-stacked games or games with a time collection it is in many cases plus EV not to chop. The biggest reason I do it is because it really gets under my opponents’ skin. You would be amazed how angry people get when you tell them that you do not chop. They think to themselves “I’m going to get this guy,” and it makes them play terribly throughout the entire hand. Let’s look at an example of a hand that I played last week at the Bicycle Casino. It was $5-$10 no-limit, uncapped, and I was in the big blind with KSpade Suit KClub Suit. Action folded around to the small blind who immediately went to throw his cards in and take his money back. I stopped him and said “I don’t chop.” “You don’t chop?”, he replied perplexed. I could see the anger brewing in his face. He then threw in a $5 dollar chip to complete. I raised $35 more and he slammed his chips in for a call. The flop came out QSpade Suit 5Diamond Suit 7Diamond Suit. He checked and I bet $75, he called. The turn came the 2Heart Suit. He checked again, I bet $200 and he snap called. At this point I thought that there was a really good chance that he had a queen and I was going to basically value bet any river. Fifth street fell a TClub Suit. I knew that he was pissed off and that my line looked like I was trying to put pressure on him. He checked again and I decided to bomb it and bet $700. He insta-called and tabled QClub Suit 3Club Suit

Later I learned that this particular player was extremely tight and never would have played Q-3 suited in any situation. He was so frazzled however by the fact that I didn’t chop that he lost over 100 BBs with a garbage hand.  

Jan 27th – In all-in situations, I rarely run the cards more than once. 

Running the cards more than once is a way to decrease the variance in a hand by chopping the pot into multiple, smaller pots. If you run the cards twice there are two pots, three times, three pots and so on.   

No matter what anyone tells you, running the board multiple times does not change the odds of the hand. There is no strategy behind it and it makes no difference what you hold. Running it more than once only decreases the variance. The more times that you run it the closer the result will come to the actual equity in the hand. Running cards multiple times came about from trying to keep games from breaking and keeping people in action. If a player went bust and there were not enough people to fill the table the game would sometimes die. 

Now, more and more casinos are allowing players to run it more than once and some players are trying to take advantage of the situation. Players commonly ask when deciding whether or not to make big calls all-in if the other player in the hand will run it more than once. This is an issue especially when you are trying to maximize your fold equity with a draw. Why would you want your opponent to know that you will run it more than once and not instill the fear that he could lose all of his chips? It also works the other way around when players try to push you around with their draws. 

If they know that you will run it more than once, they are more likely to make an aggressive action because if they get called there is less of a chance that they will lose all of their chips.  

A second and probably more important reason that I don’t like to run the cards is because I feel like I have better emotional control than most other players. If I lose a big pot I am way less likely to tilt compared to my opponents. As the skill level of players start to increase you’ll find that a lot of money is won and lost when certain players tilt. You want to give those players the opportunity to lose their cool. One of the best ways to do this is to break them – not give them an opportunity to win back some of the pot.  

Feb 1st – Raise/folding for value is a critical element of playing a deep stack well 

One of the most powerful tools of a world class no-limit player is the raise/fold for value. Raise/folding refers to raising with what one thinks is the best hand but then folding when getting reraised. The reraise, especially on the river, is such a strong play by your opponent that you can almost always surmise that your hand is no good. Most players will not make this play because they have trouble laying down good hands.

They do not want to open the betting back up and be faced with a tough decision. What these players do not realize is that the mere fact that their opponent has reraised the river usually means that he has a nut hand. The frequency of someone ever making a play as a bluff after getting raised on the river is basically zero.   

Second-nut hands are usually great spots to make big raise-folds. Let’s look at an example. 

In a $2-$5 no limit game with $1500 effective stacks, we open in the cutoff to $20 with KHeart Suit QHeart Suit. Everyone folds to the big blind who calls. The flop comes out big for us, KClub Suit 5Heart Suit 2Heart Suit. Our opponent checks and we bet $30, he calls. Turn is a 9Diamond Suit. Our opponent checks, we bet $70 and he calls again. The river is the 7Heart Suit. Our opponent bets out $150.  

Clearly the big blind is representing a flush. He called two big bets on the flop and turn and is now betting large when the draw has hit. What should we do? A lot of non-sophisticated opponents would only call fearing the ace-high flush. They do not realize that they lose an incredible amount of value from smaller flushes by not raising. We should probably make it about $550 total, and then, if our opponent ships all in, we can almost positively say that he has the nut flush and fold even getting over 2-to-1. You should also notice that we hold the third nut-flush blocker with the QHeart Suit so it is unlikely that our opponent is overplaying a smaller flush. Of course, at the lower levels, you have to be aware of inexperienced players overvaluing their hands.  

Raise/folding for value is one of the intricacies of playing a deep stack well. In smaller capped games usually you will not have the maneuverability to raise and then fold to a reraise so you have to evaluate if you think that it is profitable to raise over the top of a bet knowing that you will not be able to later release. ♠

Want Card Player and Bart to provide analysis on a cash game hand you played? Send full hand details (blinds, stacks, street-by-street action) to @CardPlayerMedia. If we choose your hand, we’ll send you a Card Player subscription.

Follow Bart for daily strategy tips on twitter @barthanson. Check out his podcast “Deuce Plays” on DeucesCracked.com and his video training site specifically for live No Limit players—CrushLivePoker.com. He also hosts Live at the Bike every Tuesday and Friday at 10:30 pm ET at LivettheBike.com