Best time to exploit mistakes

norbitnorbit Red Chipper Posts: 8 ✭✭
I'm new to poker. Have played very few hands but read a number of books and other material. I'm trying to understand the wisdom behind immediately attacking preflop mistakes with aggression. Presumably bad players are already making bad plays on the turn and river as a result of their bad preflop play. Why isn't it better to wait and attack them there? If you attack too soon, isn't there a danger you'll convince them to play more solid preflop, leading to them being generally less vulnerable on later streets? I would imagine that preflop mistakes are the easiest to correct. You can memorize a starting hand chart and not be wrong by much. They probably know that they are technically not supposed to play 60% of hands, but boredom and the cheap price of seeing a flop tempts them to do it.

In general, what I'm getting at is this. If you are in a game where you don't have to create mistakes, isn't it better to sort of go with the flow and sneak in exploitative moves here and there, rather than risk changing the game?

thank you.

Comments

  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 1,791 -
    That's a great and deep question. Let me give a quick answer, then elaborate.

    Your claim would be correct if the object of the game was to maximize the number of mistakes made by our opponent. However, our goal is to maximize the dollar amount we can extract from those mistakes. Typically the two goals require different approaches.

    Let me give a toy model. Suppose we're up against an opponent who limps a lot, will call a moderate preflop raise 100% of the time, then check-fold 80% of the time to aggression on the flop irrespective of the preflop action. If we limp behind and fire the flop when checked to, we win less than when we raise the limp preflop and bet flop when checked to. So it's not so much that we're manipulating the mistake villain makes by limping, we're trying to magnify the cost of that mistake by raising them pre and building the pot.

    Now limit players know better (IMO) than NL players that there's a bit of finesse to all this, which depends on the nature of the players left to act. As an example, if a bad player who raises a lot pre but folds too much post opens, a typical isolation play is to 3-bet that player to get heads-up IP. This will usually be the default, but if the players in the blinds are dreadful, there is some merit in just calling and letting them come along. In detail this depends on how well your specific hand plays multiway. I suspect plenty of NL players will maintain the 3-bet here is always preferable, but I've never been convinced of that claim.

    Finally, yes, there is a danger that by constantly punishing limpers you may train them to play better, but... In Vegas at least there's a huge sub-population of locals who've been playing pretty much the same for years. I wouldn't worry too much about them improving.
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  • norbitnorbit Red Chipper Posts: 8 ✭✭
    Thanks for your well thought-out reply, GameKat. I think I see what you are saying and agree. You need to make the pot bigger to make the mistakes bigger, and that has to start preflop.

    What got me wondering was the theme from a couple Ed Miller articles. Note that I'm not saying he advocates passive preflop play. He certainly doesn't. But in at least one article he says something like, "When in doubt, I drag it out." The idea is that bad players will frequently give you better quality information if you play your mediocre hands passively for one or two streets. Also, in one of those articles (When to Play ABC Poker), he says that in situations when the stacks are small, bets are small, and showdowns are frequent, the best you can do is play a modified form of ABC poker. In other words, what the other guys are doing, only taking opportunities to steal the pot when they arise and not paying people off when they do make a big hand. And of course playing stronger starting hands.

    So I was just trying to extend that reasoning. But maybe it only extends so far. Glad to hear most players aren't quick to adapt to being punished.

    If you are the same Kat who writes the articles here, I've read a few of them and found them very helpful. It's nice to read about 1/2 play, which is more relatable than 2/5 or higher. Keep up the good work :)
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 1,791 -
    Yeah, that's me, glad you've found my articles helpful.

    There's certainly an argument for getting deeper into hands in many spots, particularly when it gives you more reliable information. I know at various times Ed has advocated those passive lines, along with small raises he expects to get called when he's planning skullduggery on the next street.
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  • norbitnorbit Red Chipper Posts: 8 ✭✭
    I know I shouldn't derail my own thread, but I had one more quick question. In another thread you said Advanced Poker Training does a reasonble job of simulating live play. What setting is that on? Thanks
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 1,791 -
    norbit wrote: »
    I know I shouldn't derail my own thread, but I had one more quick question. In another thread you said Advanced Poker Training does a reasonble job of simulating live play. What setting is that on? Thanks

    I haven't used it for a while, but when I did I tweaked the line-ups to simulate as best I could either tables I was frequently encountering, or to set up particular dynamics I wanted to explore. So if you use the "stats" tab for the players you can kind of build your own table.

    SplitSuit has pointed out the s/w has limited value in the sense that it's fairly easy to learn the exploits that destroy the various line-ups, but to me that's a useful exercise in itself. Plus he's smarter than the typical bear.
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  • norbitnorbit Red Chipper Posts: 8 ✭✭
    Okay, cool, thanks for that. I agree that learning to exploit the computer players is a useful stepping stone on the way to learning to exploit the less predictable human players.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 17
    norbit wrote: »
    I'm trying to understand the wisdom behind immediately attacking preflop mistakes with aggression. Presumably bad players are already making bad plays on the turn and river as a result of their bad preflop play. Why isn't it better to wait and attack them there?

    That's not necessarily the mistakes all players are making. In fact in my experience, I find there are a lot of players who make more mistakes preflop than postflop. You have to exploit different mistakes in different ways.

    I know many players that play fairly hit or miss, and not terribly (maybe just somewhat predictably), postflop. But preflop they have huge misconceptions about hand equities and maybe more importantly they grossly overestimate implied odds and the probabilities of actually making a winning hand. They will call with little connected cards (often loosely connected cards) or any suited cards in the most ridiculous situations, that can only be bailed out by the relatively rare good flop. Obviously these players are not using even the simplest of poker assistance, which is a preflop starting hand chart as you mention.

    Most players "study" poker by watching the players around them win pots. Imagine if a player doesn't understand real poker theory. Obviously if you don't know how to play poker well, then you also can't determine who are good players. Yet they make a determination of who is a good player based on - I don't know - probably who has been winning a lot very recently. If that is your standard, then god only knows what strategy you might think is profitable.

    So, study your opponents and don't try to overgeneralize about what their exploits are. Sometimes it will be as you suggest - get them to a flop so they can start making mistakes - sometimes patiently waiting until they make their big mistake in huge pots. Other times it will be a death of a thousand cuts by punishing their preflop hand selection. And on and on....

  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 3,832 ✭✭✭✭✭
    TheGameKat wrote: »
    That's a great and deep question. Let me give a quick answer...

  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 1,791 -
    persuadeo wrote: »
    TheGameKat wrote: »
    That's a great and deep question. Let me give a quick answer...

    Just trying to move the discussion forward...
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  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    persuadeo wrote: »
    TheGameKat wrote: »
    That's a great and deep question. Let me give a quick answer...

    Nice ellipsis!
  • norbitnorbit Red Chipper Posts: 8 ✭✭
    jeffnc wrote: »
    norbit wrote: »
    I'm trying to understand the wisdom behind immediately attacking preflop mistakes with aggression. Presumably bad players are already making bad plays on the turn and river as a result of their bad preflop play. Why isn't it better to wait and attack them there?

    That's not necessarily the mistakes all players are making. In fact in my experience, I find there are a lot of players who make more mistakes preflop than postflop. You have to exploit different mistakes in different ways.

    I know many players that play fairly hit or miss, and not terribly (maybe just somewhat predictably), postflop. But preflop they have huge misconceptions about hand equities and maybe more importantly they grossly overestimate implied odds and the probabilities of actually making a winning hand. They will call with little connected cards (often loosely connected cards) or any suited cards in the most ridiculous situations, that can only be bailed out by the relatively rare good flop. Obviously these players are not using even the simplest of poker assistance, which is a preflop starting hand chart as you mention.

    Most players "study" poker by watching the players around them win pots. Imagine if a player doesn't understand real poker theory. Obviously if you don't know how to play poker well, then you also can't determine who are good players. Yet they make a determination of who is a good player based on - I don't know - probably who has been winning a lot very recently. If that is your standard, then god only knows what strategy you might think is profitable.

    So, study your opponents and don't try to overgeneralize about what their exploits are. Sometimes it will be as you suggest - get them to a flop so they can start making mistakes - sometimes patiently waiting until they make their big mistake in huge pots. Other times it will be a death of a thousand cuts by punishing their preflop hand selection. And on and on....

    Thanks, jeffnc. I hadn't considered the possibility that people play decent postflop even though they make big preflop mistakes. Also, you make an interesting point about how people learn. If I understand your point correctly, you're saying that different people are likely to have widely varying strategies simply because they are imitating whatever they've seen "work" recently, and of course there's a lot of randomness to that.

  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    norbit wrote: »
    there's a lot of randomness to that.

    Indeed. Which raises kind of an interesting point. If people are dynamic in making their mistakes, it makes it kind of hard to exploit them. In that case they can simply be beaten by playing fundamentally solid poker. You might not know exactly how you're exploiting them at any given time, but if they have leaks, then that money has to leak to somewhere, and if you're playing well, you're bound to get more than your share in the long run one way or another.

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