Struggling in bluff spots

zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
edited August 2017 in Tournament Poker Hands
So clearly it's easy-ish when you make your value hands - the trick is to maximize the amount of chips you win, but generally you win, unless it's a cooler or whatever.

And the marginal value spots are fairly clear too, even though it is easy to lose more money there than I should. But I feel like I know how to get better (play cautiously, don't be afraid to fold the TP with a clearly thought through read on V), I just have to do it.

But it's spots like the following that I just can't wrap my head around. This is such a big hole in my game - I'm not confident enough to run proper bluffs, I can't see well enough who to bluff, and when the bluff isn't working, it's never clear to me when I should bail.

I know on this river we likely block V's drawing range so I feel like the check is right, but in this spot we have some equity with the nine... So I think we're hoping to get to SD somehow and fingers crossed we win.

But still, any thoughts on where I'm going wrong, how to make a plan on the flop if the hand doesn't end up on the value end of our hand range, to not just bail when your draws don't come through, etc. Is it as simple as I'm just not deep enough to play something like this? Do I want to be pushing AI on the turn and if so then am I also pushing my sets and other value hands and isn't that potentially bad in terms of lost value when V folds his worse hands or decimating the stack when pushing and getting called on these kinds of bluffs?

The long and the short of it: how do you build a stack and survive in a tournament when many to most of your hands are ending up in the bluffing end of your range?

PS: and yes, maybe A9ss is too light to be opening but again I'm trying to open more hands, so lets forgive that one.

PokerStars - 150/300 Ante 40 NL - Holdem - 9 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

BTN: 66.08 BB (VPIP: 26.92, PFR: 19.23, 3Bet Preflop: 10.00, Hands: 26)
SB: 16.17 BB (VPIP: 20.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 5)
BB: 31.57 BB (VPIP: 100.00, PFR: 100.00, 3Bet Preflop: -, Hands: 1)
Hero (UTG): 40.1 BB
UTG+1: 35.44 BB (VPIP: 38.46, PFR: 7.69, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 26)
MP: 68.92 BB (VPIP: 34.62, PFR: 19.23, 3Bet Preflop: 17.65, Hands: 26)
MP+1: 43.49 BB (VPIP: 11.54, PFR: 3.85, 3Bet Preflop: 6.67, Hands: 26)
MP+2: 72.21 BB (VPIP: 38.46, PFR: 11.54, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 26)
CO: 103.06 BB (VPIP: 38.46, PFR: 7.69, 3Bet Preflop: 6.25, Hands: 26)

9 players post ante of 0.13 BB, SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 2.7 BB) Hero has :AD::9D:
Hero raises to 3.15 BB, UTG+1 calls 3.15 BB, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold

Flop: (8.99 BB, 2 players) :4D::9S::TH:
Hero bets 4.47 BB, UTG+1 calls 4.47 BB

Turn: (17.94 BB, 2 players) :QD:
Hero bets 14.4 BB, UTG+1 calls 14.4 BB

River: (46.75 BB, 2 players) :4S:
Hero checks, UTG+1 bets 13.28 BB and is all-in, hero ????


Comments

  • ZazouZazou Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    and yes, maybe A9ss is too light to be opening but again I'm trying to open more hands, so lets forgive that one.
    It's not the what, it's the where. Being the very first to act with only a tiny chance of playing IP postflop as well as actually having the best hand just puts you in a hugely disadvantageous spot from the get-go. Then you get a board that hits any caller better than your perceived range, but does hit your actual hand somewhat, but then stacks are shallow and your opponent seems to like his hand ... That's a lot of the ingredients you'd need to make a pretty decent mess ;-)

    I think you're supposed to build your stack by maximizing on your value-hands and otherwise stealing the blinds and antes as much as you can. In order to bluff, even only semi-bluff, you want as many egdes as you can get: positional advantage, range advantage, fold equity, a good image and probably a few others I'm forgetting right now. Some of those you don't (always) have control over, others you very much do.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    so i guess in the end this was just the wrong place to run a bluff? i should have just stuck to keeping the hand at the value end of the spectrum and saved myself some chips?
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    I'd start the thought process this way:

    If you had pocket tens, then how would you have played the flop, turn, and river? If you had 65c, then how would you have played the flop, turn, and river?

    Then compare those with how you played this hand. If the lines look identical, then you need to ask yourself if that is a good thing. If the lines are all different, then you have to ask yourself how easy it is for an observant opponent to hand-read you based on your betting pattern.

    Put it another way, what's the story that you're telling based on the hand play that you took?

    That, to be sure, is just the start. But, it is highly valuable in-and-of itself.
  • ZazouZazou Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    I'm not overly competent at bluffing either, esp. in a tournament-setting, where you need to be so much more protective of your chips than in a cash game, but yeah, for one I'd say that in EP you generally want to be value-oriented.

    A9s is perfectly fine to open in LP or maybe MP, or to resteal from the blinds, but I'd be mainly aiming to take down the blinds with it due to the usual problem with weak/medium aces: if you hit either of your cards all you have is a vulnerable pair that's easily dominated and isn't likely to improve to the nuts when behind. Suitedness doesn't add all that much value cause stacks are so shallow. So I'd just hope to take down the pot pre or on the flop. That's also pretty much all the 'bluffing' I'd look to be doing: preflop steals and one street stabs, only occasionally going further than that - with good reads on my opponent, who is preferrably of the nitty kind. What I really don't want with this holding and stack size is action past the flop esp. from a loose, potentially stationey player who I might have to fire multiple barrels against to get him off his hand - if at all. Being up against an actually bluffable opponent is obviously crucial. (On that note: what did you think he called on the flop with that he would fold often enough to a bet on this particular turn? What was your plan in case he wouldn't fold? You didn't exactly have a 'convincing' third barrel left in case he called, and if he had raised all-in you'd all but have to call given the odds ...?)

    Harrington's concept of M can help to get a clearer idea of what strategy to choose depending on your stack. Your M of 15 here is in the middle range, or "yellow zone", which means your bluffing options are limited:
    Harrington wrote:
    The 'longball' moves (...) now become too dangerous, because a failure consumes too much of your chip stack. Instead, you have to switch to smallball moves: get in, win the pot, but get out when you encounter resistance.

    I find your original question regarding bluffs - how to reckognize good spots, when to keep going and when to give up - highly interesting, as I'm having trouble on that front as well, but I don't think it's the main question to ask in this situation.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    I feel like the ability to see, plan and execute a good bluff might be the most skillful part of the game. Takes a bunch of courage and many times it develops in the moment - it's kind of like a great counterpunch in boxing, maybe. This hand isn't any masterpiece but it's a good example I think - particularly as it has two good bluffing opportunities - the flush that I don't block and that I slow play and the scare 9 on the river. I also feel like the bet size is very value-ish...

    PokerStars - 25/50 Ante 6 NL - Holdem - 8 players
    Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

    Hero (BB): 45.64 BB
    UTG: 105.08 BB (VPIP: 14.58, PFR: 8.89, 3Bet Preflop: 13.04, Hands: 49)
    UTG+1: 66.58 BB (VPIP: 0.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 6)
    MP: 59.76 BB (VPIP: 0.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: -, Hands: 1)
    MP+1: 75.62 BB (VPIP: 20.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 5)
    CO: 124.3 BB (VPIP: 60.00, PFR: 20.00, 3Bet Preflop: 50.00, Hands: 5)
    BTN: 57.78 BB (VPIP: 0.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 6)
    SB: 57.74 BB (VPIP: 19.23, PFR: 11.54, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 27)

    8 players post ante of 0.12 BB, SB posts SB 0.5 BB, Hero posts BB 1 BB

    Pre Flop: (pot: 2.46 BB) Hero has :7H::AH:

    fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, BTN raises to 4.5 BB, fold, Hero calls 3.5 BB

    Flop: (10.46 BB, 2 players) :QS::9S::9H:
    Hero checks, BTN bets 10.5 BB, Hero calls 10.5 BB

    Turn: (31.46 BB, 2 players) :KS:
    Hero checks, BTN checks

    River: (31.46 BB, 2 players) :9C:
    Hero bets 17.06 BB, fold

    Hero wins 31.46 BB

    Now the even better bluff would be him raising me with his whatever. Although likely he had nothing here too. Let's just pretend he had a Q.

    My plan on the OP hand: flop I was betting value and planned to check anything that didn't improve me. The :QD: now gives me a semi-bluffable turn. I think V had a Tx (QT prob), maybe KQx or maybe a A4 although we block that. Possibly a slowplayed set of 44 or 99.

    Plan for the river was to get it in with any diamond, bet/fold an A and bet a K or an 8 to rep a J (QJ).
  • kytmagickytmagic Red Chipper Posts: 204 ✭✭
    edited August 2017
    Just reading the first hand. I actually don't hate raising with :Ad:9D: early. In fact, because you're in the ante stage of the tournament, I see nothing wrong with a wider opening range.

    My main worry would be like @Zazou H said, the flop and the turn seem to favor a caller's range.

    Did you end up calling that river?
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    No I ended up folding. There was too much that beat me there that making my 9 a bluff catcher for tourny life just didn't feel like it made sense.
  • ZazouZazou Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    edited August 2017
  • ZazouZazou Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    edited August 2017
    Takes a bunch of courage and many times it develops in the moment
    Yup, then you gotta back your judgment and make the necessary move, which can be damn challenging ... After a long time of choking in these spots I've made some progress with this recently, but I still feel that this is bluffing on a somewhat rudimentary level. Often the other player simply didn't have anything to begin with, which always leaves the question whether you actually folded out better or weren't pretty much just value-betting your A-high or whatever.

    My 'analysis' in these situations rarely goes much further than "this board is too dry for him to have anything good" or "she did not like this card", "this 2nd barrel looks much less confident than the flop-cbet", or, as of late, "this card favors my range much more than his", which is just a fancier way of saying "scare card!", at least the way I'm using it ... (Obviously still always might proud when I manage to follow through on my read, heh.)
    Let's just pretend he had a Q.
    This is dangerous thinking, imo. Not just because it's somewhat unlikely he folded a Q here (virtually only a K beats him and he's getting a great price), but because it inhibits the development of (not only) your bluffing skills. If you don't think deeper about what your opponent realistically might have folded after the fact, how will you ever arrive at accurately estimating whether or not you can make someone fold during a hand?

    I used to give my bluffs that worked not much thought - villain folded, so it must have been a good bluff *shrug*. I'm trying to push past the complacency more often now and really figure out why a bluff worked (or even why I went for it in the first place), and to my surprise I don't have much of a clue a lot of the time.

    E.g. looking at this hand ...
    PokerStars - $0.02 NL (6 max) - Holdem - 5 players

    BB: 91.5 BB (VPIP: 41.38, PFR: 17.24, 3Bet Preflop: 5.56, Hands: 31)
    UTG: 105 BB (VPIP: 10.81, PFR: 8.33, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 37)
    CO: 100 BB (VPIP: 17.98, PFR: 14.98, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 230)
    BTN: 121 BB (VPIP: 28.13, PFR: 21.88, 3Bet Preflop: 7.69, Hands: 33)
    Hero (SB): 119.5 BB

    Hero posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

    Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has :Ah:4d

    fold, fold, fold, Hero raises to 2.5 BB, BB calls 1.5 BB

    Flop: (5 BB, 2 players) :3c:Jc:8d
    Hero bets 2.5 BB, BB calls 2.5 BB

    Turn: (10 BB, 2 players) :9h
    Hero bets 7 BB, fold

    Hero wins 9.5 BB

    ... all I can think is WTF was I thinking?! This just looks really reckless and mindless, and I can't imagine why I thought this was a good idea ... (or remember, but I've already decided to take immediate notes on my own thought processes more often.)

    Much better:
    PokerStars - $0.02 NL (6 max) - Holdem - 6 players

    MP: 127 BB (VPIP: 18.93, PFR: 14.88, 3Bet Preflop: 4.41, Hands: 171)
    CO: 103 BB (VPIP: 21.05, PFR: 16.96, 3Bet Preflop: 9.72, Hands: 175)
    BTN: 156 BB (VPIP: 61.54, PFR: 38.46, 3Bet Preflop: 14.29, Hands: 14)
    SB: 112.5 BB (VPIP: 22.22, PFR: 5.38, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 229)
    Hero (BB): 180.5 BB
    UTG: 93 BB (VPIP: 39.00, PFR: 21.00, 3Bet Preflop: 2.22, Hands: 100)

    SB posts SB 0.5 BB, Hero posts BB 1 BB

    Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has :Th:Js

    fold, MP raises to 3 BB, fold, fold, fold, Hero calls 2 BB

    Flop: (6.5 BB, 2 players) :Kd:6c:2h
    Hero checks, MP bets 4.5 BB, Hero calls 4.5 BB

    Turn: (15.5 BB, 2 players) :8c
    Hero checks, MP bets 7.5 BB, Hero raises to 21 BB, fold

    Hero wins 29.5 BB

    Here I added up this guy's very high flop- and turn-cbet stats and his relative tightness, the smaller turn-bet, the dryness of the board - which I'm happy with, cause it's a lot of progress for me.

    BUT in both hands I didn't think at all about villain's concrete range and what part and percentage of that I was aiming to fold out by betting resp. raising, or what story I tried to tell about my own hand. I have no idea what these guys had, still struggle to put together reasonable ranges. Which is a big reason for why often enough it doesn't work or for why, when my gut leaves me hanging, I never know how to even figure out whether I should keep going or not. (Then I start firing 2nd or 3rd barrels when I shouldn't, and giving up when I should keep barreling, and from there it's usually just a short ride to Tiltville ...)
    I think V had a Tx (QT prob), maybe KQx or maybe a A4 although we block that. Possibly a slowplayed set of 44 or 99.
    Okay, but what would he fold? (And why not TT, KJ, QJ, J8s perhaps, T9s?) Semi-bluffs rely mainly on FE, the added value of your draw is supposed to be more of a backup. Do you think he folds enough hands on the turn that he called on the flop with to make this a profitable bet and not have you overly rely on making your hand on the river?
    Plan for the river was to get it in with any diamond, bet/fold an A and bet a K or an 8 to rep a J (QJ).
    Don't you think he has way more Js than you? Are you really opening QJ from UTG?? And what size could you reasonably bet and then fold - you only have a 1/3 pot bet left on the river ...?
  • ZazouZazou Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    edited August 2017
    kytmagic wrote:
    In fact, because you're in the ante stage of the tournament, I see nothing wrong with a wider opening range.
    Maybe you're right. If you know how to play your perceived range rather than your hand, if you have a decent idea of what you're up against when one of the other eight players calls, if you know it's not too likely you're gonna get 3bet or shoved on, or that you won't pick up a bunch of callers, if you know how to get away when things get too marginal or when you're beaten, even if you have something of a hand yourself ... I'd much rather open 87o from CO, though. I just think that with 40BB there's no immediate need to start taking risks of this magnitude, while you can very comfortably take a lot of smaller risks.

    Then again, I'm not an MTT-player. I've played cash exclusively for so long now that seeing those stack sizes makes me queasy, I don't know how anyone can even work like that ... *g* But I firmly believe that playing stack sizes, position and opponents' tendencies takes absolute prescedence over the cards you're holding. Feeling reminded of Anette Obrestad playing that one tournament blind, and the lesson we can take away from it (I wouldn't be surprised if she played close to zero hands from UTG 9-handed). Knowing for myself that I'd be less reluctant to open A9s UTG than 72o from the button even if I knew the blinds to be super tight tells me that I still have a lot to learn.

    My point being that "widening your opening range" shouldn't just mean to push the %-slider a little further to the right.

  • AustinAustin Red Chipper Posts: 5,483 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I play a bit tighter in mtt then I do in cash. I am folding A9s all the way up to the HJ. Then I would open around 2.5x. I'm not a tourney pro or anything but that's just my style.

    Flop you bet 50% then 80% turn. Doesnt make too much sense. I don't mind a x\r on the turn or another small bet or a check call. The only line I don't like is a PSB. Get some A10 hands to fold. But rest of his range picked up TP or was already there on the flop.

    River I'm doing the same thing you did and check fold.
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2017
    Zazou H wrote: »

    My point being that "widening your opening range" shouldn't just mean to push the %-slider a little further to the right.

    Agreed. A9ss can be a very nice playable hand. It just turned out that in this case it got caught in an ugly spot that oscillated between some value and some semi-bluff. In some ways the A9 is a stronger hand to play than 89ss, if you're hoping just to take down blinds and antis, because you block Ax hands. And yes playing short stacks can be hellacious - this hand case in point!

    Your long previous post is excellent and full of some really good thoughts. Thinking more deeply about what people will fold is clearly +EV and something I also need to add to my to-work-on list. To now I've been building ranges that include value hands, marginal hands and then enough bluffs per street to balance the value and marginal. The bluffs are there more to support the value, which i think is an ok start but like you've said, I'm not at a point where I have to understand better the spots that are prime for bluffing, not just times where my value has missed. I get the 2:1, 1:1 and 1:2 ratios that Ed Miller recommends, but am not sure whether this is relevant in MTTs. I think much like my value hands, I am trying too hard to run the big bluff, and that I should be concentrating on those stabby spots that will add 10% or so chips to my stack, rather than a massive high-risk 3 barrel. But you're right, having a clear idea of what V likely has when we are playing our hand in the bluffing end of the range is the order of the day.
  • kytmagickytmagic Red Chipper Posts: 204 ✭✭
    zampana, what MTT resources are you learning? I ask because I'm trying to study it too!
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    i did the mtt crash course here and am getting coaching from mr soto. ive read a number of books over the years but the general consensus for mtts is that these books are not great.
  • ZazouZazou Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    but the general consensus for mtts is that these books are not great.
    Interesting, why's that?

  • AceFromSpaceKKAceFromSpaceKK Red Chipper Posts: 303 ✭✭✭
    Nothing wrong with opening A9s UTG imo. As played I think it is a fold otr.

    C/r turn could be a good move after cbetting flop but I would prefer a different line: c/c flop and then c/r turn. This line looks much stronger and V might fold all his TX which are definitely in his range.

  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    @Zazou H I'm not totally sure but I think the feeling is the game changes too much between when the books are written and when you read. Maybe some of the coaches can speak to it, but I just know I haven't heard much praise for the books, at least here at RCP. Maybe a strategy put down on paper becomes too easy to play against? Maybe the whole idea of these kinds of frameworks goes against good at the table aware of V actions etc poker? Maybe after learning the basics the subtleties are too complicated to explain in a book? Maybe no one really knows how to play poker tournaments well enough to write books?
  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 549 ✭✭✭
    That's a good piece of advice right there, I like it. Andrew is very good - I was on TPE before RCP and he was by far my favorite video maker. Advanced Poker Training has a "Beat the Pros" section which is pretty cool. You play 50 hands dealt the same to you as they are to various pros. Different spots, different decisions, etc. You score and then compare your score to the pros and then you can listen to their rationalizations for how they played the hand. I don't remember there being any tournament quizzes - mostly cash I think. But it was pretty good.

    But I think like the books and such, there's a stuck in time quality to these quizzes. The more I play the more poker the more I realize it's like trying to grab handfuls of water. It's always moving and changing, depending on all the infinite variables that go into a particular session. So while there are things to learn by looking at hands recorded weeks/months ago, the game by it's nature isn't going to be same as it was six months ago.

    What would be amazing, tho, is a suite of poker tools where you get deal the same hands or play through a tourny with some competent AI and then you hire a coach to do the same and you guys work through in real time through the hands. I suppose you could sweat together online, but you want to be able to start and stop as you make decisions together. THAT would be wicked - maybe screenshare ATP... Hmmm....

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