KKing David

Ruminations on poker

Archive for the tag “pre-flop”

Online Analysis, Part 1 – pre-flop 3-bets

I play a fair amount of online poker on the Ignition platform, almost entirely cash games.  So far this year I’ve been a winner, but not at a rate I’m particularly proud of.  Unless I compare it to last year when I won just a very tiny bit, or the year before which was worse.

One of the benefits of Ignition’s poker site is that after a few days have passed, the hand history details show all of the hole cards for all of the other players.  We can study hands that did not go to showdown and see exactly what each player was doing.  I can only see histories of the hands I played and on this site all players are anonymous – no avatars, no screen names, no other identifiers.  Still, this hole card visibility can be used to build a profile of the “typical” player (absent any specific observations) and to spot leaks in my own game (of which there are plenty).

So I’ve embarked on a study project, not using Poker Tracker or similar software for meta-data analysis, but scrolling through hand-by-hand, picking out hands with certain attributes or very large pots, and entering some of the data into a spreadsheet for further review when the sample size is larger.

It’s tedious, laborious work.  There are additional insights to be gained from the meta-data and maybe I’ll go there eventually.  For now, this is good enough.

At the top of my list of situations to analyze is pre-flop 3-bets.  When one player raises, then another re-raises (this is the 3rd bet, after the posting of the big blind and the initial raise), can we rely on any general conclusions about the strength of the re-raiser’s hand?  Do those ranges change – wider or narrower – as we move up or down in stakes?

The sample is still very small, but so far 3-bets have included:

AA – 11x     KK – 7x     QQ – 3x

88 – 1x      AK – 6x     AQ – 1x

AJ – 3x      Other/junk – 5x

I’ve seen some hands as strong as AK or QQ/JJ calling instead of 3-betting.  And the 3-bets made from the blinds after a cutoff or button opening raise, that look like a blind-steal vs. re-steal situations, are still dominated by the strongest hands.  The basic range here is QQ+/AK, which accounts for 27 instances of 3-bets in this sample (73%), with only 10 instances of a 3-bet outside of that range (27%).

Tentative conclusion:  respect the 3-bets.  It’s OK to call the smaller sized 3-bets with low-to-medium pocket pairs when the math is right for set-mining (especially in position).  Otherwise, as Idina Menzel sang in the movie Frozen, “Let It Go!”

I can even fold hands as strong as JJ or QQ to the larger sized 3-bets, without bothering to set-mine.  Does this seem too nitty?  Let’s look at the math.  Using Poker Cruncher, I’ll set Player 1’s (my) hand as QQ, and give Player 2 (villain) a strong range of which 72% is QQ+/AK, to approximate the sample above.  Against this range, it’s a coin flip.  That’s gambling, and I have better things to do, unless I have a very player-specific read to go on.



Change my hand to JJ vs. a similar range that is 72% QQ+/AK, and my equity drops below 41%.  That’s worse than gambling at a casino, and I have much better things to do.

As the opening raiser from the cutoff or button against 3-bet by the small or big blind, I can let these go as well.  My initial investment will be small, and the data so far doesn’t suggest a high enough frequency of re-steal attempts to warrant fighting back.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume live players’ 3-bet follow the same pattern of distribution as online players.  This might be the case… or not.  Gathering enough data on live players would be vastly more difficult, as most of these hands don’t go to showdown nor get voluntarily shown on hands that end prior to a showdown.

In later posts, we’ll look at the ranges of hands involved in other common situations…


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Daily Debacle – Fold KK v. pre-flop shove?

Playing in a private cash game last night, $0.25 /0.50 NL.  $50 buy-in for all players, with 9 players in the game.  All are regulars.

We are still very early in the session, having played no more than 2 orbits.  I’ve won one decent pot and up to about $60.

In this hand, I’m the SB and look down at pocket kings.  So I’m salivating for the action to get to me.

The UTG player (I’ll call him “Brian”) opens with a raise to $2.50.  He plays mostly ABC poker but has been working at opening up his game a bit in selected spots.  Still, Brian’s range for an UTG raise is pretty tight and strong.

Middle position player calls.  He’s pretty loose and likes to see lots of flops.  He’ll call with just about any two cards that connect in any way – suited, connected, 1- and 2-gappers, etc.

Cutoff also calls.  She also likes to get involved in multi-way pots, and will 3-bet with very strong hands.

Everyone else folds to me in the SB.  I decide to slightly overbet, to $15.  Brian might spazz out here with AK, QQ or JJ and call or shove.  MP might put me on a move of some sort and also call.  He tends to suspect everyone else to be bluffing often.  If either Brian or MP calls, the cutoff might also call so as not to miss out on a large pot.

BB (I’ll call him “Mike”) fairly quickly announced “I’m all-in!”  WTF?  He is a very strong tournament player who is less comfortable in cash games and therefore tends to play a bit tighter in cash games.  I’ve played with him in many tournaments and a few cash games.  I’m sure he would make this move with AA, given my raise size.  He’s also astute enough to know that Brian’s range is strong, and that I also know that and therefore my range is super-strong.  While I’m perceived as capable of making squeeze / steal moves pre-flop, I’m not nearly as likely to do so after Brian raised from UTG.

I’m trying to figure out what Mike would shove with other than AA.  Maybe AK suited?  (Only 2 combinations since I have KK.)  Maybe KK (only 1 combination).  QQ?  I doubt it, given UTG’s and my actions.

Now Brian, MP and Cutoff all fold.

I’ve never folded KK pre-flop.  Never.  Can I do it here?  Should I?

I stare at Mike for a few seconds and ask if he has Aces?  He shrugs.  I’ve seen that same shrug once before when I asked the same question in a tournament last year.  That time, I called and he did have Aces.

Since we’re also good friends, I ask if he’ll show his cards if I fold and also show my cards.  He agrees to do so.

I cannot believe this… I fold my KK face up.  Against an unknown player or several of the other players at this table, I would have called.  But I know Mike too well.

Mike shows AK suited.

The dealer flips over the flop, turn and river just for grins and I would have won this pot.

Year-to-date online results:  (- $582)

Month-to-date online results:  (- $74)

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