June 17, 2009

Notes on isolating

Seen it in videos, forums etc etc. that’s the way you play poker right??? You know the story, loosie call station limps, you look down at KJ in late position and raise, folds round to limper who calls. Flop comes 67T, he checks, you bet and he calls. Turn is a brick, he checks, you check, river is an ace, he bets pot you fold, and start moaning about the fish.

I have read so many blogs of people complaining about how they can’t beat the “donks” who keep calling them down light. If you’re gonna take this line, I think you have to take it on fully. The only way you can make it work for you, in my view, is if your prepared to play a very aggressive game. KJ is a weak holding, especially in full ring. BUT ITS NOT CARDS THAT MATTER. It’s position.

Which means using your position, and being prepared to triple barrel if necessary. And with that, being prepared for a high variance/up-and-down graph. But certainly not checking the turn (in the example above)

I was 3bet by someone today holding AKs, and they didn’t fire on the flop, nor the turn, nor the river. With my button J9s I caught a 9 on a Q69 board to win the checked board. But he only needed to fire 1 shell to make me fold (I am playing the J9s to bust the guy, not to pick up a pair). But he didn’t, and instead mouthed off to me in the chat box about how loose and lucky I was and shouldn’t have called his 3bet (he's the big blind), and how he could never beat “the donks”, of which I was one.

We play with 100BB+ for a reason, chips are a weapon. If someone’s going to call three streets on a weak holding then its tough, but if you take the isolate or 3bet bluff line, at least you have to be prepared for a bit of double or treble barrelling. Put them to the test, smash them over the head with your chips and make them let go. Otherwise ignore those cool Stox/cardunners sharks, play ABC and stop moaning.


  1. I have to say that you were in error if you called a 3-bet with J9s to play hit to win poker. If you are going to call in that spot, you need to be extracting value and not checking the hand down. Rarely will you ever hit enough with this hand to bust a guy, as you can see, he needs to hit as well in order for that to happen. I think you should have made some kind of value bet on the river.

    If you aren't looking for value and plan to check fold in this spot even after you hit, well this guy was right, you shouldn't have called a 3-bet. I think he played worse though, being that all you needed was for him to bet to move you off this hand.

  2. great to have your comments, as its why i post in the first place.

    i dont agree with you though. i will expand. needs some maths. we are 200bb deep, opponent is mr nit reg, only 3betting JJ+, AK. JJ is unlikely so we are QQ-AA, AK. If my J9s hits a strong draw, 2 pair or trips, calling the 3bet is +EV with the deep stack implied odds, and i am prepared to stack on a 50% draw v his cont bet. hes stacking with the overpair 100% of the time, and wimping out with AK, not turning it into a bluff (i hope..). NOt sure about 100bb, havnt done the maths. j9s v kk is 23-to-77, j9s v ak is 41-to-59, and i am placing 6 to win 203 (including my raise)

    as a side issue, with regard to checking it down, He has a huge check raise stat and i really dont want to get check raised off the best hand, which i would have to do, if i bet. by the river there is no point in value betting when its clear he either has air or me beat. (i am almost sure he has AK, but may still CR bluff).

    but as i said, catching the pair is not the goal. I am calling an aditional 6bb to win his entire stack, in position with a good, concealed holding which plays well against his polarised range.

    i would also add that against an agro donk, or good player, i am throwing away, as neither will likely pay me off. but nit CR guy is playing his cards face up.

  3. ps, its true he never had AA-QQ so he was never gonna stack in this case post flop, if i had fired on a j9x or drawing board, but i didnt know that.

  4. Well, I tend to disagree with the general concept of implied odds. First of all, just take a glance at the scenario. If he has a premium hand, you expect to make a lot of money from him. So the "real" implied statement is that J9s is BETTER than KK or AA. How could this be possible?

    Think about it for a second- if J9s is winning money here, then these other hands must be losing to it. One look at your database will quickly show you just how much you win with your premium hands.

    At this point, maybe you follow me and maybe you don't, but you MUST admit that it is hopelessly optimistic to believe that he is stacking away for 200BB with an overpair! If he is a nit reg, in fact, he is the one who is LEAST likely to pay you off. Better yet, though, look at these examples:

    He has a black KK.

    Is he stacking off on Axx?
    2h 3h 4h 6h?
    How about TT5?

    Or even look at AA in the same examples. Or take that AA and put it on Jh 6d 5d where you hold Jd9d. Sure your equity is good, but you still aren't stacking him here any more than he is stacking you. Or even take J 9 6. You have top 2, but he is still catching you one time in 4, any J will surely slow him down, and can you ever fold two pair if he 2 outs you? What if you put him on KK and a K hits, and you lay your hand down only to have him show you AA?

    The bottom line is that you need to have some sort of other way of winning the hand in order to justify this play. As you said, he wimps out with AK. He played his hand face up, so there is no reason not to get value on the river. Would he have called a 1/3 bet? I would say pretty much everyone would pay off 1/4 or less. How about a river overbet?

  5. he's stacking off 100% of the time when i hit my 20% of the time. i dont hit any of those flops you describe, so they are not relevant. jxx is useless to me in this specific scenario. but hes stacking off on jjx, 99x, j9x, t8x 9xx and jxx with 2 hearts. and at 200bb my calling his 3bet is defo +ev. (by the way, you correctly note, that even when i hit my flop, he still stacks me around 25-29% of the time by the river)

    perhaps your describing 200nl and above, but i can assure you at these stakes, 100nl, this type of player is stacking off to who in his eyes is a jammy pain in the arse stealer like me, who needs taught a lesson, all the time.

    i assure you.

    finally showing down j9 in a 3 bet pot makes the aggro players looking on think twice before 3betting my steal. and i love it when a reg calls me a donk in the chat box, because i tend to get paid off in later hands.