Answers to my poker question... part one

Wow, first off I'm humbled by the variety of responses I've gotten through email and facebook. A few big Texas Hold em poker local and some so big they are national names that have weighed in, so I hope I'm able to present them capably when I do compile the information. I don't want to take anything they've said out of context or wrongly present their viewpoint. My plan now is to releases some of the emails on the blog, sometimes whole hog without the analysis or follow-up, and sometimes with little snippets that helped me out.

I'm excited and looking to really devote some time to this project and put together a solid article for the GCP yearbook coming out next year. Hope I'm up to the task, because I think some of the top flight pros may be surprised at the way other pros approached it.

What I've discovered, even in selecting a standard hand, is the different variables that people lean on. I just hit "publish" on a comment that brought up the fact that the buy-in of the tournament influences the decision. Whether it is Online Sit and go poker tournaments or live big-buy in events dictates strategy. Lots of truth to that. Even devoted followers of Harrington on Hold'Em should remember that he couched some of his advice with it being bankroll dependent. It's easy to attack the bubble of a 10k event if a min-cash or no cash doesn't mean anything to you, another thing completely if say you satellited in, couldn't sell the seat, and 10k is half your salary. Sometimes, the buy-in to the tournament can be the most important factor to a player--and I didn't even address it in the hypothetical. Some advocate the only way to play "correctly" is to play if money doesn't matter but just accept the fact you are gambling a lot more than the next guy but playing right.

Some other early problems with the question, as Kai Landry pointed out to me, the stack sizes may not allow playing pocket 4s in that spot to be profitable long run except as a steal and even then he'd prefer the stacks in the blinds to be reversed. Course, the question didn't really allow a fold and I kind of forced the people answering questions to play the hand from the start in ways they might not have normally. One guy responded in an email "I'm a nit, I fold preflop." Knowing the guy I'm pretty sure he was joking but others have advocated that.

Another weakness of the exersize, I followed through with the question assuming a raise of some sort when limping is an option many might have taken. The question should have been more open-ended to accomodate that strategy. Sometimes even a simple, or standard, hand isn't as simple or standard as we'd think. Those limpers were then kind of forced to answer the follow ups in a line they wouldn't take.

Here’s the beginning of one of the emails I received. He’s a friend and a blogger on GCP. I selected it first because I just read it. I will follow up with the rest of it and my response too in another post…

"I'm gonna do the only thing I know and be completely honest...don't see the point in sugar coating to be P.C. The same honesty i'd expect from you or anyone else I'd ask for poker advice.

The hand is very trite and I don't think you should spend too much time trying to analyze a very typical and common hand. I think one guy that responded on your blog is trying to outthink the room. The truth of the situation is that they have three ways to play the hand and NONE of them involve folding......

1) Ship the flop which I don't think is a good play b/c a tourney is such a grind and flopping a bottom set is an insanely strong hand that should get maximum value and I'm trying to find a way to get as much in the pot as possible rather than reduce the amount I could lose.

... to be continued...

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