Sunday, September 02, 2007

Picking on brother Ed

It's been a while since I picked on Brother Ed, but I've got to say something about this one. I may have mentioned it before, it's a post from back in May.

He says (talking about hyper aggressive limit games)
The reason they can be frustrating is that some of your “marginal” hands can feel hard to play. In a normal game, if you’re facing two cold on the turn and all you have is a weak top pair, you can just lay down. But in this game, you just don’t know. Is your top pair good? It’s hard to tell sometimes.


Then he goes on to completely miss the point. He misses two important characteristics of wild games.

1. Position is very, very important. Don't get involved with marginal hands without position on the action, not just position on the button.

2. The reason the top pair/nothing else hands are such a problem is that you don't have any good way to develop reliable estimates of the range of hands your opponents hold and the value of those hands are highly dependent on those ranges.

This is an example of a situation where getting married to the idea of EV gets you in trouble. To calculate the EV of top pair/nothing else you need a distribution of opponents hands. You don't have that. So you estimate that by estimating the distribution of possible distributions, etc. You end up computing (implicitly) the EV of the EV of the EV of X rather than just the EV of X. And the result will be highly sensitive to estimation errors.

You're just asking for trouble.

Better to think in terms of strong draws, hands that don't really depend that much on what the exact distribution of the other players hands are. If you have a flush draw it just doesn't matter that much what the possible range of kicker player 1 has or whether player 2 has a gutshot to go with his 2nd pair. You aren't going to make a big mistake estimating the EV (or at least bracketing the range of the EV) of a flush draw.

That's why, in my book, I point out the importance of making a distinction between AKo and AKs from early position in those type games. That's something Brother Ed has said is nuts. But the reality is that in those kinds of games you really are often just better off not getting involved with hands that are going to be tough to play.

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