For episode #9, Red Chip Poker co-founder Doug Hull takes the hosting reigns from SplitSuit.

Doug dives into the topic of how unstudied players think about poker — something he probed in depth in a 2-part video series (available for PRO members).

Doug took a 30-year veteran of poker who had never studied the game, set him up with a $50 bankroll, and discussed his decisions while playing 50NL online at WSOP.com.

Unstudied players have “huge misconceptions about the game of poker that are predictable.” And in poker, predictable means profit.

Featuring: Hull

Unstudied Players Aren’t Profit-Driven

Doug says: “If there was one big takeaway from this experiment, it’s that unstudied players are not there to make a profit.”

What are they driven by? The desire to win pots.

Fragmented Pre-Flop Range

Doug found his unstudied player to exhibit three primary pre-flop behaviors:

  • Limping – These players often will limp any 2 remotely playable cards.
  • Min-Raises and Min-3-Bets – “Sweetening the pot” with decent but speculative hands like 77 or KQs.
  • Massive Pre-Flop Raises with QQ+ – These players are very emotionally attached to winning the pot with the best hand pre-flop.

No Thought Of…

There are a lot of things unstudied players don’t really consider doing, and knowing what they don’t do will benefit your bankroll:

  • They don’t semi-bluff 3-bet pre-flop. They have a hand.
  • They don’t squeeze, nor do they realize when they’re getting squeezed.
  • Positional awareness is not something they are thinking about. They are playing their hand.
  • They are never considering 3-betting lite as a defense. A 3-bet out of the blinds means they have a hand.
  • Implied odds, pot odds, relative value… these are not concepts that are generally in their repertoire.
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Watch Doug’s “How an Unstudied Player Thinks” Videos Now

Incoherent Plans

A big disconnect with reality many of these players has is the tendency to believe raises represent players bullying people. They tend to assume the worst of aggressive actions. He’ll call the “bully” pre-flop, with no plan on how to act post-flop.

What adjustments are good against an unstudied player? 3-betting lite and tightening up pre-flop are great starts.

Another disjointed and specific concept: Unstudied players will massively overvalue middle pair if the flop checks through.

Unstudied players take lines that studied players will have trouble wrapping their heads around. That’s because their plans aren’t plans at all — just incoherent, vague ideas about how to win a pot, or fold before they lose their shirt.

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Want more insights from Doug’s study of unstudied players? Read the strategy article.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Steve Smith
    Reply

    I really enjoyed Doug Hull’s podcast today. I only wish it were longer! His insightful analysis of his subject’s style was both entertaining and instructive. I play a lot of home games and a few days per year in the Vegas, and I have never pinpointed the fact that players are trying to win “pots” and not profits. This was a bell in my head! This explains why players will move all-in with a pair of Kings pre-flop with 3 limpers. It makes no sense otherwise. I also found the entitlement about A-A to be funny. How many players feel that A-A is entitled to win and therefore get very upset when it doesn’t, even asking the casino to pay a bonus for losing. The pro would never think this way, but you are so correct that the $1-$2 game in Vegas is based on this fallacy. What a fun and entertaining and enlightening episode. I only wish it were longer! Steve

  • Doug Hull
    Reply

    Thank you for the kind words. There is a lot more in the two part video series.

  • dallas
    Reply

    Yes, Doug is very good at explaining concepts well. And Splitsuit rules. Exploiting various weak players would be a good future topic; perhaps include desirable hand ranges to exploit them with at 6-max or full ring. And that would open topic up to discussing Range Advantage.

    Thanks for all you do.

  • Beth
    Reply

    Oh I really enjoyed this podcast, fantastic. lot of things Steve Smith said in a previous post I totally agree. he’s not thinking about making a profit. Thinking back when I was playing poker before I started studying and I’m amazed that for a poker player playing as long as he has, 30 years, he didn’t study or ask questions. That’s what’s most frustrating when I’m playing at my local club thinking to myself, what a bunch of donkeys

  • Johnny
    Reply

    Great Podcast! Thank you Doug and Suit. Doug: what would be the first three things you would teach this player? I am a beginner and I seem to have a problem bridging the gap from say only playing top 10-15 hands to firing all the way through to turn and/or river knowing that may be the +EV play. I have no problem doing (betting) something if I know that is the profitable move at that moment. I see many articles on figuring outs and pot odds but not how to use them to help you determine if you should bet or fold at a certain moment.

  • Doug Hull
    Reply

    Johny,

    For expanding your range, I think the Hand Reading Lab from SplitSuit will give you the confidence to expand the ranges.

    For actual use of pot odds, I would look to my Poker Work Book for Math Geeks.

    Top three things? Top 10 things are covered in our new “Stop! 10 things good poker players don’t do” book (Amazon exclusive)

    My personal top three?

    1) stop limping
    2) three-bet more than KK+, AK.
    3) stop overvaluing middle strength hands

  • Mikey
    Reply

    Thanks guys, I love the podcast and get great advice from it. Is there a difference between facing these unstudied players in a tournament as opposed to a cash game?

    • James Sweeney
      Reply

      You’re very welcome Mikey. Not really, they make the same mistakes but they get punished at different stages of their session =)

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