If you’ve never experienced a coaching session firsthand, it can be hard to overstate just how much coaching can change your game. This week, Kris Murray (aka Persuadeo) stops by for a coaching demo that leaves host Zac Shaw floored with new poker strategy revelations. The two review a recent hand Shaw played street-by-street to ask and answer the question, “Why are you making decision X?” Buckle up for an extended episode and a fantastic ride-along with a top coach.
$1/$2 Resorts World Casino
$300 effective stacks, 7-handed
UTG+1 limps, Hero raises to $13 with A♠ K♥, BTN calls, UTG+1 calls
K♣ 8♥ J♦
UTG+1 checks, I bet $25, BTN calls, UTG+1 folds.
I check, BTN bets $25, I call.
I bet $75, BTN makes a crying call and shows A♥ 8♦ for two pair, Hero wins with top two pair – $289.
Zac: Kris Murray, welcome back to the podcast. So great to have you back. Can’t wait to talk to you all about poker. The last time you were here, it was under a different name, right?
Kris Murray: Right. I go by Persuadeo in the forums usually.
Zac: We were talking. I always have trouble reading and saying it the correct way. The Latin pronunciation is very unique, right?
Kris Murray: Well, it’s something like Persuadeo. I go by whatever people call me. It’s kind of funny. The reason I took it is because I had a misunderstanding when I was in Latin class of a persuadeo clause, and it just sounded really cool, and I asked about it. They said, “That’s not a thing.”
Zac: Then you started having people yell at you at the poker room, “Hey Persuadeo.” Right?
Kris Murray: Well, that started eventually. Just going by my name, Kris. Kris Murray’s my name and that’s fine. So yeah. Kris or Persuadeo or sir is always good too.
Zac: So think a lot of our listeners know you from the blog that you had talked about the last time you were here, and you are quite the talented writer of all topics around poker. You’re kind of doing a lot of things right now in poker. Maybe before we get into this discussion on strategy, I’m hoping you can help me with my game today and maybe our listeners can pick something out. I just want to catch up with you. What have you been up to? You were telling me you were at the Borgata doing some tournament reporting. Sounds like a lot of awesome stuff going on.
Kris Murray: Yeah. When I last spoke to you, I was very much focused on playing cash. Just some things happened in my life and I got serious into coaching. Now I find myself kind of all over the place. My time is basically divided playing, more online than in the past, still live, coaching, and doing the torunament reporting for the Borgata, which I really relish and enjoy.
Zac: That must be something to be in the center of all that poker. I mean just quickly, has that changed the way that you approach playing the game or coaching, just being around poker so much?
Kris Murray: Well, I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but I’m thinking of playing more tournaments.
Zac: That bug seems to bite almost every cash game player that I’ve talked to at least coming through the Red Chip community, really crushing the cash games, starting coaching, and then that tournament bug bites them. Is that inevitable for every poker player? What’s the psychology behind that?
Kris Murray: Well, there’s a lot going on there. First of all, your exposure in terms of your buy ins when you’re a recreational player or even low stakes semi-pro or pro is really low when you play a tournament. You get a lot of time at the table, and it’s fun. It’s exciting because every decision is for your tournament life or at least later in the tournament. I think there’s so much going on that it inevitably becomes something to do. Then on the more serious note, a lot of cash game players eventually find that in reality, they’re not going to be able to grind 30 hours or 40 hours or 50 hours a week. The lure of the big score of chasing the dragon, as I like to say, just becomes too much. We start looking for that giant windfall.
Zac: It’s kind of that, “Why not me?” I mean if you sit in a tournament room long enough, and you see the people who win and take first prize, you must have that happen all the time where you think to yourself, “My skill level is at or above that person. It’s just a good run between me and the big payday.” Right?
Kris Murray: In some respects, yes. I will tell you, some of the anecdotal evidence, the old rounder’s wisdom, is I do actually see the same people towards the ends of the tournament in the final tables. That’s true. There’s a lot of skill. When they talk about tournaments being soft, it’s because there’s a lot of dead money earlier in the tournament. But there’s also a great deal of luck. The skill level, especially at the mid level stakes, maybe around $500 and up to something like the start of the WPT buy ins at $3,500. Well, the guys who win those or go deep, when they bust out of the tournaments, I see them playing $1/$2. That tells you something.
Zac: Okay. That’s a read. You mentioned a lot of luck. One of the things that’s been going on in my poker game is I went on a big downswing and it just nicely coincided with CORE and building that, so I had time to take a short break from poker and also study it a lot more. I was really trying to tease out, well why did I go on that downswing? Was it just a bad run or was it playing poorly? I came away with … I might not ever, ever know because the sample size is too small and I don’t have every hand to study, but on the whole, I think I could be playing a whole lot better for sure. CORE kind of taught me that in essence. That was the mental lesson I got was I just can always be a better player, so that’s the mindset that I need to have.
I’m hoping we can talk about some areas of my game that I could work on from CORE and just give you … You were talking about you were going to ask me questions. Maybe I should get to this hand. What do you want to do? How would you coach me?
Kris Murray: I can always turn it around. If I don’t answers, I’ll just ask you questions.
Zac: If I’m a student just coming to you saying, “I need coaching,” how does that work?
Kris Murray: Well, I do coaching in my own fashion. That’s true. Every coach is different, I’m not unique in that sense. Where I would start if you were to become my student is we’d have a talk about what your game is, where you’re at, what your goals are. But the first real assignment that we do is we’d ask you to define some basic poker terminology. I would ask you what a bet is, what a bet is in relation to the board, and what the difference between a bet and a raise is. Since 90% of players get that wrong and they just think in terms of strength and weakness and representation when they actually do mean very specific things and they inform the actions that you’ll take and they inform line creation. Once you get that out of the way, you start to see your own strategy.
We go from that into working with what I call essential formations, which are the classic spots in Hold ‘Em and we learn to fight from every position. We don’t get into the stuff that CORE does until much later. I have a slightly different take on coaching and it’s focused more on strategy and understanding the philosophy of the game.
Zac: Well, that’s awesome because that’s what our listeners tune in for. I’m sure a lot of them are using CORE and appreciate that different perspective. One of the best parts about pro membership is that you get all the different coaches’ perspectives. Sometimes two different coaches will have different perspectives on the same thing. One of the things that really struck me was that idea of the definitions of what’s a raise versus an open raise versus a bet. That was something that I realized when I did CORE, that I really needed to brush up on. That I couldn’t define iso raise versus squeeze versus open raise. These are all very discreet things. It’s very important to get those right. Right?
Kris Murray: It is. One of my favorite poker authors, Andrew Seidman. He says in the introduction of his book Easy Game, that words matter. And they do because we don’t have these concepts. They end up meaning specific things and if you don’t get them right, if you’re just sort of glossing over what you’re doing and hoping that it works out, it means that you never really understood why you were doing it and you’re not going to understand the consequences of what you’re doing. I think that’s something we’ll talk about today when we get to this hand that you send me too.
Zac: Yeah. We’ll get to that in one second for sure because I just feel like I’m going to have a mind blowing session here. Really briefly, when we talk about … On one hand, it seems like semantics. How two people talk about the hand is it’s no big deal, but what I came to understand is that if you’re not using the correct terminology and you have even one concept out of place, poker’s the kind of game where just having that one concept out of place completely ruins your analysis of the whole hand.
It’s also conversely what I feel like a lot of players, it prevents them from going to the forum and sharing a hand or there’s an aspect of me sharing a hand with you, being completely nerveracking, especially knowing that thousands of people are going to hear me talk about a mistake I made. But it’s because of that fact. It’s so hard for me to say, “Well, okay, I’ve presented you with the hand and I’ve thought everything through. I just know that you’re going to point that one thing out that’s completely wrong and take the whole house of cards apart,” but I just got to get used to that, right?
Kris Murray: Well, yeah. I don’t mean to say you have to have an immense poker vocabulary to play well. If you understand the game intuitively and study the math, maybe you need no words. The point of the words is to help underscore important concepts. When you don’t know what they mean, then maybe you have a leak there.
Zac: Another thing in terms of definitions, and we’ll get into this with the hand, this hand is really about range for me. I’m really trying to work on my range abilities and putting people on hands because I realize that it was always an afterthought for me in the tricky hands that I played earlier. I’d spoken in earlier podcasts about how taking notes has really transformed things in terms of awareness, but in terms of analyzing my hands and figuring out, okay, I made a mistake there. That range work is incorrect. That’s what I’m struggling with and that’s why I chose this hand.
Kris Murray: Fair enough. Tell me about it. What’s going on here? What is this hand?
Zac: I’m coming back … It’s not like a major crazy hand or anything, but I had some questions. I was playing $1/$2 at Resorts World brand new casino opened here in New York. Nice place. $300 effective stacks, under the gun, plus one limps. He’s kind of like a fairly normal average 1-2 player. Hero, that’s me. I raised to $13 with ace king off suit and the button calls and under the gun, plus one calls. I don’t know if you do street by street or how you want to look at this.
Kris Murray: Well, I think we should start right there with what your intentions are and what the most important factors of the hand is. I would ask you to describe loosely, maybe you know it down to the combination, but what kinds of hands are you going to be isolating this open limp with? What do you think of this open limp? Why do you size to $13?
Zac: Okay. I think the open limp … Generally speaking, open limp is a bad thing unless there’s a specific table dynamic and this seemed weak. It just puts that person on a range of middle pocket pairs on down, suited connectors, probably not even suited connectors, maybe some big Broadway hands, but it kind of defines their range pretty well. I can raise here with a fairly wider range because their range is weak and I’m in fairly late position. The people though to my left were kind of more aggressive. I’m doing this with ace king, ace queen, ace probably down to ace jack, maybe even some ace suited hands, some higher suited connectors, some big Broadway hands.
I’m wondering if my raising range is too wide there. Split suit always chides me for being too tight. I don’t know. Just to finish the thought, the $13 raise, I mean typically raises at the table were $10 and I always like to try and be one of the largest raises at the table so my raises mean something until I notice players start to adjust to that and then I can play back against that. That was my pre-flop thinking.
Kris Murray: Okay. Remind me what position you’re in.
Zac: I am … Oh, that wasn’t in the text that I sent you. I was one off the button so the highjack.
Kris Murray: One off the button.
Kris Murray: Okay. I guess I’d start by asking you if you were right after the limper, what would you have isolated them with then? What would be the sizing then if you were under the gun too?
Zac: I would probably size up a few dollars and it would probably be a slightly stronger range or a much stronger range, depending on how far back I was.
Kris Murray: Right. Why would you do that?
Zac: Because there are more players in front of me. This wasn’t the kind of table where there’s anyone hyper aggressive and raising very light, but I would open myself up to being out of position and in a tough spot.
Kris Murray: Yeah. Fair enough. I guess what I’d like to point out there is every action is different and what is the difference between, say, this limp from the early position player and say, if he had limped from the high jack in front of you?
Zac: That’s a good question. I mean the limp in front of me almost makes their range much weaker because they’re … I don’t know. There’s this dynamic in $1/$2 where I feel like players are just trying to see a cheap flop so their range is almost hard to define. The only thing you can say about the range is that it’s not strong, but I’ve seen players show up here with pretty much anything. If someone is limping in late position, it’s usually because they think they can just get through. But that’s when you see the thinking players basically raising 100% of the time on the button or from the blinds.
Kris Murray: Sure. Okay. I think you’re on the right track here. I think what’s important to realize about the early position limp, is they aren’t incentivized to limp. There’s no reason for them to limp. They can simply fold and they won’t have to play out of position with this garbage hand that you’re proposing you might have. When someone limps from early, even in a $1/$2 game. I mean I really don’t care about what stakes you’re at because we’re all incentivized to do sort of the same things. We’re going to be raising aces for value, we’re going to be calling the speculative hands, et cetera.
This is a hand he wants to play for some reason, even though he’s going to be vastly out of position. When it comes back to you, one off the button, you have something of an interesting choice here. He wants to be able to see that flop or he wants to limp raise you, right? You have ace king, so you’re blocking the top of his limp raise range and in fact, what’s going to be important here is that you can call a three bet. When you raise with ace king, you’re not afraid of it. You’re not going to be denying yourself a flop. I doubt you’re ever going to get yourself into trouble. When someone limps, you’re playing into their strategy by allowing them to see that flop cheaply.
The first thing that I would want you to do here is to consider raising more for isolation. Even though we’re in later position, and you’re right that you should do it larger in early position, he has a strategy. You counter that strategy by punishing it and by charging it the most. There’s some other factors here. You mentioned that we’re $300 effective. If you go bet that bet at normal sizing against him, you’re not going to be able to get all the stacks in. You have a hand that will often want to get the stacks in or want to bet large as you have one of the best hands in Hold ‘Em. You can make a top pair, top kicker top two pair, et cetera.
So there’s a lot of reasons why you’d want to really think about where the limp comes from and what you want to do with your strategy because if you don’t have ace king here, say you want to just isolate him with queen 10, that $13 is going to be called by the button or the small blind or the big blind. And it’s going to be called by him. Even though you’re going to have position, that’s still going to give you trouble. All hands have equity and you’re just not going to be in as great a spot as you would be if you were to punish him a little bit more.
Zac: Wow. That’s great. I mean all sorts of light bulbs are going off. The thing that that makes me think of this I’ve been using the whole pain threshold idea and being so focused on the idea of trying to size my bets up to make them mean something that I didn’t really think about the flip side, which is that limper is somewhat inelastic on the other side of the pain threshold. They want that pain threshold to go up. They had their plan. They’re going to play that pot. That’s really powerful stuff.
Kris Murray: Yeah. He wants to see the flop so let’s get the value now. You’re going to miss a lot with ace king or you’re going to hit and he’s not going to give you any action. A lot of your value is going to be accumulated right there and then.
Zac: So I could raise to $15, even a little more than that?
Kris Murray: I mean I’m not going to make up a number. It’s going to be relative to the stacks, but if you make it closer to $17, $18, you’re going to find it easier to get the money in and then you’re going to really get that value including buying up any of the equity of the blinds behind you so that you can focus on him. If he hadn’t limped, now I wouldn’t raise so much because you would want to play with the blinds. That’s pretty much one of the goals of Hold ‘Em. It’s not that we want to steal the blinds. We want to force them to play out of position. But in this case, the under the gun limper has really set the stage for this hand. Does he get involved in it later? I don’t know. We’ll move on. I think we’ve talked enough about this.
Zac: No, this is fascinating. It just goes to show you to have someone who’s a great poker thinker like yourself who could talk about a single street for half an hour no problem. We will move on for our listeners’ sake, but that’s just gold right there. The flop comes down and I do hit that top pair, top kicker. It’s king, 8, jack, rainbow. So the under the gun plus one player checks, the pot’s now $39, about that. I didn’t factor in rake. I bet $25.
Kris Murray: Okay.
Zac: My thinking there was … This is where I start to have a big question mark because to me, even though I have top pair, top kicker, this looks like a dynamic flop. It looks like it can hit the other players pretty well. There’s this feeling like I have to proceed with a little bit of caution. I’m sizing the bet a little bit based on that but I’m also trying to size my seed bets closer to half pot versus two-thirds, which was my earlier default. I just feel like as my seed betting has gotten better, I made those seed bets a little smaller. So that’s a lot of thought right there just on that seed bet, but what are your thoughts?
Kris Murray: Well, I’d back up and ask why you bet first to make sure that’s understood and then I’d ask you, “Well, why one default and move to the other? What is the reason behind one half versus two-thirds?”
Zac: Okay. First of all, making that bet, I just felt again, like even though I had top pair top kicker the board was scary so I still needed to bet. That’s the thing. I guess I was on the fence. I was thinking to myself, “Well, I could bet or I could check because this is a scary flop and I could certainly check call down. I have showdown value. I have equity when a runner’s straight comes,” or something like that. I bet just kind of feeling like, well, that’s for value. I have the best hand right now and most likely. At worst, it’s somewhere in the middle. The sizing was mainly just because that’s what I absorbed from a lot of study was just that seed bets were typically being sized a little bit smaller because it would help to balance the times when we’re seed betting with less of a good hand.
Kris Murray: How would that help it balance, the times you’re betting with less of a good hand though?
Zac: Or maybe sort of … Disguise isn’t the right word either, but sort of say, “All right. Well, I have a value hand versus I have a hand that’s maybe a strong draw. Then if I size the bet small and I get called and I whiff on the draw, then I’m losing less money overall.” Whereas if I do have a strong hand and I get called, I’m betting on the turn. I’m not in the losing money position as often.
Kris Murray: Okay. So you’re reducing the amount of exposure and the amount of aggressive debt in money if you were going to fold. But the question is, what are you betting here besides ace king? Yes, you have an obvious bet. You made the right decision. In fact, one of the things about this flop is that you’re nearly beat by nothing. There’s not sets of kings really and you blocked them anyway. It’s unlikely that anyone has jacks. Remember you raised small, so you let a wider range than you would’ve let in had you made it $17 or $20. That’s the good thing about sizing down. You force players to play post flop with a wider range.
The only real hand that you should fear here is what?
Zac: I’m thinking … I mean maybe eights or maybe king jack.
Kris Murray: Right. We only have eights, which maybe they wouldn’t ever three bet. I certainly would three bet the eights there sometimes, especially in the right circumstance against the right players. If I’ve observed, you probably are fairly aggressive at this point and it might a good spot to raise. But king jack you also block and notice that it’s a rainbow board, so if the player’s only playing the suited combinations, and you have the king of hearts. There’s only two combinations of king jack. There’s actually maybe even more sets than king jacks. You’ve got the board crippled here, and you can get a lot of value.
That was a little bit of a distraction from what I was asking you about. When you bet smaller, yes, you are allowed to bet a wider range. You’re trending towards the merge pricing construction. You get to bet more hands. You’re also betting fewer bluffs because you’re going to get called more. When you were betting two-thirds, you were trending a little bit more polar if that’s even possible in the flop. It won’t really become apparent until later in the hand most likely. But you can have a lot of bets here. Because you crushed their range because you’re really afraid of only king jack, and a few sets of eights, I think your bet makes sense, and you’ll get to carry this hand to the next street very often and not be raised. That’s going to be good news for you.
Zac: Okay. The main thing I got out of that was I’m way focused on in exclusion, the other players’ ranges, and I really need to ask myself more often, what am I betting here with? I’m not thinking on that level. I think that’s a blind spot that is a huge leak probably because in other hands where I might not have flopped so favorably, I’m probably making some poor decisions.
Kris Murray: Yeah. So what are some hands that you would believe that? Let’s start with the value hands, which are easy, and then we’ll talk about some bluffs.
Zac: Yeah. When I’m the pre-flop raiser, then I have ace king, king jack is even in my range, king queen. I usually have a top pair, maybe two pair, and I could even have sets. So yeah. That’s why you’re saying I have the board crushed. From my perspective in an absolute sense, I mean I feel pretty good, but I also see the scariness of the board playing out to the turn and river, but what you’re saying is very well taken. That bet, I mean if I think about what I’m representing, I could have pretty much every strong hand on the board.
Kris Murray: Certainly. You have all them. They don’t have all of them. It’s worth thinking about. Not to get too sidetracked, but what the under the gun player might limp with. If he’s always opening eights, well then he’s raising here because remember, we’re two way here. We’re not in a heads up situation, which is so much easier to think about. Even though you’re beaten by just a few hands, both of them can reasonably have some of these hands. Unfortunately we can reduce eights and jacks and king jack, as they all seem like reasonable opens for this under the gun guy. Right?
Zac: Yeah. Yeah. I would imagine so. You’re right.
Kris Murray: All right. He’s probably likely to have missed here a lot. In fact, I would imagine the majority of range here that you’re facing is going to be second pair and third pair and actually a lot of ace high and the rest of it’s going to be a whole ton of draws, and not flush draws obviously, although there’s always back doors. But 10 nine, queen 10, and all of the gutters, especially if someone’s not opening or raising hands like ace 10 or ace queen. There’s just so many gutters that you certainly got to bet and protect your equity a little bit.
Zac: Okay. It gets a little trickier down the line, probably not for you, but for me. The turn where we got about $90 in the pot.
Kris Murray: Oh, let’s just back up though.
Kris Murray: Because we know you’ve got all that value.
Kris Murray: What are you going to bet into two players as a bluff here?
Zac: As a bluff? Okay. Well, it’s not any coincidence that it wasn’t in my thought process because I feel like that’s another weak area of my game is I often find myself bluffing when I haven’t really thought out my seed bet. In terms of bluffing with the seed bet, I don’t know, I would maybe ace 10, ace queen, queen 10, the stronger draws, and maybe even maybe queens.
Kris Murray: What are you going to do with your under pairs like sevens and sixes if you isolate with those?
Zac: If I isolate and they … I’m sorry. What do you mean?
Kris Murray: Let’s say you had sevens here.
Kris Murray: What do you do with sevens?
Zac: Sevens. Okay. I see where you’re coming at me from. Okay. I’m sorry. Maybe I’m just jumping the gun, but are you kind of making the case that because I can hold all of these awesome strong hands, that I really need to widen my bluffing range and bet with those sevens because I could be representing a huge universe of value?
Kris Murray: Well, that’s a combination, isn’t it? Because we’ve decided that they have a very weak range here. When they have a weak range, you’re going to be able to get more bluffs through cheaper. You’ve gone smaller. Remember you were two-thirds, which was going to allow you to get more seed bets through, but now you’ve gone smaller because you decided to become a more nuanced player. You want to get more value, you want to get those gutters to call one street, et cetera. But you have all these hands that actually miss. So you’ve got to think of some other hands besides queen 10, ace 10, ace queen, that simply bet and capitalize on the pot and take it down because there’s just so many ace highs and weak, weak hands. Like that under the gun limper probably has deuces, threes, fours, fives, sixes, sevens a lot of the time. If you can just get them to fold now or not give them a free card to drill that set on you, that’s valuable.
Yeah. Even though you’ve depressed the price, because you simply crippled this board, you should have more bets and you should have more bluffs.
Zac: All right. I could talk about the flop for another hour, but this is incredible. You’re blowing my mind as expected. See, our listeners, what coaching does. This is pretty incredible. We got two more streets. I know this is running a little long as episodes go, but I don’t think anyone’s complaining. Do you still have the time to go through the rest of the hand?
Kris Murray: Yes. Poker players are very lazy and the day has barely started. It’s not even noon yet, sir.
Zac: Just woke up a little while ago. We’re getting started.
Kris Murray: Yes, yes.
Zac: So I hit the turn with … Oh, I’m sorry. The button calls my $25 bet on the flop and the limper folds, so as you predicted. The turn brings the queen of spades, so completely uncoordinated in terms of suits but that straight card comes on board. Here I am now probably modifying my thinking and thinking that I’m too scared, but in the moment, I thought this was a very scary card because straights came in, two pairs came in, so I decided that I was going to pot control here and check. My opponent on the button, he says, “You didn’t just check there. That’s a mistake.” And he bet $25. That was just a very odd sized bet and an odd comment.
Kris Murray: What did he say?
Zac: He’s kind of one of these guys that likes to talk a lot. I checked and he just said, “Oh, no you didn’t. You didn’t just check there. That’s a mistake.” He tossed out a $25 chip.
Kris Murray: Okay.
Zac: This is into a $90 pot.
Kris Murray: Well, clearly we should just fold now. It’s a very intimidating speech play. Okay. The hand gets a little weird here and that’s okay because we get to deal with weirdness and that’s going to be interesting too. Well, here first off, your work with James is going to pay off. A lot of hands are going to fold on the flop. You’ve bet and the button still has to deal with the limper who was incentivized to check all of his range to you. When he calls, he’s going to throw away ace five suited and he’s not going to have a lot of pure floats here. He’s going to have at least the gutters and probably fold some of those and he’s going to continue with only pairs. When the queen comes after the limper folds, yeah, I have to agree with you that this is not the best card for you. You could certainly still consider betting it, but the question is, what would you get value from?
Zac: Right. If I bet it, I would get value only from a better hand most likely.
Kris Murray: Yeah. That’s an ironic kind of value. I think one of the primary targets here is king 10 that you could get value from, but that’s so few hands that I like your check here overall. Now we have to think about this play by the Villian. What do you think it means?
Zac: The speech play … I don’t really get into tells that much because I’m still struggling with my math and strategy, but it just seems to me that’s not something that you say with … I guess it kind of polarizes in the sense that it could either be like he’s got the nuts, and he’s just trying to bait me into a $25 call because he thinks I’m full of it and I got nothing. But what seemed more likely is that he was still drawing, or he maybe had the second best hand, and he thought that just the act of making a bet would be enough to get me off the hand. If we’re going to talk about table image and stuff like that, I feel like I come across as a very timid, tight, aggressive player. There’s probably a very good grain of truth to that. However, that’s kind of the image I projected, so I kind of expected that kind of a bet.
Kris Murray: Okay. Yeah. I think you expected that kind of a bet. Maybe not that sizing because it’s really not a very good sizing. The reason is the hands you have will almost always have to call. You’re going to be checking a lot of hands there and even if he expects you to fold, now you have to continue. You’re getting something like, what is it, five to one here? Or no, four to one, so you’re going to be calling so often that his bluffs won’t show much of a profit, and he’s going to be wanting to get value here, but why would he ever value so small? He’s not going to be able to get the money in at this pace. It’s a very unprofitable bet for him with anything, whether … It’s a misconstructed bet. He’s trying to represent very merged here, but it’s not going to accomplish too much for him.
The question is, even though we decided I can’t get much value except from king 10, when someone makes a really big mistake, say, like limping and then calling a huge isolation, which I recommended. What can we consider changing in our strategy?
Zac: I mean that was something I was thinking of is this is a huge mistake. One of the things I thought was now the board almost looks a little less scary because the bet screams I don’t have the nuts and I could actually represent a very strong hand on the river. I could almost already represent a stronger hand with that turn card being scary. With his small bet, that shows that he’s not strong and it shouldn’t be scary. Then there would be an opportunity on the river to possibly bluff given that he showed weakness with that tiny bet and the speech.
Kris Murray: Yeah. You’re right. If you raise him here, he’s going to be folding a lot, especially if you raise to nearly a pot sized bet. That generally doesn’t make a lot of sense. We know that his range is weak. He can be betting any of his pairs that are remaining. We know he’s not likely to have the nuts. We do block ace 10. We don’t really want him to fold, so even though it would be something of a theory mistake to raise here since we’re theoretically getting value from not much, he’s representing such a weak hand and is so likely to have a weak hand, we can now exploit his exploit.
We can consider raising. I don’t think you have to do it. We can consider raising and getting more money into the pot. I like that a lot because now we’re taking advantage of the situation and not letting him exercise control of the pot. We advance leverage so that we might even be able to get all the money in against some sort of weak hand that he just felt like he had to bet, especially if he raised small, just like $75. I just wanted to explore that a little bit and mention that because when someone makes an error, it’s the same thing as the pre-flop consideration, where we’re rewarding them by letting them have their price.
If I think back to when we last talked, I can remember playing at the Live at the Bike! game. You remember that?
Zac: Oh, I can never forget.
Kris Murray: One thing that Red Chip coach Christian Soto was doing, he came in and he was opening 10x and it was really funny because immediately, everyone started trying to open bigger. They tried to imitate him. Well, do you think that was a good strategic development for them?
Zac: No and I can see it so clearly now in your post and your explanation there.
Kris Murray: Right. They weren’t ready to exercise that strategy and you better believe that Christian Soto was ready to take advantage of that. If you’re not exercising your own strategy, you’re falling into someone else’s trap. Even so, even though it doesn’t make that much sense and you’re not going to get that much value out of this hand, well, you’re going to have a whole bunch of bluffs here when he bets $25. You recognize that this card was not good for you. You told me you were betting more hands. Now he bets $25 and when you raise him up, he might realize that he has made a critical error and that he has to continue lighter than he should.
Even though none of this is necessary, it’s just worth thinking about when you want to exploit other player’s mistakes.
Zac: I love that. It put an evil grin on my face over here and it got me thinking if I were to do that and make that raise. One, it’s playing into his psychology of like I’m the alpha male kind of a thing and I got to call to save face, but two, my question, I guess, would be does that set me up to then really have to barrel the river on almost any card?
Kris Murray: Not necessarily.
Kris Murray: Once you get out of a reasonable construction. You want to check, call a normal bet, right? Or have it go check, check, and play the river on this bad card? The wheels have come off the hand and you’re now in this dynamic area where you’re going to be evaluating all of his mistakes and seeing what you could do. You could raise and then check to call or check to fold. There’s a number of things that are going to happen. I’m not recommending checking or to fold, I’m just saying that once the hand falls apart and you make an exploitative play, you are in improvisation land and you can more likely punish him if you’re on top of it.
Zac: Gotcha. Wow. This is a confidence builder for sure and a mind opener. So then we get to the river and my original idea was I’m going for thin value here when the ace comes and I get two pair, but after our conversation, I think that that’s a bit of a misplaced idea. However, I’ll just go through the action. The river’s $139 in the pot. The ace of clubs comes and I bet $75, which is a little over half pot and the button makes a crying call.
Kris Murray: Right. So what’s striking about this action? What happened on the turn that makes this action kind of a surprise? It’s kind of actually one of the novelties of your hand here.
Zac: Well, when that ace comes, it brings the straight end down to the 10 if someone were to hold a 10, and it improves my hand to the best two pair. I kind of felt like I either have the best hand right now and I can certainly represent the straight and it’s down to this guy’s got to have the straight or I’m good. So I guess my feeling was, if I bet relatively small, he could call with worst two pairs with all the worst hands. If I get raised here he most likley has the straight. Like I’ll always be raised when he has me beat and I’ll be able to fold.
Kris Murray: Right. That’s all fair, but what I wanted to point out is that you suddenly took the betting lead away from him.
Zac: Ah. So you’re saying if I check then he’s always going to be in a position where he’s probably going to have to bet to win the hand and then I could raise Yeah.
Kris Murray: No, I don’t think he’s going to bet after you call on this card unless he hits. He’s going to bet all of the hands that came in where he had a 10, where you didn’t raise him appropriately against those weak hands that wanted to set a price for some stupid reason, even though he never should’ve made that bet. I’m pointing out that you really need to really think carefully about when you suddenly lead out on the river. It’s really problematic overall. You’re very unlikely to be bluffing for one thing. Now this hand is very complicated on the end because he’s going to be unlikely to be bluffing too. He’s going to fill in the straight there and it’s going to be very hard for you to call a large bet, especially if he’s bluffing at very small sizes. We don’t know everything about him.
Let’s say you decided to check and now he pots it. What are you going to do? What are you calling with? What’s your calling range there?
Zac: See, in that case, I felt like I wasn’t expecting a pot size but I was expecting that if I were to check and he were to bet, it would be a smaller bet and then I would be able to call it with a great hand, but I wouldn’t necessarily call that with, let’s say, queen eight or queen jack or a worse two pair. Yeah. I see what you’re saying. That really sets up kind of a precarious situation for me in terms of he’s going to fill in to the river. Because almost like the weak turn bet makes it seem like that ace is much more likely to help him fill in that straight than it is I just made a better hand than him.
Kris Murray: Yeah. It very well could. I mean we didn’t go through, I know we’re spending a lot of time on this, but we didn’t go through all the things he could have. A silly player who might make that bet, I mean he could’ve picked up a weird two pair like queen eight. You mentioned that he might have king eight on the flop. Well, if he has king eight, he has queen eight very likely. The problem is, he’s not going to bet very often unless he has a strong hand or just a complete air ball, trying to represent the 10, but it’s going to be a very large bet.
Actually what I’m saying is I like the fact that we have this complex situation and that you should have a leading range here, and you’ve made a good decision overall. It’s just that it’s a very messy spot because what are you getting value from? So you have to size it appropriately. You didn’t want to bet the straight for $75. If you have a strong hand, you need to get max value for it. So you’re going to probably end up having two sizes that make a lot of sense here, and they’ll be balanced differently, and you can look into how to do that. You’re just going to chop the pot when you have the straight, and he has the straight, of course, so it’s not going to matter. But all those goofy two pairs now might not call if you bet too big. So this weak leading range of maybe ace king, and some other ace two pairs makes a lot of sense.
I like how you decided to make this somewhat difficult change of the betting lead recognizing how he’s likely to behave and the fact that he’s not going to be betting all those weak two pairs, so good job.
Zac: Thanks, man. Wow. Way to end on a good job. All right. Well, it seems like CORE is doing pretty well, but I think the big thing I got out of this was there’s just no replacement for talking to great minds about poker, and I’m going to be doing a lot more of that hopefully with you and with all of our other great members of our community because wow. We have some really smart people in the community and I got to thank you for doing this. Now you offer coaching to students? Are you kind of open enrollment right now or is it just a private thing?
Kris Murray: Well, first of all, that was a little messy and I’m sure I’m going to take some heat for that. You know, you got to have some of these things on paper to really work them out. Hopefully that was helpful. How I do it is I have sort of a multilayered approach. I run groups. I have the Seidman Group, teach Easy Game, which I think is essentially for understanding exploitative poker. I run groups for construction. I will run one for bet sizing eventually. I’ve done them for textures and leverage and helped out my group of students that went to solve for y with sort of post training wrap ups. Yes, then I also do private coaching and the way that works is generally through the methodology that I mentioned earlier in the podcast and over Skype chat.
Then my students all participate in my central chat, which is called Poker League and they sort of help themselves out there. I keep former students in there, although I do try to keep the group a little bit small. Every now and then, someone has to get booted out. That’s more of a fun, casual chat. Then I have a student forum called The Back Room, where we get more serious. The idea is to have a record of knowledge so that we don’t lose things. So I take highlighted conversations and chats and post them in the forum called Key Discussions so you can read through transcripts of how I’ve worked with other students. So there’s a certain level of transparency.
What else do we do? We focus on the macro and the micro. I divide the forum into two levels. One is macro strategy where we talk about big concepts and then we have the micro strategy where we talk about just hands. Speaking of what you brought up earlier, yes, I’ve added a tournament section there and I clearly have no idea what I’m doing.
Zac: I know you’re going to get that score soon. If people heard this and love it, and I’m sure they did, where can they get in touch with you? How is best to reach you?
Kris Murray: Well, I’m easily contactable through Twitter, I think @out_of_position. Through my blog, which I’m sure is going to be at the bottom of the podcast, persuadeo.nl. And just through Red Chip. You can just private message me or I have a coaching thread that ChipXtractor started for me a while back. There’s endless ways of getting in touch.
Zac: Awesome. Well, Kris Murray, on behalf of our entire community, all our listeners, I want to thank you for spending this time with me working on my game. Hopefully it helped the people out there listening and I encourage them to get in touch with you. It sounds like you have an incredible poker learning complex of your own going on. I hope to have you back soon.
Kris Murray: Yes. I do have a poker learning complex. Thank you.
Zac: Thanks again, man.
Kris Murray: All right. I appreciate it, Zac. Good luck to you.