Poker scenarios what to do

For a great example about how to effectively use the scenario feature, please read the blog article: Did I play my hand right?

The 'what-if' scenario feature allows you to construct game situations, vary multiple parameters, now including also Ante, and then view PokerSnowie's evaluation. It is also possible to copy any situation from your hand history with the button 'Copy scenario' and by altering parameters you can view a detailed analysis of the ensuing scenarios. This functionality can be used for all parts of gameplay, from preflop to the river.

The scenario manager enables you to construct the entire framework of a hand from the very beginning, and then view PokerSnowie's evaluation. To do so, you simply edit any of the available parameters (e.g. the number of players at the table, the table size, your position, hole cards, board cards, chip stacks etc.) and then enter any move to simulate the situation ('scenario') you would like to evaluate.

It is possible to edit hole cards and board cards and then check how the PokerSnowie evaluation would change. However once you have input the moves, you cannot go back and change them, or edit the starting stacks, as this would alter the entire hand and the evaluations. If you do wish to alter the moves, the 'Copy scenario' function allows you to duplicate the hand framework and then change the scenario freely.

For every scenario evaluation the displayed output includes the evaluation and the hand strength, as well as the Ranges and the Preflop Table.

When Should You Fold Aces in Poker?

It's really easy to play the best hand. The difference between how much the best and worst players in the world make with the nuts is almost negligible.

The real difference between the best players and everyone else is their ability to lose the least - by knowing when to fold losing hands. Regardless of how long waited for a decent starting hand, you have to muck it as soon as you know you're beat.

A "Must Fold" Hand in Poker

You're playing a six-max 50?/$1 No Limit Hold'em game online. The players on the table are aggressive and somewhat loose, but there are no real aggro donkeys to be found.

You've been absolutely card dead for the last 30 minutes without being dealt a single hand worth playing until:

50?/$1 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players (Hero is always you)

UTG: $75
MP: $40
Hero(CO): $122
BTN: $198
SB: $132
BB: $40

Pre Flop: (Pot: $1.50) Hero is CO with J J

UTG raises to $5, MP folds, Hero re-raises to $20, BTN re-raises all in $198, 2 folds, UTG calls $70, Hero.

Unless you skipped the title and introduction to this article, you know the correct answer to this question is fold. In fact, it's a very easy fold to make. But it's a common scenario for beginners to lose their stack in.

The easiest way to understand this hand is to break it down, one action at a time:

UTG raises to $5. This is a slightly big raise for a $1 big blind (online) game, but that alone doesn't really tell you much.

Raising under the gun at a six-max table implies that he actually has a decent hand. At this point, without any more information, we can put him on a range that includes all pocket pairs, all suited aces, all suited connectors

and face cards.

You're ahead of a lot of that range with jacks, so you re-raise. You bump it to $20 (4x the previous bet. Again, some would say it's slightly large, but it's totally reasonable).

Now the button moves all in. This move should scare you, as he's pushing after a raise and a re-raise.

He's saying he has a huge hand, and "by the book" play would dictate this player has AA or KK here. But we have to take into account that we're playing six-max and he might be making a squeeze play.

Although it's very possible he has AA or KK, it's also possible he's on a pure bluff, trying to squeeze for the pot.

That's when UTG calls the all in. At this point there are only two options:

UTG has AA or KK, or UTG believes the button is making a play. Either way, for you to call and be ahead, the button has to be making a play and UTG has to be assuming that and calling with a hand less than JJ.

Although it's technically possible, it's highly unlikely you're ahead here. Chances are you're behind AA or KK, maybe even both of them.

If you're lucky you're up against TT and AK, but even with those hands you're still only 43% against the field. This is a must fold.

When Should You Fold Aces?

Next scenario: You've managed to make the previous fold, and over the last hour you've gone on a really good run and built up your stack.

A new player to the table also sat down and went on a sick run, leaving you both very deep stacked. This new player seems very tight, only showing down very strong hands.

50?/$1 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players (Hero is always you)

UTG: $545
Hero(MP): $525
CO: $122
BTN: $198
SB: $132
BB: $40

Pre Flop: (Pot: $1.50) Hero is MP with A A

UTG raises to $5, Hero re-raises to $20, 4 folds, UTG re-raises to $75, Hero calls

Flop: (Pot: $151.50) 9 Q K

UTG checks, Hero bets $140, UTG raises all-in to $350, Hero.

Let's look at what just happened here. UTG raised, which typically translates into him having a legitimate premium hand.

We three-bet 4x his original raise right behind him. After the rest of the table folds, UTG four-bets to $75.

At this point, you can be almost certain your opponent has a premium hand - probably KK or QQ - although it's not impossible he's running a huge, dumb bluff.

Either way, just calling here is your best option. Moving all in now will only cause a bluff to fold, while just calling might induce your opponent to continue his bluff on the flop.

If he does have KK or QQ, chances are the money's going all-in on the flop anyways. Shipping it here doesn't really help you against a good hand, but it hurts you against a bluff.

Regardless of whether you agree with just calling here, in this scenario that's what you do and you head to the flop, which comes 9 Q K . This is possibly the worst flop we could have seen. Let's look at the range of our opponent:

  • KK
  • QQ
  • AK
  • JJ
  • Bluff
  • TJ
  • TT
  • 99
  • AA

These are the only reasonable options, listed in descending order from the most probable to the least. After this flop, you're drawing to two outs against the two most probable, two outs against pocket nines and you're drawing nearly dead to TJ.

Dump the Aces and Move On

With only six outs against you, you're in decent shape against JJ and TT. You chop with AA and you're only a huge favorite against a bluff or AK.

This is a horrible flop for you. Your opponent checks, probably meaning he has the set and is check-raising or he was bluffing and has given up.

You bet close to the pot and he raises all in. At this point there's really nothing you can beat. You're most likely crushed.

There's a slim chance he's running a huge bluff, but it's very unlikely since almost all of the range he can put you on will call here. The only other option you can beat is if he's greatly overplaying a six outer or AK.

Odds are you're screwed. Not many players will try to run a bluff this in-depth against the only other player deep enough to (nearly) felt them.

Why The Very Best Poker Players Make Decisions At Random (Mixed Strategy)

The many randomized elements of poker are a big part of what makes the game so strategically complex.

We can never know with 100% certainty what cards our opponents have, nor what cards are going to be dealt on the flop, turn and river. So why on earth would anyone want to add more randomized elements to the game?

Believe it or not, the best poker players in the world make some decisions at randomalmost like rolling dice to see how many squares you get to move in Monopoly.

Before going into howand whythey do it, I need to explain frequency-based decision-making.

Optimal frequencies (usually) require a mixed strategy

When constructing an optimal poker strategy, we strive to make each decision at a certain frequency (e.g. you must call with at least 33% of the hands in your range when youre getting 2-to-1 pot odds).

In certain scenarios, it is optimal to choose different actions with the exact same hand at differing frequencies.

Why would we want to do this?

Imagine that you are playing against two opponents, Player A and Player B , in a three-handed cash game.

Player A always makes the same decision with all combinations of a specific hand. By contrast, Player B uses a mixed strategy , where she will sometimes mix up her decisions with different combinations of the same hand at certain frequencies.

Players that employ an effective mixed strategy are tough to beat because we can t make as many definitive assumptions about their ranges.

For instance, you open from the button and Player A is in the big blind with A Q . AQo is far strong enough to 3-bet for value against a button open, so Player A will always 3-bet it.

Player B would approach the spot differently. She will still try to extract value with AQo a large majority of the timesay 85%but will also call the raise at some frequencythe remaining 15%.

We can completely eliminate AQo from Player A s range whenever he calls our open. This information allows us to put more pressure on him when the flop is something like A-Q-2 or K-J-T. Player B s mixed strategy helps protect her range on such boards.

(Note: Learn and master the methods behind world class poker players successes in The Lab, an extensive poker training course that is updated every month. Click here or below to learn more!)

With frequency-based decision-making covered, let s get onto the randomization talk.

We as humans have biases that make us unable to accurately execute frequency-based decisions as intended. You can randomly think of a number from 1 to 5, but your choice wont be truly random. It will be based on a countless number of unconscious psychological variables.

If you want to 3-bet your AQo combos from the big blind 85% of the time, you will need to use a tool or technique in order to ensure accuracy.

This is where random number generatorsor RNGsand other makeshift randomization techniques come into play.

Using a random number generator

A simple way to accurately execute frequency-based decisions is by using a random number generator. If you type rng into Google, there s actually an embedded one that comes up in the search which is really fast to use:

Just set the range to be between 1 and 100, and use the output to determine which action you should make depending upon your pre-determined frequencies.

For instance, say you want to 3-bet your AJo combos 33% of the time and call 67% in a certain scenario. You can execute your mixed strategy accurately if you 3-bet when the number is between 1 and 33, and call when the number is between 34 to 100.

If you re after an embedded RNG inside your poker client, there s software available such as StarsHelper ( where this is possible.

Upswing coach and GTO boss Fried Meulders makes use of an embedded RNG like this to help implement a balanced mixed strategy:

What if I can t access a random number generator?

If you cant use an RNG like when playing live you can use a makeshift randomization technique, which is far better than trying to estimate yourself.

The easiest one requires a clock, ideally on your wrist or the wall so you dont have to look at your phone.

Lets say you decide you want to call 50% of the time and fold 50% of the time in a spot. You can call when the minutes number is even and fold when its odd.

For smaller frequencieslike 33%/67%you can split your clock into thirds, with :00-:19 meaning one action and :20-:59 meaning the other.

(The seconds hand on an analog watch or clock is ideal for this.)

When should I use a mixed strategy?

The advantage of using a mixed strategy is that it helps keep you balanced and difficult to exploit, but this is not always necessary. Sometimes it is better to deviate from frequency-based decision-making.

For example, from a theoretical standpoint it might be optimal to flat a late position open with AA at some frequency (let s say 3% of the time). If you are at a 9-handed live game with a ton of limping and calling, however, it will be more profitable to go for value with a 3-bet 100% of the time.

A player who misses value with AA because the clock read between 2:00 and 2:02 is being penny wise and pound foolish.

That said, splitting your combos based upon frequencies is worth mixing in when you re up against strong opponents.

Here are some examples of situations where you can justifiably get the RNG out:

  • Marginal open-raising spots

When you have a close decision regarding whether or not you should open-raise a certain hand pre-flop, using an RNG is a good way to make sure that you don t lean too much in one direction.

There was a good example of this in one of Fried s Play Explain videos in The Upswing Lab. (If youre a member and want to hear Frieds explanation for yourself, it s at 41:25 of the June 16 th video here.)

Playing 6-max at the 500NL Zoom tables on PokerStars, his UTG RFI range includes opening 76s at 50% frequency, meaning that he ll open-raise this hand when the RNG reads between 51 and 100.

  • 3-bet spots

You ll often run into pre-flop situations where both 3-betting or calling is profitable with your specific hand.

However, if you find yourself always 3-betting or always calling in such spots, your frequencies may get thrown out of whack. Check out the following BB vs CO RFI range from The Upswing Lab, for example:

BB continue range vs CO RFI recommended by The Upswing Lab

You ll notice that hands like AJo and KQo fall into the 3-bet or call category. There are 12 possible combos for each off-suit hand, so it would be easy to accidentally 3-bet too often if you decide to 3-bet vs a CO open with every combo of AJo and KQo.

Deciding on frequencies based upon the bet sizing you face/the sizing you use is a good way to prevent over-3-betting. Once you ve decided on your frequencies, you can use the RNG or your own makeshift method to keep these in check and prevent your 3-bet stats from getting too out of line.

  • Bluffing spots

There will be times where you might want to take an aggressive bluffing line with certain hands a fraction of the time.

Let s say we have 5 5 on 9 3 2 4 K and are considering a raise versus a river bet as a bluff with our blockers to the nuts.

Assume our range contains 7 combos of value hands given the action (hypothetically 3 combos of 9-9 and 4 combos of 65s). We want to have a value to bluff ratio of around 2:1.

If we were to raise all 6 combos of 5-5 here, our value to bluff ratio would be 3.5:3 and we will find ourselves over-bluffing from a theoretical standpoint.

In comes the RNG. If we decide to raise when we have 5-5 only 50% of the timefolding the restwe can balance our value to bluff ratio to a less exploitable 3.5:1.5.

I hope this article helped you understand why randomization techniques can be useful when implementing an optimal and balanced strategy.

Let me know in the comments below if you ve got any other randomization techniques that you use instead of a RNG. We need to help out the minority of non-clock owners here!

(Note: If you re serious about improving your cash game and tournament skills, check out The Upswing Lab. Click here to learn more about this poker training course developed by Doug Polk Ryan Fee.)

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