domingo, 22 de julho de 2012


PPP is set to launch on the app store, but I already have a working prototype in my hands, so here it is.

sexta-feira, 20 de julho de 2012

Two to one in the big blind - easy decision with PPP

You hold T2o in the big blind with 3.2 BB left after posting. Antes are already in play, so the starting pot for this 8-man table is 2.3 BB. You came to the table ten hands ago, right after being crippled on your last table when a pair of Eights became a set against your Jacks.

You were kind of dizzy from that, but even so managed to observe your new opponents, and one of them, in first position for the current hand, counts his chips to play for the first time since you arrived. He happens to have only 15 BB and be the second shortest stack. He cuts 3 BB, hesitates, and finally shoves all-in. The other six players fold, and it´s your turn to decide what to do with your T2o. Call or fold?

"Guys, you don't mind if I check my phone mid-hand, right? Mom's in the hospital."

You may have already heard that generally 2-to-1 pot odds is hard to turn down preflop. I consider this to be good advice, but there are exceptions where you need greater pot odds to call correctly, and in these cases if you call getting only 2 to 1, then there´s no other way to put it - you´ve made a mistake.

No, you didn´t play like an idiot, you´re not the worst player ever, and your mistake is not obvious to everyone else. But still, technically, using Sklansky´s definition, you´ve made a mistake. That is, you´ve made a play you wouldn´t have made if you could see the hole cards and had time to do all the math. You have basically reduced your expectation relative to your other choice of play. You know that thing you're always trying to get your opponents to do?Yeah, that's the one.

All right. So first, we see that the starting pot was 2.3 BB and the villain shoved for 15 BB but, since you´re shorter, his effective push from your point of view is just 4.2 BB (exactly enough to put you all-in). Out of those, 1 BB is already paid in the form of posting the big blind, and you need to call an extra 3.2 BB in order to have a chance to win the current effective pot of 6.5 BB. Those are pot odds of 2.03 to 1. The 2-to-1 rule is generally useful because, getting 2 to 1, you only need to win 33% of the time, and most hands will beat most ranges more frequently than that. So it´s a good rule to remember, but it doesn´t give you mathematical certainty for all situations.

By typing T2o in PPP (available here)  and looking at the "with antes" screen, we must select one of 6 ranges to describe our opponent´s hand. If he were on the button, or very active, or shorter, then we could estimate his range to be "aggressive" or "psycho," but with the information we have, my guess is his range is either precisely our "ultratight" option, or pretty close. So curb your anger at having lost almost all your chips and the urge to just double up or go home early to watch the game, because you have a chance to win money right now. It may seem like your tournament is already over and that the critical hand happened a half-hour ago, but the truth is, right now, you have two options with very different expectations. This, right here, is the decisive moment of your tournament - not that the previous one wasn´t too, but you can only make decisions from the present forward, so stay focused.

As we´ve seen, the best guess of the villain´s range is ultratight, and looking at the PPP results screen we see that, against that range, your T2o needs at least 4.08 to 1 pot odds!! That´s because you will only beat this range once in 5.08 times, or about 19.7% of the time (hence much worse than those 33%). Out of the resulting 9.7 BB pot after you call, you will walk out with only 1.91 BB on average, whereas you retain 3.2 BB by folding. In fact, with PPP in hand, folding is so obviously superior that calling only becomes profitable if your opponent is playing more than half of all hold´em hands (against the psycho range you can pay as much as 3.7 BB), which is completely absurd here.

Note that, in this kind of example played during a tournament, a mistake made even with only 3.2 BB can be very costly. If you were playing a cash game with a big blind of one dollar, then you would really only lose $1.29 by calling. It´s not wise to throw money away, but the truth is that money would probably not be missed. In a tournament, however, everything depends on structure. Even in a typical 22-dollar buy-in tournament on PokerStars with thousands of players, if you´re already in the money with your lowly 3.2 BB, your stack represents an average expected payout in cash - which, depending on the stage and size of the tourney, may be 30, 50, 100, 500, a thousand dollars. In the extreme case of being at a final table, your little 1.29 BB mistake may cost you a very relevant chunk of your cash expectation. In a WSOP event, that could easily cost you thousands of dollars. So yeah, improving your supershort stack play is a legitimate goal, and I have yet to find a better tool for that than Perfect Preflop Play.


quinta-feira, 19 de julho de 2012

PPP launching soon on iPhone and iPod Touch

Since you are way more likely to use Facebook than Blogger, for now please go to our Facebook page, where you can read and talk about Perfect Preflop Play. Like our page to be reminded when you can find it on the app store! For our Portuguese language page, click here. You can also subscribe to our blog via RSS feed or email over there on the right - so yeah, no excuse. 

How it works

Pick your language, and then either read the lessons - which focus on the concepts relevant to playing hold'em accurately preflop - or go to war!

Type in your hand, which takes one second,

and you land on the spreadsheet for a game with antes,

where you immediately get the pot odds necessary to call an all-in bet against all six relevant hand ranges, translated into a maximum number of big blinds for whatever position you may be in. Just estimate which range best describes your opponent's play in this situation, and make your move knowing exactly what is profitable and unprofitable against each degree of aggressiveness. You also find a Q-scale score and class for the hand, which help you decide what to do when it's your turn to shove or fold with it. And we even show you a hand of similar strength (there being one) to make your decision easier, since you should usually treat both the same way in a push/fold situation.

Oh, and that's not nearly all! If your game has no antes, just tap the right-hand side of the spreadsheet to land instantly on the "no antes" spreadsheet and get the right numbers for your current situation. The whole process is so fast it's ridiculous. Tap the second spreadsheet and you're back to hand selection to make money off of someone else.

Also, if you're playing a session of nothing but heads-up poker - or if you've gotten heads-up at the end of a tournament, - then, make no mistake about it, all the info you need is on the normal "no antes" spreadsheet (you don't need to switch modes between a hand on a full-ring table and another on a heads-up table), but it also shows you a lot of numbers you won't need. In that case you may want to go back and choose heads-up mode, which shows you just one results screen for each hand - nothing more and nothing less than you need.

But maybe you're not sure you've got it all down pat. So, instead of going to war right away, step back and read the lessons included in the app for free. All of the concepts relevant to preflop play are explained there very clearly - and you may be surprised that you might not even know for sure why you play poker, or what it means to make a good decision! But after you experience PPP, you are going to walk out not as just a good PPP user, but as someone who thinks with much greater clarity about the game of no-limit hold'em - even when you don't have your phone on you.

Remember to like our Facebook page to get reminded when we launch, among other things.

Using PPP during a tournament

Just a small sample of how Perfect Preflop Play helps you make good decisions and play confidently. Never again will you be in the dark as to how to handle each opponent type in preflop sit-and-go and MTT situations. Stop basing your play on vague notions, and start dealing with your opponents as actual, concrete levels of aggression, knowing instantly what pot odds you need against each one, and what push sizes you can call profitably. You are missing out on hundreds of profitable hands every day!

Now for sale on Apple's app store.

How to recover the cost of PPP in one hand

Perfect Preflop Play is going to be used more frequently by MTT and SNG players, who are faced all the time with situations where they must decide whether they call, say, an 8 BB all-in bet with K2o in the big blind. In this type of situation the app is incredibly useful, as it immediately tells you the number of big blinds you can call against each type of opponent. Effectively, in these cases PPP counts the pot for you, sparing you the work.

But the column showing the minimum pot odds necessary can be used to show you the correct decisions in raising war situations, even though in these cases it is you who must count the pot. The clearest way to show you how PPP may earn you more than 8 dollars in a single hand is through such a war during a cash game hand.

You hold a pair of Deuces in a game played with no antes, and you have $300 on the button. Both you and the big blind are pretty aggressive players. You´ve had a good session so far, and you feel confident to run another big play, thinking your opponents may expect you to play cautiously to conserve your $200 profit in this $0.50-$1 game. You bet $3, the small blind folds, but the big blind decides he won´t let you bully him and re-raises to a total 9 BB. He started the hand with 72 BB after posting, so the effective stacks for this hand are 73 BB. The re-raise doesn´t necessarily mean much, because you have seen him do it several times, and you even recall him having 76s once. You believe you have fold equity if you raise again, and that´s what you do, bringing the total bet to 23 BB. The pot is now 32.5 BB, and the villain escalates the war by moving all-in. What to do?

First of all, let´s see what we´re playing for. To call your 4-bet, the villain would have had to call 14 BB, which would bring the pot to 46.5 BB. What he did was, beyond calling, to raise his last 50 BB on top of your bet. 50 BB is what you must call if you want to have a chance to win the pot that is currently 96.5 BB. That spells pot odds of 1.93 to 1.

Second, let´s note that this is the first time you see your oponente 5-bet preflop, so he does not seem to be a complete maniac, the kind that would do this with 73o only because he believes he may catch you on a bluff, with complete disregard for the mathematical factors that would make that play horrible. The “all hands” range is definitely out and, frankly, so is the “psycho” one (64% of hands, including crap like T2s). It seems very safe to say our opponent is playing less than 50% of all poker hands – agreed?

Your intuition tells you his range is probably around the “semiloose” – in fact, the very character of this range seems to describe your foe: definitely active for the situation, challenging what he perceives as an active player, but not completely inconsequent. However, you think it´s possible this may be just an impression. Maybe, despite being capable of 3-betting light, he is much more cautious facing a 4-bet. You are in doubt, thinking maybe you´re overestimating the villain´s aggressiveness. What now?

My advice for this type of case is: if you think you have a reasonable idea what your adversary´s range is, but you´re also afraid you may be wrong because you haven´t seen them in many similar spots, then work with the range that´s immediately more narrow. If calling is profitable even against the more narrow range, then chances are you should call.

And that is exactly the case here. Getting 1.93 to 1, the call against the “semiloose” range is obviously very good, because you need no more than 1.31 to 1. But even versus the “tight” range you need no more than 1.5 to 1. Everything points to the call being correct. You call, bringing the pot to $146.50, and he shows you KQo.
Turns out you were necessarily right, for it´s impossible for the villain to have been playing the “ultratight” range (which does not contain the class-B hand that is KQo) or tighter. The most narrow range he could have been playing is the “tight” range or similar, and it´s even possible your guess of “semiloose” was spot on – although PPP gave you the confidence of knowing that your hand was enough even against the “tight” range.

So let´s do some conservative math to find out how much you gained by calling the last bet instead of folding your lowly pair:
Deuces have 40.1% equity against the “tight” range. This means that, out of the final pot of $146.50, you will walk away with an average $58.75, which, added to the $227 you had behind after calling the last bet, result in an expectation of ending the hand with a $285.75 stack. On the other hand, we already know that your expectation (or rather, your certainty) as you fold your hand after the 5-bet is to remain with $277. The call that PPP convinced you to make with 22 versus the “tight” range is worth $8.75 more than folding.
And there it is – PPP is paid for.


Introducing Perfect Preflop Play

Do you know in which situation you should call a 13 BB all-in bet by an opponent when you hold K2o? Hint: the answer is not always, nor is it never, and it’s almost impossible to be mathematically sure about this type of play. Or rather, it used to be.

Perfect Preflop Play is an app created to enable its user to take advantage of hidden preflop opportunities in order to improve their expectation in tournaments and cash games. It’s not about trying to cheat. PPP organizes the relevant information between your hand, your position, and your opponent’s range in a whole new way, accessible for consultation and application in real time while you play online, in just three taps of your iPhone or iPod Touch.

PPP is an advanced poker learning tool that is going to make you a better player, and one much more knowledgeable regarding the (frequently not obvious) relations that math imposes on the elements of the game. But we don’t leave you in the dark. We know the beginner is probably not yet at a level where they ask some of the questions answered by the app. That is why PPP includes a book (available in English and Portuguese in the same version) that explains in detail the importance of the mathematical concepts that matter to the game, and will sharpen your focus so that you can use the app in all of its potential. Read carefully, get used to how PPP works, and you are not only going to win (more) money, but you will know exactly where it comes from.

Perfect Preflop Play is not a scam and it’s not magic. It came from an instructor’s need to teach poker quickly to a student. The app compiles all of the knowledge acquired in that process and presents it so as to free the user from doing math and let them focus on observing opponents’ tendencies. Make no mistake about it. PPP does not substitute your intelligence in deciphering your foes, nor do we want to form players who are unable to play without checking it. On the contrary, PPP is a learning tool, and once you get used to how it works, you are going to see the game in a much clearer, more organized way, and you are going to be a more competent player the next time you find yourself without it.

Follow us here to be reminded the day PPP launches.