Saturday, December 09, 2006

Check Your Filters Regularly

Cadmunkey’s comment on my last post sent me back to Poker Tracker to try to discover if, indeed, I was needlessly losing money from the blinds -- as I certainly felt as though I were doing during that brief session I had discussed there. I haven’t gotten nearly the use out of Poker Tracker I could, I know. But thanks to the Cadmeister I have now learned a little bit about how to use filters when viewing my stats.

Cadmunkey knows about this one, but for those who don’t, there’s a terrific post over on the 2+2 Forums from a frequent contributor named Pokey that explains how to use Poker Tracker to analyze a number of issues regarding your game (e.g., how well you’re playing pocket pairs, how well you do heads-up, how good is your preflop aggression, etc.). Pokey’s post was primarily written with full ring, NLH games in mind -- although he says later on in the thread that the advice is “table neutral” (meaning it can also mostly apply to shorthanded games). And in fact a lot of what he says appears to apply to interpreting limit game stats as well.

Pokey includes the following instruction about how to judge your efforts “defending the blinds”:
Click on “Turn Filter Off,” and then click on “Filters...” again. Under “Blind Status” click on “Either Blind.” Now under “Vol. Put $ In Pot” click on “Put Money In.” This shows you if you're bleeding money out of the blinds. A “BB/Hand” of about -0.375 would indicate that you were no better off putting money into the pot than if you had folded. If your “BB/Hand” is larger than that, then you typically win back some of your blind money when you put money into the pot from the blinds. That’s all you can really hope for.
It took me a moment to figure out where Pokey comes up with the “-0.375 BB/hand” figure as a guideline here -- and why he uses that as number against which to compare how you’d have done if you’d simply folded every blind hand. An uncomplicated problem, really, except for slow-witted types like myself. If you were to fold every small blind hand, you’d lose 0.25 BB every time. (Remember, “BB” here means “big bet” -- not “big blind.”) If you were to fold every big blind hand, you’d lose 0.5 BB each time. Pokey is simply referring here to the average loss per hand -- 0.375 BB -- if you made it a habit of folding every blind hand.

Pokey goes on to talk about how to judge that specific situation where you’re defending against a steal attempt, but let’s stop here and see how I’m doing in hands where I’ve voluntarily put money in from the blinds.

I mentioned a few posts back that while I’ve played over 80,000 hands of $0.50/$1.00 6-max limit hold ’em this year, I lost a healthy chunk of data back in early summer thanks to a computer meltdown. I still have 41,447 hands of 6-max LHE to examine, though (these include just under a thousand hands of $1/$2 hands, also). Following Pokey’s directions regarding using the filters, here’s what I’ve found . . . .

Overall, I’m making money when I voluntarily put money in the pot (VP$IP) from the blinds. I’ve done it 6,092 times (out of 15,984 total SB and BB hands), and in those hands I’m making 0.8 BB/hand. From the small blind in particular, I’m making 0.09 BB/hand; from the BB, I’m making 0.7 BB/hand. Those are hands where I’m voluntarily putting money in, of course. Overall, I’m a loser from both blinds (like everyone is, I imagine), dropping an average of 0.10 BB/hand from all of my blind hands.

According to what Pokey is saying, then, I’m doing considerably better here than I would be if I were simply folding every blind hand -- indeed, over 1 BB/hand! Perhaps my selection criteria for entering hands from the blinds hasn’t been so bad after all. I suspect there may well be a big difference here between short-handed and full-table games -- one is more likely to be in a heads-up situation (and thus have a better chance of success) when playing a blind hand in the 6-max game, so perhaps one should be making more on average in those hands than the full-table player makes.

For funsies I looked at how I’ve been playing the dreaded “Brunson” hand I complained about last post. I was surprised, actually, by what I found. I’ve been dealt ten-deuce suited a total of 19 times in the small blind (out of 4,241 total small blind hands). Out of those 19 times, I’ve VP$IP on 14 occasions, and have lost 0.13 BB/hand when I did. I’ve been dealt the unsuited version of the dreaded Brunson a total of 62 times in the small blind, and I went ahead and chucked money in the pot to play it 19 times. In fact, I’ve been a winner overall in these hands -- making 0.16 BB/hand. This figure is skewed a bit, though, as most of the money was won on a single hand versus a particularly donkified opponent (who called me down on a ten-high board with nada). Overall I’ve lost exactly 20 cents in the 24 hands I’ve voluntarily played the Brunson out of the small blind.

Incidentally, when not in the blinds, I’ve been dealt 10-2 suited 89 times, and only VP$IP twice! (I won a couple of bucks total doing so.) When not in the blinds, I’ve been dealt 10-2 unsuited 224 times . . . and never VP$IP even once! All told, I’ve been dealt ten-deuce 482 times (in 41,447 hands), or about once every 86 hands -- a tiny bit less than one would statistically expect.

Okay, then . . . going back to Pokey’s post, here’s what he says to do to check how well you’re defending your blinds against steal attempts:
If you click on “Filters...” again and go under “Steal Attempted Against Your Blind” and click on “Steal Attempted.” After you click “OK” you'll now see how you did when you chose to defend against a blind steal. Again, the magic number is for your “BB/Hand” to be bigger than -0.375; that means you're making back some of your blinds when you try to defend against a steal. If either of these numbers is lower than -0.375, you’d lose less money by always folding rather than doing what you're doing.
Looking at only those hands where a steal has been attempted against my blinds (2,435 hands in all), my BB/hand is -0.25 BB/hand. So, according to Pokey, I’m doing okay here as well -- at least better than I would be if I were folding to every steal attempt.

So I suppose Texas Dolly’s hand hasn’t been such a burden for me after all. Nor have I been unnecessarily bleeding from the blinds, as far as I can tell. Read Pokey’s post and go check your own filters. How are you doing defending your blinds?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shall never question your play again!
Poker Tracker is an absolute gold mine of useful information and its nice to see that you can comfirm your play from the blinds is pretty much spot on. I'd bet a small fortune on the fact that many people waste a ton of cash unnecessarily defending their blinds.
Nice going, keep up the good work ;-)

12/09/2006 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for the link. I have been looking for somrthing like this since I bought pokertracker in February.

Good luck my friend :-)

12/09/2006 3:14 PM  
Blogger Kent Sabo said...

I just got PokerOffice a couple days ago and found to my horror that I was losing wads of money in my blinds while profitable in every other position. After I calmed down a bit I realized that losing money in the blinds is probably inevitable but then asked, "how much does a "tight-agressive" player lose (or win). I looked for a post in 2+2 to answer my question for 2 days and finally resorted to Google. Great post, exactly what I was looking for.

12/13/2006 10:07 PM  

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