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  • Marginal Made Hands

    In the past couple weeks I have been seeing alot of errors with marginal hands by members here at Pokercoaching.com that I wanted to address.

    For anyone who has done any of the home works knows that the method Jonathan teaches here is to categorize your hands into 1 of 4 category buckets:

    1) Premium made;
    2) Marginal made;
    3) Draws; and
    4) Junk.

    What are the hand types that go into the marginal made bucket:

    1) Top pair hands without a strong kicker. The strong kicker crossover is usually in the J/T/9 area, depending on the board and your range.
    2) 2nd pair hands fit into the marginal made category.
    3) Pocket pairs lower than the top card and higher than the bottom card fit into the marginal made category.
    4) Strong AX hands fit into the marginal made category. (These are stronger than hands like bottom pair due to the ability to also improve.)

    Now that we know what fits in, what do we do with these on the flop? A marginal made hand is in this category because in a small pot with little to no betting, these hands can win at showdown. Check/call with marginal made hands on the flop.

    Do not lead. Do not check raise. Do not bluff with a marginal made hand. If your hand fits into the marginal made bucket and the draw bucket, play the hand for its actual value now. Play it as a marginal made hand.

    An example is if you have Td9d on a Jh Tc 7d board. You have a marginal made hand. But you also have a gutshot and BDFD. Betting or raising with this hand is turning a marginal made hand into a bluff. Just check/call.

    On subsequent streets, more betting will change your marginal made hand bucket. With each successive bet your marginal hands in your bucket would reduce by about the value of MDF on each street. For example if you have 50 marginal made hands in your range on the flop and your opponent bets 1/2 pot and 1/2 pot on the turn and river. On the turn you would fold the bottom 16 worst hands in the marginal made category leaving your with 36 hands in that range going to the river. With the river bet, you would fold another 12 of them and call off with the top 24 hands in your marginal made hand bucket.

    If you want more information about marginal hands and what to do with them the following are resources here at Pokercoaching: Tournament Masterclass; Cash game Masterclass; and all of the home works.
    Last edited by jjpregler; 04-08-2021, 12:07 PM.

  • #2
    Alright, let me bite on this, because it's close enough to a point I've been thinking about anyway.

    I've played poker almost 30 years now. I have some decent intuition most of the time, but I do like JL's categories (though I've seen them more or less other places too).

    However, since I'm here to consider other ideas than what I think I already know, I do listen to various points of view and here is my question: how does varying your play based on hand strength square with playing a whole range the same way? We hear advice to do both from JL (and from other coaches). One minute they are saying "bet with your whole range here" and the next they are saying "you can't bet here with a marginal made hand." Obviously "it depends." The question is on what does it depend.

    I have got some things out of this site including: i am 3-betting more, selecting a 3-bet strategy that is linear or polar depending on the table, defending 3-bets less (i was doing it too much), stealing more from the button and SB, defending late steals more from the BB, and using a small bet size on the flop and turn more often. I also am more aware of when an opponent should be capped and what that means when a flop comes with high cards or medium cards. And a few other things, mainly including being aware of when other people are doing some of the things i already mentioned...

    But I really don't think I get the message sometimes when the advice is simultaneously "you have to play your whole range, not just your hand" and at the same time "here's how to play this kind of hand." I don't mean I'm unable to decide what to do, but rather it's unclear to me what I'm being advised to do, because it feels like both at once.

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    • #3
      Check/call is the general guideline when playing marginal made hands. There are always exceptions to the guidelines in poker. Some of the exceptions with marginal hands are:

      1) When you are heads up as the preflop raiser in position, and you flop a board where you have a strong range advantage, you should bet your entire range. (This is the main one when a coach would say to bet your range.)

      An example is you open from EP and the BB calls. The flop is KJ2r. BB checks. This is a flop you where you would want to c-bet your range. The BB has Kings and Jacks in their range, but you have a higher concentration in your range, since the BB also contains a ton of junk like 83s, T7o and a ton of other complete air balls. While the bottom of your range is generally offsuit Jacks and suited 9s.

      2) When you are playing against a calling station, you should bluff less, but you should also move some of the better marginal made hands into your value betting range. If your opponent is calling with bottom pair or under pairs to the board or other junk because they hate to fold, second pair good kicker is a value hand now.
      Last edited by jjpregler; 04-09-2021, 05:38 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by RCMorea View Post
        Alright, let me bite on this, because it's close enough to a point I've been thinking about anyway.

        I've played poker almost 30 years now. I have some decent intuition most of the time, but I do like JL's categories (though I've seen them more or less other places too).

        However, since I'm here to consider other ideas than what I think I already know, I do listen to various points of view and here is my question: how does varying your play based on hand strength square with playing a whole range the same way? We hear advice to do both from JL (and from other coaches). One minute they are saying "bet with your whole range here" and the next they are saying "you can't bet here with a marginal made hand." Obviously "it depends." The question is on what does it depend.

        I have got some things out of this site including: i am 3-betting more, selecting a 3-bet strategy that is linear or polar depending on the table, defending 3-bets less (i was doing it too much), stealing more from the button and SB, defending late steals more from the BB, and using a small bet size on the flop and turn more often. I also am more aware of when an opponent should be capped and what that means when a flop comes with high cards or medium cards. And a few other things, mainly including being aware of when other people are doing some of the things i already mentioned...

        But I really don't think I get the message sometimes when the advice is simultaneously "you have to play your whole range, not just your hand" and at the same time "here's how to play this kind of hand." I don't mean I'm unable to decide what to do, but rather it's unclear to me what I'm being advised to do, because it feels like both at once.
        You aren't varying your play based on the strength of your exact hand, your segmenting your range into multiple ranges. We often bet with our entire range when we have a strong range advantage, but what does this mean? It means the combined equity of all the hands in our range is much higher than the combined equity of the opponents range. Take it a step further, if you break out your range when you have a strong range advantage you'll see that a huge percentage of our hands are premium made hands, strong marginal hands, and strong draws. If you tried to break out the range into betting with premiums and draws and checking with marginal and junk, we would see there aren't enough draws to balance the premiums, and there are more than enough marginals to protect the junk, so we can just bet with everything, effectively turning all junk into bluffs and marginal hands into something between value and bluffs. With a strong range advantage if we look at the opponents range, we will also see that they have too much junk, they cannot defend at MDF to a small bet, so we bet small to make them over-fold.

        The categorization of hands and strategies we learn are just simplified implementable expressions of the underlying strategies, makes it easier to execute stuff that's a little more long winded. Think about the fact that there are spots where we have a large range advantage but don't bet range. Why? Because we increase our EV by betting large with a polarized range, and checking with a range that will be able to easily call down against Villain's betting range.

        You have to consider your whole range and your opponents whole range when determining how to segment your range into betting, checking, raising, folding, and then have to consider each exact hands merits relative to the board and opponents range to determine which part of your range it goes into.

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