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Pushing Small Edges

I've been enjoying the "Make $200K/Year" thread, but wanted to ask a specific question based on something @thehammah
wrote in the thread:

"This is saying nothing about the hardest part of poker imho which is overcoming the fear of losing to actually win..

I think the vast majority of players have this fear and thats why they play a low volatility style. I used to drink this like coolaid. its just wrong.. sure you can eek out a small win rate doing that but to really be a crusher you have to use your post flop hand reading skills play looser in the right spots and push edges.. Full stop.."

I'm curious to understand what this means. I've been a rec player for over 10 years, play about one day a week, enjoy the competition and the money I make is spent on the family.

Since I cannot think of an example, I am obviously not push edges (at least not on purpose). I'd appreciate hearing from some folks who better understand this concept, especially if you could offer some examples.

Appreciate it.


  • pokertimepokertime Posts: 2,194Subscriber
    Probably going to have to read a lot of hands and responses in strat threads for a variety of examples. You’ll see people point out where a bet was missed and often it’s becuase the person was worried about putting more money for some reason. “Monsters under the bed “ is the common term for this thinking.

    The simplest example is not being afraid to bet fold which is a big part of what Bart teaches. So many people will check or check back a river and miss value because they don’t want to be raised or beat somehow. “There is enough in the pot so I check.” You hear it all the time. Obviously there are times where you don’t beat much and worse isn’t calling so a check is OK but so often you have the range advantage and should be trying to get one more bet out of a worse hand that will call you. If they raise and seem to have a real hand you can fold but the bet is usually right.

    Another example would be the new trend you see with people limp raising AA/KK PF. It’s a horrible strategy being done because these players have had AA/KK cracked a few times and they can’t handle it so they just want to win a small pot PF so they don’t have to lose post flop. You should be thrilled to open AA and triple barrel any reasonable runnout. If someone sucks out oh well.

    Hopfully that helps. GL!
    Thanked by 2CycleV PNW_Chris
  • squishmytomatosquishmytomato Posts: 352Subscriber, Professional
    imo, pushing small edges is taking tiny +EV spots in spite of possible increased volatility. in my experience a lot of these spots come from going to "battle" with pros or other good players.

    ex: 4 bet bluffing in a good spot, calling down a river overbet in a slightly marginal positive spot, check raising a river with blockers when you know an opponent is capped, etc.

    none of the fundamental basic things that make you a winner at poker - but the tiny little extra things that could boost you 1-2bb an hour over the longterm.
    Thanked by 1PNW_Chris
  • CycleVCycleV Posts: 1,198Subscriber
    Welcome aboard CA29.

    I am definitely the type of player Hammah referred to, and I'm learning through this site to grow out of it. Pokertime hit on it perfectly, it's the fear of either getting raised or of "value-owning" ourselves, meaning we bet too thin and we gt called by a better hand. For me, it comes from a perfectionist streak that hampers my ability to go for thin value.

    The absolute "don't leave home without it" skill you need is good starting hand selection, including not calling marginal hands after a raise. Once you have that down, it's pretty easy to eek out a 2-3BB/hr winrate in 1/3. But I'm sure we all want to do better than that. But to make an omelette you have to break some eggs. That's where pushing the thin edges comes in.

    Learning from CLP has helped, but also putting in volume, and building a bankroll so I don't sweat losing $200 in one hand as much any more. (But losing a grand, I'm not quite there yet.)
    Thanked by 1PNW_Chris
  • Jesse_The_SuitJesse_The_Suit Posts: 493Subscriber, Professional
    Yeah, another aspect of the thought process that a lot of rec players have is the I only have x invested. If you are facing a bet, or a raise of whatever, the only questions you could concern yourself with are equity against range and implied odds. A trivial example would be you are playing super deep against a guy who can't fold who makes an aggressive move (say an overbet) on the flop. If you have a big draw and know can win a big pot against a fish if you bink it, you should call. But a lot of recs aren't calling calling a 2x pot sized bet in a limped pot without a nutted hand. Because "I only had 3 dollars invested."
  • FuzzypupFuzzypup Posts: 2,581Subscriber
    Pushing small edges to me....
    #1 thin value betting an amount that you think your opponent will call. Some regs thin value bet tiny because they are scared they are beat, many don't do it at all.

    #2 bluffing at the right pots for the right reasons. One thing I disagree with CLP is that 1/2 and 2/5 are mostly value. I bluff at 1/2 and I bluff at 2/5. This doesn't mean I do it all the time. Some tables you get there is no bluffing and others you get you can. You can establish an image that says I always have it bitches and abuse the table. I use psychological warfare and timing. It is incredibly rare that a reg bluffs and if they do they screw it up so bad because they are running on emotion much of the time.

    3# 3 betting. While I am not a big fan of 3 betting myself because I think I can play many of my hands better post flop vs a bad opponent 3 betting is important for many reasons. Occasionally, even just once a session table permitting, toss in a 3b bluff somewhere in the right spot at the right time. 3b for position or value or both. Realize that the tight guy in MP raising that calls 3bs OOP has a much wider range vs your QQ OTB and you should 3b. The only think you lose is the possibility to set mine vs AA because they will 4b you and that's rare.

    There are of course ways to play a low variance game that still pushes edges if you have a small bank roll or your wife sucks up all your poker money. %(*&@#$&;@#$
    Thanked by 1PNW_Chris
  • Jesse_The_SuitJesse_The_Suit Posts: 493Subscriber, Professional
    Yes, I agree with Fuzzy that CLP's material (in part because of its heavy California base) de-emphasizes bluffing at low stakes. You got to pick your spots, but there are tones of people at 1/3 and 2/5 who make folding mistakes rather than calling mistakes.
    Thanked by 1PNW_Chris
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