The Problem with SPRs

MoscowRadio

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There are a couple of things that I consider to be critical flaws in the use of SPRs. I've been going over the Ed Miller's section on commitment and SPRs in Professional No-Limit Hold 'Em: Vol. I and I feel like some of the examples he gives would offer great insight to your opponents. In one section he gives the following example:

"Here's a common difficult situation: You have
:kh::kd: in MP in a 10-handed $2-$5 game that is fairly loose, especially preflop. Everyone has $500 (100 BB). It's folded to you. You make a standard raise to three times the big blind, $15. The button and the big blind call. The pot is $47. The flop is :th::7c::5s:, making you an overpair. When you flop top pair or an overpair after raising preflop, you usually make about a pot-sized bet. So, you bet $45. The button calls, and the big blind folds. The pot is $137. You have $450 left. The turn is the :qh:. What should you do?

You may not realize it, but you've put yourself in a difficult situation. Over 10% of the smaller stack has gone in, so it's time to make a final commitment plan. Are you committed? Let's start with REM. The button plays loosely when he has position, so his range is wide. However, if he gets all-in, you expect him to have a better hand than kings. So going all-in has a negative expectation, and you don't want to commit. You have a decent made hand and aren't committed. Pot control suggests keeping the pot small unless you have a good reason to do otherwise.

The turn is the
:qh:. You decide you don't have a reason to override pot control, so you check. Unfortunately, the button bets $125. What should you do? It's a tough decision. You can fold, but you'll likely be folding the best hand, and your opponent will learn he can steal pots from you. You can raise, but then you may well get all-in. You can call, but you'll have to put a third of your stack in when you aren't committed. If your opponent subsequently bets the river, you'll likely have to fold, which suggests you made a mistake earlier in the hand. What if you instead bet the turn? That might stop your opponent from making a bet that forces you to fold. But if he raises, or if he calls and then bets the river, you still have to fold. Once you get to the turn, none of your options work well. You have two major problems:


  1. You likely have the best hand, but you aren't committed.
  2. The remaining stack sizes aren't large enough for you to call a bet on the turn and then see what happens on the turn.

Could you have done something different?"

What Miller suggests is increasing the preflop bet size from $15 to $30. Supposing that both players called, this creates an SPR of 5.1 instead of 10.3. According to Miller, this puts enough money in the pot that you are now committed with your :kh::kd: on a board of :th::7c::5s::qh:. Here's where my criticisms come into play.

Firstly, if you're raising six time the big blind whenever you have a hand like KK, it's obviously going to let your opponents range you more easily.
Secondly, supposing your opponent flopped a set of 7's, you've just committed more money to a hand that's essentially drawing dead.

Obviously your opponent holding a set is unlikely, but by taking Miller's suggested route, you've committed yourself to losing a bigger pot.

What considerations should I be taking or what should I be looking at differently here?
 

Ben

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Pot control suggests keeping the pot small unless you have a good reason to do otherwise.

The turn is the
:qh:. You decide you don't have a reason to override pot control, so you check. Unfortunately, the button bets $125. What should you do? It's a tough decision.

Every part of ^^this makes me cringe. Horrible, horrible reasoning. Don't check here. If you do, it should be for specific metagame considerations against a well-known and/or spazzy villain, and you're never folding to a turn bet. Bet $80 and fold to a raise unless you have specific info that villain may be spazzing - but that will be rare, most of the time you will induce a call or fold from a worse hand.
 

MoscowRadio

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Every part of ^^this makes me cringe. Horrible, horrible reasoning. Don't check here. If you do, it should be for specific metagame considerations against a well-known and/or spazzy villain, and you're never folding to a turn bet. Bet $80 and fold to a raise unless you have specific info that villain may be spazzing - but that will be rare, most of the time you will induce a call or fold from a worse hand.

That's a lot of what I'm curious about. Miller's examples, especially this one, seem to be off base. Miller is essentially alluding to the fact that Villain has exactly QT here. I'm never checking here, and by using the same example for the 3xBB as the 6xBB raise, you would just be committing money to a losing hand. My biggest criticism of Miller's reasoning is raising more with big hands. It just seems to give too much information to the table.
 

mipevi

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The concept of SPR is great when applied correctly. Check-folding KK in the example above is taking it too far. And as for raising 3x or 6x pre, against thinking opponents your actual hand strength shouldn't really affect how much you raise. For me SPR is most useful on the flop, when deciding what general line I'm going to take that hand.
 

MoscowRadio

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Maybe I'm just hung up on the wrong things here. Clearly the example I gave is not the best, and I fully understand the potential benefits of hitting target SPRs and the idea of commitment to a hand. The most relevant part of the example is that with a hand like KK you'll often flop an overpair, so I see why you would want to make postflop play as easy as possible for you. I just think that Miller's example of effective stacks being 100BB went too far and the players were too deep for this type of analysis. However, I could also be wrong about that.
 

grandgnu

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Flop is T-high, you bet and get called. You check the Q turn and get bet into. That doesn't mean your KK is beat. Button plays loose, button has position. Button could be stealing, or could believe that AT or AQ is the nuts here and is betting for value.

Agreed that not betting the turn is bad, sounds like monsters under the bed syndrome to me.
 

MoscowRadio

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I appreciate the feedback so far, but what I'm really looking for is for people to chime in and give me some insight as to whether or not making a bigger raise with bigger hands like KK is something you should be doing to tailor your needs post-flop as outlined by Miller in the example from his book in the OP.
 

mipevi

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If you can get away with it, then yes! But like I said, against thinking players you won't.
 

grandgnu

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I appreciate the feedback so far, but what I'm really looking for is for people to chime in and give me some insight as to whether or not making a bigger raise with bigger hands like KK is something you should be doing to tailor your needs post-flop as outlined by Miller in the example from his book in the OP.

I think you need to be consistent (even if that means varying your raise sizes, then you need to do it consistently between big and weaker holdings). Anything else and you risk giving away information and making it easier for an opponent to play against you because they can polarize your range.
 

Chicken Rob

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The idea is not necessarily to make bigger raises with bigger hands, it's to make more favorable SPRs with bigger hands. If everyone were deeper, then you would not be in the awkward zone, and not making as big a preflop raise.

Also, what kind of cash game are you playing in where $30 pre-flop raise raises an eyebrow in a 2/5 game? I see 5x-7.5x raises all the time in a cash game, and never see 3x.
 
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He's right that you'd prefer to raise bigger pre-flop with monsters and you're right that doing so leaks information. By far the easiest solution is to raise the same amount regardless of your hand which is what I (mostly) do. I do vary my PFR amount considerably based on position, table dynamics and SPR though. Opening in MP, 100BB deep at a station-y table, 3x seems too small to me; 5-8x seems better.

Point 2 doesn't make sense to me. If you have Ks and villain has 7s, you want as much money as possible in the middle before the flop hits. Sure he out flops you 10% of the time but the other 90% far outweighs this.
 

MoscowRadio

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Firstly, I'm not playing this $2-$5 game. This is an excerpt directly from Miller's book.

Secondly, I understand the idea of wanting to get all the money in with KK vs. 77 preflop. The example Miller gives alludes to the fact that your kings are beat here.

Only the questions are mine. The rest is directly from the book.
 

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Players often aren't that observant. Hero can tinker with his bet sizing to a large extent and no one with notice (or if they do notice, don't get enough showdown data to act on their observation.) The core advice is sound - adjust your preflop plan to accommodate SPR considerations when you can. The examples are not always realistic for the games we really play, but they do illustrate the point.

The reverse is at least as important - stay out of low SPR situations with speculative hands by folding preflop. Really! This is often the biggest leak in people's preflop game.

The goal is to make hero think about the whole hand before putting in the first chip. -=- DrStrange
 

bergs

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He says "You can raise, but then you may well get all-in."

OK, fine. Let's do that. Jam. I see this all the time at 2/5. Perfectly good play and it gets a fair number of dumb calls with AQ and other single pair hands. What's the problem with just jamming here? It seems the Miller is concerned about "getting all-in" without a good reason. Almost like he wants to be mathematically pot committed and not do things like consider game flow or make lollivereads.
 

Chicken Rob

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He says "You can raise, but then you may well get all-in."

OK, fine. Let's do that. Jam. I see this all the time at 2/5. Perfectly good play and it gets a fair number of dumb calls with AQ and other single pair hands. What's the problem with just jamming here? It seems the Miller is concerned about "getting all-in" without a good reason. Almost like he wants to be mathematically pot committed and not do things like consider game flow or make lollivereads.


If the pot is too small, there are fewer hands that stack off to us than hands that we stack off to. If the pot is larger, due to bigger preflop raise, a lot more one pair hands are calling here. At least that is his point.
 

Schmendr1ck

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The goal is to make hero think about the whole hand before putting in the first chip.

This is something that I've worked hard on in the last 18 months or so, and my game has improved markedly for it (along with my winrate). I don't use SPR at the table as much as I probably should, but I do think about effective stacks of those already in and those yet to act when making a preflop decision, and I think about how far I'm willing to go in the hand in different situations.

I agree with Doc that this is one of the goals of SPR - to get the player to think about how they are going to play the hand and when they will be pot committed before they actually get to that point.
 

MoscowRadio

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I had a nice Sunday to myself today, so I reread the whole book. I absolutely agree with the good doctor, and I'm really glad he chimed in. It's all about different parts of one big puzzle. Knowing effective stacks is a integral part to knowing where your commitment threshold is, and if you can manipulate the pot preflop to hit your target SPR, then you can play your hand much more easily postflop. I was too centered on one idea, but didn't take the rest of the information into consideration. These actions are not independent from each other but should all be used in conjunction to decide how many chips (if any) you should be willing to put in. Thank you all for helping me to find what I was looking for.
 
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