Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

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txevans
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Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby txevans » Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:59 am

Ok...so I was watching Phil Helmuth against Chris Ferguson on the Poker After Dark the other day. In the heads up match...or even before whenever Helmuth was up against someone heads up....he always checks dark preflop. What is up with that strategy? Does it actually give you an advantage postflop by making the other person act first and you act last? No...because if they check...you don't even get to act. Does it make them think you are really strong? Is it meant for confusion? How can you play optimum poker using a strategy that is based on cards that are coming out after you act???

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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby mauihaole » Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:37 pm

IMO its meant for confusion because his checks do not mean "I'm checking because I have nothing" as most people do. So therefore he gets to see how his opponent acts because he has to give any information on the strength of his hand. So while you're correct that he still doesn't get to act last literally, in a sense he does because he gets to act after getting information on his opponent's actions.

As a caution, I wouldn't try to imitate Hellmuth's style of play as its extremely read-dependent

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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby cokeboy99 » Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:57 pm

Hellmuth's style on Day 2 of this year's Main Event was especially interesting....calling a raise with 4-8o, only to flop a straight. He played a lot of other crap hands too, and chased a flush on at least one occasion, altho it was with an open-ended straight flush draw, but it was also for all of his chips. Very different style for Hellmuth this year, and he seemed at least a little more subdued than usual also.
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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby Grange95 » Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:41 pm

Checking dark is an utterly stupid move, even for a pro like Hellmuth. Checking dark accomplishes nothing that a regular check can't accomplish, but you give up your right to bet out when you flop a hand like a set or two pair on a draw heavy board. The other player who bets first after the dark check is not giving up any information he wouldn't have given up after a regular check. I suppose if a player feels he will give up information by looking at the flop before checking, then that player mght gain a marginal benefit from checking dark and not looking at the board ... but that player still has to look at the board eventually, and if they can't disguise their reaction to the board, they will be eaten alive dark-check or not.
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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby mauihaole » Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:44 pm

A big reason I think Hellmuth does it is his style of play. His game involves tons of passiveness and check-calling, so because of that he is never leading out with his hands anyway, therefore he checks dark to try to confuse his opponent...granted against his opponents on PAD I don't think he'll confuse anyone, but because of his style of play he's not losing anything by checking dark.

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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby beaverdance » Sun Sep 27, 2009 3:03 pm

Grange95 wrote:Checking dark is an utterly stupid move, even for a pro like Hellmuth. Checking dark accomplishes nothing that a regular check can't accomplish, but you give up your right to bet out when you flop a hand like a set or two pair on a draw heavy board. The other player who bets first after the dark check is not giving up any information he wouldn't have given up after a regular check. I suppose if a player feels he will give up information by looking at the flop before checking, then that player mght gain a marginal benefit from checking dark and not looking at the board ... but that player still has to look at the board eventually, and if they can't disguise their reaction to the board, they will be eaten alive dark-check or not.


But isn't that essantially the same as resolving to check the flop regardless, but looking at your hand? In other words, if you've already decided to do that, why look at your hand (before your opponent acts) and risk giving away some information by your reaction?

I think Hellmuth is simply taking to an extreme the philosophy that says that the person first to act after the flop will rarely want to bet in any case. I don't much disagree, as if I do bet the flop, my opponent's call (or his raise, for that matter) doesn't give me much information; I may get more information by checking to him and seeing what he does. In effect, the dark-check reverses the roles of position (not completely, I realize, of course).

Also, I believe he only checks dark postflop after a limp-tap-the-table preflop. If he is leaking any EV by doing this, it isn't much.

I see this as an adjunct to the play-suited-connectors-preflop school of thought. You give up EV by playing them at all, but hope to recoup because of ambush value. Likewise, Hellmuth is gunning for the trap situation when his opponent flops strong, but he's made something like nines and threes.

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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby Grange95 » Sun Sep 27, 2009 3:23 pm

beaverdance wrote:But isn't that essantially the same as resolving to check the flop regardless, but looking at your hand? In other words, if you've already decided to do that, why look at your hand (before your opponent acts) and risk giving away some information by your reaction?

I think Hellmuth is simply taking to an extreme the philosophy that says that the person first to act after the flop will rarely want to bet in any case. I don't much disagree, as if I do bet the flop, my opponent's call (or his raise, for that matter) doesn't give me much information; I may get more information by checking to him and seeing what he does. In effect, the dark-check reverses the roles of position (not completely, I realize, of course).


If a player truly has decided not to bet the flop no matter what it is, there is still no need to check dark; the player can simply not look at the flop. But that player has still given up the advantage of being able to lead out with a bet when the flop is such that they should bet it. And if a player is going to give away information about their hand by reacting to the flop, they are still going to react when they finally get around to looking at the board (and they won't be playing poker for long if they have that much trouble controlling their reactions).

Also, "checking dark" doesn't "reverse the role of position", even partially. A check, whether dark or regular, still concedes first crack at the pot to the opponent. The fact the check was "dark" is (or should be) irrelevant to the opponent; what possible difference does it make to his decision to bet or check behind?
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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby TheJacob » Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:18 pm

I'm gonna let the cat out of the bag:

Hellmuth's fundamentals are terrible and I have no idea how he wins.

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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby redright88 » Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:44 pm

Grange95 wrote: Also, "checking dark" doesn't "reverse the role of position", even partially. A check, whether dark or regular, still concedes first crack at the pot to the opponent. The fact the check was "dark" is (or should be) irrelevant to the opponent; what possible difference does it make to his decision to bet or check behind?


Grange, please go find the highest rooftops with the best acoustics and most powerful voice-magnifying equipment that you can get your hands on and shout this from that spot until you're hoarse. Checking dark is a generally bad move. I really don't think that it should even be in the repertoire of most small and mid-stakes players.

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txevans
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Re: Check dark/preflop/turn strategy

Postby txevans » Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:08 pm

Ok...COOL....I get it on the preflop check dark. Very interesting input. Now...what about this....Say the flop is out and you checked it and then your opponent checked behind you. BEFORE the turn card comes out...YOU make a Pot sized bet. How would that be as a play?

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