‘Poker’s 1%’ by Ed Miller | Podcast #232

I review the GTO related book, ‘Poker’s 1%’ by Ed Miller.  I don’t necessarily recommend the book to my audience, but there are plenty of good strategy takeaways I got from it.

In case you missed episode 231, I reviewed ‘Exploitative Play in LIVE Poker’ by Alex Fitzgerald.

Get Poker’s 1%.

Poker’s 1% Review (2:45)

This book was written in 2014, which is probably before GTO ideas really took off.

In the introduction to the book, he makes a promise that he’s going to show you how to do this work that he speaks about, and I’m happy to report, he does. Throughout the book he tells and shows you how he does the work for himself. And, in one of the final chapters he gives an 8-step process for doing the frequency work he discusses

The Frequency Game

This is a game of frequencies.

“Get your frequencies close to right, and you can play 48 tables like a robot and print.”

KEY IDEA: Find situations where opponents will fold too frequently then bet.

Most players fold too frequently on the turn and river. This is a logical spot to attack. We need to learn to identify the spots and how to attack them properly.

He says that basic math dictates these 2 rules that hold true in most situations:

  1. If your opponent bets or raises, you should usually call.
  2. If you bet one street and your opponent calls, you should usually bed again on the next card.

Build Your Pyramids from the Ground Up

In the book, he says that “usually” is “roughly 70% of the time”. If somebody bets into you, you can call or raise, but altogether that continuation frequency is 70%.

If that sounds like a lot to you, then we’re on the same wavelength. As soon as I read that, it felt so wrong. If my gut is telling me it’s wrong, I have to trust it. I’d like to think that all of my poker study and play have developed good numerical intuition.

Here’s an email from a listener named Chris Baltzer:

I heard you are working on reviewing Poker 1% for next week. I just completed a 11 Part Series on Red Chip Poker by James Sweeney covering it in detail.

Another video released after the series is titled Questioning Pokers 1%. In the Video Doug Hull (Who worked extensively with Ed Miller on the book) talks about how when Pokers 1% came out modern solvers were not readily available and therefor the theories laid out in the book couldn’t be thoroughly analyzed.

He goes on to run several scenarios which were laid out in the book that are not the most profitable. I’m sure your familiar with the “70% Model” the book outlines. But according to the solver this number was off by 20-40% in many scenarios.

This is pretty interesting and it’s good to hear this confirmation on what my gut told me was incorrect. I’m not going to strive for 70% continuance like Ed Miller discusses in the book.



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Frequency Pyramids

The pyramid below shows a player who folds too much of their preflop range on the flop (easy to bluff on the flop):

I like the frequency pyramid as an easy to understand visual representations of a player’s continuation frequency, and I like how he includes lots oddly shaped pyramids that visually demonstrate “bad” frequencies. The idea is that you do not want to have any pyramids with jagged edges (above). Your frequency pyramid should have smooth sides that show you don’t fold, call or bet too frequently on a given street. If you’re doing something too often, that’s where opponents can attack you.

If your preflop ranges are too large, “This is an unfixable problem. Fundamentally, you have too much junk in your pyramid. The junk has to go somewhere, and wherever you put it, it hurts you.” A player like this beats himself if you simply follow your rules.

I like his idea of drawing frequency pyramids for your opponents. This will help you visualize where they bet or raise too often or not frequently enough (Study with Purpose below).

Putting These Ideas Into Practice

“If your frequencies are close to correct, then when your opponents play with incorrect frequencies they will effectively beat themselves against your proper actions.”

He says that once you understand this and implement it, you can just play your hand and ignore what your opponent may have. It’s a “set it and forget it” strategy.

I DO NOT like this idea at all. Telling you that you can play great poker without thinking and without hand reading and without understanding the other players is kind of like telling you there’s a magic pill that will buff up your muscles and reduce any excess fat without any work from you.

Magic pills like this are just a bunch of bull.

In this same chapter he thinks that HUD use is overrated. I take a completely opposite stance. Using a HUD lets you see where your opponent’s frequencies are incorrect and allows you to take advantage of that. You can draw your opponent’s frequency pyramids much easier with a HUD and a database of their hands to draw from.

Is it our job to make their plays unprofitable?

He seems to think that it’s our job to make it so their bluffs are not automatically profitable. I’ve got to once again disagree with that. I think it’s our job to make the most +EV decision at any one time. I don’t think it’s +EV to prevent a player from making easy and successful bluffs. What’s most +EV is to fold hands that aren’t worth continuing with (an most of the time it won’t be at a 70% continuance frequency). Save your chips for more +EV situations later on.

Good Events, Bad Events, and Non-events

This whole chapter is basically, “you should follow the frequencies unless something bad happens.”

He’s using “bad events” to allow you to not follow the frequencies. So this tells me that there are so many “what if’s” and “but’s” to this frequency based strategy that I don’t know how useful it really is.

Recommendation

I don’t recommend this book to most of my audience. If you’ve been listening to me for a while, you know I’m all about exploiting opponents and factoring your opponents into your decisions. I’ve never been a proponent of GTO play, and that’s what this book is all about.

Some of the strategies he recommends are good, like exploiting your opponent’s misuse of frequencies. The general rule of barreling because opponents fold too often is a good idea. It’s also generally good to call especially against players who can barrel bluff frequently. But there’s no way I would recommend the 70% continuation rule that this book outlines.

Splitsuit made a full course based on this book: The One Percent

My Favorite Quote (11:15)

“You train your brain in practice, and then in the heat of the moment it gives you instant feedback. The more you train, the more sharply accurate the message from your brain.”

I love this. Hand reading and frequency work are very difficult to do in the heat of the moment, so off-the-felt work is necessary to develop an intuitive feel for how to approach differing situations.

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My 3 Favorite Strategies and Action Steps (15:25)

1. Study with Purpose: “What’s your plan with that hand?” (15:25)

This is a great question Ed Miller asked and it spurred me to create this first task:

In your next study session, filter in your database for hands that you limped with. Review each of these hands and ask yourself the question, “What’s my plan with that hand?” Try to answer it as logically as you can. If you don’t have a good answer for it, maybe something like “I don’t know, I just want to get lucky on the flop”, then that is probably a hand you should strike from your preflop VPIP’ing range (along with limping into pots).

In the study session following this one, filter in your database for hands where you called a preflop raise. Ask yourself that same question and if you can’t answer it logically, consider striking that hand as well from your preflop calling range.

Finally, in your 3rd study session, filter for open-raising hands. Ask and answer the question, “What’s my plan with that hand?” If no good answer comes, maybe you shouldn’t have opened with it.

You’ve got to realize why you’re playing certain hands. The more frivolous or “hopeful” your reason, the less reason to play the hand.

If you’re entering because of the hand’s value or the opponents are easy to exploit or everyone is folding to your steal, great! But, if you’re entering just to strike it big with a flush, straight or a set, then you likely shouldn’t play the hand.

2. Study with Purpose: Draw your tough opponent’s calling frequency pyramid and betting frequency pyramid (17:00)

Pictures often tell us more than #’s or words do. So, I like this pyramid drawing exercise to help you understand where your opponent’s frequencies are messed up, which should help you exploit them better.

You know many LAG and TAG players that give you a hard time at the tables. Think about their style of play if you are a LIVE player and try to draw their frequency pyramids for both betting and calling.

And if you are an online player, pull up their stats in your database and utilize those to draw their pyramids.

Where do they have obvious frequency issues? How can you exploit them?

Draw the pyramid in your poker journal and list out your exploits so you can use it the next time you play a session with this player.

3. Play with Purpose: Exploit your opponent’s frequency issues (18:00)

This task goes right along with the prior pyramid drawing task #2 above:

The next time you face one of the opponents you drew pyramids for, look for every opportunity to exploit their frequency issues. You should’ve written down at least 2 different things that you can do against them.

Now, pay attention to the action and if you enter a pot with them, look at your list of exploits and figure out which ones you could potentially use right now.

Also, try to put yourself into situations where you can use the exploits you came up with.

Tag and review each hand where you try to exploit your opponent’s frequencies.

Challenge (18:40)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Choose one of the 3 action steps I gave you today and take action with it. If you find it helpful to your game and you’re looking for GTO strategies, pickup Ed Miller’s book, Poker’s 1%.

Now it’s your turn to pull the trigger and do something positive for your poker game.

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