Value Town and Anonymity


I like value town. In fact I like value town so much that I really enjoy taking people there with me so they can enjoy the wonders of value town too. What can I say? I’m a generous soul.

One site I currently play micro stakes no limit hold’em at is Bovada. For anyone who hasn’t played there AND somehow hasn’t heard of the Bovada player pool reputation, let me tell you something:

You’re going to be making a lot of trips to value town.

Another important thing to know about Bovada is that play is “anonymous.” When you sit down at a table, you won’t know anything about any of the players: not their screen name, not their stats, nothing.


You could have played with Player 1 a hundred times and not know it. See Player 3? He’s just check-raised the turn, but you have no idea if this is standard not. Player 5? We have a read on him from earlier in the session. Wait, shit, no, he has that little “plus” symbol next to his name, which means Player 5 got up. Well, that was old Player 5. New Player 5 we know nothing about. Goddammit.

Anonymity is pretty interesting, because while it takes away session-to-session “reads” in the form of stats, I think it gives us some advantages as thinking players. Let’s say that theoretically Villain gets X units of benefit from looking at a particular HUD stat, while Hero gets 2X (since we assume we can utilize our HUD more effectively). But now take away that HUD for both players, and say that Villain is now crippled in terms of reads. He doesn’t pay enough attention and doesn’t know how to capitalize on the actual actions he sees, and he gets X/10 units of benefit from his reading ability. Hero on the other hand isn’t hurt as badly by taking a HUD away, since we can make reads, perhaps take session-specific notes, and stay on our toes. Hero’s reading ability gives X/2 units of benefit.

Note that these are of course entirely made up units and there’s exaggeration at play here, but Hero goes from being twice as effective than Villain with a HUD to 5 times more effective than Villain without it. Paying attention is the key though, since we pick up stuff that villains won’t.

Plus we can actually exploit the fact that we KNOW no one will be using a HUD. Typically in poker we use some semblance of “balance.” Mind you, I’m not talking game theory optimal play here. (Perhaps a post on this later since almost no one in the poker community, including respected pros, seems to understand it.) I just mean, for example, that on the flop when we’re the preflop aggressor in position, we will bet in position with some combination of air, strong draws, and value hands, and check similarly. Same goes with bet-sizing decisions. We don’t take a unique action with each chunk of our range. At any micro stakes table you can play relatively unbalanced anyway. But when playing anonymous tables, we can be super unbalanced, because no one is paying enough attention to punish us for it. They barely know how to adjust when they have a HUD telling them that we’re stealing 70% of the time from the button, let alone when all they have are their own eyes.



Every once in a while I encounter a player who seems semi-competent (and by semi-competent I mean that I can’t just autopilot against them). This is pretty rare though, and even then it’s not like they’re “good.” Good players move up. (Except me, I’m the only one who runs bad enough to not move up obviously.)

At the end of the day, 5nl is just about value betting mercilessly – or as I like to think of it – generously taking people to value town.

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Poker, Poker, and some random things


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