I had a sort of epiphany, or at least an "aha! moment", in the shower recently after reading this thread on 2p2. For those of you who can't go to gambling sites, here's the original post:
60-120 at Commerce, 5 handed late night game. Villain (UTG) is a good Asian TAG, I think he is a pro, might be a poster here, but I don't know who. We don't have a lot of history except a few 40 sessions we played before. I never saw him capping HU OOP before and don't know what his range looks like in this spot. Also, FWIW, I think he hates me.
He opens, I 3! red sevens next in, blinds fold, he 4 bets and I call
Flop 8J3hhs and I call his c-bet
Turn is another low heart (below 7) he bets quickly and I call quickly, as well
River is the fourth heart, low card again (no straights possible), he now checks.
As an aside the author of the post only played in the game because I told him it was awesome on my way out, and he promptly won a used Toyota Camry, but that's neither here nor their. The point is that this spot is a super simple one for thinking about the difference between a strategy based on game theory vs one based solely on exploitation, and how you can endeavor to reconcile the differences between them. Whole books have been written on this subject, but here is my rough take on it, using the river decision on this hand as an example.
I'll probably botch this up pretty badly, but I'll try to wave my hands (vigorously, as my old professor used to say...it's important when hand waving at details to do so with great vigor) enough that it sort of is at least factually accurate. Suppose we arrive at this river decision, with our opponent finally releasing the initiative on a 4 flush board, and suppose we are endeavoring to use a strategy based entirely on game theory. What should we do? Well first we need to know what our range is, then we need to know what his range is, then we need an idea of how he will respond with the various holdings of his range, then we need to take into account the size of the pot and make sure we fire off the right number of value bets (that are still profitable) and bluffs (roughly one bluff for every N value bets, where N is the number of bets in the pot), and after that we're still not even close. We also have to take into account what hands he's screw playing with, and how often it's for value vs a stone cold bluff, and then figure out how we will respond with the various holdings in our betting range, making sure we don't fold too much (lest he have a "bluff 100% profitably" spot), and also that we have some re-bluffs (probably just from hands that were bluffing in the first place) to balance any remaining value combos (at this point probably just the ace of trump) we have left to three bet. And you know what, I've probably left a bunch of important stuff out, but you get the idea. This shit is hard.
Now what if we were just going to try to have a simple exploitative strategy? Basically all we'd have to do in that case is decide what hands he's going to call with and value bet anything that beats more than half of that range. Obviously there is a little more to it, since you can't ignore the possibility of a check/raise (so you maybe want to value bet a little more tightly), but that's basically it. Obviously having a good read on your opponent will help you tremendously here. Does he have a check/raise range at all? Is the ace of trump or king of trump in it? Questions like that are super important in determining how wide you can value bet.
Notice I haven't said anything about bluffing at all, right? Here's why. In a vacuum (meaning just for this hand against this guy), your decision on weather or not to bluff can simply be based on weather or not you think your opponent will fold more than 1 in N times (where again N is the pot size) after he checks. You don't really have to worry (too much) here about how many value bets you have and if you're bluffing at the right frequency or not, because you're playing live 60/120 in a casino you frequent maybe once a month or less. All you really need to do is decide if you're getting a fold more than one in eight times when you fire the river. If you think you are, the correct exploitative thing to do is just bet 100% of your range. If you think you aren't, then you shouldn't bluff with ANYTHING, and all your bets should be for value. And that's really all there is to it. Now I'm not saying this is the correct way to play, but it's a methodology that will probably take you pretty far in live mid stakes games.
I thought this post was going to end up being better, but I guess I'm tired and hungry and stressed out from watching Charlie Batch (the man is an American Hero) save the Steeler's season from the bonfire. Hopefully it at least made a little sense.