Dead Money

As I mentioned earlier, understanding dead money is a critical part of beating higher stakes aggressive games. There are two types of dead money:

  1. 1)  Aggressive Dead Money. Let’s say somebody reraises us with 76s. We call. The flop is J83. He bets and we call. The turn is an A. He bets again (he’s now committed about 50bb). If we shove here, it doesn’t matter what we hold, as he’s folding. Aggressive dead money is defined as an aggressive act after which the aggressor will fold his hand to further action.
  2. 2)  Passive Dead Money. We raise on the button and a player in the blinds calls. The flop is J83. He checks, we bet, he folds. This type of dead money occurs when somebody calls money on one street with the intention of folding on another.

The significant difference between aggressive dead money and passive dead money is that aggressive dead money is committed in the attempt to win the pot, while passive dead money can’t possibly win the pot (for example, if we c/r as a bluff, our hand is dead to further action, but our opponent often folds. If we c/f the flop, our hand was dead to further action as soon as the flop came, and we have no ability to win the pot. In this light, top aggressive players rarely produce passive dead money, though they often create aggressive dead money.)

Capitalizing on passive dead money became the cornerstone of Prahlad Friedman’s game. He was famous for leading into his opponents when OOP. The player in position would almost always call one street against Prah. Then, on a multitude of turn cards, Prah would fire again. The player in position would usually fold, and Prah would win the dead money. If the player in position calls, Prah would shove on a multitude of river cards. Usually the player would fold then, and Prah would win even more passive dead money.

The problem with Prah’s strategy is that he was creating all kinds of aggressive dead money in the process. All a player had to do was raise Prah on the flop or the turn to capitalize on a ton of aggressive dead money. In fact, capitalizing on aggressive dead money is the key to beating aggressive players. I already mentioned the time I saw Cole 5-bet shove preflop with T9o. Cole’s image is always insane—he can’t reasonably expect the other player to fold any kind of decent hand. However, he had the idea that the dead money he would collect would compensate for any times when he gets called and is a big underdog.

Passive dead money is easy to collect. The other person calls preflop and then check-folds the flop. The person calls a 3-bet OOP and then check-folds the flop. Villain check-calls the flop and check- folds the turn. It’s this money that gives us a good reason to stay aggressive. However, we shouldn’t mind somebody who’s aggressive. After all, aggressive players are putting money in the pot with bad hands too, they’re just the ones betting or raising instead of calling or check-folding.

*This chapter basically helps solve some semantic issues. If dead money only exists when people fold, the difference between passive dead money and aggressive dead money only serves to describe the line through which our opponent has committed dead money (what line they’ll take before they fold). In terms of practical application, the chapter “live money vs. dead money” is probably more useful. However, understanding the difference between aggressive dead money and passive dead money can be helpful when justifying aggressive action against different player types.

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