Monday, August 02, 2004

No Sleep to Brooklyn

YTD: +$27801.25

12 hours + to complete a WCOOP event. Yikes! I didn't enter my dead money into the 500 event tonight and I am now seriously thinking about selling my seat for the PLO too. I just can't play that long. I don't want to play that long. When I got up bright and early the other day and they were STILL PLAYING I felt ill. I guess I will never hit the big time :-(

For a change, a limit hand I quite like:

I'm in the usual insane 30-60 Omaha hilo game on Stars and raise in late position with 9d 5d 2s As and I pick up three callers. The flop comes 4h Tc 8c and everyone checks to me...I check! The reason for this is that I have no shot for high, and this being Stars, no chance of taking the pot here. Also I may get check raised by a whole range of hands. The turn comes a Jc and the pot is bet and raised coming to me. What would you do?

(pause for thought)

I passed. Even though it was limit.

In analysis later I was more than pleased with this surprising, to me at least, decision. Looking at all the permutations is tricky, so instead I looked at the best case to see whether I had pot odds. Best case is that all my lows are good, there are no more raises on the turn and I will not be quartered. The math for this is straightforward and clearly showed that even for this ideal world, I don't have the right price to see the river. Therefore QED for a more realistic case where I would have been very -EV.

All the money I must have lost glibbly pressing the "call" button. Yuck.


chaos said...
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chaos said...

please ignore the above, it was posted by accident - I havent finished it yet - will do later.

chaos said...

Hi Dave,

I have to admit that I have seldom played tournaments on-line this year(or live for that matter). Having had to play a marathon FPP freeroll last year to qualify at PS for the cruise, surprisingly, perhaps, I lost the appetite for then. We were 5-handed, on the bubble, for about 2 hours. At 6 am I was, predictably, utterly drained. After that, the prospect of a playing 10-hour tournament didn’t appeal. One of the advantages of the Internet is the freedom and choice it offers. Unfortunately, tournaments rather take that away - you are committed for a long session.

I recently had a bash at the million dollar event at Party and finished close to the money. I took a risk, which was highly questionable on the old risk reward graph. I I probably made three overtly questionable plays, one was awful, one was against a bad player I didn't know I couldn't make a move on and the other was my final play.

The final move was at a stage of the game where everyone was risk averse and I was just below chip average. I moved all in on the button with A9. Blinds 8-15, I hd a 10k stack. Now I'm pretty disappointed with the move, more so because I had a long time to think - the usual piss taking from the short stacked, trying to edge closer to the money (which if all the short stacks do, will plays into the big stacks hands). Now the move 'feels' wrong - I don't imagine the seasoned pro's making this move at all - yet when I rationalise it, it doesn't feel that bad.

There are occasions in tournaments where you are strategically strangled. I felt in the 2 hour bubble session I mentioned earlier. In that instance the BB to my button was a loose canon - who couldn't be relied to pass good hands which the situation merited. This created a lot of pressure on me because my blinds were, naturally, being attacked from either the SB on button to my BB- a worrying pattern was developing. On an occasion whereby first 4 get equal and the fifth nothing, the betting pattern is critical and may force moves that wouldn’t be necessary in a structured payout. It was by no means as pronounced in the PP tournament, but it had got to the stage where I was going to find it very difficult to manoeuvre.

The small stacks were over the other side of the table, and were quite obviously playing to make the money. Unfortunately, to attack them I would have to run the gauntlet of the two big stacks that immediately followed me. When I say big they were probably 2.5 and 3.5 times my stack; so my entire stack could damage them, but obviously that isn’t a play I want to make that far out. My early indications were that the big stack wasn't afraid to ask the question to the risk averse medium stacks – there was a good chance a weak raise would be treated with contempt. At this stage it was clear to me that I would have to find a hand to survive, or make an early raise with crap and fold to a re-raise - which wasn't a particularly appealing strategy.

I'm not a player who says 'I'm not going to get blinded away' - sometimes through making a series of correct decisions, that’s how you will wind up – having to double up to get back to where you were a couple of rounds ago. However, I also believe that players underestimate how dangerous it is to try and hang on for the money. When the antes are high and you have below chip average, then even the very good players have a negative growth expectancy, imo. And even the poor ones with the large stacks have a positive expectancy - this isn't the case, I believe, at other stages of the tournament.

There is no obvious solution to this problem. But I believe, if you harbour any great ambition in the tournament, you must take your chances to breathe.
With my chip size I was only a round or two from becoming an obvious target. A double up in two or three rounds - would only put me back to just above my current status - which would be better as I would be closer to the money, but worse since my stack/blind ratio would be low and I would be right in heavy negative growth territory – and of course I’ve got to win this future hand. All in all, the future wasn't bright - I was on the verge of slipping into the small stacks and I was hopelessly out of position.

So we return to the A9o on the button. How should I have played it ?

Fold? This may have been the right move. Sometimes, we can get drawn into thinking that 'fold A9 on the button - what do you need with to raise here, Aces?'
Conversely, we can be too risk-averse, particularly if the whole table playing the same way. This was, in my opinion, either the correct or 2nd best play. Rejected.

Limp. This might be viewed in a highly suspicious way, but you are taking a chance on your opponent’s logic and thinking. ‘Would AA really limp here and get two callers?’, maybe your opponent’s thinking. It's tricky, but not one to generally rule out. Rejected.

Minimum raise. The ever-popular move - takes up around 30% of my stack. Clearly, too clearly, I can pass to a re-raise. Unfortunately, my hand isn't 8-4 o, my strategy to a re-raise isn't clear. An over the top move is highly likely here. The psychology of this situation is quite complex. If the blinds know I expect a move, they might fold. But I know nothing about them and so might feel forced to call the re-raise, as A-9 could easily be the best hand. However, A9o isn't a big pair or even AQ, there aren't too many hands you want to see - except maybe 9-2. You might condition yourself to pass to the SB's re-raise, (since he is out of position to the BB bigger stack), and decide to call the BB's raise. If though, it crosses your mind that the SB expects the BB and the button to read it this way, then he might steal. Too many times I have been guilty of finding some logic to justify the play I want to make - all poker players I suspect, are guilty of this to some extent. So in short, not knowing much about your opponents here can leave you in quandary with the single raise. Rejected.

So finally, we have the all in move. The more I think about it the more I feel it was the right move, even though it looked and felt bad. For one, I had been pretty quiet for an hour and appeared to be playing ‘the money game’, and, importantly, I wasn’t as desperate as other stacks. So the blinds would be ‘expected’ to pass a lot more hands, than if say I was 30% shorter in chips. I feel there is at least a 1 in 5, maybe 1-10 (?) chance the blinds will pass, and then perhaps a 30% chance of winning if called. Plenty of equity in chips here, but of course that is far from an indication of the correct play in a tournament, especially one this big, at that stage. But equity is still highly relevant, it’s just that the norm doesn’t apply here, and I suspect that the equity was pretty high, but high enough? Importantly though, I was right on the cusp, the critical point, of negative growth expectancy - I needed to keep my head above water. Quite often it isn’t necessarily the case that those chips might prove critical at some stage in some all in or bluff situation - its that might in a round or two provide enough ‘slack in my stack’ to facilitate me to nick a pot. Then with that additional slack I might nick another, or take on a small stack and find myself then with twice as many chips (relative to the A9 hand) and in positive growth territory. Accepted

Lots of ifs and buts, but they are real considerations. But I suppose you’d have to ask the serious tournament players.

What happened? The SB’s response perhaps justified my play. He though for maybe 15 seconds, not, I believe, playing for time, and called with JJ.

Andy_Ward said...

Hi Dave and Chaos

A couple of interesting posts. I too have found that the freedom of playing on-line is curtailed when you opt to play in multi-table tournaments. Quite often over the last few months I found myself 90 minutes into a tournament, just wanting to quit. Mental stamina is a MUST if you play big tournaments, even more so on the Internet where you play twice as many hands per hour and observation of other players is both more difficult and less rewarding in terms of keeping you interested.

Chaos, your satellite dilemma is also interesting. For a couple of months I played a lot of STTs on line, and one thing that I discovered is that there is a huge difference on the bubble according to where the chips are. If the small stacks are on your left, that's great. You can pressure them, and if you get called and win, you're in the money. If the small stacks are on your right, that's bad. They get to pressure you, you are faced with trying to steal off bigger stacks, and even if you double up, you're still in bubble land. So, if the short stacks were on my right I would feel that I had to "go for it" even if I wasn't lowest in chips. Conversely if the short stacks were on my left I could wait a bit longer than I would if the chips were equally spread.

Bottom line is that you don't say how many chips you had but with anything less than 15 SB (probably 20), if you're not waiting for a lower stack to bust out, A9 on the button is a must play and your two options are all in or put about 40-50% in and bet/call the flop irrespective.


Andy_Ward said...

Sorry - you did say how many chips you had. I think you made the right play.


chaos said...

Hi Andy

Thank's for the feedback Andy. One thing, it wasn't a satellite it was the main event, $600, and we were about 30-40 places off the money - so the $1100 prize money meant all the small stacks were starting their antics a long way out. The size of the event in particular, made me feel it was a mugs play.

Funnily enough the fact that the guy took so long to call made me question my the play further - he must have been surprised to have seen me with such a weak hand. Also, I must have had about 90 2 minutes to way up the pro's and cons as every small stak used up his/her 40 seconds.

Interestingly, I wonder how often players are actually considering the strategic position other players are in. Sure we look to see the large stacks and small stacks and know what their agenda is etc but would this guy have appreciated my position and thought 'he's in a bad position, he is probably more desperate than his stack suggests'. If I was the SB I wouldn't have thought the button would have needed to make the move with A9.

I play the one table sit'n' gos every now and then and probably don't pay enough attention to these issues. When you are a big stack its standard to pursue the blinds knowing that players will turn down EV to get into the money money and allow the big stack to charge on. But I suppose its very easy to see the 3rd stack go all in and think 'he doesn't need to make a move' he's not the smallest stack and pass hands that you would have called against the smallest stack. But it maybe that he is feeling strangled and sees a pattern emerging that allows the small stack to survive.

I'm not too convinced about the merits of thinking this way, because then you start to think og the move that you would make in this position, not what they would make. I'm not a regular player of these tournament events, so I don't know how most play it, but I would be surprised if most would go all in here - which I suppose makes the play better.


Just to clarify 800, 1500 and I had 10k. It still looks horrible.

Andy_Ward said...

My honest opinion is that passing A9 with 12 SBs in your stack on the button is what would really be horrible. And if, sorry when, you are going to play, all in is the best way to play it.

Look at it this way. Only about 5% of the remaining hands are better than A9, and another 5% are 50/50 (smaller pairs). Even if your opponents play perfectly (call with any better hand and pass any worse), it's substantially +EV in chip terms (work it out). And at this stage of the tournament, chip EV and $ EV are practically the same.

Don't beat yourself up over this play - folding would have been the real mistake.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Really liking your work. :) Just a couple of questions though.

I was wondering where you play live PLO8, is it commonly spread in UK casinos or is part of a dealers choice game?

Secondly, do you use PokerTracker to track your limit HE play? If you don't I would seriously consider investing $55, it is definately worth it. As well as analysing your own hand statistics, it does it for all your opponents, those details can then be exported into your Party notes file and will appear as notes for each player.

Thirdly, do you play multiple tables online?



chaos said...
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chaos said...

Your right. I'm being thick, of course there is precious little difference between EV's at this stage, it's the risk averse attitude that is affecting play here - not EV differences. Players are sacraficing EV's of both sorts, so that they have a higher certainty of getting the minimum prize. Naturally that might make the decision to pass correct depending on an individuals utility function.

Also, I think I ruled out the minimum raise too easily -a reraise may well have been likely, but how likely. As I mentioned on camels thread often our perception of probability misguides us. A one in three chance can feel a lot more likely than it is. Consider BJ, now I know that it is a 4 in 13 shot for the dealer to pull a picture on an Ace, but when I played it felt like an odds on shot. I never take insurance because I know its wrong, not because it feels wrong. Now we don't really have the analysis for these kind of situations for an opponent coming over the top. Suppose though there was a 4/13 chance of him coming over the top and me folding, and 9/13 chance of folding - very simplifed. Now my 3k investment has an expected profit of around 400. But I bet it feels worse than that. It's for the same reason that we rememember the bad beats - we feel the pain more than the pleasure and so our judgement is distorted.

Perhaps, it is this kind of judgement of probability that makes the top players that good. Perhaps, not taking even money on BJ would feel right to these players, rather than having to know it - their mind deals with +-ve and -ve events proportionately ? Who knows?

chaos said...

Ok. Now suppose you are in the position that I've described in every aspect. You find yourself with AK and you know the SB will pass and the BB will call with 10-10. Let's also suggest you're an above average player. What do you do? Most of out instincts would be to fold, we're not desperate and after all we have a negative expectation on the hand. Now, I think the vast majority of players should take this on, bearing in mind the stage of the tournament. It maybe obvious to some, but I'll go into some more detail, but I'd like to hear other thoughts on the matter.


Big Dave D said...

Answers 4 Gazza...

Sorry missed your post :(

I have Tracker and would recommend it to anyone. Probably pays for itself in 5 mins.

I do multitable but not excessively...3 is my max for limit holdem, 2 for plo or plo8b.

As to live games, they used to be a dealers choice option, but i havent played live in the best part of 2 years so who knows now