Thursday, January 25, 2007

SNG Bubble Play #4 - Defending Against 'Any-2'

Next in the ICM for SNGs series - this time looking at the correct SNG Bubble Strategy for defending against someone who is raising 'any 2 cards' into you! The strange thing about the independant chip model when it comes to sit and go tournaments is that it is often correct to fold even when you know your opponent could be pushing 7 2 off suit into you... hmmm.

Before we look at the mathematical part we need to answer an important question - how do we know that our opponent is pushing with any 2 cards? The short answer is that we can rarely be 100% sure, but there are signs out there to assist;

A very big stack pushing when folded to every time, especially SB -> BB or from the button is likely to be pushing 100% of hands... in fact if he raises 3 or 4bbs and that is 65% of your stack or more he will always have the odds to call you - so you may as well treat your raise as a call from an all in push from any-2.

It does not have to be a big stack, if you identify an opponent as understanding ICM by their actions throughout the game and you have been tight then you can be pretty confident they will push any 2 from the small blind into you.

Lastly, when the blinds get huge in relation to either your stack or your opponents stack you can widen their range out to any 2 - for example you and an opponent both have 1500 with blinds at 600/300.

ok, here are some common scenarios and your calling ranges;

C/O - 800
Button - 6000
SB - 1200
You - 2000

Here the C/O folds and the Button pushes, he has pushed each of the last 10 hands (!) and you confidently put him on a range of 100% - the SB folds, Blinds are 400/200 with an Ante of 25... what do you need to call??? The answer is a pretty good hand!! I would call with KK and AA only here, the reason should be clear enough - even though you 'know' that your AQs kills the buttons range you can not gamble your equity with the next big blind + ante taking more than half of the C/Os stack - not only is he effectively all in via the blinds but the current SB will blind away half of his stack before you as well!! My opinion here does not agree with ICM calculators which say 99+ / AKo+, there is just no need to gamble your nice pile of equity here once you account for the plight of the smaller stacks!

Scenario #2

CO - 2000
Button - 3000
SB - 1500
You - 2500

Blinds again are 400/200 (stack sizes before posting) with Ante 25. This time it is folded to the SB who pushes, you have been super-tight and blinded down from a bigger stack, the SB - an observant opponent thus thinks he has a +ev shove against your range with any-2. What should you call him with???

There are in fact 2 keys to this question... the first one is not ICM at all but concerns pot-odds! Here the pot is 700 before he pushes another 1275 - you have already posted 425 and so need to put in abother 1075 chips to try and win 1975... you are getting almost 2/1 on your call against a random hand... and whats more you can not be busted (though admittedly losing the chips would not be good).

The SB made a mistake - his push would be correct only if your 'normal' range of calling with 10 10+ was in place... here ICM says your calling range can be a huge 65% of hands - that is any Pair, Ace, King or Queen, most jacks and tens and most suited connectors.... but here is the real question: If your assumption that the SB was a thinking player is correct would he really be pushing any-2 into you in this situation?? I like a margin for error here - the saying 'better to be the raiser than the caller' comes to mind... no Mr Super-tight from Plan3t Gong is calling only with 40%!!!

Enough of examples. The thought process is what is important here, high blinds were used deliberately here - to make the pots big enough so that there is some kind of calling range to discuss.... where the pots are smaller - say 200/100 blinds and the SB who has you covered pushes into you then you need to ask a serious question... even if he is pushing any 2 cards is my current equity in the prize pool and the potential gain in equity worth the call? The answer is often 'no' here because of the inbalance in the risk / reward - it is no good being a 65 / 35 favourite to win the hand if your equity only improves by 25% (see earlier articles in this series).

We have highlighted another factor by mistake - you can push any 2 cards into smaller stacks, but keep an eye on the pot odds and the blinds, you might find that their calling range gets so large that your push was a mistake!

Cheers, Mark

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