Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Poker Stars Sunday Million Satellites - Part #2 - Double Shootouts, the 1st Table

Going to look at strategy considerations for Double Shootout tournaments today, for those who missed the last post on PokerStars Million Sats these are a common way to win a seat - costing $11.70 to enter. They comprise 2 SNGs, if you win the first then you get to the second where up to 4 players get a seat (depends how many enter) and the remaining players get $35.

I already mentioned that the standard in these is generally horrific, check out the sharkscope results of a few entrants to see what I mean!!

The first thing to cover is expectation, when full (100 players) you are risking $11.70 to win $215 or a runners up $35 so an average player can expect, in 100 attempts at return of $10.70 per attempt (215 x 4 and 35 x 6 - 10 man tables). But what about a good player? Here is the difficult part - since you have to win table 1 your expectation is reduced (realistically it is just not possible to come 1st all that often). If you are skilled you may have a 20% chance instead of the average 10 to win table 1, doubling your expectation to $21.40 per attempt if we exclude skill differences from the final table... the reason for writing this is to get things in perspective, these games are a minefield and thus it is important to be realistic about what your expectation is before starting!!

Ok, so 10 players on table 1 and we are off - what are the main strategy changes when compared with a normal sit and go?

Here are my observations - next section will be thoughts on what adjustments to make;

- The 'super-tight early vs pushbot late' standard SNG strategy is not ideal here. The reason this works so well is that skilled players can exploit opponents bubble mistakes, the whole reason for this strategy is to cash and then go for 1st. On the 1st table of a double shootout (DS) there is no bubble, the winner is going to take all.

- The reasoning for pushbotting is that you can play on opponents fears of not cashing at the bubble to accumulate chips, that simply does not happen here - with 4 or 5 people left people will often 'accidently' call you correctly, mathematically speaking, due to the loose nature of their play.

- You will find that the other players gamble a lot, top pair no-kicker is plenty enough to get all in on level 1. This means that people exit quickly and by level 4 (100/50 blinds) you are likely to be short handed with 1 or 2 big stacks at the table.


Thoughts on adjustments;

- Speculate Early; While in a SNG folding would be the correct play with a suited connector or AQo in middle position in a DS I loosen upwith these hands - even calling a small raise. The logic here is that your chips are not as valuable later in the game as they are in a normal SNG so the reward for hitting a flop vs the risk in equity is better for speculative hands.

- Use the Gap Concept - and not ICM to decide on late pushes. Your opponents will call you light in the late stages so you need to make sure that your pushing hands can stand a showdown. This means looking at things differently - instead of the range of hands your opponent can call you with assume any pair, most aces and 2-broadways as their range then calculate your chances of winning a showdown vs that range (remember to include the current pot in this). 'Any-2' pushes may still be good when the blinds + antes are very large, but your FE is much reduced so be careful!!

- Avoiding confrontations with another big stack is ideal on the bubble of a SNG, in a DS first table this is not necessarily the case... waiting for the smally to bust will not help you. Remember that someone with chips will call your raises with lesser hands and try to take advantage of this but do not shy away from such confrontations.

- Many of your opponents will be cash game players who try for a million seat once a week and not SNG or MTT specialists. Watch for players who defend their button rather than their blinds, this info can be valuable later on in the game, if you are in the blinds you can resteal lighter, if you wake up with a hand and act before them limp and then reraise steal when they defend their button with a raise.

- Hand values, the poor standard of play can change relative hand values pre-flop. Since many players see ace-rag or even king-rag suited as premuim holdings then meduim pairs go up in value. I am usually happy to shove over a raiser and cold-caller with Jacks in a DS where in a SNG these can often be folded... 70% is plenty enough to get your money in when only 1 spot moves up!

- Heads up play, it is very unlikely that your opponent will understand correct heads up strategy (nash equilibrium etc). They will still over-value ace-rag hands etc (accidently correct play!) but probably underestimate the range that they should be shoving into you. You can exploit this in a couple of ways - shove slightly lighter than in a SNG (but avoid A-small hands more) and call tighter. Find out as early and cheaply as possible how they react to limps from the SB and to smaller raises.... if your opponent folds to 2.5xBB raises then keep on raising until they play back, if they raise often reshove with a reasonable holding early to keep them on the defensive.

Ah well, just a collection of thoughts really - feedback appreciated as always! Going to do some more 'linkage' and my promised review of 'The Psychology of Poker' next - will look at strategy for the second table later in the week.

Cheers, Mark

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