Saturday, March 03, 2007

Poker Stars Sunday Million Satellites - Part #4 - Turbo Rebuy Strategy

Saturday again so a good time to look at the Sunday Million Satellites again. This will be part 1 for the Turbo Rebuys - will have a look at the ICM angle and the detail of the bubble separately otherwise this article will get too long!

The turbo rebuys look can look like a 'flippament' but there are some strategy considerations beneath the surface. There are 3 varieties 3+r, 8+r and 10+r - the ratio of seats to players obviously varying significantly. You get 1000 chips to start and the blinds go up every 5 minutes, after 30 minutes (bb=200) there is a 5 minute break and an add-on (1500 chips for whatever the buy-in was)... after that the blinds escalate so fast that you only need to fold for a couple of rounds to find yourself behind.

Luckily there is always a certain amount of 'dead-money' in these games. This comes at the 2 extremes of opponent types.

Firstly the rocks, these guys never rebuy unless broke, sit with just half a buy-in at times and wait for pemuim hands... often you see people nursing 500 chips and then leaving when their ace-king gets busted at BB150... terrible. My thought is that you really need to budget 3 to 5 buy ins to have a serious chance in these.

Secondly the maniacs, all in almost every hand and rebuy after rebuy. If these guys build a stack early they can be dangerous - but the cost of their stacks often means that the tourneys on the whole are -ev. You need chips to survive these tournaments - but spending 10 buy-ins will never pay for itself in the long run, there is a cap on how much you can win at $215 (most weeks) after all.

My personal thought for the initial stages is to find some middle ground, to play good hands aggressively and watch my opponents for info to use later. Pairs can be good value as many people will be playing ace-rag, if your table lets you limp then great - play a few speculative hands in the short time that the blinds are small and build a big pot if you hit. I usually open shove premuims as there is a good chance of getting called - especially with 1 or 2 maniacs at the table.

Here is what I watch out for in the early stages...

- Rocks, keep an eye for those who do rebuy but are waiting for premiums. If someone who has folded 20 hands in a row suddenly shoves then get out of the way fast. (sounds kind of obvious but unless you pay attention you'll end up paying these guys off!!).
- Raise / Folders - Look out for people who fold to reraises during the rebuy period. Some players have a nice big 'gap' between hands they will raise and those they will call a reraise with. Make a note of these guys as you can resteal from them once the rebuy period is over.
- People who min raise / limp permiums - the standard of these is so horrible that this happens all the time. Those same players will try it later in the tourney so make a note as soon as you see it... again you are looking for potential resteal targets for after the rebuy period.
- Conversely watch for those who overplay hands like ace-rag and 'any-2 suited' again you need this information for the later stages.

Of course you will be moved table a fair amount - its unfortunate but a fact of life in any tourney. Its no excuse for not watching the players early though!

Hopefully, with some patient yet aggressive play you have an average or above stack at the 30 minute break... thats 6000ish chips usually (including the add-on). The next 30 minutes is the critical time in these, and I start of by tightening up!!

Here is one way to look at it - you have the average stack of 6000 chips (example from a 3+r) there are 20 places paid and 150 players remaining. A little maths will show us that we need to get to approx 20,000 chips to be above average at the bubble - we need to double up one and a half times - thats all!. Note: This will be a much better ratio in the 8+r and 10+r tourneys.

There will be a mixture of small and big stacks around and many players will be feeling the pressure to double up asap. My thought here is to wait - specifically wait 2 blind levels (unless you get a decent hand of course). This will give you time to get some important information - what changes in your opponents play have happened after the rebuy period finishes. It also means that when you do enter a pot, to steal the blinds / antes once they are >1000 chips your raise is assumed to be with a strong hand (careful you pick the right opponents though - not everyone will notice!).

Restealing is king in the middle stages, here is where the info picked up in the early stages really comes into its own... think of it this way: taking the blinds / antes at bb400 will give you a net gain of 825 chips, coming over the top of a position raiser and making him fold can easily double that amount. As with SNGs you'll want to avoid doing this with easily dominated hands but as long as your cards are 'live' then the risk of a 55/45 suitation is made up for by the chance of a 30% stack increase with no showdown!

Calling all-ins: You should be able to put most opponents on ranges by this stage, while calling an all-in is never the best strategy you'll have a hand good enough to do it on occasion, once the blinds get 600+, especially with a limper or 2 (yes people do limp in these!) then the current pot combined with your chance of winning a showdown vs opponents range can make a call worthwhile here... my personal rule of thumb is to try and be 2/1 favourite to make the call early. For example a pair of 10s vs someone I know would shove any ace, any suited King. any 2 broadways + all pair.

Ok, seem to be writing longer and longer posts at the moment - will leave the bubble and ICM angle for next time.

Usual disclaimer that these are my personal thoughts - happy to engage in discussion / debate with anyone with differing views, drop me a comment or mail!

Cheers and GL,


Update: (A few hours later...) Put my money where my mouth is (or should that be keyboard?) and won a $27+R Turbo Rebuy - an EPT qualifier - for $800, Cashman Brian offered a measly $608 in cash... was able to get $688 from DMMikkels site instead - my first transaction with this site... went through very quickly... recommended.

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