Friday, June 29, 2007

PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest #6

After a short delay here we go with weekly digest number 6 - a little smaller than previous weeks but some worthy inclusions none the less... as usual if anyone spots an article / forum thread / blog that should be included then let me know!

Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest #6

1) Sit n Go Strategy

First up this week a thread SNG Bubble Play - this one comes from 2+2 and debates the pros and cons of taking Marginal +ev Bubble Situations

Next over to P5's this thread discusses the move from SNGs to grinding cash games, includes some interesting thoughts on both forms of the game... SNG Grinders View of Cash Games

2) Multi Player Tournament Strategy

Again P5's, this time one of their featured articles - found this discussion on Rethinking the 3-Bet interesting - potentially useful in the early stages of online mtts.

Alan Schoonmaker is pokers premier psychologist and put together some worthy thoughts on Learning Efficiently, this is actually part 3 - if you click on the 'by author' link then the others are available.

Finally one from Inside Edge magazine - Lou Kreiger looks at The Maths of Jacks (PG poker warning - make sure your pop-up blocker is switched on!!)

3) Blogs / Misc

The Surly Poker Gnome has been running an excellent blog for a while now but managed to better even himself with a post that I feel should be in line for a 'blog post of the year' award (well something like that... sure you get the message) this Link is to the main page - the post in question is from June 15th and is titled - "Where does all the money come from?" read it now!!!

Thats all folks - GL at the tables

Quick PS - Off to Slovakia tomorrow for a quick weekend break so next post on Sunday evening!

Back in Budapest - Post To Follow Shortly

Thanks for the messages and comments of support - now back in sunny Budapest and will get Plan3t Gong rolling again a little later today (a million things to catch up with first).

For the record my unexpected break was spent in a tiny but beautiful village overlooking the Malvern hills in England - no internet access, intermittent mobile phone connection and much grief at the sudden death of my Father's fiance and partner of 16 years from a brain haemorrage. Its a cruel old world and shows how easily poker can be put into sharp perspective...

Thanks and GL at the Tables!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Unexpected Blogging Break...

Flying back to the UK at very short notice following a death in the family... Plan3t Gong - will thus take a short break for a few days... normal service to return next week.

In the meantime why not check out some of the excellent blogs listed in the 'Blogs of Distinction' list on the right hand side below.

GL at those tables, Mark

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

NL Holdem Cash Game Strategy - Table Selection Revisted.

Played a few cash games over at Titan yesterday and was doing my usual table selection routine when the following thoughts happened...

Usually - along with many people who spend time actively choosing their tables my process goes something like this (I play the 8-max tables but works for any number). First find those tables with big pot sizes and large (pref 40%+) average player to flop ratio. Next make sure that the stack sizes are ok (no more than 2 players with <20 BB), then make sure that any available seats are in a good position relative to the loosest / most aggressive players (for example I do not like having someone raising too many pots to my left...).

This routine takes just 10 minutes for a few tables and has served me well... but I got thinking some more about my style and the ideal opponents for this. My cash game strategy with the lowest (50NL) that I play is to see flops cheaply... especially somewhere like Titan where the advantage of just a little post flop skill is basically where the profit comes from! I tend to be slightly passive without hand and aggressive with one pre flop and then really go to work on pot building if I hit - or fold cheaply if I miss and have no draws... npo point bluffing too much, you'll be called! This works at Titan because so many players will pay off their stack with top pair - at sites where the competition is a little tougher it pays to be more selective pre flop and more aggressive when you do enter a pot - horses for courses etc

Anyway, at Titan my ideal table may not be the one with the largest average pot at all... so I looked at the tables with large players to flop percentage and small average pot size! Bingo! (or rather poker!). At least 2 of the 3 I selected on this basis were full of loose / passive players who would not only enter a lot of pots with weak holdings but would do 2 other things...

1) Get scared when the big bets come out and either fold or go into calling mode with those top pair or less hands.
2) Tell you quickly with a check-raise or all-in when they had a monster...

Wow - ideal opponents for me... how about your ideal tables???

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, June 18, 2007

Full Tilt Poker Tournament Schedule Update...

Thought this might be of interest to readers who play over at FTP - they have changed the schedule for their guaranteed MTTs... todays 'normal' blog post below!
If you are the last person on earth who is not a member of Full Tilt then check them out Here!

Cheers, Mark

Sit and Go Strategy - Keeping the Bubble Alive - Part #1

Time for the start of a new series on SNG Bubble Play.... this time the concept and execution of keeping the bubble alive will be put under the microscope. Going to have a look at this in a few different ways, today looking at the 'why' and the 'how' angles - then moving on to defending against someone who is doing this. Final part will cover some potential drawbacks and look at when this is not a good idea.

Some background - When does keeping the bubble alive factor in to your SNG strategy thinking??

Usually the situation is this - you have a big stack at the bubble, so big that losing a hand all-in to an opponent will still leave you with the chip lead. A bonus is where there is a micro-stack also at the table - someone with less than 2 big blinds is perfect. What this enables you to do is take advantage of the fact that the 'medium stacks' do not want to risk bubbling while the micro-stack is still around.... you can basically steal their chips with impunity by raising each hand.

A great example came up only yesterday, stacks at the bubble were something like this with blinds of 200/100 Ante 25

C/O: 5500
Button: 1000
SB: 2800
BB: 5000

CO and UTG folded and the SB raised 3*BB to 600 chips - did not even need to look at my cards here, this is as easy an all-in as they come. The guy in the SB would need a monster to call and risk bubbling while Button was short and would go through the blinds soon... it helped that I had not played too many hands here, and that SB appeared to be a thinking player.

A more extreme example is where a micro stack is on your left... something like this;

C/O: 2500
Button: 2500
SB (You!): 7500
BB: 600

With blinds at 400/200 Ante 25 you have a great opportunity to 'own' the bubble here, both CO and button are desperate to get into the money and then fight for 2nd. If they fold to you it can pay to fold your SB to the micro-stack! This keeps the bubble alive - enabling you to pick up the blinds from both of the medium-stack guys with healthy raises each time. This strategy will often enable you to increase your stack at little or no risk - sometimes to the extent that the game is all but over when the bubble does finally burst.

ok, thats it for now - later in the week we will have a look at 'defence' against someone using this strategy from a poker maths viewpoint, from the perspective of one of the medium stacks.

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, June 15, 2007

Annette_15 Poker - List of Articles

This page will contain links to all previous articles / posts on Annette 15. Blind 180, Poker Strategy and news all included.

This one was an analysis of some of the poker strategy concepts in Annette 15's Full Tilt Poker 500k win Annette_15 Tournament Poker

Here is part #2 of the full Tilt 500k win analysis -
Annette_15 Poker

A slightly older post - this was the annoucement + hand history link for Annette 15's blind 4/180 win Annette_15 wins 180 Blind

This post concened the high-profile hacking of Annette_15's poker account Annette_15 wins 180 Blind

Plently more to follow!

How To Deal With A Poker Downswing...

No, not having one myself* (phew)... saw some traffic coming from the Motley Fool Poker discussion board the other day and popped over to investigate... turns out that one 'Fool' was having a spot of trouble with the old variance - after a few winning months things had turned bad and his bankroll headed south....

This got me thinking that a good time to think about dealing with downswings in poker is actually when you are not in one - too much risk that ones judgement would be clouded....

My first thought on the subject - especially for newer players - is to make sure that you really are a winning player. Variance easily works both ways right? A couple of suckouts in your favour can easily give the illusion of beating a game over a small sample size - the 'reverse 5 coin flips and re-check your ROI' line of thought that regular readers will be familiar with.

Bankroll management also has to be a key factor - if you do not have at least reasonable bankroll management then natural variance means you go broke at some point (this is a statistical fact - however unappealing it may sound!). Many new players are either not aware of this or maybe feel that it does not apply to them... the key of course is knowing when to move down levels... one needs to be psychologically strong here, your ego will tell you that it is just bad luck and moving up levels for a while will get the 'roll moving again. Cold hard logic on the other hand suggests that the long term winner will have to move down several times on their journey up the levels.

Taking a poker break has to come into the list too - personally a big fan of this even when winning. Actually find I play longer sessions when losing, which seems backwards really - surely one should keep going when winning??!? A break helps put poker into perspective, life is rich and colourful and poker is just one small aspect - sometimes a determination to get that bankroll back to its previous highs can exaggerate the importance of the beautiful game.

Finally, continual learning and assessment of your own weaknesses is the key to dealing with any downswing... not everyone is inclined to pay for the various training sites such as PxF etc. This should not stop anyone looking through their hand histories - singling out hands that caused problems and asking how they could win more on their winners and lose less when behind... after all that is the key to winning poker - we all get the same cards in the end!

Enough rambling, next time you feel a downswing coming on take action fast!

GL at the tables,

* Doing just fine at the moment - mainly NLHE and PLO cash games on Titan - steady yet unspectacular results. Decided to stop posting my personal results as Plan3t Gong has kind of morphed itself into a strategy and links to other people's strategy resource... not sure the average person searching for SNG Bubble Tips (etc) on Google really cares what my bankroll is!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest #5

Time for weekly digest number 5 already... time flies but aeroplanes crash - or some such saying. Well without further ado let us get down to the STT Strategy and MTT Strategy links...

Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest #5

1) Sit n Go Strategy

First up this week a discussion from 2+2 which covers the subject of Keeping The Bubble Alive. Questioning whether to keep a mini-stack on 'life support' in order to steal from the medium sized stacks... interesting read and I plan a post covering the subject soon.

Next up a free alternative to Sharkscope called StarTracker - had a look and the results seem accurate over the timeframe specified (not got as long a history as the original). The design and interface could be improved though! Check it out Here

This post on 2+2 also got the old grey matter whirling - concerns a tight small blind min betting into you after calling a raise pre-flop. In my experience these guys fold enough to make a shove profitable... never a clear cut course of action though.

2) Multi Table Tournament Strategy

Since this week saw poker history being made it seems like we have to include news of Phil Hellmuth's 11th World Series Bracelet in the digest... imagine not even noticing $637k!!

Next up is a post that can really apply to many forms of poker but very relevant to MTT Bankroll Management - Prospect Theory is taken away from the world of investing and applied to poker in this excellent P5's thread.

Lastly for the MTT Strategy links is an article looking at the Best Online Poker Freerolls The theme of this SNG Planet piece is that the best online poker freerolls are not (quite) free!!

3) Misc Links

Nothing this week for the misc - want your blog here?? Give me a shout via e-mail and I will put it in!! On the subject of blogs... we have a blogroll over at that is available to anyone with a quality poker blog (content and not just adverts), just require a link back from you and you are in! Check it out by clicking the 'Blogs' link on the main page.

Previous digests can be accessed through the 'list of Plan3t Gong Articles' on the right - hit the jump-off page (oh, except number #4 which is below!)

GL at the tables,


Sit N Go Strategy - Equilibrium Push / Call Ranges And Why They Matter To You!

Inspired equally by Sheets' SNG Strategy videos on PxF and by EastBay's lecture on HU play in SNGPT this post will look at equilibrium points at the bubble of SNGs. I am going to assume some familliarity with ICM / $Equity and All-In or Fold Sit N Go Bubble Strategy... if you are a new reader who is not yet aware of these concepts then please take a look at the 'List of Plan3t Gong Articles' in the right hand side and check out the Bubble Play / ICM Listing.

Soooo, what are we talking about with equilibrium?? First then a mathematical example - and then a quick discussion on how this could improve your SNG bubble strategy at whatever level you play.

Here is our example, newly arrived at the bubble equal stacks of 3000 and blinds of 200/100(Ante 25)- folded to the Small Blind (SB) who estimates that the Big Blind will only call his shove with 66+ ATo+ (top 8% of hands) - what can the SB Push? Ahhah, trick question! Of course Poker ICM followers will know that this becomes an 'Any-2' shove - that is the blinds will be won so often (along with a % of showdowns) to make it profitable for the SB to push all in with any-2 here...

Now we take something important into account - the calling range of the BB player assumed that the SB was pushing a 'reasonable' range. What if the BB somehow 'knew' that the SB was pushing any-2 cards? What does this do to his potential calling range?? Well it now expands a bit - BB can profitably call with top 10% here.

But wait - if SB knows that BB knows he will push any-2 and thus call with top 10% would it still be profitable for the SB to push with junk?? No - if the BB is calling top 10% then the bottom 20% of holdings are no longer profitable to shove in this situation, the SB can still shove 80% here profitably though.... in which case what can the BB now call with?

Last time through - if the SB shoves top 80% then the BB calls with top 9%....

We could go on, what has happened is that we reached an 'equilibrium' point in the push / call dynamic. Each player adjusting their range for what they anticipated the adjustments of their opponent would be to their default range. We got to 80% / 9% here but it is easy to imagine how adjusting the numbers to suit different situations could lead to different results.

So the next question is whether this has any practical application for low and middle-limit SNG players??

Absolutely - the application is the adjustment of your pushing and calling ranges when you perceive that your opponents have an understanding of ICM / Bubble play. If you know that your opponent is pushing any-2 cards into you then you must call correctly against that range. If you call correctly against that range in one game and then meet that same opponent again there is a strong chance that your opponent will realise that you call correctly and tighten their range a little to compensate.

At the lowest limits opponents will not be thinking like this - however you can still use the same model to assess what happens to their range if you continue to push. You will find plenty of 'horrible' calls at the lowest limit SNGs - since you can not control them the only adjustment you can make is to adjust your own pushing range to have a positive expectation against their calling range.

Recommend that all serious SNG players should have an ICM calculator such as SNG wizz or SNG Power Tools - once you have learned about equity models and ICM your game can move to the next-level (which strangely enough is knowing when to ignore the guidance given by ICM). My thought is that if you ignore ICM or treat it as some mathematical nonsense you are giving up an advantage to your opponents - understand it first, learn when not to use it second.

GL at the tables, Mark

PS: Couple more articles over at SNG Planet including one on using the SAGE poker system when heads-up at the end of a SNG Satellite Qualifier... Best Poker Tournament Strategy

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sit N Go Strategy - 20 Ways to Help Define Your Opponents Bubble Call Ranges

More Sit and Go Strategy thoughts today... below are 20 ways in which you can help yourself define the range of hands an opponent will call your all-in shove with in a lower ($30 or less) level SNG.... remember the PG poker maxim:

'You can not define your pushing range without first deciding what range of hands your opponent will call with!'

Sit N Go Strategy - 20 Ways to help define your opponents bubble calling range:

1) Early Game Notes - What is the smallest Ace-X you have seen your opponent play?

2) Buy-in Level of the SNG, set yourself some averages.

3) Your Stack Size

4) Opponents Stach Size

5) How Many Times You Shoved Recently.

6) The Size of the Blinds and Antes Relative to Stacks.

7) Observations on Opponents Tendency to Play Suited Cards or Broadway Cards

8) Previous Results of Opponents (Sharkscope)

9) Variance of Previous Results... Opponent A Gambler?

10) Does Opponent Multi-Table?

11) Has Opponent Called Shoves Light Previously? (Notes etc)

12) Presence of Very Large or Very Small Stacks

13) Payout Struture - Standard, Satellite or something else?

14) Does your Opponent Follow ICM??

15) Perception of Whether Your Opponents Will Burst Bubble For You.

16) Early Game - Does Opponent Defend Their Blinds or Their Button?

17) Table Chat - Any 'Ego Player' Signals?

18) Do Opponents Push All-in A Lot Themselves?

19) Are The Blinds Going to Rise Soon??

20) Have Either You or Opponent Read The Fantastic Sit and Go Strategy Articles Over At Sit and Go Planet??? Why Not!! Check Them out at Today!!

GL at the Tables, Mark

PS - Got any more thoughts? drop me a comment!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Free Texas Holdem Lessons on Video - Great Links to Video Holdem Lessons

Seems that there is a proliferation of people making their own free cash game training videos at the moment. Have been browsing a few over the last weeks - some better than others of course. Below are a few of note... my plan is to update this post from time to time when I come across new NL hold em lessons on video... as usual I will make the links open in new window.

Free Poker Training Videos #1 - First up some from KickAss Poker - these links are to a 2-part 6-Max No Limit Holdem Cash Game by a gentleman by the name of Spry.

100NL 6-Max Video 1 - Spry at Kickass

100NL 6-Max Video 2 - Spry at Kickass

Free Poker Training Videos #2 - Next PxF Sub, blogger and all round nice-guy L8Bloomer has put together some video holdem lessons for the micro-stakes players.

Penny Poker Series

Also check out L8's Blog

Free Poker Training Videos #3 - Island Grinder's video of 50NL next, reading this guy's cool blog always makes me want to start travelling again... bah!

Island Grinder's Video

Free Poker Training Videos #4 - Finally a Link to a 'Sticky' over on 2+2 where many more cash game training videos are linked, personally recommend IStrong's series... video links are in the 3rd post down.

2+2 Compendium of Cash Videos

Thats all for today - if you know of any other free poker training videos worthy of inclusion then let me know via comment or mail.

Cheers, Mark

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Check-Raising in No Limit Holdem...

Browsing through the excellent 'Pot-Limit and No-Limit Poker' by Reuben and Ciaffone recently and came across some thought provoking pieces.

Check-Raising was one such subject, the following quote came in the context of players who always go for check-raises with their very strong hands (sets and the like).

"...A Check-Raising style shows you are thinking about the game in the wrong way. Your goal in a no-limit game is to win all of your opponents money, not take little pecks.... Big hands are meant to play big pots. Train your sights on your opponents entire stack.... it is faulty thinking to say to yourself 'I have three jacks, so I'm going to make sure I win a little something with them'..."

Of course the check-raise has its place, and indeed this book provides a detailed discussion on good spots to use this powerful weapon. In tournaments when the stacks are relatively shallow check-raising can easily lead to pot-commiting your opponent when you have the goods.

What this did get me thinking about was that in deep stacked play against someone who always goes for the check-raise when strong they would be very easy to exploit - especially when you are aware that when this opponent leads strongly they are more likely to have a medium strength holding than a monster.

Recommend this book, lots of thought provoking material.

GL at the tables,


Friday, June 08, 2007

PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournamanet Strategy Weekly Digest #4

Straight on with the digest this week - again if you have seen any threads / articles you feel worthy of inclusion then let me know!

Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest #4

1) Sit n Go Strategy

First up this week Chip Ferguson (known online as z32fanatic) walks us through a $110 Pokerstars SNG. This is from the 2+2 Monthly Online Magazine... Interesting commentry throughout, particularly liked the explanations for the tight early play.

Well, higher levels are all well and good but PG Poker likes to cater for all levels of players. To redress the balance here is a $1 Pokerstars SNG from Pocket Fives - amusing at that!

Last for SNG Strategy this week one of mine - this looks at SNG Table Selection by calculating how having other winning SNG players at your table effects your edge.

2) Multi Table Tournament Strategy

Interesting P5's article by Assassinato - Titled 'Equilibrium' this talks about being Clear-Minded At The End of MTTs. Also a personal vewpoint on this with some sound advice in this Thread.

Much has been said on the differences between Tournament and Cash Game Play - this link is to Bluff Magazine where the Psychological Differences are discussed - an interesting read.

Back to P5's for our last MTT Strategy Link - this forum discussion involved a somewhat heated debate involving online pro BRSavage and others... this Long discussion itself contains a link to another interesting thread.

3) Misc Links

Interested in seeing 'Steps Sit n Goes' on Full Tilt Poker? Check the Forums over at Full Tilt Poker under 'News and Promos' on the main page. There is a thread titled 'Vote for Step Sit and Goes...' - 65 votes at the time of writing, about to add mine!

Thats all for this week - links to previous weekly digests now available in the 'List of Plan3t Gong Articles' on the right hand side.... there are plenty more SNG / MTT strategy articles available at ...

GL at the tables,


PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournamanet Strategy Weekly Digest - Jump-Off Page for All Digests

This is the 'jump-off' page for the previous SNG / MTT strategy digests... all the links will open a new window.

SNG Strategy / MTT Strategy Digest 6

SNG Strategy / MTT Strategy Digest 5

SNG Strategy / MTT Strategy Digest 4

SNG Strategy / MTT Strategy Digest 3

SNG Strategy / MTT Strategy Digest 2

SNG Strategy / MTT Strategy Digest 1

Loads of great Sit N Go and MTT articles are available at Sit&Go Planet - Online Poker Tournament Strategy

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Some Thoughts About Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

Couple of recent deep runs in (lower limit ($10 to $30ish)) tourneys... actually feel like I am getting better at these so time for some thoughts here on Plan3t Gong about Online Multi-table Tournament Strategy...

MTT Strategy - Thought #1

Not all Multi Table Tournaments are equal... the 'gap' between the level of play on Stars and Titan (my 2 main 'homes') is getting wider and wider. Sure there are still plently of bad opponents on Stars but Titan is litterally full of them.

Played the Titan Poker $10+Rebuys last night (busted in 45th out of 900 - booooo) decided to make more notes than usual, this included marking good players as well as bad... the ratio was amazing, 6 different tables with many more opponents as people busted and I only marked 2 players as being solid / good. Pretty sure this is the same at many of the smaller sites and networks and seriously thinking about saying goodbye to Stars completely - very soon.

MTT Strategy - Thought #2

Levels of flexibility in your stack size is something mentioned by almost all of the pros on PxF training videos. The thought being that as ones stack dimishes as a proportion of the big blind you loose the felxibility to make certain moves - not dissimilar to Harringtons concept of M but slightly more practical...

<7 BBs - Steals only
<15 BBs - Possible Resteal equity but less effective for blind steals (too much to push and too easy for someone to put you all in if you open raise)
<25 BBs - Flexible enough for both steals and resteals but lacking potential for 4-betting fold equity.
>30BBs - Maximum moves flexibility.

This is of course more complex than outlined - especially as other peoples stack sizes is a very significant factor also - might do a post on the topic another day...

MTT Strategy - Thought #3

Talking to yourself!! A new tactic I have been working on is to articulate my decisions out-loud... this can involve going through all the 'options' or simply justifying your planned action.

Below are some made up examples to illustrate the point:

" I am raising from the C/O with 4-10 off because the button is ultra tight and the blinds both have 8 BB stacks which means they can not play back without a really good hand, which they will not have most of the time..."

"This guy has raised pre-flop for 3 of the last 7 hands, he does not need a great hand to raise and would be crippled by losing a showdown to me. There are 2 people left to act after me so the chances of them having a hand are.... etc etc"

Finding that this helps in a couple of ways; Firstly it forces a pause before acting allowing me to spot any important factors I might have missed... secondly I have to justify the action, if the line is unclear this becomes easily apparent when talking it through.

Not perfected any of the thoughts above as yet - hopefully something for readers to think about though!

GL at those Multi-Table Tournament Tables,


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Poker Web Site Content Available at Reasonable Rates

Looking for great content for your poker web site? I will be glad to accept commissions for poker articles, room reviews and even poker ebooks. With many happy customers and examples to share you can be guaranteed great quality - I'm able to write in either US or UK English and also quickly translate into Hungarian (other languages considered on request).

Prices vary between $10 and $20 for a standard article, this will depend on length / amount of research required and the number of articles requested. For larger pieces of work please drop me a line with your requirements and we can take it from there.

Please e-mail me at with an outline of what you require.

Thanks, Mark

Party Poker Steps SNGs - A Guide to Steps Strategy Part #4 - Step 6 ICM

Time for the next in the Party Poker Steps SNGs Strategy articles series. This one will look at the changes that having a 5 person payout structure will entail at the bubble of Step 6 - the top of the steps ladder.

Before we get into the ICM / Mathematical part let us think about our opposition for a while. Back in the 'old days' before the UIGEA there were a small group (might have included Gigabet even...) of SNG pros who used to buy-in directly to Step 6 to exploit the relatively weaker opposition. While we can not rule this out the availability of higher buy-in SNGs these days and the flatter payout structure certainly make this less likely... It would be easy to consider the opposition a mix: Good but not great SNG players, some nervous that the money is close, some who understand Sit n Go Strategy and some who do not... I feel we can be fairly confident in saying that the level of understanding of ICM will be low compared to a $500 SNG on Stars! This of course includes the critical skill of understanding when not to use ICM...

Right, let us start with the payout structure, total prize pool = $4700, it is easy to visualize here that bubble play will not resemble a standard SNG!

1st - $2000 (42%)
2nd - $1000 (22%)
3rd - $700 (14%)
4th - $500 (11%)
5th - $500 (11%)

There are 2 scenarios to look at here... firstly the actual bubble with 6 players left, secondly 3 players left with the only big jump left being from 2nd to 1st (note: due to yet another long post I will complete the ITM part another day (will just be a shorty)).

ok, so somehow we got to the 6-player bubble with equal stacks... this is what the $equity looks like.

Players 1 to 6 - 3333 chips each! $ equity - $783

So we face an all in (ignoring the blinds for the moment) our decision on whether to call based on ICM would look have the $783 on the 'risked' side, to decide what edge we need we need to calculate the reward -

You - 6666 chips - $1169
players 1 to 4 - 3333 chips - $882.6

So in order to call an all in at the bubble we would need 1169/783 or 1.49 / 1 odds, that is as near to 60% against your opponents range as we are going to get... this is actually less that we would expect in a standard SNG... you can call lighter!

Some examples (suggest 'pokerstove' if you would like to go any deeper with this...)

Opponent Range = Top 20% (66+ A4s+ K8s+ etc), you need 7% (88+ A10s+ AQo+)
Opponent Range = Top 40% (44+ A2s+ J7s+ 98s+), you need 11% (77+ any suited 10+ etc)
Opponent Range = Any-2, you can now call with top 33% of all hands!!

Right then, we have established that your calling range can be lighter than a standard SNG bubble... (this is in fact a double edged sword as inexperienced opponents often call too light!). What about your pushing ranges? Well regular readers will have the plan3t Gong mantra drummed into their heads already right... will repeat it anyway!

"You can not decide on a pushing range without first defining your opponents calling range"

Now we have to look again at our opponents, they may well have spent weeks going up and down the steps levels, they find themselves 1 person from the money... calling light? Personally I do not think so - what we need to do is define what each opponent thinks of as a 'great hand'. This of course can be observed during the early stages of the game. To have something to work with here let us use A10+ (fish always overvalue these hands!) 88+ and maybe KQs too.

If we work with top 7% then, and put the blinds at 400 / 200 what can you profitably push with?? Would you really be suprised to hear that it is 100%!??!

Thats fine but don't push any-2 just yet, ICM (as always) is only aspect of the situation. Some things to think about when deciding on a push:

- Does your opponent put you on any-2 when you shove? In this case he can profitably call with 33%, in which case your shove range goes way down to 16% (if we follow this logic through we eventually reach an equilibrium but that is another topic for another day). So beware of multiple pushes...

- How likely are the other players to burst the bubble for you? This is significant in all SNGs but with 6 players the likelihood can only increase, if other players are going to war then tighten up both shoving and calling ranges.

- Stack sizes... our example used equal stacks to clarify the numbers - the presence of a very big or (more importantly) very small stack(s) will drastically change your strategy. An extreme example of this being someone at the table with less than 1 big blind... now you can not call a shove light if this guy is not in the hand! (this is discussed at lenth in other posts - see for more on stack sizes and bubble dynamics).

Right, fingers getting tired - will (finally!) finish this series next week.

If you have not experienced the Steps SNGs yet check them out right now at Party Poker

GL at the Tables,


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Poker Stars SNGs - What Value Does Missing The Small Blind Have??

Back from Amsterdam and being completely computer-free 4 days, really good to get away, not to mention making the most of the fantastic city that Amsterdam is!!

Thinking about a few poker-related things while away, not least about personal motivations for playing the game... for me this is a more complex area than it might seem at first glance - will do a separate post on the subject some time soon.

Was thinking about Stars SNGs - in particular the blind structure that means that if the Small Blind is knocked out when you are in the Big Blind then you miss your Small Blind next hand, the UTG player takes the SB and the next player the BB.

My thought is this, there must be some real value attached to missing the SB once the blinds are big enough (say 200/400)... however if we look at a SB vs BB all-in and call situation at the bubble this would be very negligable indeed... once we are in the money not having to post the SB goes down in value.

Taking this further then with a medium stack and 5 handed is where to look - here there is a possibility that missing the SB could turn a marginal fold into a call... I say possibility as this is really only a hypothesis at the moment - so let us have a look at an example... the stacks here are before posting the 400/200 blinds (ignoring the ante and with $100 prize pool to simplify)

UTG - 3500 -$24.41
CO - 2500 - $19.17
Button - 3500 - $24.41
SB - 2000 - $16
BB - 2000 - $16

So, it gets folded to the SB who pushes, you know that he is an experienced SNG player and his range here is the good old fashioned 'any-2 cards' what then, according to ICM, would you need to call??

It would be pretty wide, 55% if you require a 0.5% edge... thats any pair, any ace or king, most queens and suited connectors / 1 gappers down to 97s.

Now this calculation is only a snapshot of the 'now' (as are all ICM calculations) - we are looking at the win resulting in a 4000 chip stack, however since we miss the SB we do not have to give up those 200 more chips next hand - to illustrate I'll redo the calculation with a 2200 starting stack.... we now get to add another 2% of hands! Our range can include 87s, Q3o amd J3s.

At the end of the day this is a marginal situation - but then again giving up equity by calling just that little bit too tight over 100's of SNGs will eventually eat into anyones profits.

Not sure exactly what the blind structures are for the other top poker sites - will have a look some time... in the meantime it is hopefully something to think about though.

GL at the tables,