Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sit n Go Strategy - eBook Reader Questions

Was wondering what to post about today when the following questions arrived... they come from a reader of my SNG Poker eBook 'A Comedy of Errors' and seek some clarification on the finer points of pushbotting... book is still available via sign-up in the right hand column of this blog. It is fairly long and covers Sit n Go Strategy from the angle of the mistakes your opponents will make... always happy to answer questions on this.

Firstly the clarification of 'Push'; this means go all-in - every last chip, usually used in the context of being the first to enter the pot but could also be 'push over limpers' etc.

The reason for going all-in so often in SNGs is your stack size... especially when less than 10 times the big blind you can not usually raise and then fold (as you would be getting the correct pot odds to call any re-raise with any legitimate raising hand)... so you push instead, this gets opponents to fold some hands they might have re-raised with and has the maximum chance of taking down the blinds pre-flop. If you are going to call anyway then why not get the maxium fold equity from your stack??

There are situations where you could go all-in with >10 big blinds, more room for poker here though so usually re-steals of some kind.

Fold equity question next, particularly in the lower limit SNGs... example given was that it may be 'mathematically correct' to push from the small blind 4 times in a row - but you'll soon lose the ability to get your opponent to fold...

This is correct, the hands you will be called with depend on opponents mostly - but if you keep pushing then the range of hands you will be called with will increase. This is actually the key to Sit N Go bubble strategy... you can not decide whether a push has a positive expectation without 2 pieces of related information.

#1 - The $equity you risk compared with your potential gain

#2 - The range of hands your opponent will call you with.

They are related as your potential equity loss / gain is the sum of the chance your opponent(s) will fold and you take down the blinds vs the winning chances of your hand against the range of hands they might call you with.

So, if an opponent will call you with top 20% of hands.

- 80% of the time you win the blinds
- 20% of chance you have to win the showdown, say for example you have a 40% chance of winning if called - you work out the difference in your $equity for the total outcomes.

Keep mentioning $equity - if you calculate just using the number of chips then you get the wrong result!! This is because your current share of the prize pool is not equal to the number of chips you hold (for more on this I point readers to my many previous ICM themed articles).

So, back to the question - push number 4 into the small blind. Your previous behaviour has increased the number of hands he will call you with... yet if you have a positive expectation in terms of $equity when he calls with top 50% of hands (for example) then you should still push, if not then you fold. Assessing opponents calling ranges comes with experience, once you have a good idea of this then you are in a very strong position.

The last question concerned going all in with cards that traditionally would not warrant such a move... J-5 off suit a good example?

Same answer again, the chance your opponents will fold compared with your winning chances against the range of hands that will call you - again in terms of $equity and not chip equity. Will put it into simple numbers this time (based on chip ev) ... you push J-5 off 100 times from the SB expecting to be a 2/1 underdog when called.

80 Times your opponent folds - and you get 600 chips (the blinds)
13 times your opponent calls and you lose 2000 chips
7 times your opponent calls and you win 2000 chips

so, on the + side we have (80 * 600) + (7 * 2000) = 62000
on the losses side we have (13 * 2000) = 26000

(62000 - 26000)/100 = net gain of 360 chips per hand

You really need to do the same maths based on $equity, 3 tools that i recommend to start learning this stuff.

1) The free ICM calculator at Chillin411.com (there are others around too)
2) Poker Stove (free download) - Calculates your winning chances vs ranges of opponents calling hands.
3) Sit and Go Power Tools (or one of the many others) - best investment a SNG player can make is an ICM calculator, shows whether a push has a positive expectation at various blind levels and stack sizes against changable ranges for opponents. Costs around $80 but well worth it.

Oh, and there are loads of Sit N Go strategy / ICM and 'opponent ranges' articles right here at plan3t Gong!!

Bit longer than anticipated... GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, July 30, 2007

An Interesting Statistic?

Usual Monday quick thought...

Was doing some research for a client's articles the other day when I came across a statistic concerning online poker that gave me pause for thought. This concerned the ratio of cash game players to tournament players at online poker rooms.

Here is an idea from one of the top poker rooms... the July Average was almost 9,000 ring-game players at peak times (US evenings I guess...) but 60,000 tournament players! This ratio was repeated at between 6/1 and 8/1 at all of the larger poker rooms.

Maybe it is not a suprise to you - but I somehow assumed that the ratio would be pretty much balanced.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Playing Draws in No Limit Holdem - Kill Cards Revisited

After doing a post on 'Kill Cards' in PLO about 10 days ago I started to wonder whether this concept could apply to No Limit Holdem draws vs made hand situations too...

The concept is this: Most players know the post-flop odds of hitting a straight or a flush. To get this you are simply dividing the number of unseen cards that will help your hand by the total number left in the deck.... for the record here are some of the most common post-flop odds.

Approx odds of completing a flush with 2 cards to come (assumes 2 of suit in your hand and 2 on the board) = 35% (around 1.9/1)

Approx odds of completing open ended straight with 2 cards to come = 31.5% (around 2.1/1)

Right, so what about these 'Kill Cards'.... here is the idea - your opponent in each case has a made hand, trips, 2 pair or maybe top pair with a draw of their own. When this is the case there are unseen cards in the deck that may complete their draw to a better hand regardless of whether that (or the next) card helps you... your draw has been 'killed'

Will use the example of a flush against trips (pair in opponents hand rather than paired board). On the turn card you have 9 outs (the unseen cards of your suit) but here your opponent has 7 'Killer Outs'... for example 8-A-J on the board and opponent holds a pair of 8's in his hand, now the one remaining 8 and also any of the 3 remaining Aces or 3 remaining Jacks give him a full house....

Moving to the turn, even if you made your flush already your opponent has 10 more outs to beat you... the 8, 3*ace, 3*Jack and the 3 remaining cards that might pair the turn card.

Of course the question is not that such kill cards exist, it is how do we account for these in numbers - what are your odds of winning the hand after the flop in this example?

The answer here is that you have gone from being 35% to win the hand to 25.5% - from 1.9/1 to just about 3/1, big difference when thinking of a pot-odds based call in a tournament situation.

Of course you can not be sure that your opponent has trips (thats the beauty of the game after all!!). What about the same scenario where your opponent has top 2 pair - he now has 4 outs twice to make that full house, that is 4 of the remaining cards in the deck are 'killers' for your flush draw....

The effect is smaller, reducing your chances of winning the hand by just over 1% or from 1.9/1 to just over 2/1.

The situation could become a little more complex - if you have a straight draw against possible trips + backdoor flush... or even with more than one opponent with different draw / made hand combinations...

Will leave that for another day - hope to have given readers a little food for thought on the subject of Kill Cards in No Limit Holdem!

Friday, July 27, 2007

PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest - #10

Well well, the weekly tournament strategy digest makes double figures... time for number #10, feedback so far has been good (thanks to all who sent a mail / dropped a comment).

One possible improvement could be a couple more suggestions for links from you the readers! I keep an eye on the web for these links by scanning my 5 or 6 favourite sites over the course of the week and following the odd link to a new site... however there are 100's of sites out there that readers are looking at, so if you spot something good on MTT or SNG strategy drop me a line (you'll get credit for the link too!!).

Anyway, on with the digest... as usual links will open in a new window.

Weekly SNG Strategy / Multi-Table Tournament Strategy Digest #10

1) SNG Strategy

Someone over at 2+2 asked a very good question, and thinking it through us SNG players should be concerned... Why is the rake for SNG tournaments so high? If one compares it to the amount of 'processing time' or just general effort the poker sites expend running SNGs then it could easily be lowered... in fact it only takes 1 major site to take the lead and lower their rake to attract far more SNG players, are we suffering from a poker-room cartel?? Link Here!

This next link is really included as a reminder of where the money comes from in SNG poker. A poster at cardplayer was complaining about the fish in the $20 to $30 SNG range and asking how far to move up to leave them behind... but why?... why do people want to leave them behind? (Good bankroll management + solid play + time) = nice profit against 'fish'... its a fact of life out there on the tables folks... if you can not beat your current level moving up to where people 'respect your raises' is a recipie for disaster!!! Link Here.

Back to 2+2 for a discussion on restealing ranges from the BB after a late position (c/o) raise, all about what range to put an 'average' 2.5bb blind stealer on and what hands one might need to reraise all-in here. Link Here (long discussion warning!)

2) Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

First up an interesting insight from Eric Lynch ('Rizen') about adapting to different players at the same table... this article was based on a live experience but could and should happen in online multi-table tournaments too... personally I try to categorise the2 players to my left and 2 to my right first. Link Here .

This is an internal link to a blog post earlier in the week, wanted to include it in the digest to ensure it does not disappear... it concerns the simply amazing achievement of Annette_15 Winning a Stars 4/180 Playing Blind, you'll find a link to the PxF video in the original entry... wonder how many players were actually demoralized by this?

Final multi-table strategy link is from 2+2, this covers playing in the 'Dead Zone', when your stack has dwindled to the point where you have lost fold equity and those dreaded blinds are approaching... I'm sure that this has happened to all of us at some point - interesting discussion from the high-stakes MTT forum on the topic... Link Here.

3) Blogs / Misc

No new blogs to cover this week (come on bloggers - I know you are out there!!). Instead a quick mention for 3 online 'events' that are just about to commence;

Firstly Full Tilt are running FTOPS (Full Tilt Online Poker Series) number 5 with some serious gtdprize pools... the difference this time is that you can win multiple satellite qualifiers and keep the additional entries as cash.... check them out - Here.

Stars have their WCOOP about to get going, many games feature and a total prize pool of $15 Million is gtd...Link Here

Last but not least, Titan Poker are holding a $1 Million Gtd Tourney in early September, SNG satellites and multi-Table qualifiers already underway... just imagine - the prize pool of the sunday million contested by the fish at Titan.... my mouth is already watering in anticipation - Link Here (Please Note: Titan are not currently US-Friendly)

Thats all for this week, GL at the tables - Mark

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pot Limit Omaha Sit and Go Tournaments - Part #1 of a new PLO SNG Series

Time for my weekly Pot Limit Omaha post, since PG is primarily SNG and Tournament strategy based I thought that PLO Sit N Goes would be a good candidate for a series (got to be a series! Putting all my thoughts on one post would be more of an essay than a blog entry!!).

Going to start with some differences between PLO and NLHE SNGs and generally introduce the subject area - a weekly post will then follow going through the various stages of PLO Sit and Goes from early game through the bubble up to the heads-up section.

- A really obvious but very significant difference to start with. Omaha uses a Pot-Limit betting structure. You can not 'shove' all-in (unless very short stacked), here is the rub - you can often re-raise all-in during the late stages. This will signifcantly affect late game strategy.

- PLO is primarily a post-flop game, holding 4 cards means you are looking to flop a monster for sure, but you are more likely to flop a moster draw. Compare this to a NL Holdem SNG strategy... this is primarily a pre-flop game, in fact it is entirely a pre-flop game once the average stack is <10BBs

- Hand values are close, there is no huge favourite in Pot Limit Omaha starting hand match-ups before the flop. Calling a raise with a medium-strength holding can be a mistake, but it is rarely going to be a huge mistake pre-flop. Again if you are going to force opponents to make an error this will generally need to be done after the flop.

- Not so immediately obvious but significant none the less is the effect of relative stack sizes compared to the other stacks and to the blinds. Holding a big stack in the late game becomes an even bigger advantage than in a NLHE Sit n Go... why? Well you can see flops while your opponents can not - flat calling pot-sized raises and then putting medium stacked opponents to the test once the flop comes is huge...

Thats the intro - recommend Short-Stacked Shamus' blog 'Hard Boiled Poker' (in blogs list on right) for more PLO strategy insights.

GL in those pot Limit Omaha SNGs

Thoughts on Pot Sweetener Bets

See many mentions in books and on forums of 'Pot Sweetener' bets - but very rarely any advice on good / bad situations for them... figured I'd do a post on the subject, as usual the objective being to get readers thinking rather than make any bold statements.

Firstl what do we mean by pot sweetener bets?

Well the concept is this - make a small raise with a hand that has the potential to flop a monster, even though you know you'll be called in several places... an ideal hand being a smallish pair and an ideal situation a multi-way limped pot against deep-stacked opponents. The sweetener aspect comes from the fact that in No-Limit games the bet sizes after the flop are as a proportion of the pot. By building the pot pre-flop you put yourself in a position to win a far bigger pot the times you do hit compared to the small investment in raising.

Next lets use some numbers to demonstrate...

Its level 1 in a deepstacked tournament, everyone has 200 big blinds and from the button you see 2 limpers ahead and look down at 6-6. You'll make a set approx once in 8 times (near enough for our example) and stand to win a good pot.

- First time you limp for 10 of your 2000 chips. Including the 2 blinds the pre-flop pot is 50 chips. You spike a set and an early position player bets the pot on the flop, you raise 3 times his bet... so pot = 50 (pre-flop) + 50 (ep players bet) + 150 (your raise) = 250 on the turn. Now imagine the EP player has a high pair (he spiked a Q with his AK for TPTK!). He then calls your turn bet of 4/5ths the pot and river value bet of half the pot. At showdown you have won 250 (flop) + 400 (your 200 bet was called) + 750 (your 325 value bet called). The total pot 1400 chips of which you invested 10+150+200+325 = 685 chips so you increased your stack by 715 chips... not bad... we need to take off the 7 out of 8 times you miss your set and fold - so (715-70) = 645 chips.

- Exactly the same hand and the same result - except this time you used a pot sweetener bet, making it 30 chips to go even though you knew the limpers would call this bet with anything they limped with. Now the pre-flop pot = 150, the EP player bets this on the flop and you raise to 450... on the turn the pot is 1050 chips, no need to work out the maths from here as long as your bet is called on the turn the pot will be so large that your opponent will surely commit the rest of his stack. Opponent specific of course that flop or turn bet will not always be called. The point to demonstrate is that by sweetening the pot pre-flop you grew the pot enough to win 2000 chips rather than 715 - and importantly did not have to overbet the pot on later streets to do so. Finally for the numbers 7 out of 8 times you miss your set and fold - so we need to take off 30 chips * 7 or 210 chips.

So when should a pot sweetener bet be used?

- Going to start with when it should not be used, any time you are short-stacked!! You need the implied odds here as you will not often spike the set and not always get paid off when you do.
I would never use this strategy in a sit and go... even at the early levels where you appear deep stacked enough for it to work - those chips are too precious to gamble on implied-odds situations with. If you insist on raising with small pairs in the early levels (don't do it!!) then at least have the decency to raise enough to have some fold-equity!!

- Pot sweeteners will of course work in a cash-game, ideally at a full table where you have several opponents in the pot (thought is that this increases the likelihood of one or more opponents hitting the flop hard enough to pay you off).

- Tournaments are also good, especially deep-stacked ones when you have 100 or more big blinds for several blind levels.

Thats all for today - best of luck with those pot sweetener bets.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Annette_15 Wins 4/180 SNG on Stars Playing Blind

Just a quicky today - busy once again. Before getting on to Annette_15's incredible achievement a quick 'thanks' to those people dropping me comments for links and maths corrections!! I write these blog posts very fast on busy days and admit being prone to the odd error - keep 'em coming.

Right, here is one incredible link: http://www.pokerxfactor.com/HH72069/4%20180%20blind%20play (registration required)

Annette_15 does not really have much to prove, her tournament record is excellent already. However this win in a pokerstars $4 SNG with 180 players was played without looking at holecards... yep, completely blind. (appearently a quick peek at hand 47 - a pot which Annette lost!).

What an amazing accomplishment... kind of want to give up poker for ever!!

100's of quality MTT / SNG and Satellite Strategy Articles Availble at Sitandgoplanet...


GL at the tables, Mark

Quick Update: Thinking about it there is a lot we can learn from this hand history video, not only on the power of position, aggression and spotting weakness from opponents but on the type of players that you come across in the 4/180s too... might be worthy of a separate post later in the week time permitting!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

NL Holdem Pre-Flop Probability - KK - Part #2

Beaten my own record for a part #2 - only a days gap! Anyhow, going to continue looking at playing Kings pre-flop in NL Holdem Poker. Summary last time was that if you hold KK there is a 77% chance of an opponent holding an Ace - going down to 49% for A-10+ and if they do hold one there is a 19% chance of an ace flopping.

Here we will look at some of the other hands people will call with and the pre-flop probability of being dealt each hand. We are then in a position to calculate your continuation bet success rate when an ace does flop... assuming that if this happens you'd be happy enough to take the pot down right there.

So, first some ranges... not all players are equal of course so we will choose an 'average' range to work with. In the earyl an online multi-table poker tournament or a cash game we are deep enough that a range of implied odds hands will generally call. We will go with, Any Pair, Any Ace with a kicker 8 or above, K-10o+ and QJo + any suited connector down to 78s. Will work it out for a single opponent first and then add other callers later.

Pre-Flop Probability of Each Hand Type:

Pairs... 6 ways of being dealt each, with only one way of being dealt KK. (12*6)+1 = 73 of the 1326 starting hands possible or 5.5%

Aces... There are 12 ways of being dealt A-8 through Q, and 6 ways of AK (you have the 2 kings of course!). Total = 66/1326 or 4.9%

Kings / Queens... There are 6 ways each of getting KQ through K10 and 12 more of getting QJ = 40/1326 = 3%

Suited Connectors... 8 ways each of getting each suited connector 78 / 89 / 910 / 10J = 32/1326 = 2.4%

This is only really any use if we turn it into a ratio - that is to say, once we are called we need to know what proportion of the time an opponent will have hand type-X pre-flop. So here it is

Pair: 34.8% of the time.
Ace: 31% of the time.
Broadway Cards: 19% of the time.
Suited Connectors: 15.2% of the time.

Well that should say something about continuation betting... after all a half-pot bet only needs to win a third of the time to break even, when an ace flops a single opponent will only hold that card 31% so into profit immediately.

Of course life at the poker tables is actually more complex than this - there are many ways an opponent could hit the flop and many hands that will call your bet regardless of whether an ace comes... imagine a ragged flop, you are in a great position to stack the guy holding QQ and a rather unfortunate position against someone holding a set of 4's!!

Calculating holdings for multiple opponents can get tricky - after all the cards held by the first guy change the probability of the second guy holding certain pre-flop hands. Will close this post by looking at continuation betting those Kings into 2 opponents when an Ace does come on the flop. We have a 31% chance of each opponent holding an Ace - so what is the combined percentage for 2? Well it is not 62%!

The way I look at it is this - there is a 31% chance the first guy has it... so we only need to be concerned with the 69% of the time he does not, now there is a 31% chance the 2nd guy has it out of the 69% - so 31% of 69% = 21% (close enough) - add that to the 31 and we are dealing with a 52% chance... still good enough but shaving some profit from our cbet success rate.

Well, hope this has given you something to think about! Will continue the theme at some point in the future with a look at probabilities of different hand combinations hitting the flop.

GL at the tables, Mark

Saturday, July 21, 2007

PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest - #9

Time for the next Digest... some interesting links this week including the 'famous' SNG video of RainKahn 24 tabling SNGs.

PG Poker Weekly SNG Strategy / Multi-Table Tournament Strategy Digest #9

1) Single Table Tournament Strategy...

We'll kick straight off with the Rainkahn SNG video this week, after his impressive run in the 2007 WSOP its a popular search at the mo. As I said in a post last week, not too long ago this guy was grinding the Poker Stars 16's... hope for us all! Here is that link: Rainkahn 24 Table Vid

Next a forum thread from Cardplayer... how exactly does one deal with a total calling station in a SNG??? Clue: Do not try and bluff them off their hands! Interesting discussion - no need to get frustrated by these types, keep the pot small until you have a little something and value bet them to death!! Here is the link: Calling Stations!!

Something new in the world of SNGs... Party have created 'Hellcat' Sit and Goes - an interesting twist to these (Hellcat strategy article some time soon here on Plan3t Gong!). The blind levels are 3 minutes... and the payout is for the 3 biggest stacks after 15 minutes when the clock is stopped! Yep, no bubble... hmmm. Here is a thread on 2+2 debating them 2+2 Thread if any non-US players fancy taking a look you could always use this link Party Poker - please report back to Plan3t Gong with your thoughts and experiences!!

2) Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

Not sure how many people are aware, but Poker-x-Factor hand histories can be made public, several online pros have done just that... the following link is in a thread from 2+2 that consolidates a lot of these. The one I though might be of interest to weekly digest readers was by ChessKid1 - he lists no less than 8 full hand history videos - 7 of them are by Annette_15 and one by Rizen - here is the link: Vids

Next over to Poket 5's - thought this was an interesting thread called 'the reality of MTT variance' Link , got to play to win these things - the problem being that doing so reduces ones chances in each tournament, its only a matter of time dear readers!!

Final post could relate to all forms of poker really, it is from the 'poker theory board' over at 2+2, this board can throw up some interesting strategy discussions (and a lot of rubbish too!). This post is on the subject of poker bet sizing - to max profits and minimize losses... Link - after all, we all get the same cards over time, those who bet best win most!

3) Blogs / Misc

Have been popping over to 'The Cloud's' blog on occasion for a while now - but he recently started a 'Diceman Experiment' (for those who have not read the book of the same name it is recommended - by a guy called Luke Rindhart from the 70's). Anyway Cloud is rolling a dice to decide what games to play and at what buy-in level etc... a facsinating read...Link - going to pop this blog in my 'blogs of distinction' list right after posting this!

Finally the Full Tilt Poker FTOPS V is almost here, this is a series of big buy-in events with a final event which boasts a $2 Million prize pool... great thing here is that Full Tilt are allowing people to win multiple satellites - (used to be one each) - anyone skilled in these could make a tidy profit here... did a summary + schedule over at SNG Planet - An FTOPS V Guide + Schedule

Thats all for this week, let me know if you spot anything worthy of inclusion - feedback always appreciated.

Cheers, Mark

Friday, July 20, 2007

Poker Flop Probability - Playing KK

Another tournament strategy post inspired by my recent re-read of Doyle Brunson's Super System II. This mostly concerns 2 probability statistics. Firstly the chance of one or more opponents holding an Ace when you have KK pre flop - then the chance of their ace being 'playable' and another ace flopping...

Here is a summary from Doyle on the probability (we will do a reality check on this first).

"In a 9 handed game when you have 2 kings... a player will have an ace about 80% of the time."

"... An Ace will flop about 18% of the time..."

So, first let us check the 80% statistic. There are 6 ways each player could hold AA, and 6 ways for AK (you have KK after all) and 12 ways for each of the other A-x cards, this adds up to each player having a probability of 138 / 1326 - 9.6% chance of holding an ace... (NOTE: If you are looking for how I calculated these numbers then check out this post: http://plan3tgongpoker.blogspot.com/2007/05/poker-flop-probability-continuation.html )

Well, thats not quite 80% but close enough - the chances of more than one player being dealt an ace are significantly reduced by any ace already being in the hand of another player. Conversely if 6 players are not dealt an ace then the chances of the remaining players getting one will go up (this is the 'Bunching Concept'). Also it may not be accurate from a statistical standpoint to simply sum the probabilities of each player getting an ace... after all each 9.6% is a separate calculation.

For now we will work with the 77% rough calculation.

The next point here is that not all aces... sure some players like A-4 offsuit, but most do not. So you raised with your KK before the flop - which of those aces are calling your raise?

We will try 2 different levels, A10 + and A7+ so that this concept can apply to a few different buy-ins...

A7+ Calling your raise - Probability = (78/1326)*8 = 47%
AT+ Calling your raise - Probability = (48/1326)*8 = 29%

Fine, but there are 2 things more to work out before these statistics become useful. Firstly the chance of an Ace coming down on the flop... secondly the proportion of A-X hands you opponent might hold in relation to the other hands he would have called with (pairs etc). Will look at the first one today and make a part #2 out of the 2nd (big enough for a whole post of its own!!).

There are 3 aces (mostly) left in the deck - and 50 unseen cards (you can only be sure of the two Kings in your hand). So the chance that each of the 3 flop cards is an Ace = 6%, actually if the first card is not an ace then the chances for the 2nd go up... the actual equation is


Thats around 19%, not too far from Doyles 20% really. Remember that in our scenario there are still 2 kings in the deck, thats just over 12% to flop one (or just over 8% if one of the flop cards is an ace).

All very nice, but how can this be used. Well it should emphasis the importance of getting money in pre-flop with Kings! Yes, there is a fair chance that at least one opponent holds and ace. Yes, an Ace could flop killing your hand (assuming one of the remaining Kings does not).

Of course there are more hands that an opponent could have called with than A-X, that will wait for part #2 (Sunday - going to do the weekly digest tomorrow).

GL at the tables, Mark

PS: Have been working hard on SNG planet this week and now have a Poker Tournament Beginners Area up and running, includes a tournament FAQ, Quick Start Strategy Guide and tournament selector matrix... + more to follow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Early Game Sit n Go Strategy - Completing The Small Blind

Time for more early game Sit N Go Strategy... this time on completing the small blind, particularly with limpers ahead. My thought is that this is not as simple as a decision as it first appears... that there is always a risk of comitting more to the pot than you first imagined.

Let us first set a scene, you are in the small blind at 50/100 with 6 opponents, a player limps ahead of you and you must make a decision about whether to 'flick in' those 50 extra chips to see a pot of 300. We will assume no very large or small stacks involved at this point.

On the positive side, you are being offered a massive 5/1 from the pot, with average stacks of approx 2000 your potential gain is large if you hit a monster, that is your implied odds are huge.

On the negative side the player in the big blind might raise - meaning you'll be throwing away those precious chips. You will also be out of position for the rest of the hand, not just first to act, but sandwiched between the guy who voluntarily put chips into the pot (the limper) and the other guy (big blind) assuming the limper is the guy more likely to make a play for the pot.

So, we need to think of the determining factors - what might influence your decision on whether to complete or not. Here are a few thoughts:

- Your stack size, especially relative to the others in the hand.
- The hand that you are dealt (we are assuming nothing too strong - else you'd have raised!)
- Your ability in playing hands out of position.
- The tendancies of your opponents.

Conserving chips in a SNG is important, especially as the bubble approaches. If we are not confident enough to raise and take the pot then should we be playing the hand at all? Sure this small blind may be a tiny fraction of your stack - but those tiny fractions might add up to 200 or 300 chips pretty quickly.

Hand strength is a tricky area, of the hands that we are not going to raise with should we complete with the medium hands - the problem with holdings like A-3 or K-6 off (for example) is that we are unlikely to know where we stand after the flop without hitting 2 -pair or better. These types of hands are easily dominated. Hands such as 7-8 off or 3-4 suited are sometimes better, but then again we are more likely to hit a draw than a made hand... which will involve risking more chips than the 50 we completed the blind with to contest the pot after the flop.

My personal thought is that post-flop play, together with the tendancies of your opponents are the critical factors. Ask yourself whether you are liable to lose chips if you catch a small piece of the flop, be honest now - it is easy to overestimate your ability to lay down a small top-pair, would you really do it?? If your opponents are timid or overly tight you may be able to pick up the pot or take free cards to make your unlikely draw after the flop. If they are calling stations or like to stab or bluff at the pot then you can not be certain that you are risking just the 50 chips at all...

One more thing, if you are a multi-tabler then completing the SB may result in having to make some post flop judgements, depending on the number of tables played I would try to avoid these when they are not neccessary.

Well, hope that has given you something to think about - guess the main point of this article is - "How sure can you be that you are only comitting 50 chips!"

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

PL Omaha Poker Strategy - Kill Cards in PLO Strategy

Picked Doyle Brunson's SS/2 from my shelf yesterday and browsed the PLO section. It is a great chapter (perhaps a little too oriented to the high stakes player) and provides some valuable insights. Towards the end of the chapter there is a chart + explanation of the effect of 'Kill Cards' and how these can lead to people overestimating the odds of hitting a draw.

Here is a basic explanation - you have 9-10-j-Q double suited (an excellent PLO starting hand!) and call a raise before the flop which comes A-8-7. You bet and your tight opponent re-raises, knowing this opponent you can safely put him on trip aces... yet you have a wrap. The question concerned working out your odds of hitting your straight draw (we'll ignore flushes for the moment to keep things simple).

So you have a total of 4*6's, 3*9s, 3*10s, 3*Js here on the turn - a king coming on the turn would even add more 3*Q on the river.

Turn Outs = 13
River outs with a K on turn = 16

Thats a good number of outs - there are 46 unseen cards (we are never sure exactly what our opponent holds) which might indicate that we are 50/50 to win the hand if all the money were to get in right now... any overlay from the pre-flop betting round making this a positive expectation play over time.

However, what about outs for our opponent? Assuming he does have trips there are several cards which could come which would 'kill' our draw. These are known as the killer cards in pot limit omaha strategy... the question is not that they exist - but how (mathematically) do we account for the effect of our chances of winning the hand. In this case there are 7 killers on the turn (any 8, 7 or the remaining A) which will give our opponent a full house. On the river this goes up to 10 - even when we make our straight - as the turn card and river could be a pair also making that full house.

This is where Lyle Berman's Killer Cards Chart comes into play (will not reproduce it - copyright etc!) This gives numerical values which compare the number of outs the drawing hand has compared to the amount of killer cards the made hand has with which to redraw.

In our example the draw was in fact 53.9% to get there with 2 cards to come - the turn kill cards reducing this percentage to 42.8% and the river card even more. Food for thought -you would need 21 outs to be favourite with 2 cards to come against top set - even though so many cards help your hand the chance of any opponent redrawing to a full house or even quads reduce your chances significnantly.

Back to SNGs / Tournaments for the rest of the week - hope the PLO strategy posts are providing a little food for thought!

Cheers, Mark

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back in Time - Playing SNGs with RaINkAhn

Looking at the 2007 World Series Poekr updates you can not miss the name Hevad Kahn, currently 3rd in chips with 36 to go and apparently dancing each time he wins a pot this guy qualified through poker stars!

If we were to go back to when I started my online poker journey - before travelling the world around 2 years ago - then Hevad Kahn (aka 'Rainkahn') was on every single pokerstars $16 turbo SNG available... and I mean every damn table.

Rainkahn used to 24 table continuously... and win! It created a big fuss at the time over on 2+2 and elsewhere as to whether he was in fact a bot!!! Of course I was one of many that wrote to Stars to check (see a pattern anybody?) but nope, he was real and eventually released a video of himself 24 tabling to prove it.

We shared some time at the $27's too before I travelled - by the time I had come back Rainkahn had improved to the $60s then $109 Turbos and beyond and so disappeared from my radar. Great to see him doing so well in the World Sreies of Poker and let us hope... for the influx of new fish that it will bring... that a Stars qualifier wins!!

So for those making their way up the SNG Ladder at the moment - 2008, 2009 who knows?? Maybe it will be you!!

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, July 13, 2007

PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest - #8

Time for SNG Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Digest number 8.... a little early as I will not be able to post tomorrow....

Just quickly before we start - see the logo at the top right? The Sit and Go Planet one? well here's an offer for any poker bloggers out there - pop the logo in your blog template (you'll need to send me a quick mail for the code: to Q351@yahoo.co.uk ) and you'll get a dedicated post reviewing your blog right here on Plan3t Gong - and I'll add you to the SNG Planet blogroll. Traffic to both sites is growing all the time - this months estimate about 7000 uniques between the 2 (some overlap admittedly, maybe 5 to 8%)... good for you and good for me!

Sit N Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest Number #8

1) Sit N Go Strategy

First up this week a forum post from 2+2 looking at 'In The Money' play when holding a dominatingly large stack - Link Here. Some great discussion to compliment the blog posts I did fairly recently here on this subject relating the the bubble.

Second link is also to 2+2 this time on one of my favourite subjects ICM... Where ICM is Lacking? is a full blown row from a relative SNG newcomer and the 2+2 regs. This is by no means a new thread type... there are 2 points for me that jump out; 1) ICM has its drawbacks for sure, but unless you understand it (your opponents do after all!) then you are not in a strong position to know when to deviate from it... the best players know the maths - they also know when to ingore the maths! 2) ICM with less than 10BB stacks is an unexploitable strategy if you can define opponents ranges accurately, it does not claim to be optimal - just plain old unexploitable... if someone comes up with a better short stack strategy on the bubble then I am all ears!!!

Finally a 3rd 2+2 tread (well I looked all over the forums but these were the 3 most interesting!!) this time on the subject of Bunching Aces... and how this relates to SNG Power Tools (et al) calculations. The concept is that if 5 people have folded 'random hands' then the remainder of hands are more likely to contain aces. Great idea - most push / fold comes short handed so the effect would not be so marked in my humble opinion.

2) Multi Player Tournament Strategy

Over to the forum at cardplayer.com for the first link - what exactly does it take to win a large-field online poker tournament (particularly the lower buy-in ones!). Thought that this was a well reasoned debate emphasising both the role of luck and the concept of 'playing to win - no to cash'. Link Here

Next a Pocket 5's double - shame to see a few posts over on p5's going down the same innane slanging match route as many 2+2 posts... hopefully the spotty teenaged oiks responsible will find a new hobby soon and return P5's to the quality resource it usually is!! Oops - went off topic there... first link is an article by Assassinato (whose posts I personally rate highly) on the Downsides of being an Internet Pro. Then a thread from the forums on the Upsides of being an Internet Pro. Well PG poker likes to take a balanced view!

Tried not to post any more 2+2 but not to include this one would be doing readers a dis-service. A long post outlining a 'Framework for poker study' contains some really interesting points about situational factors and post flop play in general in MTTs - Link Here

3) Misc / Blogs

A new blog to mention this week, us SNG players need to watch out - someone is serious about beating the game! Normalcy's Blog covers this learning experience, contains plently of SNG strategy thoughts and is well written to boot!

Thats all for this week - GL at the tables, Mark

Early Game Sit and Go Strategy - Suited Connectors?

Suited connectors, especially the medium to high variety, are the bread and butter of Multi Table Tournament poker and a deceptive way to build a big hand in poker cash games... but how about Sit and Go Tournaments?

Here is the crux of the matter for me... on one hand you have the implied odds in some situations to play them profitably... on the other hand you will miss most of the time and end up folding after your initial small investment in the pot - this is bad for your chances in any Sit and Go, your chips are very valuable and the games are short - lose your fold equity too early and you do not get to the place where the real money is made (the bubble) in good shape.

If life was as easy as spending 20 or 30 chips in the early blind levels then the argument for playing suited connectors in sit and goes would be stronger. Life is never that easy in poker though!! If there are people to act behind you then you risk a raise pre flop... take this example:

You limp from mid-position behind a limper with 89 suited, the c/o and button also limp, small blind folds and the BB makes it 3 times (90 chips) to go... 1st limper calls. Pot = 225 with 60 chips to you - you expect it is most likely that c/o and button will also call, effectively making your pot-odds 60/345 or 5.75 to 1. With the opportunity to double up from your 60 extra chip investment this looks like a good implied-odds opportunity. Before we get to the flop let us look at position - if we assume the BB will continuation bet then you have 2 players to act after you - effectively sandwiched between the likely raiser and 2 other players.

Apart from flopping the straight, flush or 2 pairs+ you are in a shaky situation after the flop here, you can not be sure any flush draw is the best. Even a 9 high flop carries dangers of overcards. A straight or flush draw puts you in a situation where calling a raise post-flop may induce a squeeze from one of the players behind you and re-raising commits more chips when you may be behind... all in all this is not a good SNG situation!

So on a brighter note. When can you play suited connectors? Well in position is a good start, from the button or completing the Small Blind (very cheap and less likely to be raised - but bad post flop position) are ideal opportunities. If you do limp out of position with them and get raised then I would usually only call the raise with several players in the pot and if I were to the immeditate right of the raiser... this last point is important after the flop - if we are to assume that the bet after the flop will come from the pre-flop raiser then we will be able to see the reaction of the other players in the hand before we make a decision - contrast this with being to the raisers left, now when he c-bets you have to act before the other players in the hand, any one of whom could be trapping with a monster!

Also late in the game these kind of hands go up in value - with less than 10 big-blinds and folded to they make a good shoving hand, the reason being that they are less likely to be dominated by the Ace-X or high card hands that opponents (especially at the lower levels) are likely to call with... the maths works well, you are hoping to pick up the blinds uncontested but would like to have some decent winning chances in the event that you are called.

So, suited connectors are dangerous in SNGs - they can often prove more expensive than they at first appear and use up precious chips... have a think before you play them!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pot Limit Omaha Strategy - More Extreme Adjustments

Soon be starting a new series on SNG Strategy Tips - realised that most of the posts here focus on the late game (naturally I guess as this is where most of the thinking player's edge comes from).

New series will look at the early and middle stages - subjects such as getting paid with a monster, pot control and responding to the check-min raise are already drafted (well I say drafted.... scribbled in my trusty notepad!) and will be appearing here over the coming weeks.

Right, today will continue with the weekly pot limit omaha cash game thoughts. Late last night I joined a lower stakes 6-max table than usual over on Titan Poker. Was feeling tired and did not want to play PL100 so gave a PL20 6-max table a go. Some really interesting opponents lead to some strategy adjustments... and eventually leaving with 5 buy-ins rather than one.

Opponent #1 - A friendly and good natured Maniac!

This guy was awsome, when I joined with my $20 max buy-in he already had $140ish... He raised every time pre flop to the maximum and bet pot when checked to on every single flop. Watched him for a couple of rounds wondering if I was at the right table... then noticed that he checked the turn when weak!! Bliss - an ATM who told you when he missed.... picked up a couple of strong draws on the flop and bang, some timely pot bets from position when he checked brought me up a buy in with no showdowns, couple of hands later I was up to around $70 after picking up some made hands. One small setback after flopping KKK against his 10JQA on a K-10-X board... guess I was slightly ahead but the guy hit one of his million outs for the straight!

Anyway - once again the others at the table had not adjusted... one guy lead into him on the flop for a half pot with top set on a drawless flop and then half-potted the turn. Seemed like the opposite of building a pot to me as he was called all the way... all he had to do was check and the guy would have bet pot on the flop to start the process... sigh.

Opponent #2 - The min-bet when strong lady!

Can not recall the hand exactly but something like this... I have low connecting cards 4-5-6-8 or some such hand. Min bet pre and I call, flop comes A-4-3 giving me straight possibilities... opponent min bets and I raise 3/4 the pot (always like to define my hand!!) - insta-called. Ok, looks like I need to make the straight here, turn a blank for me (j?) min bet from opponent again... river gives me 2 small pair... min bet again - 20c to see a $3 pot, worth a call just to get info! Anyway this opponent turns over A-A-x-x for top set... and shows the whole table that she min-bets when strong.

Oh the joy of re-raising almost every pot size bet she made from then on.... fold, fold and folded again. Ah the satisfaction of calling those min-bets with unlikely nut draws (do not recall hitting them but no worries - the odds were in my favour!).

PLO cash games are great fun - guess the thought for today is that it is not so much your cards, it is about watching those opponents and coming up with a plan to beat them... if only they were all as extreme as these ones!!

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

SNG Bubble All-in / Fold Ranges... A New Angle?

Before we get on to the bubble bits... just moved! Back in an old flat that was rented out while we travelled the world. Small but very smart, 2 minutes from the Danube and the centre of Budapest and no mortgage!!

Things just got even better with the discovery of free wi-fi (we will have our own connection installed later in the week anyway). Just when things could not get any better they did! My wonderful Fiance Erika gave me an hour off of unpacking to blog and check mails!!

So, my latest thoughts on bubble calling ranges for SNG players.

Well the ICM calculators and spreadsheets around work by giving opponents percentage ranges of hands that they might push all-in with or fold. This is the basis of pushbotting, if you can accurately assess those ranges you can push / call in a way that is profitable. My new thought is that percentage ranges do not tell the correct story... that within those ranges some hands are more likely to be used than others.

Here is an example... let us assume that a players pushing range is 30%, here are the hands which make up this range: 22+,A2+,K8o+,K4s+,QTo+,Q9s+,JTs

My question today is that some of these hands will work better 'hot and cold' (all-in with no betting to come) than others, our player knows this so he is actually more likely to fold some of the hands that will be in really bad shape when called. Lets imagine that this is A2-A8 off, A2-A5 suited and King-4 to 6 suited and the K-8 off, these are more or less the hands that are most easily dominated when called. Now our thinking player might well be adding some hands here... suited connectors fit the bill - 98s and 910s for example fare pretty well against unpaired high cards and pairs below the 8 or 9 when called. The total may well be 30% but a different 30% than the Karlson-Sklansky hand rankings might suggest.

The thought can be summarised like this - the ICM calculators give us simple and effective ranges - but reality at the table might not reflect these... if we stepped back and took a reality check then our calling ranges could be adjusted to reflect this. Some thoughts on possible adjustments:

For calling:
- If opponent is not pushing the lower aces (suited or otherwise) then we need to remove the medium aces from our calling range.
- Suited high cards might go up in value slightly against more connectors in our opponents range.

For Shoving:
- If our opponents have shown a propensity to call with aces then we should cut the lowest of these from our shoving range.
- If our opponents favour paired high-cards (K10s and the like) then the aces can come back in but the suited connectors can be cut-back.

Ah well, its a new thought to me and no time to do the numbers today. Will return to this subject at some point very soon with some calculations. Remember that an adjustment that leads to a $1 edge in a SNG is 1 real dollar in your pocket over time...

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, July 09, 2007

Interesting Interview - BeLOWaBOVe on MTT Strategy

Was planning a longer post today but am getting all written out, just completed 6 new articles for SNG Planet (to go up during the week - 3 today), 5 more for a client in the US and am about to finish off 3 more for my ezine articles marketing campaign... all written out.

Instead an interesting link found in the PxF Forum - CardPlayer Interviewed an all smok'in, multi-tabling, hand-towel wearing BeLOWaBOVe, Poker insights and the history of a former degenerate gambler and more recently successful online tournament pro can be found here: http://www.cardplayer.com/online-poker/poker-beat/article/2390

GL at the tables,


Sunday, July 08, 2007

WSOP 2007 Winner Announced.

After the toughest ever world series final table line up 2007, featuring Acornman (very much ready to 'Banjo' anyone who sucked out on him), Short-Stack Shamus (nursing a small stack), Yorky Pudding (busy comparing pasties to *censored*), Intendere (contemplating) and some unknown internet kids called Phil (Ivey and Helmuth or something - nobody had heard of them though)

Mark From The Planet Gong has been declared Winner of the 2007 World Series of Poker, taking down a cool $7 million dollars!!!

The wonders of modern technology meant that even as the river was being dealt Mark was on the phone home - and managed to get the whole lot put on Trap 6 in the 1:34 at Wathamstow, the dog duly obliged at 12/1 bringing the total to a cool $91 million....

Asked what he intended to do with the new found riches Mark replied... "Switch off that bloody alarm clock.... mines a cup of tea"

Ah well, maybe next year.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

PG Poker Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournamanet Strategy Weekly Digest #7

Time for another weekly digest - all the previous digests can be found via the link on the top left of the blog... feedback / suggestions for next weeks listing welcome - drop me a comment!

Sit n Go Strategy / Online Tournament Strategy Weekly Digest #7

1) Sit n Go Strategy

First up this week a double link on the subject of playing middle pairs in the middle stages of SNGs - one from the forum at Full Tilt and another over at Pocket Fives. Never easy to play these hands and some good thoughts on both posts... might even do one here on the Plan3t Gong at some point soon.

For those with a bit of time on their hands, and an interest in the ICM of Sit N Go Tournaments, here is a link to an interesting thread on 2+2. Based on an IM Chat by 2+2 'Old Hand' Insty.

Congratulations to Albatross77 on clocking up 10,000 SNGs at a decent ROI. This forum thread on P5s caught my attention as a good discussion of Grinding vs Moving Up Levels. You can read Albatross77's excellent guest article A Winning Turbo SNG Strategy That Is Outside The Box over at SNG Planet.

2) Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

Great discussion over at 2+2 initiated by Ansky - this covers Skills In My Opponents to Fear / Respect. Some interesting insights on what makes a good multi-table tournament player.

With most MTT discussions currently seeming to focus on the WSOP we do back into the archives for the next link - In this one BeLOWaBOVe discusses many hands played during one busy night of online multi table tournaments... P5s Thread Here.

The first of a new 3-part series next, this looks at David Sklansky's 'Poker System' and asks whether this would be suitable for online poker tournaments. Part #2 to follow tests the system out at Stars and Titan Poker... Part #3 will then come up with a version more suitable for online play!

3) Blogs / Misc

Once again no new blog links - come on folks, if you have a quality blog you'd like to share then drop me a comment fast!! Instead some freeroll news from SNG Planet - no less than 32 ways to win a $5k seat in this years Melbourne cup can be found here... Poker Freeroll Satellites

Thats all for this week, GL at the tables!


Friday, July 06, 2007

Took My Own Advice At Last - Farewell Stars (well almost!)

Have mentioned many times here on Plan3t Gong that Poker Stars has become noticably tougher than some of the alternative sites out there these days... well today I finally took action. Cashing out all but $200 which I will save for special tourneys etc.

The facts as I see them are as follows...

Stars is the main site of all of the ranked tournament players, as competition goes it is as tough as they come - the likes of BelowAbove and JohnnyBax playing in the $50 NL and $20+r's!! There are good players down to the $10's out there...

Stars is the home of almost every 'pro' SNG grinder alive... it is getting to the point where the ratio of profitable players to fish is getting out of kilter, sure the SNGs are still beatable with a disciplined approach and good push / fold play. The point for me is why play against others who know how to play when there are plenty of sites out there where 8 out of your 10 opponents do not have a clue!

One thing I will miss is the VIP club and the book collection this has paid for, then again with the extra profits from playing against less skilled opponents there should be no problem simply buying them from amazon.

Yep, I'll stick to Titan Poker where the 'average player' treats KJo as a monster

Feeling good about finally taking action - spent too much time writing about it and not enough time on making it happen!!!

GL at the tables, Mark

PS: Decided to move the weekly digest to Saturdays...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Omaha Poker Cash Game Strategy - Reading Opponents #1

Spend a fair amount of table time over at the Titan Pot Limit Omaha games these days... 6-max at either PL50 or PL100. Have good notes on many of the regulars there. This post is about what too look for in unknown players - it does not cover everything, just a few thoughts on what to look out for as far as betting patterns go. Will mix in a few more pot limit Omaha Poker Cash Game Strategy posts with the usual SNG / MTT posts over the coming weeks (not too many - maybe once a week).

The first thing I look for (and note) is what hands a player will get all-in with, either on the end or with more cards to come. The main question being how close to the nuts does an opponent need to me to stack-off. The extremes are there all right, some players (like me!) will only ever get all-in with the nuts (or damn close), while others will happily go all the way with 2 pairs... I note this as early as possible.

Next pre-flop aggression (or should this have been first). Again PL Omaha poker cash games feature extremes of players. Some raise almost every hand, while others raise nothing. The very best opponents to look out for are those who raise only hands like AAxx, KKxx or JKQA... especially when they are liable to bulid a big pot with them on most flops. If you spot one of these types it is possible to call their pot-sized pre-flop bet with any pair and most hands that work together... if you hit hard it is payday!

Finally for today I look out for what kind of hands people bet after the flop. Some opponents will bet their draws heavily while others will only bet their made hands. Make a note of who bets what on the flop and it makes playing the turn and river much easier. This includes making a note of opponents who will bet overpairs and 2-pair hands regularly.

GL at the Tables,


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Blog Organisation + Experiment 'Wiggs73' Concluded?!?!

Have done a bit of blog organisation today as the number of articles has grown considerably. The list of articles list is now at the top and contains a good number of my SNG posts (more to go yet - got fed up with the cut / paste).

I have also been through my blogroll... any blog not updated for a month has been removed, also a few that contained no link back to me are gone. Have also put some of the blogs I read most regularly at the top of the list (no offence to anyone else - I enjoy all of the blogs listed else they would not be there!). The removed blogs are in my favourites and will be back on the list if they come back to life...

Always happy to swap links with quality blogs - drop me a comment if you are interested.

Time also to conclude my 'linkbait' experiment from the end of May - regular readers may recall my post attacking Wiggs73 - a moderator from the STT forum over on 2+2. Well, my post may have sounded convincing but was actually only an experiment to see how long it would take to get a link over at 2+2 and too see how much traffic it would bring. The answers were 2 days and several hundred respectively.

Like to take the time to apologise to Wiggs73 - his thoughfull reply to my post and some of the defence over on the forum has lead me to fully accept that he is a decent guy... please show Wiggs some love by visiting his blog at http://wiggs73.blogspot.com/

Now David Sklansky - what a c*%t...

Cheers, Mark

SNG Strategy - Keeping the Bubble Alive Part #2 - Defence!

In a recent post we had a look at the scenario where a big stack keeps the bubble alive by folding to a micro-stack in order to steal from the mid-sized stacks. An interesting concept which can allow a big stack to accumulate most of the chips for when the bubble bursts. This time we take the perspective of a middle stack in the same situation and ask what can be done to defend against such a strategy. Will use the following stack sizes for the example.

Biggy 8700 ($equity = $41.75)
smally 800 ($equity = $11.24)
Mid #1 - 2000 ($equity = $23.51)
Mid #2 - 2000 ($equity = $23.51)

The blinds are at 400 / 200 and the ante 25, the setup is such that the big stack can lose an all-in to either medium stack without too much damage - and the small stack's blind is 'protected' by having the big stack in the way!

The first example to look at is when mid #1 is in the BB, biggy pushes from the button and smally folds. After posting the blind mid #1 has about $20 in prize pool equity at risk - and winning the hand will push this up to approximately $30. The calling range should be clear here, mid #1 needs at least 66% vs biggy's range. If this range is 'any-2' then that would be around 10% (77+ AJo+), pretty tight...

But this does not really account for the small stack only having 600 chips! Could folding be a better play here to wait for the micro-guy to bust??? In my opinion no, in the example we are using the big-stack is deliberately keeping this player alive... so you may as well take any positive expectation edge offered. Over time this will show a profit - the cost being increased variance (you will bust more but show a bigger profit over a meaningful sample).

But this may not be the only solution.

What about the scenario when mid stack #2 is on the button and the micro-stack is in the small blind? What hands can mid #2 shove?

This is slightly more complex from a mathematical viewpoint - we need to factor in 2 loose calling ranges, one that can bust mid #2 and one that can not. First we put the opponents on ranges.

Suggest that biggy is pretty wide here - something like 75% would not be unusual for a thinking player. Losing the hand will result in having 6700 chips, either smally will overcall - pretty much guaranteeing ITM for the big stack, or he will fold and hope that biggy busts the mid-stack, in which case smally would be posting the SB with only 400 chips in total... on the critical list.

So what about the small stacks calling range. Well if the biggy folds then he really has to call with any-2 cards right - getting 3.5/1 from the pot after all! If biggy calls then smally has a decision to make, the chances of folding into 3rd would be tempting here so we can tighten his range to around 5% (9-9+ AQs+) to account for this.

So, given these ranges what can mid #2 profitably push with??? Well the answer is around 6% - that is 88+ AJs+ AQo+. If we take one step back and ask what mid #1 can push UTG then we need to tighten a little more - something like 4% of hands to account for the extra calling possibility from mid #2.

The last situation to cover is when both the big stack and micro stack fold and the 2 medium stacks are in the blinds. Readers familiar with previous posts should realise that this is a faitly simple scenario - that the BB (mid #2) calling range is narrow enough to make 'any-2' a viable push from mid #1... for more on these kind of decisions check out the 'jump off' pages for various SNG Strategy topics on the left hand side of the blog.

GL at the tables.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sit and Go Freerolls - 70FPP Sats to Sunday $100k

A bit of a buzz about on the forums for the new SNG Freeroll Satellites on Stars - these allow you to win a place in the Sunday $100k ($10+1 Buyin) for just 70 Frequent Player Points. Actually giving one a go while writing this post - loose is not really a good description, but then again what is a good description for going all in with 5-4 off suit first hand??

Anyway, cheap and cheerful way of turning those points into prizes. Just remember that Cev == $ev in one prize only SNGs and you will not go far wrong!

Will continue with bubble strategy later.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Some SNG Strategy Questions... and Beherovka

Lets get the Beherovka out of the way first... my new favourite drink and will remain so for at least a week. Had a trip to Slovakia this weekend and tasted their national tipple for the first time - it is incredible! Spicey yellow stuff with a big kick and subsequent 'judder' to put other spirits to shame... drink in neat shots, down in one - and often!!

Right, the questions below came from a reader and were follow ups to my SNG eBook 'A Comedy of Errors' (still available after all these months at the top left of the blog!). As with all poker questions there is a large element of 'it depends' here... as with all PG Poker replies I will endevour to provide food for thought rather than prescribe solutions!

1. % of time to c-bet early tourny with medium holdings on a "good but not great board". At this point our reads are limited. Say 1010 with a K85 (2suited flop). OOP vs. IP? or a missed AK on a dry vs wet board?

Personal thought is that cbet % depends on a large number of factors - number of opponents and flop texture being top of the list, against a single opponent with a dry flop I would need a good reason not to continuation bet... with a draw heavy board then the delayed continuation bet can be an option with 2 or more opponents. I have written a few posts and articles on this subject:

- This one looks at continuation betting vs opponents who love ace-rag - http://plan3tgongpoker.blogspot.com/2007/05/poker-flop-probability-continuation.html

- This one was for SNG Planet in '5-tips' format - http://www.sitandgoplanet.com/MTTArticles/General/Continuation%20Bets%20%205%20Tips%20to%20Improve%20Your%20Continuation%20Bet%20Success%20Rate.html

- This looked at bet sizing in the middle stages, cbetting can often committ you to the pot here which creates extra issues.... http://plan3tgongpoker.blogspot.com/2007/02/sng-middle-stages-part-1.html

2. mid short stacked on bubble (4 or 5). We are healty, but by no means assured ITM. Do you prefer a tighter game vs. blind stealing from late pos. vs. tighter game mixing in a resteal and a few blind chops. I know it depends on table dynamic, but this is general thoughts. I am working on the later while I was in the 2nd slot.

The factors to consider here are stack sizes, opponent tendancies and blind levels. Can really be summed up by asking yourself the question "Where are my chips coming from?". On one hand you need to steal enough blinds / pots to keep ahead - on the other side you mist be aware of the large and small stacks and not become pot committed with a marginal hand. At the lower limits in particular resteals should be used with caution, you'll be called!! However spotting a regular who understands bubble dynamics can unearth some good spots. Would also recommend an ICM calculator - there are many shove opportunities here, especially from late position or small blind.

3. Calling rangeson the bubble. Is this simple as ICM? I mean is it really just laying all but a few hands down. Is tighter rightier when it comes to calling on bubble (I mean super tight AK, AQ, 99) lay these down if you will bust/cripple against all but maniacs?

The trick with ICM is knowing when not to use it!! Push and Call ranges on the bubble are dependant on what your opponents ranges are... many articles in this blig on playing vs different calling ranges with different stack sizes. Be careful with AQ and AK here, can be great hands to shove but sometimes not the best calling hands... recommend 2 articles for more on this - both over at SNG Planet, the first one is an intro to ICM and the second is an excellent article by Albatross77 on situations where ICM is not the best guideline. Links below - final thought is that an ICM calculator will very quickly pay for itself (SNG Power Tools / SNG Wizard etc), learn the math first then work on finding spots to ignore this.

Intro to ICM for SNGs - http://www.sitandgoplanet.com/STTArticles/Bubble%20Play/An%20Introduction%20to%20The%20Independent%20Chip%20Model%20ICM%20for%20SNGs.html

Outside the box by Albartross77 - http://www.sitandgoplanet.com/STTArticles/Bubble%20Play/When%20to%20Ignore%20ICM%20A%20Winning%20Turbo%20Strategy%20That%20Is%20Outside%20the%20Box.html

Happy to do some more Q&As - all readers invited to drop me a comment with any questions!

GL at the tables, Mark