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

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