Wednesday, October 31, 2007

November SNGs vs PLO Challenge

Almost finished my month-off from the tables... well ok, played maybe 6-7 hours this month. Not bad and feel like I've achieved my objective of freshening up...

So, going to have a personal challenge in November... to make $1k between SNGs and PLO while not playing too much poker (regular readers will know my 'other jobs' running SNG Planet and as a writer for other peoples sites keep me plenty busy enough! Also have a brand new website on the way (more soon on that one!)).

Going to split my time as evenly as possible between the 2 forms of the game and see which one is the most profitable at the end of the month...

Quick note about Carbon Poker - they are running a 'special' on SNGs for the first week in November - all are half price to enter (ie $10 + 50c instead of $1). Check out our detailed look at their SNGs here - Carbon Poker Sit N Go Special Promotion

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

PLO Cash Game Strategy - Interesting Hand!

Played a little PLO over on my favourite site Titan last night when this hand came up... do not have the history so this will be from memory. The reason I starting thinking about it was that the 'villan' in this hand sent me a chat-box full of abuse after the hand... this lead me to question my own logic in the hand and get the notepad out to scribble down some numbers... comments on my line welcome!

So I have the button in a 10c 20c game and a stack of around $25 up from the initial $20 buy-in. Get dealt 8h-8s-Ah-Kh and see a raise to 60c from the Cutoff player who is generally tight but will take stabs at pots after the flop...

Elect to just call here, I have position and will surely be re-raised by exactly the hands I hate (aces and kings or something like j-Q-K-A if I repop), big blind also calls making the pot $1.90 before the flop.

The flop comes 8c-7h-9h

Not bad at all, I have middle set + nut flush draw

Villan leads for $1.20 and I decide to find out where I stand with a re-raise to $3.60. The big blind folds and villan flat calls. Pot now = $9.10

So, villan only called... what could he have - my thought here is something like a combo straight and / or flush draw - if he had the made straight already without a flush draw he should have re-raised me the pot right? a set of 9's or some 2-pair combination is also possible... decide that a wrap and non-nut flush draw (I have the nut flush) is most consistent with the call.

Turn comes Ac.

Not a bad turn, giving me 2 more outs for a full house in the event that villan already has a straight and not helping any straight draws....

Villan now checks, he has abandoned hands a few times after leading the flop and calling so this is consistant with a straight draw too... I bet $4 assuming that this will take the pot most times.

Bam! Villan check-raises all-in... for $17 more... hmmm

So, looks like he has either hit the straight or has me on a draw against his set (777 or 999 most probable) time to look at the odds.

The total pot = $29.80 and it will cost me $13 to call. This means I'm getting around 2.3/1 pot-odds... the question is how many outs?

If villan has a straight.... the last 1*8, 3*7's, 3*9's, 2*aces and any of the 8 remaining hearts should win thats 17 out of 45 unseen cards.... a profitable call.

If villan has 777 or 999 - if we assign equal probability to each then 2.3/1 is again an easy call.

If villan is bluffing with a draw (10% or less chance of this based on the action) I'm miles ahead and getting odds too.

So, after 10 seconds of thinking about things I call, spike a heart against villans straight and win a nice pot.... cue the chat box full of abuse (regular readers will know that I'm immune to such things - though it did make me question my call at the end!).

In retrospect the only change I would make to my line here is to bet the full pot when checked to on the turn... since I was already committed to going all the way this would have made the decision making process easier!!

Cheers, Mark

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quick Books Update + Reloading Thought

Started Colin Moshman's SNG book (2+2 one)... no great insights so far just solid advice on the play of hands in the early to mid blind levels. Often find that the value in poker books is not the 'main strategy' being discussed at all - but those small hidden thought provoking gems that would be easy to overlook in a quick run through.

One more gem from Rolf Slotboom's PLO book - though this would apply equally to all forms of the game... if you lose a pot when in early position then why not wait to go through the blinds before topping back up?? (if you are stacked then could be changed to buy the minimum for those few hands the reload fully for the button). After all you are going to make most of your profits from position.

Sure you could get dealt a monster UTG or in the BB. The question is whether these times would make up for the more likely marginally profitable hands - which your bad position make unprofitable??

Cheers, Mark

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sit And Go Strategy - Wild Bubble Opponents Part #2

Time to put a couple of numbers to the idea from the last post... have been pondering the concept of crazy opponents at the bubble for a day or so - and come up with a new theory (!) would like to come up with a good name for it, something catchy... ah well, 'The plan3t Gong theory of what is wrong with ICM' will have to do for now.

Anyway, enough intro... here is our situation:

4 players left, 3 get paid 50/30/20 pool and even chip stacks of 2500. Before posting the blinds of 200 / 100 each player has a dollar equity of $25... (keep it simple eh?).

Now, based on the calling range of your opponents and a handy ICM calculator you estimate that you have a +$ev push that is worth $2... here is how the mathematics works:

- Compare your equity of folding (thats $25) with:

Your gain when your opponents fold (based on their ranges) * probability of them folding and your winning chances when called (again using the entire range) * probability of them calling.

So, if they fold 90% of the time and call the rest, yet you win 40% of the time when called you can compare the probable gain with the risked equity... at the end we convert it all into $ equity using that handy ICM calculator... that, in a nutshell is how it works. If your equity from shoving is > than your equity of folding then you will win money over time by shoving... easy.

Now for the PG Theorem... in its short and sweet (and red) form.

"ICM Models under-estimate the dollar equity value of folding"

Here is why. Bubbles do not go on for ever, at some point 2 players will fight it out and one will be busted. When this happens your equity will go up - you made the money without risking any chips.

So, what percentage of the time would this scenario need to happen to see a marked effect on your $ev fold. We will go from one extreme to the other....

50 hand bubble: 2% of the time (on average) 2 of your opponents fight it out
20 hand bubble: 5% of the time...
10 hand bubble: 10% of the time...

So what happens to our $ev fold for the different length of bubble

50 Hands... 2% of the time we gain $5.83 in equity for free thats +11c on $ev fold
20 Hands... 5% of the time we gain $5.83 in equity for free thats +29c on $ev fold
10 Hands... 10% ... thats +58c

This is where the wild opponents come in... at the lower level SNGs bubbles are rarely more than 20 hands long, particularly where the blinds are getting high. Coupled with this the 'default' setting that is common for ICM calcs is 0.5%, if we under-estimate $ev fold it may be possible to make a -$ev push into a wild field thinking that it is +$ev.

Of course, the effects of the blinds, stack sizes (including relative stack sizes and their position) are all more important than the PG theorem.... but then again - every cent helps!

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, October 26, 2007

SIt And Go Strategy - Wild Opponents At The Bubble (Part #1)

Time for a new series... probably 3 posts concerning lower limit sit and go strategy adjustments to those crazy / wild opponents at the bubble.

We've all seen it right? opponents pushing and calling with junk, mini-raising, limp / folding and all the rest of those horrible plays. What I wanted to start thinking about is the maths behind the adjustments to make in these situations... so many angles to look at that this post will introduce the subject today and the numbers will follow in the next few days.

Scenario #1 - You have a +$ev push while 4 handed according to ICM, for arguments sake we will say this is +2% (for those who do not yet use ICM this is a 'no brainer' push under normal circumstances - see bottom of post for links). However, your read on the table is that they are the wildest crazyest donks you ever met - sure you are +$ev when called - but how do we account for the fact that they will bust each other so readily, in a mathematical sense??? Could this be a case (as Sklansky would put it) of turning down a good bet today in order to take a better bet tomorrow?

Scenario #2 - Instead of pushing / folding those opponents are making early game type plays, raising 3 times the big blind and continuation betting / folding etc... should you adjust your push / fold game in any way to take advantage of this? The players obviously have no understanding of pot-odds here let alone ICM...

Will leave you to think about it for today... below are 2 links for those interested in learning more about the ICM, the first is to my own site SNG planet's introduction to the subject, the second is to my personal favourite SNG tool - SNG Wiz - which goes through your hand histories after the game and shows up whether you played 'correctly' according to the poker maths - also great for running simulations of common bubble scenarios to learn the optimal plays, you can take a 30 day trial to see if it works for you before buying...

Intro to SNGs ICM

WIZ Free Trial

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

PLO Strategy - What You Do Not Hold

Slowly getting through Rolf Slothboom's excellent PLO book... yesterday coming across a gem of a passage - one of those short pieces that could easily have been overlooked in the mass of content and hand examples.

The point can be summarised like this - it can be difficult to accurately put an opponent on a hand in Pot Limit Omaha, so the real 'experts' do something else... they work out from your betting patterns and past tendencies what you have not got in your hand.

Going to leave this post at that today (preparing for my return to Budapest tomorrow) - to me this is simple genius - will post some examples and real life experiences with using this concept soon!

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SIt N Go Strategy - What's Your Edge?

Catching up with a couple of PxF videos today after 4 fantastic days with no internet access... spent them visiting family, hiking in the Malvern Hills and generally eating fine food and drinking fine drinks (recommend 10 year old Irish Malt to anyone!).

Anyway, I digress - one vid today Rizen mentioned the important and much overlooked concept of judging where on the table your chips are coming from... the idea being that by quantifying where your edge is you can make the required strategy adjustments to take them!

This got me thinking (sound familiar??!). How does this relate to Sit N Goes?

After all, in all poker games you should be able to answer the question - my profit comes from ......... . (fill in the blank).

Since SNG play often involves many tables, and relatively few hands per game you only have a short time to adjust to individual opponents, and may in fact not get the cards / opportunity / position at the table to do so.

Which means that your edge comes from something else. But what? Here are a few possibilities...

- Ability to adjust to and exploit the 'average' players errors in the early / mid game?

- The discipline to wait for a while if you see every table has a few winning opponents already logged in?

- Great bubble play, sound knowledge of ICM coupled with accurate reading of opponents ranges?

- Blind stealing skills in the mid-game, including the ability to resteal / defend your own blinds?

- A small edge in overall play coupled with the ability to play 8+ tables at once to ensure a profit?

- The discipline to switch sites to find the softest SNGs, even though you prefer the software at your current site?

- Fine tuned heads-up play?

- The patience to continually improve your play by going through hand histories and working out whether an alternative line would have been better?

The list could go into more detail of course... my post today is more designed to stimulate thoughts rather than provide a comprehensive check-list.

Your edge is your profit, successful SNG players in the long term have worked hard on their game... if you plan on joining them thena little work could well see you answering 'yes' to the majority of the questions above!

Check out SNG Planet today for 100's of strategy articles and tips covering SNGs, MTTs and Satellite Qualifiers! http://www.sitandgoplanet.com

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shorty All-In... What Do People Overcall With?

Something that has been lurking in the trusty plan3t gong notepad came to mind yesterday while watching a Johnny Bax video over on pxf.

The situation was quite a common one for SNGs, MTTs and even at cash tables (this example was from a Double Shootout). Bax was dealt Aces and a small stack pushed for 300ish chips ahead with several players still to act... bb was around 50.

The choices are raise or flat call right?

Raising has the danger of pushing the rest of the field out, calling might encourage someone to squeeze with a good but not great holding and is often the better play here. Bax called and the rest of the players folded in this example.

What it got me thinking about was the meaning of these overcalls of short all-ins at different levels and in different games.

My personal experience is that inexperienced / bad players often get these moves the wrong way around! In the Titan 25k gtd (for example) you are likely to see people flat calling with horrible hands like Ace-Jack / 99 (or worse) and raising with those Aces.

Now we get to another level of thinking... if your opponents are aware that you would only flat call with aces / kings in such a situation and raise to isolate with weaker hands then does it make sense to actually do it the other way around?

What about a SNG? Your objective here is slightly different from an MTT - those 300 chips (+the blinds) would be welcome enough in the early to mid stages to make isolating a good play with QQ / KK / AA or even AK... sure encouraging overcallers increases your expectation - but at the same time in increases your swings - the value of the extra chips may be worth it or may not depending on your comfort level at the fast approaching bubble.

It seems to come down to the old favourite of 'what is the purpose of your bet?'. Watch those overcalls - the experience of the player making them often defines their hand quite nicely!

Something to think about!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Absolute Storm In A Teacup?

The Absolute poker 'super-user' account debate shows no signs of fading away just yet. The latest is that Absolute have agreed to an external audit of their systems.

While the evidence looks compelling I can not help thinking that this just does not affect me... even if such account existed the risks involved mean that they would only be playing in the very biggest games - and lets face it 99.9% of us are playing at stakes any superuser would have no interest in.

What it did get me thinking about was the more mundane everyday cheating that happens online. I've received rebates from Stars (for example) when SNG collusion has been found. The players who try this are generally kids who execute very badly and end up getting their accounts frozen...

Lets face it the potential edge from colluding in a lower level ($30 or below) SNG is pretty small compared to the risk (your whole bankroll frozen) when caught. Busy (as usual) today but will try to come up with some numbers for this soon.

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Short Stacked PLO Experiment

Supposed to be having a month off of playing poker to stay fresh - however reading Rolf Slothboom's excellent PLO book got me in the mood to give his 'Vienna Strategy' a quick bash.

This is a short-stacking strategy in Pot Limit Omaha and involves deliberately sitting to the right of an over aggressive player. The idea is that you use the aggro players bets to trap dead money into the pot by check-raising with a premium hand or big draw - getting your money in as a 50/50 or better but with the pot offering 2/1 or more.... the idea is that you stay tight at a full ring table.

Tried for an hour last night over on Titan to see how it went... the answer is great! Here are a couple of hands that highlight the strategy:

I'm in for $4 on the 20c/10c table and limp in with 3-4-5-6 (single suited), 5 players see the flop of A-4-6... a decent enough flop for the system. Min bet from an early position player, I call and see a raise from the aggro to my left to $1 or so (can not recall exact bet sizes). 2 callers making the pot something like $4, I have $3.60 left - 2 small pairs and 8 outs twice for the straight for a probable 12 outs twice (could have been a higher straight / higher 2 pair so we will count 10). If I'm right then I'm just under 40% to win the hand here... and assuming aggro and just 1 other player calls my all in then the pot will be offering 3/1... they did and a lovely 2 appears on the turn. Strike 1!

Hand 2 was the 50c/25c table and I'm in for $10. Call a min bet in lateish position with A-K-8-9 double suited... a reasonable hand but not a great one. Flop comes 2 spades giving me the nut flush draw. Small blind bets and 2 callers ahead. bringing the pot up to something like $6, I get most of my money in (the small leftover on the turn would be no problem as anyone still in the pot would have been getting daft odds - I was basically all in on the flop). This time end up with 3 callers! So I now have 4/1 pot-odds on a 2/1 shot.... sure to show a profit over time, especially as the bigger stacks might well bet the turn / river and get a fold from one or more of the others still in the hand.... The flush card came and I dodged anything to fill an opponent - strike 2!

Lost one making the same move with flopped trip 8's vs opponent's flopped trip aces... that was a $4 table so no real damage. Also tried the $1 / 50c table for a while but ended up with the most aggressive player to my right... no good as I was trapped in bad position so gave up after blinding away a few dollars there.

A great little system. Maybe not as much fun as the 'I think - you think that I think' of deep stacked play... but hey.

Back to the s*n^gs shortly!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Position and Maniacs - PLO and NLHE Strategy

Not had too much time to read my new books, still over in the UK visiting family and friends so eating and drinking rightfully taking priority!

Did make some inroads into Rolf Slothboom's PLO book - turning out to be a good read in terms of getting things to think about (personally feel that this is the main value of poker books - not one to cut-and-paste a strategy!).

Rolf had an interesting short-stacked PLO system where he deliberately sat with the maniac raiser to his left... this defies 'conventional wisdom' which says it is best to have the LAGs to your right and tighties to your left.

Will not cover PLO short-stacking here (another post for another day). But some of the thoughts expressed in this chapter relate to both PLO and NLHE equally... they are really to do with the broader subject mentioned a few times here on PGong of 'absolute and relative position'.

The basic concept is that, with the pre-flop raiser to your right and others in the hand your positional advantage (from being on the button for example) is gone. This is because of the 'Check to the raiser' phenominon after the flop... basically the out of position players are likely to check whether or not they have a hand - giving the pre-flop raiser the opportunity to continuaion bet.

If this player is to your immediate right then you need to act before you know what the other players in the hand are likely to do... you have position on the hand, yet relative to the likely post flop action this advantage is gone - the out of position players may be planning to check-raise the expected continuation bet.

Slothboom's method (well, seen it mentioned by others too!) means that your relative position is good. You can check the flop whether or not you hit or miss. The LAG continuation bets - now you react to this bet last. The other players are sandwiched between the LAG and you. This means they are forced to fold marginal hands (for fear that you'll re-raise) or declare their strength earlier in the hand than they might have wanted to (enabling you to get away).

Another advantage here is that when you do have a monster you'll be able to trap more money into the pot before check-raising - increasing your win on strong hands dramatically. In pot limit Omaha you might even be able to use the extra bets to get all your chips in as likely favourite - while leading out would have required a smaller bet (the pot was not yet big enough to get a large % of your stack in).

Maniac on your left would work in many game types with the right strategy adjustments - certainly something to consider!

Cheers, Mark

Friday, October 12, 2007

Poker Books!

V quick post today - travelling in the UK at the moment visiting friends and family. Yesterday I managed to dodge the postman's strike and get a couple of books through the post. They should provide even more things to think about in the coming weeks here at Plan3t Gong.

First is Rolf Slothbottom's 'Professional Pot Limit Omaha' - this was a recommendation some while ago (thanks Shane if you are still out there!). Started it already and looks fantastic!

Second is from 2+2, Colin Moshman's SNG strategy book... got mixed but generally good reviews over on 2+2 forums (feeling that some ego was involved in many of the negatives) and looking forward to reading this one too.

Did order a couple more via Stars FPPs - we will see whether they arrive before I go back to Hungary.

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Folding Aces Pre-Flop... Some Scenarios

Some poker psychology today... well a new look at an old question at least - want to run an old scenrio by you all, and then apply this to various situations...

The Situation:

You just sat down, the very first hand is dealt - you are dealt a pair of red aces in the big blind... nice.

The UTG player pushes all in... even nicer.

Before you know what is happening UTG+1 also pushes, as does the next player - in fact by the time the action gets to you every player at the table has pushed all in!!

Wow.

So now you need to make a decision as to your action... calling would have a positive expectation of course. You'll win something like 27% (did not look it up so approx from memory) against 8 opponents (maybe chop against someone else with aces). This means you would be out of the game 73% of the time you call but big stacked the rest...

Do do you call, or disreetly fold and wait for a less dangerous opportunity??

OK - as with everything in poker, you can not yet make a decision right? Some more info needs to be taken into account... what game are we playing and what is our personal situation.

Situation 1: Its a SNG tournament paying the standard 50/30/20.
- Easy fold, if you do not understand why then check out the introduction to ICM over at http://www.sitandgoplanet.com

Situation 2: Its a 1 table satellite paying 3 places!
- If you call with your aces here please drop me a comment, I want to play poker with you immediately!

Situation 3: It is the very first hand of the 2008 WSOP
This is where the original question came from... think about this one, you are playing in the biggest tourney you have ever been in and have an opportunity to get 10x your stack or (most likely) bust out... now the question becomes one of bankroll management right?

Situation 4: It is a cash game, however you just ground your bankroll back from the brink of going broke and have your last $100 on the table (with no easy means of redepositing).
Horrible situation here, if you are not calling in a cash game with this hand then why are you playing poker? If you are playing your last 100 on just one table then you'll go broke soon enough... imagine how easy this question would be if that $100 were just 5% of your bankroll!

Situation 5: It is the first hand of a $5 rebuy on your favorite site.
Now it is the worlds easiest call!

Situation 6: First hand of the poker stars sunday million.
To some this would be an easy call - to a micro grinder who satellited in it becomes more similar to the WSOP question right??!

Hopefully something to think about... what do your answers (and the strength of conviction of those answers) say about your own approach to the game? For example in the WSOP situation... if you say 'call' - is this a 'no brainer' for you, or did you think about the pros / cons first? If you say 'fold' (or vice versa with the 'call') is this because you feel you'd like skill to play a greater part in the game (over many hands) or that you'd like your WSOP experience to be a little longer.

Anyway - post now long enough!

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Plan3t's Personal Poker Platform Pet Peeves...

And other words beginning with P...

No perfect poker software out there... while I have my faves (Titan and Party at the moment, but for reasons nothing do do with their ugly software!!) each site has something irritating about it... here is my list - feel free to add.

1 - Titan, unchecks the 'auto post blinds' when you reload / top-up at cash tables... really annoying this one, especially when multitabling and you find out you timed out in the blind.

2 - Full Tilt, No countdown in minutes for the tournament start times... you actually have to concentrate to make sure your tourney starts. + takes your avatar mood back to normal when you move tables - I want my turtle to to look happy!!

3 - Party, You bust from a SNG (for example), click the 'x' in the top corner to kill the table and get the 'Are you sure you want to leave - you will lose your buyin etc etc' message... probably my biggest peeve of all!!

4, Party II, the software eats your computers resources, to the point where it switches off the 'audio and video animations' due to the fact that it uses 500k of memory just to bring up a second or a 3rd table.

5, PokerStars, had to think about this one, almost wrote that the biggest deal is that I can not find anything wrong... but got 'em on one thing! During special promotions (1 billionth hand for example) they bring up a message which covers some players cards... ok its only for 5 seconds, but it is still damn annoying!!

Definitely more out there, travelling to the UK today so will make this a quick post though!

Cheers, Mark

Sunday, October 07, 2007

PLO Cash Game Strategy - Reading Opponents

Time for a little more on Pot Limit Omaha Strategy (PLO Strategy) today... thought I'd do a list of the important things to look for in your opponents; Not meant to be comprehensive, or in any particular order! If you play PLO and would like too add to the list then feel free to drop a comment....

1) How close to the nuts for the whole stack?? My number 1! Like to look at the showdowns, especially when the chips go in late in the hand... some players will only show down the nuts (or close) others will happily back the 3rd nut flush with all their chips, or top straight on a paired board... or even more horrific holdings. Seeing someone show the nuts is not sufficient evidence, you need a selection of showdown hands.

2) What are their raising requirements pre-flop (and re-raising requirements too). Did a separate post on this... an opponent who only raises aces / kings is a goldmine. An opponent who never raises anything gives you the opportunity to limp with a wide range ahead of them...

3) What are my opponents flop betting ranges? Some people will play their strong draws aggressively and others will take a free card... some will bet top pair / 2 pairs and others only with top /mid set or better... take a note on this and define their hand later.

4) Does this opponent bet different amounts? For example if you see an opponent bet the pot on the flop a lot then they suddenly bet half or 2/3rds pot your interest should be immediately roused... why? Could be a monster, could be a weak draw... whatever the answer make sure you find out and take a note!

5) Multi-way pots, what kind of hands will this opponent enter a multi-way raise pot with before the flop... the thing to look for here is medium-pair only hands and non-nut suited cards. This is exactly the type who will get all of their chips in later in the hand with the 3rd set (or worse!).

I'm sure there are more!

GL in those PLO cash games, Mark

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sp0nsored Post - Full Tilt Planet.com

Full Tilt Planet is where players can come read summaries of high stakes poker games at Full Tilt Poker. The site covers players from team full tilt poker and also the biggest cash game players on full tilt. There are posts daily with notable hands and a recap of the poker game.

The site also has a (full tilt poker bonus codes) full tilt poker bonus codes. It also outlines how you can get full tilt poker hats and rewards for playing at full tilt poker.

Full Tilt Poker is one of the top poker rooms for a reason. They have the biggest poker action with the most poker professionals of any site. This site is for players wanting to find out more about the high stakes world of poker.

The Plan3t Gong Verdict: Full Tilt Planet is a great site in blog format - the initial look at the homepage shows lists of High Stakes games - however there is a lot of information available by clicking on the side links or the Pro names in the 'tag cloud' on the right hand side. With lots of detail including hand histories of huge buy-in games this site is certainly worth a visit!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Sit & Go Strategy - ATC - Final Installment

Time to bring the blind stealing with any-2 cards series to a close... quick summary of what has gone before..

- Original question - if you are not intending to call a re-raise why do your cards matter when blind stealing from late position during the middle stages?
- Part 2 - How often do we expect to get called or raised? Use 15% per player here, probably too wide, (10% might be better?) erred on the side of caution to illustrate a point...
- Part 3 - what are the different possibilities when we do get flat called?

So, to bring it all together we will look at the overall percentages of the 'flat called' scenarios and see what difference it makes to our chip-ev expactation (not using $ev yet since we are in the middle stages)

So we are flat called - taking the button scenario and 50% calls / 50% re-raise (we fold) this happens 14% of the time (half of the cumulative 28%).

Of these times -

20% the BB bets out, we miss and fold.
25% the BB checks, we hit hard enough to cbet
25% the BB checks, we check and BB checks turn, we cbet
30% the hand is checked all the way to the river.

So, for which scenarios do our actual cards make any difference?

To my mind it is only the 2nd one, and then only a small difference between KJ and 9-4 in our hand. There may be a slight difference in the 4th (checked down) scenario too (this would be marginal enough to make no difference)

I will suggest that the difference between c-betting with top pair holding KJ and with 9-4 would be slight because the kind of hands we are getting flat-called with are themselves marginal (a pair of 10's would presumably raise - so we are only worried about 2 overcards when hitting the top pair with 9-4). Lets say this affects our chances in this case 1/3rd of the time.

So, we have more or less boiled it down to 8% of 14% where the cards make an actual difference... thats just a little over 1% of the time.

Appears that the case can be closed - the difference between raising junk and raising a medium strength hand is negilable...

Back then to the meta-game considerations posted in the comments of the original post... checking down 2-3 off here might make future blind steals a little more difficult - it might also get you 'less respect' when the push-fold part of the game begins in earnest!

Was about to write about how this could be a good thing if you do get dealt some cards - but I think we save that line of thinking for another time!!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, October 04, 2007

SNG Strategy - ATC Part #3

... apologies for the abrupt end to yesterday's post - a text reminded me I was in danger of missing a lunch appointment and being late would have made life very difficult indeed (will do a post on the fine ladies of Hungary at some point soon!!)

- Anyway, at the end of the last post we were starting to look at what happens when your blind steal gets called... (of course we have the sub-topic of betting a little less too)

To my mind there are 4 plausable scenarios of 'what happens next'.

1 - You miss the flop and the BB who called you bets, no discussion required here - a fold.
2 - You hit the flop and the BB checks, decision time - a continuation bet? Not the original intention...
3 - You miss the flop and the BB checks, you check behind and the BB checks a 'safe' turn, you fire off a delayed continuation bet here. (assuming for simplicity that you'll fold if the BB bets the turn)
4 - The hand gets checked down all the way to the end...

Will start with number 2 and use the KJ example hand - hitting 2nd pair or better (or a strong draw) would be the only time I'm cbetting here.... this is where the original question of 'does your hand matter?' gets interesting... as hitting the flop with a medium and a weak holding are 2 different cases.... will add in the probability of each scenario at the end.

So you get flatted and lead out after hitting the flop - 70% of the time the BB folds and 30% of the time the BB either calls again (yuk!) or check-raises all-in (both times you are done with the hand)

100 attempts:
70 * + 350 chips in total
30 * - 600 chips in total
- (70*350)-(30*600)/100 = +65 Chips


Fine, here is (3) the check-check / check-bet line, in these circumstances, assuming a 'safe' turn, we have to assume the BB folds to the Cbet quite often - 85% sounds good here.

100 attempts:
85 * 350 chips in total
15 * - 600 chips in total

- (85*350)-(15*600)/100 = +207.5 chips

Finally the check-check, check-check, check-check line!! (ok would have been easier to say no firther betting to showdown!). Assuming here that you missed the flop, 35% wins might be generous for KJ (certainly any high card strength matters here).... will go with 2 examples then, once with KJ and once with 9-7 suited

KJ 100 attempts
35 * + 350 chips
65 * - 300 chips
- (35*350)-(65*300)/100 = minus 70 chips

97 100 attempts
15 * +350
85 * - 300
- (15*350)-(85*300)/100 = minus 200 chips

ok - thats enough for one day, will (finally!) conclude this line of thought tomorrow by putting probabilities onto the above scenarios and then comparing the 'blind steal with nothing expectation' with the 'blind steal with a little something expectation'... and of course factoring in the meta-game considerations in the comments of the original question.

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sit N Go Strategy - ATC Part #2

ok, onwards with the any-2 blind steal... comments on table image + likelihood of domination wre great. Today I wanted to look only at an approximate chance of being called... not going to go into too much detail on the mathematics - really just to propose a couple of 'blind defence ranges" while in the 18ish blig blinds area and work backwards from there....

So the worst scenario is the flat call (ohhh, I hate those 'flatters' sometimes!) as here we have a decision to make after the flop... do we cbet? (probably no), delayed cbet if checked to twice (quite possibly!).

I'll give an average low limit ($30 and under) SNG player 15% from experience - half of which they re-raise with and half flat-call. We could also try to factor in the 'any-2 card re-raise' (another day another day!!).

So, how would 15% relate to chip ev from the steal portion only? will factor in showdown value later.

So with 2 opponents (button raise) we are called or raised approx 28% of the time - 15% from the SB + 15% of the remainder from the BB... again assuming just one opponent for simplicity.

From the C/o we have 3 poteential callers - now we are called around 36% of the time.

So, we invest 300 to win 150 in blinds - for the steal only:

2 - Opponents
72* +150 (+10800)
28* -300 (-8400)
= +2400 / 100 = + 24 Chips each time (feels a bit low!)

3 - Opponents
64* +150 (+9600)
36* -300 (-10800)
= -1200 / 100 = minus 12 chips each time

So, the steal alone is marginal.

We now need to factor in our equity when called.... assuming that we always fold when re-raised before the flop. So half the time we are flat called, and on these occasions we have 35% equity...

Oops - got to run - almost missed lunch appointment!! Will do the 'equity when called' calc tomorrow!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

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Blog Break Over - Poker Break Beginning!

Ok, Back to posting - fancied a quick break from my daily(ish) posts for a week. No worries the trusty Plan3t Gong notepad is full of post ideas, Sit N Go strategy, PLO and all sorts of other bits and pieces too!

Firstly, thanks for the well thought out comments on the last post - always appreciate it when people take the time to consider things.

Secondly, I've decided not to play any poker in October! Strange idea huh? Well, even though my bankroll(s) have been creeping upwards (thanks to mainly to the Party PLO fish!) lately I found myself getting a little stale at the tables... the game started to become a routine rather than the pleasure it always was. So a break - only from playing though... will still be writing and thinking about strategy etc

Just updated some great new stuff over at SNG Planet - including a new charater called 'The Poker Payment Professor!' designed to sort out confusion about The Best Online Poker Deposit Methods. There are a ton of new strategy articles for October at the site too!

Check it out via this link:

Best Online Poker Tournament Strategy

Right-o, tomorrow I'll continue with the any-2 theme started over a week ago!

GL at the tables, Mark