Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Full Tilt Knockout Tournament Strategy - Part #1

Really busy at the moment, creating a new blog (for SNG Planet)... Plan3t Gong will continue so no worries - the new one will be more of a 'news' based blog covering the latest developments for online tournaments and SNGs... more on that in a few days!

Right, Full Tilt Poker Knockout Tournaments... very popular at the moment with a bounty on every players head! Will do a brief desciption of what these are and buy-in levels etc then a few strategy thoughts from those that I've played... won a 90 Man KO SNG and bubbled the final table of a larger KO MTT (oh and managed a 20th in the bigger one too!) these were all at the $24+$2 level but hopefully this relates to the lower (and higher!) buy-ins as well.

Quick Description: Knockout Bounty Tournaments work like this, your buy-in is split between the 'normal' prize pool and your 'bounty' for example the $24+$2 KO MTTs put a bounty of $4 on each player's head with the other $20 going to make up a normal prize pool. As you go through you collect $4 for each player that you knock out.

Whats Available: Getting hard to keep track to be honest - they have proved very popular which means the number of buy-ins and games available are growing each day.... here is a quick overview:

SNGS: 60 Player turbo - $6.50 buy-in ($1 / KO), 90 Player $24+$2, $10+1 and $3+30c buy-ins.

MTTs: From $3.30 through $10+$1, $24+2, $70+$5, $120+9... right up to the 'Sunday Brawl' a $240+$16 KO Tournament bunfight! Also saw PLO KO MTTs at $7+70c and $24+$2.

Before I get to my initial strategy thoughts a quick link to Full Tilt for those who would like to check these out for themselves >>> Full Tilt Poker <<< bonus / referral code SNGPLANET will get you the maximum available 100% to $600 bonus (and make you a friend of Plan3t Gong for life too!)

So, initial KO Tournament Strategy Thoughts.

My first observation concerns those times during a tournament when a short stacked player is all-in. Normally there is a fair chance here that other players in the hand will 'check-down' a hand to ensure that the chances of the all-in player being eliminated is maximised... whether this is always 'correct' is a matter of some debate (believe I did a post on this for SNG play last year).

Do not expect hands to be checked through in a KO MTT! It is not going to happen. This leads to adjusting your play... you should be more inclined to raise a player who is all in (from later position that is) than to call if you have a reasonable hand - this shows opponents that you are willing to play and discourages speculative calls behind. You are not doing this for the bounty - you are doing it to win the chips with the bounty as a bonus!

My next observation was that there are slightly more all-in confrontations in the early stages. Thought here is that there are 2 reasons for this. Firstly the nature of these games attracts more 'fun' players compared to MTT grinders (or just more thoughtful players in general)... Secondly a (possibly misguided) thought that the bounty makes a large difference to the ranges of hands to go all in with.

The second of these points will be looked at in more detail - my initial thinking is that the bounty makes a very small difference to your equity (especially in the later stages) and should almost be ignored... however I'll run the numbers to ensure that any differences in ranges are based on facts and not feelings!

My final thought for this post is actually a question - and once again one that I will look into the numbers before later. The question is based on looking at the 'bounties' as an extra bonus and not a reason to make any specific play which should relate to your chances of reaching the final table as in any other MTT.... here it is:

Is the potential extra EV from the bounties worth enough to justify small pot aggressive plays which keep your stack higher than most of the opponents at your table?

The thinking here is why lose out on a bounty by winning an all-in against a player who has you slightly covered!

Your thoughts on this would be much appreciated!

GL at those KO Bounty Tournament tables,



F-Badger said...

Hey mark

Just reading your sattelite ost below. It is a 100% fold. You take the 2 blinds and you are probably in. The push doesnt secure you enough chips if u win it to coast in and u will have to take the blinds next anyway and win at least 1 of them. I am pretty surprised at your plan as your strategy talk is usually spot on!

Mark said...

Thanks Badger - you have backed up the point I was trying to make (after the fact)!

I did shove and then started thinking that the EXTRA risk did not make sense... since I'd have to go through the blinds ANYWAY.

Cheers for the comment, kind of got it right, then talked myself out of it again.


Oopda said...

OK, let's say you folded and then survived the blinds somehow, coming out with ~20k chips. You're still in dire, dire straits -- an M of 1 -- and may go a whole orbit without seeing anything as good as QJ again. You're not on the bubble yet. You didn't give stack sizes, but with 6 unpaid places left it seems clear that you couldn't fold into the money just by winning one of your blind hands.

Alternately if you win with QJ and double up again in the blinds, you may well survive. IMO, in such a desperate situation you need to shove any above-average hand and cross your fingers!

Regarding the Knockout, I agree with the idea of trying to keep your stack slightly above the others. Steal blinds more than normal, if you can get away with it, but don't jeopardize your tournament life either.

KajaPoker said...

I think these KO tourneys play a lot looser than regular ones. You should adjust to that but I think chasing bounties is a big mistake. The 50 cents you make KOing someone could lead to your demise. You should keep your eye on the prize (1st place, baby) and avoid risky situations. Also, I used to think that the lower the buy-in, the worse the players, but even in a $75 KO the play was truly awful. Even in the money.

Nathan said...

Hi Mark,

New to the blog, and I like the way you think. Wanted to respond to oopda, who wrote:

"Regarding the Knockout, I agree with the idea of trying to keep your stack slightly above the others. Steal blinds more than normal, if you can get away with it, but don't jeopardize your tournament life either."

If this were possible, wouldn't you want to do it in every tournament? I understand the equity of some moves might be improved by the looser play, but isn't a strategy of maximizing your stack and minimizing risk basically what poker is about?