Monday, November 17, 2008

Some Satellite Relief - Cooperation Plays

Well well, just as the weekend's poker was looking like a washout... I managed to bag a $535 FTOPS Main event ticket in a $24+$2 Satty on Tilt. Did not play the event, it started at midnight CET and with deep stacks - just too late really. Actually used the Full Tilt T$ system in the end to swap it for $508 in cash... not too bad considering the rake required to play it through on SNGs would have been more - at the lower levels at least.

Anyway, cooperation plays... an important part of any satellite (and similar principles to the double or nothing SNGs too). Yet people get them wrong again and again!

Before getting into the specifics I'd like to address the premise for cooperating at the bubble of a satellite, since 'conventional wisdom' suggests selfish behaviour to be optimal. Cooperating to eliminate a short-stack when you are in the comfort-zone works because, on average, you will have a comfortable stack more often than a short one!

So, in the satty I played yesterday, 24 left and 23 get paid - the distribution was 2 desperate stacks (<3bbs),>20bbs) ... pretty standard right... notice that if this is a 'pretty standard' distribution then you will be in the mid-zone or better 80% of the time...

Will start with a couple of pretty standard hands and then move on to something a smidgen more advanced (initiating the cooperation play from EP).

Hand #1: Someone with 20bbs raises the hijack to 3x - a smally in the Small blind shoves 6bbs, the big blind is a huge stack and (correctly) flat calls... adding his cards to the attempt to knock out the smally. Now the hijack folds - even though he would have stayed in the comfort zone by calling and adding his cards (not even to mention the odds)... this is horrible, what hand raises there that now folds??!?!? ugh! Key factor = risk, with 14BBs left even those times the SB wins the comfort + odds + situation make this the world's easiest call.

Hand #2: This was the last hand, and I was involved with my (by then) shortish stack... again the hijack, but this time with less than one BB 'shoves' (or should that be limps??!), I call - fully expecting the largeish stacks behind me to do the same in order to get some lower / middle cards involved (if nothing else)... doh! both the button and the small blind, both with >20bbs fold and the BB and I check it down, I won the hand and we all got a seat... with other short-stacks around could these guys not see that the risk / reward was soo squewed that at least completing the SB was a must.

Anyway, wanted to mention initiating a cooperation play from EP with a big stack... central to this idea is that the blinds are all-in or damn close to it and that there are other shorties around in case you inadvertantly quadruple up this shorty.

Here with a big (comfortably big) in EP i like to limp, enouraging others to limp along, this can be done with a wide range of hands where you think that the other big stacks understand what you are trying to achieve, when the blind throws in those last chips you can all call, maximising the chances of elimination. Don't leave it to the medium-stacks in later position - they have enough worry about losing chips to make the 'right' play (for them) to give a shorty a walk - and that is bad for everyone!

Again, the circumstances are specific for these plays and will change with whether you think that your opponents understand the dynamic. Selfish behaviour is sometimes optimal (for medium-stacks in particular)... but next time you are comfortable and decide that eliminating the short-stack is 'someone elses problem', just remember that statistically speaking you'll be a big / mid stack far more often than you'll be the shorty... there are simply more of them.

For quite a few articles on satellite strategy you can check out the dedicated section over at SNG Planet via this link Poker Satellites , any suggestions for additions to that section are welcome too.

Anyway, quite a long post for 9am, off to the office now absolutely full up with motivation to have a productive week.

GL at the tables, Mark

1 comment:

AllanDuke said...

You have no idea how many times I'm on the bubble of a tourny and some middle or deep stack donkey SHOVES to isolate himself against the shorty instead of just calling.

Ive seen deep stack donkeys do this on token tournies where all we have to do is knock out two people for EVERYONE to get the same token. Instead he shoves with Q high on a t high board, forcing my pocket 9's out and letting the short stack triple up with pocket 2's.

I end up mashing my fists and face into the keyboard yelling at the shove monkeys... but no matter what I say, they dont understand.