Monday, February 23, 2009

Robin Hood didn't play poker

Today's lesson: don't be a Robin Hood - steal from the poor.

So, you're playing a Full Tilt Super-Turbo. Just to remind everyone, those are just 9-handed Turbo structure SnG tournaments, but with a 300 chip starting stack. That's right, 2700 chips on the table total. And the blinds start at 15/30 and go up every 3 minutes.

So anyway, you've been treading water for a couple orbits, and have 280 chips and the button in front of you. The blinds are 25/50. You look down at KTo, and it's folded around to you. What do you do?

Well, if I'm in your shoes, I don't know what to do yet, because I've left out from the setup the size of the stacks that are in the blinds.

You're certainly not going to limp. The problem with that is that limping is going to cost you almost 20% of your stack, and if you then get raised by one of the blinds, you'll have a quandary. No, this situation is all-in or fold.

Two factors matter:

1. How committed are your opponents? If one or both of them have more than a quarter of their stack out there, they're probably calling with all but the very worst hands. If they have half or more committed in the blind, they're calling with 27o. Yes, you're ahead of 27o, but, as they say, they have 2 live cards.

2. How much damage can they do to you if the call and win? If one or more of the blinds has you out-chipped, then they can end you immediately. If one or both of them has more than 50% of your stack, then not only are they capable of landing a crippling blow on your stack, with 150 or so chips, they are more likely to feel committed to the pot (particularly the BB, who has a third of his stack in).

There is a third factor - how committed are you to this pot? There are never any antes in Super Turbos, so the answer is quite simply that you're not at all committed to any pot unless you're one of the blinds. But at the same time, if you're short stacked, you're looking for a good situation to try and double up to keep going. If, with the above setup, you had, say, only 150 chips, you'd probably think that KTo with only two opponents left was probably a good enough place to take a stand. Waiting for a better hand will only put you further out of position, reducing your hand range and your likelihood of having an acceptable hand come your way before you're in the big blind (and will likely be committed).

Another thing to note is that button raises are going to be viewed by the blinds with some suspicion. The good news is that you've got a better than average hand, meaning that if they put you on a pure garbage steal, they'll have a nasty surprise. You're certain to get called by any ace in this spot, and by any pair. The good news is that those situations are likely to be fairly close to coin-flips for you (A4o vs KTo is 56/42, 44 vs KTo is 51/47). The bad news is that statistically, you're going to lose half of those.

And that's where the lesson comes in. Short stacks will call with crappier hands, which improves your odds, and even when the odds don't fall your way, they can't hurt you as much. So take their lunch money and give them a wedige every chance you get.

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