Sunday, November 28, 2004


Another Word about Sit and Goes


While I'm here, a bit more than a word : I should point out that the short-stack strategy featured on this blog isn't quite as optimal for 50-30-20 sit and goes. In fact I think I've been over-reliant on it lately. The first reason is that survival is more important in a Sit and Go than it is in a standard winner-take-all ST (where it isn't important at all) or in an MTT (where it's much less important than almost everyone thinks). The second is that most (not all, but most) of your Sit and Go opponents will call you on the sole basis of what cards they have. They don't really take into account your stack or your position. If they have AJ/88 or better, something like that, they call. This means that raising in late position (with only one or two players behind you) is more effective, and that when you raise, if you don't have a hand with some value against AJ/88 and better, then it doesn't really matter what you have at all. In fact Ace-small is actually worse than many hands that aren't "real" raising hands.

It's up to you how you interpret that for the moment, but it's something to bear in mind.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Party Sit and Goes - The Dance of the Mad

I witnessed some bizarre action in a $50 Sit and Go tonight. Thanks to knocking three players out in one hand with AA, I'm sitting pretty around 4000, 4 handed. The second chip leader (call him player A) allows the short stack (Player B) to escape with 5 chips (in a 2000 pot !) after checking the turn and river. What some people are thinking is beyond me, and no he wasn't deliberately keeping him in to steal more blinds because he didn't subsequently steal anything !

Needless to say B survives a couple of hands and makes it all the way up to 135 when the 3rd stack (Player C) puts 550 in (about half his chips) UTG. B is in the SB so he's all in. While all this is happening I have KK in the big blind ! I go all in, with half a suspicion that UTG will pass, which he does. SB has 34 which rivers a straight :-). If I had been Player C that would have been it for me, laptop through the window. What did he think he was doing anyway ? Putting half of it in is just begging me to raise him off it with anything. He's clearly not aware of the rule that if two players are eliminated on the same hand, the one with more chips at the start of the hand is placed higher. Or if he is, he's not aware of the implications. In this spot, if it all goes in, the hand has to play out B first, me second, C last for him to finish out of the money. 5-1 against given random hands, although in the event that might well have happened !

Long story short, C passes the blinds (as he more or less has to now), leaving himself with 100, and B is finally eliminated in 4th. And I win ! Not normally front page news but I haven't been running too well lately :-). Hopefully my luck's on the turn, and it's ever harder to believe I don't have a good expectation in this game, when I see how utterly clueless some players are.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Single Table Satellites (3) - The Early Rounds

I recall an STS I played the last time I was in the US. "Jeez, I haven't seen a hand at all" moaned the woman in seat 10 as she nursed her last 40 chips. "Apart from QQ and JJ" pointed out someone else (not me). It was true, she had picked up both of those hands in the first level, and moved all her chips into an unraised pot, picking up about 50 each time. In fact, picking up QQ and JJ in 40 minutes is well above expectation. In the early rounds, when you do find a premium hand, you want some action.

This means either making a sensible pot-size raise, or going for the limp-reraise. Either is good, depending on how likely a raise is behind you. When there's just a single raise, see the flop and if you don't have top pair or an overpair, dump it (usually). There's nothing wrong with moving all the chips in as a reraiser pre-flop, but bear in mind that with a single raise, you will very often still get paid when your hand is good. Another hand I played during the same trip went like this : three limpers, I found QQ on the button and raised about the pot. 4 callers altogether. Rag flop (8 high no suits). Small blind goes all in, others pass, I call. He has AT. Double up for me kerching !

You're never going to pass Queens or better pre-flop. AK is almost always good, unless you're sure it's going to be 3-handed or more and there's a solid player or two already in. JJ is good much more often than it would be in an MTT : in another hand, a smallish stack went all in for about 50, a reraiser went all in, and I called fairly quickly with Jacks. I can't remember what the first all-in had, but the second had 77.

Anything less than that (AK, JJ) you don't have to play if you don't want to. TT/99 can be played if it's fairly cheap pre-flop, and as the best hand if you have the overpair on the flop. Many of your opponents fall in love with top pair, even second pair good kicker (for some strange reason).

In the first couple of rounds, you're only looking for premium hands. You don't want to chase with the likes of KJ, and you haven't got implied odds for anything other than a pair in late position when you're sure you can get in cheap. You don't have to drop when you think you're in front, but choose the right starting hands to avoid marginal situations.

Sunday, November 14, 2004


Breaking off for a moment - Online Sit and Goes

Simon G posted an excellent tip on the Mob Forum today - placing pearls before swine, as it were ! The essence of it is that when you are chip leader four-handed, it' s in your interest to keep a very small stack in (rather than knock him out) so that you can keep robbing the medium stacks. It's something I have done on occasion - I remember one MTT on Stars around the bubble when I was chipped up, and I passed a rag hand to a small stack's all in for this very reason. For the next 10 minutes, the rest of the table talked about how stupid I was, while I stole another 4000 chips.

It doesn't come up very often in my Sit and Goes because I prefer to come from behind (so to speak). Of course I would rather have 3000 chips than 1000 when the crunch time comes, but it's not 3 times as good, no way. I'd rather make sure I'm there at the business end than chase too many chips in the early and middle stages.

Nonetheless the post demonstrates how you should think ahead. I don't like being in the kind of situation where the chips are say 4000-3000-1500-1500, and you're one of the 1500s. The big stacks have a big edge here. If I can foresee this situation developing a level earlier, maybe when 5-handed, I will gamble a lot more knowing that if I gamble and lose, I'm not losing as much as I might do normally (because waiting will lead to this bad situation). Of course I'm gambling as the first one to enter the pot, but gambling all the same. Think ahead and think out of the box when playing on-line Sit and Goes.

Monday, November 08, 2004


Single Table Satellites (2)

Don't chase because you don't have enough chips to make the chasing worthwhile. Drawing hands on the flop should be dumped unless they are good enough to go all in with, right here, right now. Good enough usually means a draw plus something - a draw plus a pair, a draw plus overcards, a draw plus another draw. Calling the flop chasing a draw isn't worth it because you don't have the implied odds, that is you don't have enough chips to win a big enough pot when you hit. Of course if someone only wants to charge you 25 for another card then fine, but use your head. Chasing with second pair / top pair weak kicker is also not recommended, although you shouldn't be playing hands that can make top pair weak kicker at all in the early stages.

Don't bluff because people will call you. Simple as that. Note that I'm not talking about semi-bluffing pre-flop when the blinds are high, that's completely different. I'm talking about bluffing in the early rounds . Again, if you're playing the right hands, you should almost always have something that's at least worth showing down if everyone checks (a good Ace or a pair in your hand)

Don't make big laydowns because people will bet all sorts of strange hands. If you have an overpair or top pair good kicker, you're locked in. The penalty for being outdrawn is much smaller in an STS than it is in a regular tournament. When they say Aces either win a small pot or lose a big one, that just doesn't apply here, because there aren't enough chips to make a big pot. Someone makes two pair on you - ohdearhowsadnevermind, put yourself on the list for the next one.

And don't give up because you should never give up. If you play 50 $100 STSs and in just one of those you hang on to that last chip and save it for the right moment and not the next hand because you're steaming, and go on to win, that's an extra $1000 over 50 trials = an extra $20 per STS. Once out of 50 = an extra $20 every time, remember that.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Single Table Satellites (1)

Right. I am now going to talk about playing live Single Table Satellites, mainly in the US but I suppose it would apply in Europe if you can find one. An alternative title would be "How to Score a Free Holiday in Vegas", so if that interests you, stay tuned !

The basic structure I'm going to work off is 10-handed NL Hold-Em, winner take all, 500 chips to start, 15 minute levels, blinds go 5-15, 10-25, 25-50, 50-100, 100-200, 200-400. It's very unusual for one of these to go past 200-400. Now the first thing you're going to say is "500 chips ? Crapshoot !". Firstly, you're wrong, but secondly, fine, go and play with Lederer and Ivey on an hour long clock, you'll be alright. If long dwell-ups and big laydowns are your idea of poker, you won't find them here, but the money you win is just as real.

For now I will quickly spell out the "four don'ts" of single table satellites (STSs from now on). There are exceptions, with the exception of the last one !

Don't do any of those, follow the short stack strategy below, and there, you're a winner. That didn't take long did it ? Of course we can refine this to become bigger winners, and that's what I'll try to do in the following posts, but that's enough of a start to put you well ahead of 80% of the field.

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