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.

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