Thursday, March 24, 2005


Slave To The Grind

Why is everyone getting the cake in Sit and Goes except me ? I ask myself ?

Well the immediate answer is they're not, most of them, it's just that Sit and Goes are much more streaky than people think, and they'll tell you all about their good runs and talk about something else when it goes pear-shaped. But I can't help thinking I ought to do better in them. My record since the start of last year at $50 and above is Played 253, Net $2484 @ $9.82 per tournament. Well I'm not losing I suppose but it ought to be better than that. Here's a hand I played just now that makes me wonder why.

Pokerstars $55 Turbo, 8-handed in level 2 (15-30) and I have around 1500. I limp in late position with 55 and 5 players take the flop. T65 two diamonds ker-ching. SB bets 30, call call, I raise the pot. No time to get trappy here with the drawing flop. Only the SB calls. Turn 4d. He checks. Well I think I should bet rather than give a free card to a hand that's still drawing. I bet 350, he check-raises all in. Marvellous. It is now 850 to me with 2200 in the pot.

At this stage of a conventional tournament, where the decision is simply a question of pot odds, this is close, but IMO probably a call against an unknown player. Even a small chance of him having 2 pair or thinking he's being clever with JJ or something tips it towards a call. In a 50-30-20 Sit and Go, the equity considerations probably make it a fold. Not just because survival is important to me, it's important to him, so he's less likely to go all in without a hand. Unless he's a nutter, which he could be, but I don't know. So I turn the stereo down and click Time and chew my lip for a bit and I think I should pass but I STILL FUCKING CALL. I just find it really hard to pass this kind of hand, especially online. He has Td2d and I miss. Can't fault his call on the flop with a pair and a draw, and of course he has outplayed me fair and square on the turn.

In a 50/30/20 Sit and Go, my instincts and my intellect pull in different directions. Instinctively I want to get involved while the bad players still have chips. I want to pressure the tight players. I want to get all the chips. Intellectually I know this is wrong. So this continual tug-of-war between heart and mind affects my judgement, and frankly the heart just wins too often.

The dynamics of a multi-table tournament are different. Prior to reaching the money, you can make pure pot odds decisions unless both you and your opponent have huge chips. Contrary to popular belief. I know that if you lose your chips you're out. I know that you might find a better spot further along the line. I don't care. If I'm out, there'll be another one to play soon enough. If I double up, then when the "better spot" arrives, I'll have twice the chips to make it pay. You may not want to be knocked out but the correct way to think about it is : "If I double my chips, is that twice as good ?". Usually it is. So I can play the way I want to. The same applies in winner-take-all single tables, in fact even more so.

I think that's a major contributory factor to my relatively poor Sit and Go return. Another is that I'm not the greatest at multi-tabling. The more I think about it, the less I believe it is a coincidence that I won a 300-runner tournament while playing only one game. But there is one final statistic to consider. I can break my S+G numbers down as follows. No Limit - P 218, Net $1759 @ $8.07. Limit ($50 Limit on Party) - P 35, Net $725 @ $20.71. A minutely small sample but perhaps something worth following up. After all if everyone says something in poker then it's almost certainly wrong, and everyone says No Limit is more skilful than Limit ...

Chaos is saying that limit tourneys "order" players better than no limit. Maybe the same is true for SNG, although I suspect that at a class divide appears in limit sooner than no limit. Aslo, as I am sure you are aware, there is a pretty good 2+2 SNG forum, although I havent been there in an age. The consenus there is that 30-40% is a very high ROI per tourney, so your 20% is not too bad.


I was being a little disingenuous with my stats (maybe I should become a politician !). The 253 comps include 80 at $100. I'm running around 10% with those. Then again these sample sizes are far too small to draw accurate conclusions from. I just have a feeling that I'm not playing well enough.

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Hi Andy,
Here are some nice SNG stats for comparison

I have not been very succesfull in SNGs myself. Maybe Im in the same group as you with my poker instincst, too much risk for 50-30-20.


PS. You paraphrased my comments perfectly in Feb.
It's not often that I'll pipe up with the "Sklansky has a useful point to say on this" line, but your bet with the trips against the three diamonds on board is a case in point. His line (in limit) is that you should bet in this situation with top pair and should check with two-pair or trips, because in the first case you can fold to the check- raise and in the second two cases you have to call.

His line (in NL tournaments) is that you should only bet in these situations where you are HAPPY to stand a raise. This could be because you are sitting on the made hand, or because you will throw away your hand immediately, should the raise occur. In this case, you aren't happy to stand a raise and so (a la Sklansky mode of thought) you should check. The downside of (possibly) giving the free card is slightly counteracted by the upside that it might tempt the guy into a bet if he misses his draw.

In live games it is different because it's easier to read the player. You bet if you think he is on a draw and you don't if you think he might be looking for a check-raise.

On another topic, here's an analysis from the latest CardPlayer that I think demonstrates the laziness of thought so common amongst poker writers today (btw, the Hellmuth piece in the latest CP is almost a case of self-parody - these days he is playing tournaments like a dickhead as well as cash games).

But, I digress. The hand in question is analyzed by Jim Brier in "World Poker Open Hands, Part Three". Without going into the details of the hand, Brier states that our hero's action on the turn should be to raise the bet from an unconventional player on the turn.

Brier's logic is that there are two possibilities (that the opponent is semi-bluffing or that he has top pair with a good kicker) and that in both cases the hero is in front. "Therefore you should raise. Note also the raising may prevent Dick from betting the river, giving you a free showdown if you wish".

The flaw in this logic is that if opponent has either of these two hands, then you probably WANT him to bet on the river. By raising on the turn you increase your potential loss if your opponent is semi-bluffing and subsequently hits his draw (which is what happened), without increasing your potential win, since you have probably just exchanged a big bet won on the river for a big bet won on the turn.

Note that if opponent is semi-bluffing then there is, say, a 50% chance that he will bet on the river even if he misses. If he has top-pair then he is likely to check, but must call your bet.

"Free showdowns if you wish" is the catchphrase of the converted pot limit player. And this is Brier writing about $20-$40! How high does one have to go to find competent players on the turn and river (higher than $10-$20 in Vegas, that's for sure)?

Hi Pete,

I'd ask "How was Vegas ?" but I shall find out for myself in a couple of days ! Woo-hoo !! I will have to check out the new MGM cardroom.

Sklansky's most interesting example of this is in TPFAP. Many will be familiar with it, but briefly you have AhKh on the turn when the board is A high with two hearts. There was action on the flop and your opponent checks (possibly your 2 opponents check, I don't have the book to hand). You have enough chips such that you should pass a check-raise.

Sklansky says (and I agree) that this is a clear check if you think your opponent might be slow-playing trips. It's not hard to see why - if you're winning then your opponent has very few outs, but if you're behind then you don't want to get check-raised off a free river when drawing to the nuts.

I've heard variations of this discussed in tournament post-mortems and I've never heard any conclusion other than "I had top pair and the nut flush draw I had to bet". Tournament players are so conditioned to be aggressive, to not give free cards, that they often miss the times when you should take a free card.

This "must be strong, must bet, must raise" is a tournament mantra that's running through a lot of heads. I am working on some ways to exploit this at the moment. We will see how they work out in Vegas !


I've only just seen this

'After all if everyone says something in poker then it's almost certainly wrong, and everyone says No Limit is more skilful than Limit ...'

Is this in any way related to the articles I wrote a couple of days prior?

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