Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Pop Quiz

Right, here's one for you. I might not even answer this at all. I'm just interested in seeing how many people think like I do, if anyone !

It's derived from a hand I commented on in Pete Birks' blog, from the Gutshot 3-day tournament where DY, in the blinds, reraised a button raiser who he thought might be on a steal.

The scenario is, I'm on the button, blinds 100-200, all pass to me and I raise to 600. The small blind passes. You're in the big blind. I have lots of chips, I have you covered.

What is your optimum stack size to make a semi-bluff (or even a total bluff) reraise ? What is your least optimum stack size ?

Don't forget to show your working !

Do you mean to rearaise all-in?
+ it would depend on the hand.
No and no !

It's up to you how much you want to raise ; the hand is simply one that will be behind if you get called.

I usually rely on you to tell me how to think about this stuff, so this is just in an effort to get you to commit ... This was the GSOP, so the stacks might have been much deeper than they'd be in the usual comps, in which case I can reraise and get away if you come over the top. But it's more interesting if our stacks are low enough to be vulnerable. I want to make a raise such that if I miss, I still enough chips left to have options: either to continue the bluff by betting out enough to make you fold if you were stealing, while still having a deep enough stack to get away relatively comfortably if you weren't; or to check, see what you do and act accordingly. However, I also know that you'll be looking at my stack size quite carefully, and that my preflop reraise will be more impressive if it looks like I'm risking a significant proportion of it. Say I had 7200, and tripled your bet to 2400. How would that be? Too much of a risk for me. I'd want nearly 10000 to make the move. The least optimum stack size would be one that left me with too little after the move fails, so 4500 or less.

OK, put me right.
Of course the hand matters, unless you're trying to just optimize (maximise) the chances of winning preflop. You are trying to optimise the sum of winning pre-flop and winning post flop, if called (& asuming no action).

You also need to know the range of hands your oppo will call with conditioned upon the reraise, which I guess is left to the reader.
OK, OK :-)

I'm still going to give you the same answer whatever the hand but let's say you have 44. I'm me and you just have to guess what hands I have and what I might do.

To clarify a little, let's reverse the question. You have 10,000 chips. What stack size of mine (before the raise) gives the best conditions for a reraise ? And the worst ?

I'm thinking the other way around to Paul M on this one.
Using the original scenario, ideally on a semibluff, my optimal stack size is 5000, my least favoured would be around 10000. My reasoning:
1. My reraise is generally going to be to between 1200 and 1800 unless I have 3000 or less, then its all or nothing.
2. I want you to have the option of making a 'good' laydown, but no option of 'outplaying' me down the streets.
3. If you don't have much I want you to be worrying about having to show your filth because you 'have to call' after getting a piece of the flop. I want you to be thinking most about your table image.
4. I want you to believe I am prepared to play for my whole stack. I probably am, though as ever, it depends.
5. 5000 would be a stack size that suggests I have no need to get involved unless I have a monster, to do so would be considered foolhardy by most.
6. 10000 would be an amount that suggests I might just be getting fancy but be vulnerable to thinking defensively if you popped right back at me. Much more and why are either of us getting fancy with the blinds at 100-200?

If we flip it round and I have 10000, then I'm less likely to reraise you if you are a shortish stack than if you are a big stack.

Either way, I don't want you to call and thats the crux of the matter.
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well Andy my feeling is there that may well be be several solutions (but my maths intuition is very poor these days). Firstly because, as pointed out, there are two variables, chips you expect to win pre-flop with a bluff, and chips you expect to win post-flop the best hand.

E.g. by raising X you might/expect to win 1k pre, 0,75k post flop. By raising Y (>X) then you might win 1.25k preflop, 0.5k post flop.

And also because the damn hand-ranking thing isn't monotonic.

Eg if I raise a bit more, and your call range tightens up to drop a pair, I now win more pre-flop and more on the flop when called. But if you drop overcards instead then I win less on the flop (with 44).

My guess is that an amount he/you'd struggle to get away from is bad for 44, around 2k.

Then I reckon it gets better for a while, and then it gets worse again. 6-7k might be tough, since your semi-bluff now comes into play. Get up to say 10-11 k and your semi bluff looks abit iffy on the risk/reward, (not that it has stopped me making an ass of myself here) strengthening the 44 semi-bluff again.

Thanks for comments so far, I'd like to see if we get any more before stating my case, but if I can give you a hint to what I'm thinking, it's entirely mathematical, there's no psychology involved, and the flop doesn't really come into it. Let's say I'm only going to fold or re-reraise if you reraise.

Reraise all-in with about 2400 would be quite good scenario. With this stack size there is enough pressure to make you fold and no need to worry about playing through the streets out of position.

Least optimum would be raising with 1k stack where you would be committed, but this was probably not the answere you were looking for. Another bad situation is when reraise bluff makes the bluffer committed, but all-in reraise is too much ie stack around 4.5k.

As others pointed out, with bigger stacks the exact hand is starting to matter.


That's very close to how I see it. Optimum is just enough to make the raiser pass what he's going to pass, and no more. In practice that's about 2000, maybe a touch more.

When you have 4500 that's bad, yes, but think of it this way : you still have the option of passing. If you'd rather call (which I think I would too) then that must be better than having 6000, where you now pass. This non-optimal situation for the BB has become the optimal situation for the initial raiser who is now putting in just enough to make his opponent pass, and no more !

In practice this means I don't like to steal raise for 1/3 of my (or key opponent's) stack. I do like to steal raise for 1/10 of the stack - although not so much online. This should work well in bigger live tournaments where there's a lot of re-stealing going on. You make the re-re-steal !

It boils down to this, IMO. If you're semi-bluffing, you want to make the last raise (that can be passed to). If you've got the goods, you want your opponent to make the last raise (ditto).

Big bet tournament poker is more about stacks than it is about cards or psychology a lot of the time.

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