Friday, November 18, 2005


He's A Great Short Stack Player

One of the things I could spend all day writing about if I wanted to bore everyone (even more) is how poorly some of the people who report on tournaments understand the game. Not all of them to be fair, but a high proportion. Too many of them give professionals far too much credit. For example, one of Pokerpages flock recently described how a pro called a reraise with 77 and then launched it all on an 8 high flop, only to be called by KK. Fair enough, happens to the best of us, and we don't know the context of preceding hands, but when the hero rivered a runner-runner straight the three words used to describe this outcome were not "a jammy suckout" but "a great save". Watch out Paul Robinson.

More to the point of this particular piece though, you often find players being praised to the skies for clinging on by their fingernails for 4 hours and finishing 7th. I suspect this is in tune with the way the writer plays tournaments him or herself. "He's a great short stack player" they will chirp about someone who spends a long time short-stacked before finally going bust. Hmm. What does Lindgren have to say ? "I'm not short-stacked very often. Usually I either have chips or I'm out".

Nonetheless, on reading the relevant parts of the book, he clearly does understand exactly how to play a short stack. If you know how to play one, you won't have one for very long ! Knowing how to play a short stack means knowing that you have to take on the situations which are equivalent to a 55% chance to double up. People who spend a long time close to the felt are passing these up. And that's costing them money. Meanwhile the Erick Lindgrens of this world are either out and making money in another game (or having a good time in the bar), or doubled up a couple of times and robbing Mr. Great Short Stack Player blind.

All the same, it's fair to say that a pro who knows how to play a short stack gets his share of the credit too. When he wins three races to move back into contention, it's a brilliant comeback that shows a lot of heart. Sometimes you want to shout at everyone, for goodness sake it's only a game of cards.

Just in case you thought that all players were reading these books and that the game was going to get a lot tougher, here's a Daveyboyz quote from the "folding AK?" thread on Gutshot:

"Just because you are getting better pot odds that the likelyhood of winning means nothing. This is not a cash game its a tourney and pot odds really mean nothing it tournies because you cant pull up if you lose, you're out. "

So, don't worry, these guys are still out there.

It's an intersting thread in more ways than one. For a start, I can see an argument for folding and another one for playing!
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