Saturday, June 24, 2006


Down But Not Out

An interesting situation came up in a speed tournament a couple of days ago. In fact this crops up repeatedly in the speed format ; it's interesting how the large majority of players mis-handle it. I had just lost a hand and I was down to about 9000 under the gun, with blinds 4000-8000. I pick up something decent but not spectacular, can't remember what exactly, maybe something like K8. Definitely above average. Conventional wisdom states that as this is a better hand than you are likely to find in the BB, you should play it. Conventional wisdom is, as ever, bollocks.

It's not that I have a poor expectation with this hand, although it's also not great. If I play, I should call [1]. Either someone will raise with a real hand or it will come round to the blinds. Maybe one of them will raise, maybe not. Most likely I'll be heads up against a better hand getting 5/2 or so, or three way against two random hands. EV is probably small but positive.

The problem is that if I win this hand, I'll have 24-28K, which sounds great. But I will immediately have to post 8K of it in the blind. I might have to forfeit this entirely, or call knowing that I'm an underdog because that's slightly preferable to folding, but almost as bad. You might say, well you're still better off than before, but what has happened here is that I had a 1 in 3 chance of trebling up into this situation and then immediately losing 4-6K of EV on the next hand because I have to post.

Instead, I passed the K8 and took the blind. A geezer with about 20K raised, and I called for the scratch with 96. He had KJ and won the hand. Here, I had an automatic call and the typical scenario would be that I have a 1 in 3 chance to double up to 20K counting the small blind, that is my EV from the start of the hand is -1.5K or so. And sometimes I'll pick up a hand that's better than 1 in 3.

Notice also how the geezer's raise has hardly helped him at all. Best case, he will be heads up with me as a 60% favourite against my random hand (if that). Instead of the 12K that an unchallenged raise will otherwise take down, his EV is only about 4K. And that's if no one else finds a hand to call him with - as he's unlikely to be called by a worse hand for any significant chips.

To summarise, if you're down below 2 Big Blinds or so, think about letting even the better hands go UTG and just take the blind. And if the big blind is committed to calling, tighten up on your all-in raises.

[1] Because putting in an extra 1000 now isn't going to make any difference. If you just call, and check down unless you hit a monster, anyone who wants to put you all in must bet at least 8K and now there's a chance this will make other players fold. If you put it all in pre-flop they have the option of just checking you down.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?