Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Rebuy !!

It's been a more difficult month, but it's encouraging to note that despite feeling like I've been swimming upstream the whole time, I'm only a few hundred down. I'll work it out exactly at the end of the month, as I am just about managing not to check my swings every day. Just about. I have been acutely aware lately that I have had much better results in rebuy tournaments than freezeouts so I thought I'd add that up and see where we stood. Over 270 freezeouts this year I am down about 20% of the total investment ; but over 250 rebuy tournaments (including speed tournaments) I have a much better ROI of +70%. That's without any massive wins to distort the figures. I'm sure I'm running bad in the freezeouts this year (I'd better be or else I really suck) and, while I know that even 500 tournaments isn't a lot statistically, there's still very little doubt in my mind that the rebuy tournaments are more profitable, for (at least) the following reasons :

1) Many opponents play very badly in the rebuy period when they get stuck. In a freezeout, your tilty opponent will do his chips and then kick the cat and/or go and play another game somewhere else. In a rebuy tournament, he can steam for several rebuys. Plus some players chase terribly towards the end of the rebuy period if they feel they don't have enough chips.

2) The tournaments have the same structure as freezeouts, but you're basically guaranteed to be there after the first hour, with decent chips compared to the blinds. Of course, so do most of the other players ; but at least if you're in a tournament with antes, for example, you have a much better chance of reaching the ante stage with chips than you do in a freezeout (on Stars for example).

3) Similarly with payout structures, they'll follow the same metric as for a freezeout based on the total number of runners, but quite often up to 25% of the field gives up during the rebuy period. Combine this with 2) and a good player who doesn't give up has a much better chance of reaching the bubble stage(s) where he can really start to press to good effect.

4) Rebuy tournaments may simply attract worse fields in general, although I'm not entirely sure about this one when I see how badly the rank and file are also playing in say a Pokerstars $50 freezeout.

The moderate downside is that the tournaments take longer and that factor doesn't appear in the results above. If you aren't playing rebuy tournaments online you should definitely have a look ; there's nothing wrong with playing tight during the rebuy period, just watching who's playing like a nutter and who isn't. It's best to rebuy as soon as possible just to take advantage of the people who will shove all their chips in with sub-standard hands, and usually take the add-on, although it's only compulsary if the add-on is for more chips than the rebuys. Basically if you're playing for example, a $30 rebuy you should see it as a $90 tournament, and if you do your chips early on then just start again. Pretend it's another $90 tournament starting now if that helps.

There are plenty of good rebuy tournaments around but if you want to ease your way in I can recommend the $10 rebuy on Stars, Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunchtimes. Unless you're stuck at work that is ! Ha Ha !

Addendum : I almost forgot one more point, most sites only rake the initial buyin (Paradise is an exception) so you're only paying around 3% rake instead of 10%.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I Wish I Had Said That

... but don't worry, I will [1]. Best blog post title on the new legislation comes from Wintermute, with "So Long And Thanks For All The Fish". I really should have thought of that. Party have run for the hills like the big chickens they are and suddenly the morning Sit and Goes have a distinct desert/tumbleweed ambience about them. This is probably going to affect me in that it just isn't going to be worth playing in the morning, and I'll have to shift my hours. Which is OK, I really should be digging in to the evening tournaments anyway. I have finally lost patience with my laptop and a whizzy new desktop will arrive next week so I can hopefully multi-table properly. I'd better be able to, I won't be happy if £600 later it turns out to be my internet connection. It shouldn't be though as I have had exactly the same symptoms on both Telewest and BT.

[1] Which is itself a Wilde quote. I have nothing to declare but my plagiarism.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Fold Equity - Bringing It All Together

Kieran asked below for some examples, so I thought this would be a good reason to bring this all together in one place. Most of it is already scattered here and there throughout this blog, and I link the posts where relevant. The linked posts go into more detail.

Here's the classic situation I'm talking about. Blinds are 400-800. Hero has 10K in the cut-off, and it's folded round to him with AT. Most people, in this spot, would do something like make it 2400, either without thinking at all or with the rationale "I can get away from this if someone reraises me". That's fine if your opponents simply reraise on the strength of their own hand, but if I'm sitting in the blinds, or someone like me, or even a non-thinking maniac, you have a problem.

The problem is that I'm going to reraise you with a bunch of hands, like small pairs, suited connectors etc. If the conditions are right, I might reraise you with nothing. I can do this because I can estimate, from my hand and a guess at your raising and calling ranges, how likely I am to win the hand if you call. Typically it's 30-35% with something decent, and no lower than 25% even with filth. Adding this to the chance you will fold gives me a profitable semi-bluffing situation.

If I was in the cut-off with AT here I would just move in. I know that this is a profitable move because I have worked it out in advance (various posts here) . It looks clumsy and you'll have to field a lot of bitchy comments live, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's the best play. Basically, you should not put 20% or more of your stack in the pot if you don't want to face a reraise. I don't know how often I've seen this live and on TV, often from players with big reputations, where they raise just the right amount to invite a reraise, and then agonise over the call.

I've never met him, but one guy who keeps cropping up with these reraises in tournament reports seems to be Ali Mallu, and he's a frequent winner [1]. A useful metric in the blinds is, if your stack [2] is about 2.5-4 times the pot after the late position raise, you should consider moving in. At the higher end, it's better to have something half-decent like 76s or KJ maybe. Between 2.5-3, you can consider it with any two. And if you have a pair, however small, it's basically an automatic reraise with a stack of 5 x the pot or less.

A similar situation can crop up the other way round with smaller blinds. Suppose it's 100-200 now, and the cut-off makes it 600 out of 10K. You're in the blind with 88 or AJ or something. Putting in 2500 here is just giving the same situation back to the raiser. He can move in and give you the dilemma. Here I would either move in or (more usually) flat call and check-raise a favourable flop.

Now, Kieron also asked for an example where we don't have fold equity. At the risk of stating the obvious, we don't have fold equity when someone is already all-in. You would think that was obvious, but wait a moment. Let's say it's 100-200 and a short stack moves in for 800. Hero, with 4000, picks up 66 and decides to "get it heads up". That's pretty common in my experience. It's also pretty ... let's be generous and say risky (second half of that post). What I'm saying there is, suppose this master plan works and we "get it heads up" with our 66. Given the small chance that our opponent might have an undercard or underpair (and don't forget he can find an overpair too), we're now 55-60% to win 1900, which is an EV of about +300. Now, supposing no one had raised, would you smash in your 4000 with 66 to win 300 in blinds ? Say, with 5 people behind you ? If you would, you'd better not :-). And most people wouldn't. The "isolation reraise" doesn't add up to a good play here.

While I'm on a roll, another example is raising when the big blind is already committed. Sometimes, especially live, the best of us can do this inadvertently (and so can I). Make it part of your pre-raise routine to check the big blind's stack, and tighten right up if he's committed.

This stuff is huge in tournaments. Sklansky said "Tournament pros know that these loose move-ins [as in my first example] are correct; in fact, this knowledge is the main reason many of them win money at all playing tournaments". When, for example, Greenstein says in his book that if he has 10 big blinds or less, he always moves in or folds [except with AA], I'd love to know whether he's been through the analysis as above ; he instinctively knows this ; or that's what he found to work through experience [3]. I can't stress it highly enough. Don't let others steal-reraise you all in. Steal-reraise other players all in as much as you can.

[1] Of course I've no idea whether he's an overall money winner or not ...

[2] Or your opponent's stack including his raise (but not his call). Simply, how much you have to put in.

[3] I'm not implying that Greenstein is one of Sklansky's players who wouldn't win otherwise.

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