Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Stopped And Gone

A commenter below asked whether I had changed my tune regarding the Stop and Go, and if so why. Which is fair enough, without checking I think I did advocate the play at one point because I made it work once. Keith (The Camel) asked me about this too in reference to the post below where I say it's over-rated.

I now think that it is over-rated and probably over-used. The conditions I need to be in place to do this are quite strict. Basically I have to be calling a short stack in a situation where my hand is strong enough so that I would have called if he had moved in, and his stack isn't big enough for him to pass to a reraise. If there's any chance he will pass to a reraise, then that's what I'll do, if I play.

The problem is that if I have this kind of hand (like an Ace, a couple of big cards or maybe a small pair), there's a big danger that I'll make it easy for my opponent on the flop. If I auto-bet, anyone with half a brain (ok that's not everyone) will call if they started with a pair or catch a piece of the flop, because they know I'm Stop-and-Going. On the other hand, if they don't catch any of the flop, a lot of the time I will actually want a call. Suppose, for example, I have a better Ace but we both miss the flop. He'll have 3 outs with 2 cards left, and unless his remaining stack is ridiculously small I would want him to call. I no longer think there's any extra benefit to winning a smaller pot more often, because now I just make chip EV plays almost all the time.

That's not to say I never flat call in the blind when a short stack raises ; if some egg wants to make a minimum raise out of a short stack then I will often call in the big blind. In fact if there are antes, I'll always call. If I miss the flop, I'll make a decision whether to bluff or let it go. If I hit, I'll check. Every time. Few opponents can resist putting the rest in here. But that's not a Stop and Go (IIRC), because the Stop and Go is always betting out on the flop. The Stop and Go is a play that has become redundant through over-use in my opinion.

Hello again and thanks for taking the time. I think I might have misunderstood what a stop and go is. I thought it referred to you being the short-stacked player and flat calling a pre-flop raise from the blinds with a hand that you'd have called all-in with, knowing that whatever the flop brings you will shove it all in (or, maybe, if the flop doesn't bring an ace you'll shove it all in). The advantage of this being, of course, that it gives your better stacked opponent more of a chance to fold. This move also requires some fairly specific circumstances but I think it can be valuable.

On another matter, quite some while ago you wrote a chart giving high-card strength of hand and stack sizes necessary to push all-in around the blind. The stack sizes were in SB's, which now feels rather quaint. You seem to have become a lot more aggressive with non high card hands around the button, and rightly so. Do you also still stand by this chart? And if so, would you still express it in SB's?

Right, car park and coaches. Now.
I think it can be either way round, as I also discussed with another (Email) commenter. Either the raiser or the blind can be the shorter stack.

That's quite a good spot to notice that I am now more aggressive in late position, and it's true. The thing is, on the previous charts (the very early ones in this blog) I was assuming a "perfect" caller, that is being called by any better hand but not any worse one. This keeps you on the safe side, but in reality people won't call perfectly, they will often pass a better hand (or occasionally call with a worse one).

I have put together some new numbers which work against the ranges of hands that I expect to be called by, and they indicate very liberal raises with a short stack in late position.

Oh, and no, I have fallen into step and think in terms of "M" now, which is my stack size divided by the pot size. This is simply more convenient as it covers situations with and without antes.

Hiya, me again. When you say that you have some new numbers I'm curious to know how slavishly you follow these numbers. Do you quite literally go, at the table, "An M of less than 4 in the cut-off, K-J - that's an all-in" (with appropriate adjustments for the button pricking up his ears / yawning and looking away)? Or do you have a good 'general idea' of the strength of hand necessary for a push and, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, adapt this to the tightness of the table, the nearness of the button and so forth?
(Bubble, not button, in the last sentence.)
It depends how many tables I'm playing. 3 or more and I'm probably doing it all "by the book" when I'm short stacked.

Live, or playing fewer tables online, I will tweak it a bit, mainly according to how my own image is. How often I've been raising or what I've shown down. It's a continuous process of adjustment ; just lately, on discussion with Frode, I'm tending to avoid marginal situations with hands that look horrible if I'm called, because of the image implications. I should stress though that's only marginal situations, and not when losing the all-in is going to knock me out anyway.

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