Thursday, September 25, 2008


How Not To Play a 20BB Stack (Part 143923)

Today I was watching the latest heat of the TV tournament on Channel 5. It's the one with Catgirl in it, although that's completely irrelevant to this post. I'm only half way through it but it's really struck me watching this episode how many players, some of whom have very big reputations, are making basic stack mistakes with 20 BB or less. Going through them briefly, and in order as much as I remember :

- Devilfish raises with A4, Surinder calls with AQ, Tabatabai calls with AJs and Flood makes it 40K to go with 77. Passed back to Tabatabai who, either because he's done his homework on Flood or because he doesn't give a fuck (or both), shoves all in over the top. Flood passes getting almost exactly 2-1. [1]

- Devilfish raises with AT, Surinder calls with AK this time, Woodley with 99, 16BBs and a perfect squeeze opportunity, just calls. Flop comes Q high checked around. Turn makes a possible flush, Devilfish and Surinder get into a dick-waving bluffing contest that Devilfish wins, Woodley passes the best hand.

- Catgirl raises with 22, Woodley again with something around 12-15 BBs calls with KQs, Catgirl flops a set and check-calls, Woodley turns a flush draw and busts out, albeit he was practically committed on the flop anyway

- Surinder inexplicably makes it 2.5BB out of a stack of 9BB with AQ, allowing Devilfish to defend his blind with 65s, flop a 5 and check-call to knock Surinder out.

These hands really aren't very hard to play correctly, it's just that the players back themselves into all sorts of corners with their reluctance to move in pre-flop or, in the first case, Flood's incorrect read that no one's going to push back at him without a monster. Cases 2 and 3 Woodley can shove pre and either take the blinds or be in a coin-flip, with a perfect stack to do this efficiently in each case. And as for Surinder, why he's encouraging people to outflop him holding AQ and 9 BB you'll have to ask him because I have no idea.

If you watch any of these programmes you will see people making these mistakes time and time again. IMO it's not just lack of fundamentals, it's ego as well. I don't have to go allin, that's what Internet kids do. I can make soul reads and outplay people. Er, actually, no you can't. Not with 15BB in front of you. Even when Catgirl flops a set on you, by the time you've "read" that a model who just about knows the hand rankings has a complete monster, you're committed.

As I say, it's not that hard, and if some of the better players just took the time to work this stuff out they really would have a good chance. One player who has is Neil, we played together in the semi (coming up on TV in 3 weeks I think), and he knows how this stuff works. I'm sure it's a major factor in his great success this year, even though running like Usain Bolt does have something to do with it as well :-)

[1] Yes alright, this isn't 20BB, and Flood shouldn't move in here. The similarity is that the stack sizes are perfect for an aware player like Tabatabai to make the re-re-steal. Flood is closing the action and has a great spot to just call and set-mine.

Addendum : Fantastic post on Terrence Chan's blog here. It's only tangentially related, in that it talks about the inherent uncertainty of live reads, but it's well worth a read !

Andy , just when I thought you were a decent bloke : "Even when Catgirl flops a set on you, by the time you've "read" that a model who just about knows the hand rankings has a complete monster, you're committed."

Catgirl will happily play you heads up for a fiver anytime.Then you can see her abilities.

A Poker Rookie or an up and coming female player or.A little bit bitchy for no reason from an acknowledged Poker Master such as your good self.

Why the feck I am writing this I don't know, but occassionally a little respect is better than bitterness.
Best wishes
Hi Catman,

I was exaggerating for comic effect (or lack of), but yes, it comes across as disrespectful. Sorry.

Replace with "the least experienced player in the field" and it makes the same point.

Cool Andy. You are totally correct def a novice and very inexpereinced in comparison to the field.

Thank you for that response, 'comic effect' -- I really did give a genuine chuckle and smile, just now.

Thank you again
Best wishes and Good luck
On the other hand, I thought she was clueless, tasteless and sleazy, not unlike her 'mentor'.

Definitely not for comic effect, I remain, sir, your humble and obedient servant.

"On the other hand, I thought she was clueless, tasteless and sleazy, not unlike her 'mentor'.


Yeah, but you'd still give her one given half the chance.
The poker I see on TV makes me LOL. I have never daid I am a top or even good player but I know over a decent sample size I'd beat half of these donkies as they make so many fundamental mistakes.

If only I had to roll to prove it!
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