Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The only time I really get mad playing poker...

(Warning: actual strategy content)

...is when I make a mistake that ends up costing me. Bad beats don't really get to me, even when they happen in important situations. I can't ignore them completely of course and sometimes I react momentarily when they're particularly costly but after a few seconds that passes. When I donk up an important hand though it definitely can stay in my head for a while and at times this has effected my play negatively. Obviously there is a story to explain this post. I finally made the final table of a faily big tournament, the $100 rebuy on Stars. I was a short stack but I was starting to gain momentum with a series of blind steals moving me back towards a playable stack. Then this hand happened:


This is a really tricky hand because my table image is now pretty bad and my raise is unlikely to get a lot of respect, meaning I may get put to a really tough decision either preflop or on the flop if he elects to call. The problem is that the other options kind of suck too. Stacks are too big for a big overbet raise allin to be really appealing. My M is over 7 so going allin is probably marginally profitable at best assuming some reasonable calling range on his part (it may even be -cEV I haven't looked at the math closely). Compare this to making a normal raise but then calling an all-in: On the one hand he'll fold hands like K7 that he might reraise me with if he thinks he has some fold equity, but he'll also fold all his trash hands that he might bluff with if I make a normal raise thinking he can get me to fold. Raising and folding to his push also sucks because we're going to get bluffed a fair bit or at least fold when we had the pot odds to call. So basically none of the raising options is all that good.

The other option that I generally take a lot in this situation is the limp. The problem was that given our history I felt it was very likely he would raise me big if I tried to limp and then I'm basically in the same situation as above. Still, he may find the limp suspicious enough that he decides to take a flop with me so this may still have been the best option. Folding to avoid the confrontation is probably not as bad as it seems but it's definitely a weak play.

cEV vs $EV. cEV refers to the expected size of your chip stack where as $EV refers to the real money expected value of a decision based on the payout structure. The difference between the two is generally reserved for discussions of STT bubbles or satellites. Harrington tells us that in general it is fine to assume cEV=$EV, and for the most part I agree with this. However, to risk sounding like a fish worried about his "tournament life", there is a real difference between the two at a final table, and the value of moving up the payout ladder can not be ignored entirely. At some point I will have to actually do some of the math to find out in what types of situations this difference is actually relevant. In the situation in the hand with the 5 shortstacks all about even in chips it is intuitively obvious that we would really prefer to let the other guys be the first ones to get into big confrontations before we do. On the other hand we can't let ourselves get pushed around too much. Anyways I won't say anymore on this because I don't entirely understand if/when it's actually important, but it's relevant to my thought process in the hand.

OK so I decide to make a normal raise. Probably not the best option but hardly a big mistake. Like I said my table image was terrible and jcamby is a pretty strong player who can make adjustments. He moves in on me pretty quickly. Almost a little too quickly maybe but there's not enough there for me to put any real value in it. I'm getting 1.5:1 with a lousy QTo. The problem is that his range here could be huge. He'd almost certainly shove any ace, any pair, and any two paint. Still, PokerStove says calling is -cEV:

equity win tie pots won pots tied
Hand 0: 38.005% 37.47% 00.54% 197590579 2845172.00 { QdTc }
Hand 1: 61.995% 61.46% 00.54% 324108709 2845172.00 { 22+, A2s+, KTs+, QJs, A2o+, KTo+, QJo }

However it's pretty close and as soon as we throw in some complete bluffs it's easy to see that will sway it to a call. I didn't know the exact odds obviously but I had a general idea that it's pretty unlikely I'm dominated and if there's any reasonable chance I could have the best hand then I should be calling. The next step was well, would he really move all-in with a hand that couldn't beat QT? Given that jcamby is a strong player who had almost certainly had enough of me taking his blinds I decided it was a definite possibility. So I concluded that calling was +cEV and I was about to go do that when this thought popped in my head: sure it might be very marginally +cEV, but is it +$EV? Almost near the end of my timebank now this swayed me back to folding. Obviously when he showed the hand I regretted the decision, but in retrospect it was a small mistake at worst. Probably the biggest mistake was opening for my standard raise without a clear plan what to do when reraised. It's not like I can stare him down and use that to sway my decision one way or the other. This got really long and it may turn out that Im just wrong about the cEV vs $EV thing mattering at all but something to think about anyways.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike

FWIW.. I find it very interesting to hear other players (particularly those whose game I respect) thought processes... please don't hesitate to follow through on these thoughts in later blogs!