Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tournament Pot Odds Redux

Man I have so much to write about in the world of poker these days, my biggest struggle is narrowing it down to just one or a few topics to write about every day. That reminds me FWIW, I've seen Jordan, TripJax, DNasty and a few others comment several times on their own blogs over the past few months about the "pressure" to post every day. I have got to say, for me personally, I don't feel any pressure to write about poker every day. Instead, I have a desire to write every day, almost a need to write every day. So for the time being, nobody needs to worry about me disappearing into the weeds and this blog going stale. I've got so many effing ideas stored up for poker posts in my head that Bill Frist could order full tilt and pokerstars to shut down effective immediately, and I'd probably still have enough content to post for another 6 months or so as if I've been playing every night. So that's a great thing for me about this blog. I know I haven't been doing it for nearly as long as some of those other guys I mentioned above, and I may eventually face the same fate as they as far as feeling pressure to write when I don't really have any particular ideas to write about, but for now I am still going stronger than ever in that department.

So, last night was a banner night of sorts for me (not really). For the first time ever, I managed to win a seat into the nightly 30k guaranteed tournament in the 8:15pm ET satellite:

and the 8:45pm ET satellite:

Of course I've won that 8:45 satellite seat many, many times, as that is the $14 flavor of satellite, and with an average crowd steady at around 100 players or so since Neteller effed us, it typically ends up paying out somewhere around 13 seats or so. As I've mentioned here several times in the recent past, these multi-table, multi-seat satellites are far and away my best, most profitable tournament structure these days, something which I credit a large part of to Smokkee since he really is the guy who turned me on to these things in the first place a long time ago. It was probably last spring or so, when I was already an avid reader of Smokkee's blog, when he started playing more and more satellite tournaments on line, mostly on full tilt for the WSOP and on pokerstars for the WCOOP.

I remember realizing after reading about a particular satellite tournament win on Smokkee's blog that those tournaments really are where it's at, and also that the bigger the buyin, and thus the larger the ratio of winning seats to number of players in the satellites to begin with, the better the satellite is. That's why the 8:45 30k sat is so juicy, because you basically only have to finish in the top seventh of total entrants to win your seat. But the 8:15 satellite, which sports just a $6 buyin, is much, much more difficult to win one's seat with, since it also typically has around 100 players, but only awards seats to an average of 5 of those entrants. And let me tell you, finishing in the top 5 out of 100 in the fonkeyfest that is this $6 turbo 6-max nlh satellite is no small feat. I've only managed to win that satellite a small handful of times, and never on the same night as I've won the later $14 sat as well, so yesterday was a special night in that regard for me.

In case you're wondering, I doubled up early on a great play in the 30k itself, and then got recockusucked by duping a guy with Q5s into getting allin on the flop with me with just his flush draw against my overpair pocket Jacks. Well, he didn't hit his draw, but the river cruelly brought the 3-outer queen, and I never managed to recover from this blow. I made it to the first break still slightly below the 3000 chip starting stack, shortly after online "retiree" Chad joined my table, but then the next thing I knew, I woke up an hour later, just 2 minutes before the second break. Not sure what happened there as I wasn't even tired at the time (that I thought). Needless to say, when I awoke I was in 87th place of 87 remaining players (only top 36 paid out), and I quickly busted on the next hand when my KJ failed to hold up against a smaller pocket pair and IGH. But hey, I did find an effective way to outlast Chad, who had just gone out in I think 91st place overall. Dam I'm good like that.

OK so on to what I really wanted to talk about today. Yesterday's post about tournament pot odds in all-in situations made my general point, but there were two issues with it that make me want to redux this topic again today as well. #1 as many of you pointed out, the example I gave was not a good one for a number of reasons, and #2 in the end my post focused on all-in calling situations, which is not really where I wanted that discussion to go when I started it. Today I plan to rectify both of these problems with a further discussion and a new example on tournament pot odds. I will credit Iakaris with unwittingly providing me the basis of the example I will use today, as it is closely (but not exactly) derived from a question he asked on his blog a week or two ago about a run he had in the 18k guaranteed tournament on full tilt.

So, say youre playing in a large mtt. Youre down to 25 players left from a field that originally started at 500. You are currently in 3rd place out of 25 remaining players, with a stack of 30,000 chips. Blinds are 500-1000. The action folds to you on the button, and you raise it up as a pure steal to 3000 with 63o. Small blind folds, and the big blind pushes his last 6500 more chips into the middle.

This puts 11,000 chips in the pot, and you have to call 3500 to see the big blind's allin bet and take a flop. Pot odds are 11,000 / 3500 or 3.14 to 1. Thus, you need just a 32% (1 / 3.14) chance of winning this pot in order to take the action here on a purely pot odds basis. You figure, you've got 63o, and assuming the big blind must have two cards above a 6, you estimate your chances of winning the pot to be right around 35%. Do you make this call?

I do not. Even though I am giving up a 1/3 chance of winning a pot with 11,000 chips in it, my cards dictate that I will lose this showdown around 2 out of 3 times I play it when my opponent has two overs, as he is fairly sure to have. And what's more, on the times when my opponent flips up any pocket pair above 5s, I am going to lose here more like 4 out of 5 times I play the hand. Why donate another 3500 chips out of my stack (which has already lost 10% of it into this pot as it is)? Why put 20% of my chips at risk from my 3rd place stack with a hand like 63o? Given the choice of losing 10% of my stack that I've already put into the pot here on my steal attempt, or a 2/3 chance of losing 20% of my stack with this cripehand, for me this is the easiest decision in the world. No go, take the pot, have at it thank you very little.

And this gets me to my overall point about tournament pot odds, even in a non-allin context. I think people sometimes "trick" themselves into thinking they have the right odds to make a call, but I say "trick" because the only reason they have the right odds is that they've already made a poorly-timed decision to put chips into the pot with a bad hand to begin with. For example, in the situation above, would you, as the player with the 3rd place stack and 30,000 chips, ever call from the BB if, say, the button had open-pushed his last 6500 chips into the pot before the action got to you? Of course not. Why take a hand with a likely 1/3 chance of winning, and put up 6500 chips into a pot already containing 8000 chips with it? You'd have to win far more often than 63o is going to win in order to justify this play. So, since you happened to act before the big blind in this case, and happened to decide to kick it up to 3000 on a 4x steal before seeing the big blind push in his last 6500 chips, now in a sense you are allowing yourself to be "tricked" into calling another 3500 chips based on the 3-to-1 pot odds you're now receiving on the hand because of your earlier steal attempt with truly terrible cards. But, the only reason you're getting those 3-to-1 odds instead of the 1.23-to-1 odds with your crappy 63o is that you acted before the big blind and you made an ill-timed decision to dump a lot of chips in with a horrible hand.

Now, I've never been one to fight the math, and I'm not trying to do that here either. I understand that, from a purely mathematical perspective, once you've bet those 3000 chips into the pot, the strict math of the situation dictates that you have the pot odds to call an additional 3500 chips into the 11,000-chip pot because you can expect to win roughly 1 in 3 times with your 63o. But, just because you are getting close to the "right" pot odds, does that mean that you have to make this call? Again I come back to the point I made in yesterday's post. In a cash game, I think you should be basically fine making a call where you are getting 3 to 1 from the pot on a 1 in 3 shot to win. I believe that is true more or less by definition. But, in a tournament setting, where not going bust is itself of some value, I don't like to just automatically make calls for any significant part of my stack, where I'm getting no fold equity at all, and where I know I have low odds of winning the pot (even if the pot is laying me good odds to chase that low-odds hand). Maybe it's just me.

To me, I liken this situation to carrying a credit card balance in a way. In the past I have often thought that it's ok to carry a small credit card balance, if doing so means I can have the money I need to live my life (within reason) more or less without worrying about money. No I can't go buying midieval castles and 100-foot yachts on the Mediterranean. But, in the past I have found that by carrying a small credit card balance I can have a "better" life overall. Most of the people I know think this is insane, because it is a fact that I am paying interest on that balance while I carry it. They explain that it is actually costing me money to hold that balance, and that if I can find any way to pay that balance down instead, I should. This is fact which I, of course, cannot and do not argue with. My point, however, is that, to me, it is actually worth the small money loss (interest) in order to have the financial freedom that that credit card balance buys me. Again, I am not arguing that there is no financial cost to holding a small credit card balance -- I pay x dollars in interest every year by keeping such a balance and I acknowledge that and in fact openly embrace it. What I am arguing, though, is that there is a benefit to me (financial freedom) that actually outweighs that cost (interest), and so in the past I have lived this way at certain times of my life.

In my perspective, I view tournament pot odds in situations like the example above in very much the same way. I understand that by folding my 63o for just another 3500 chips into an 11,000-chip pot, thereby sacrificing a roughly 1/3 chance to win the 11,000 chips, I may be incurring a certain cost to do so (I am giving up the pot odds expectation and the 1/3 chance of winning those 11,000 chips). But, not having to lose 20% of my 30,000-chip stack in a pot that I am quite likely to lose is itself a benefit that, to me, is worth me paying that cost of losing my 1/3 chance of winning those 11,000 chips by folding. So, even though I acknowledge that by folding in this spot I am costing myself a 1/3 shot at 11,000 chips, I also know that the benefit I get from being able to retain those last 3500 chips rather than call them off into a pot I am likely to lose has a real value to me. In a tournament, having chips is itself a real value, in a way that is just not present in a cash game when you can always go back to your pocket for more chips.

Now, make no mistake, this theory I have of being willing to give up some pot odds in order to save some chips in a tournament when I have a good-sized stack is not something I take too far. In other words, if I am being laid 5 to 1 odds by the pot in order to draw to a 50-50 shot, of course I'm going to make that call without hesitation. But, my theory in tournaments is, if I'm dealing with a close situation where the pot is basically offering me roughly the same odds as my chances of winning the hand, and it is a longshot for me to win the hand, I am far more apt to fold it in a tournament and preserve my precious chips rather than to make that call. This is only exacerbated by the possibility that I will have to call another bet after the next card in order to stay in the hand to see the river. That is yet another reason why I hesitate to draw on or before the flop when I think I've got a longshot, even at decent odds -- because in all likelihood I am going to face another bet on the flop which I will not be able to call with the proper odds.

Please understand that I'm not even trying to suggest that my way is the only right way to play these sorts of situations. Just like with my credit card example above, I fully respect and understand that everyone gets to place their own value on the benefit of "having chips" in a tournament, just like everyone gets to decide for himself or herself how important being debt-free is, or how much it's worth to them to have a little bit of extra cash laying around, even at the cost of x dollars of interest paid over a year. I will simply say that I have had quite a lot of success in poker tournaments over my career by approaching decisions with longshots where I think I'm getting close to the "right" odds to draw in this way.

That concludes my post today on tournament pot odds. Again let me apologize for using what really was not a great example yesterday, though I still think it got across the point I was trying to make. Hopefully today's illustrates a little better where I'm coming from in these decisions, and why in the example I give above, I would happily release the pot, save those extra 3500 chips and retain 90% of my stack before that hand, rather than have a 2/3 chance of only being left with 80% of that stack after the hand. In tournaments, chips are king, and having them, or having a lot of them relative to my peers, is itself a desirable end, and something that really has intrinsic value in the way I approach poker tournaments.

Now before I go, everybody should not forget tonight is the latest Riverchasers event, hosted by Big Al himself:

Tournament: 13185806
Name: Tour Event #4
When: Thursday, February 22nd 9pm ET
Game: NLHE
Buyin: $10+1
password: riverchasers4

Note the password change for this event please! As with the other Riverchasers tournaments this one will take place on full tilt tonight, and I will just say that Al's tournament has quickly become one of my favorite private events of the week, as it has a large field, replete with many of my favorite bloggers, and it also has a bunch of cool guys to chat with week in and week out. And, many of them don't seem to have the focus on or understanding of the nuances of poker like many of our blogging brethren do, so that always makes it fun as well. Flop top two against one of these guys early in the tournament, and you're probably going to get TPTK or even TP2nd or 3rd K to call you for all their chips early. Yummy. I will definitely be there tonight, and I plan to do what I can to personally dethrone Gary from his perch atop the Riverchasers standings so far through I think 3 events this year, in which Gary has dominated all of them. Not tonight my friend, not tonight.

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Blogger Patch said...

I'm a little pressed for time right now and can't respond as I'd like to. But I would like to address one point.

The odds are the odds. It doesn't matter how you got there. You may have made a brilliant play or a total donkey move to get the odds to where they are. It doesn't matter. You have to play the hand from whatever the current situation is. If your cat stepped on the mouse when it was hovering over the "Pot" button while you were holding 83o, that's now the situation you're dealing with and all your decisions need to be based on that situation, not on how you got there.

You made a play for the blinds with a crappy hand and it went bad. Shake it off and decide on an action based on whatever the current situation is.

I'll also add that, in general, I don't think it's necessarily wrong to want more than a 0.01% advantage when committing a lot of chips. In the very, very, very long run it is correct to push that 0.01% advantage for all you can get, but we live in the here and now, so I see nothing wrong with wanting a 5%, 10%, maybe even 15% advantage before you make a big commitment to it.

12:18 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...


Much better example today.

Something beyond math that also has to be considered beyond the math is impact of showing those 2 crappy cards. If you are willing to tighten up for a while you can go ahead and call. Subsequent raises are not going to get respect so you will be forfeiting steal opportunities for a while.

Unfortunately folding can get people playing back at you as well but they won't have knowledge of full reange of hands you will steal with.

Most important factor to me is to keep enough chips to wound the other players at table even when you can't kill them so I would fold. It's a lot easier to play back at smallest stack at table so folding and waiting for better spot is play when percentages of play are small in your favor.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Doog said...

I'm probably one of the very few that fully agree with your premise, Hoy. I think it's a bad play to call 'just because the pot odds say so' when (1) you're more likely than not to lose a significant chunk of your most valuable commodity in a tournament, your chip stack and the tournament equity inherent therein, and (2) the 'pot odds' are actually of your own artificial creation. The fact is, you tried to make a big-stack pressure move and got caught with your hand in the cookie jar. No sense being stubborn about it and likely gifting a significant portion of your tournament equity to a shorty.

I say cut your losses and pick another spot. Other players will know that you got caught, and the next time you have a quality hand and you put out a stealy-looking bet you're much more likely to get looked up, likely increasing your tournament equity.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Good points, guys. My overall point with this post is to address how many times I see guys amass a large stack at some point in a tournament, and then start calling everything that moves anytime they feel they are getting even close to the right odds to do it. 9 times out of 10 they end up not having a big stack anymore in short order, and I think the concepts in today's posts could help these people quite a bit to make what I think are better decisions in a tournament context.

2:13 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Doog, I'm with you 100% per my post. I do think Patch's comment above is correct that, ultimately, you should be making your decisions on whether or not to call the allin based only on the pot odds at the time, once you've already dumped in 3000 chips from your stack. But I still think considering why the pot odds are what they are when your hand is so god awful is a useful tool to have in my arsenal in situations like this. I can't count how many times I've seen guys make calls like this (or me myself even), only to see the allin shortstack flip up pocket 8s or Jacks or something, and suddenly you're a huge underdog and end up losing a fifth of your stack on an extreme longshot. With 63o.

2:16 AM  
Blogger FishyMcDonk said...

Extreme pot odds example. Your chances of winning the lottery are 1 in 14 million. The first place prize is $15M (let's assume that ties don't split the pot for the sake of this example). Dang, awesome pot odss! They DEMAND you buy that $1 ticket. Yet, I don't buy that ticket. Why? Because it's a 1 in 14 million chance that's why. I'm wasting my money. Same with calling with 63o. I'm getting the "proper" pot odds. But it's still a 1 in 3 chance. Why should I "waste" my chips on a relative long shot? Well, they say, in the "long run" these calls payoff. But in an MTT there is no long run. There is just the one tournament. I didn't read the last post or the comments so maybe this is a repeat comment, but I think pot odds are fairly useless in MTTs, especially when faced with something like this in a large buyin MTT and you're a low stakes loser like me that doesn't play too many high stakes games. You don't want to bust out or cripple yourself doing the "right" thing, when it's a long shot.

And one more thing, he had AT dammit!

2:32 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Fishy, I love your comment and the lottery argument. I think your last statement says it best:

"You don't want to bust out or cripple yourself doing the "right" thing, when it's a long shot."

That statement really captures the essence of the point I'm trying to make. In my experience, the guys I play with regularly in the blogger games as well as the broader mtt donks I encounter nightly have lost more chips than they have gained over time from making calls like this, even when technically receiving "proper" pot odds to do so.

Btw man, as I've said several times here, there is literally nothing you could possibly say to even insert one iota of doubt into my head about the AT hand in the FTOPS ME. If you like to kick these things around yourself I am all for that and am happy to continue the discussion, but there isn't a darn thing you could do to change my mind on this particular point. I believe if you were there and saw the whole thing live, you would also agree with me. This guy had AK most likely, and if not then it was surely 55. Those are the only options given the way this played out. A friend of mine suggested I try to go and find the guy online on full tilt one night and ask him. I looked for him the other night but he wasn't on (his name was ODaveoO if you're interested in proving to yourself what I already know).

Great comment man, I love it. Wish I'd thought of it for my post today.

2:45 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Fishy, one other quick thing -- I agree very much with your comment except for the statement that pot odds don't mean much generally in an MTT. That one goes too far for me to agree to. I think in situations like the one I'm describing, pot odds does not necessarily take into account all of the important factors in deciding whether or not to make a particular call with an inferior hand.

When I use pot odds all the time in my MTT play, however, is like the following situation: Very early in a large mtt, with say right at the starting stack size of 1500 chips, I limp to see a cheap flop with QTs. Flop comes KJ4 rainbow. I've got the oesd, and there are 140 chips in the pot. The lead guy bets out 40 chips into the 140-chip pot, and it's folded around to me to the lead bettor's immediate right. Here, I know I've got a 33% chance of filling that straight, and I know the pot is laying me more than the 1/3 odds, and that there is a chance when I call here that I can see the river card for free even if my straight doesn't hit on the turn. So here, I know I'm getting the proper pot odds, so in the long run I will make this call most of the time, whereas I would cheerily fold the hand if the lead guy had bet out 100 chips instead of 40. This situation comes up all the time in my mtts, and I rely heavily on pot odds in situations like this to help me decide whether or not to make a small call with some kind of a drawing hand. It's when I have to call off 20% of my big stack based purely on a longshot "pot odds" calculation that I think just relying on pot odds often misses some of the most important factors in the equation.

Still, awesome comment man. Thanks.

2:52 AM  
Blogger Patch said...

Considering the 'why' of the pot odds when determining what to do NOW is without merit. I think there's an erroneous concept of 'validity' of the pot or some such thing poking around in the back of people's minds. It matters not at all whether the chips got in there due to great play, horrible play, or fell from the ceiling when no one was looking. All that matters is that they're in the pot. Chips are not more or less valid or inflated or deflated in value due to the wisdom of the action that got them into the pot.

The strength of the cards you're holding is obviously part of the overall equation, but it enters not into the calculation of the odds the pot is laying.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Michael Albert said...

Much better example, but still, can we get the math right please?

If the pot is laying you 3.14 to 1 odds, then you need to win it 1 time in 4.14 in order to break even - not 1 in 3.14.

(If the pot is laying even odds, you don't need to win it all the time to break even!)

I think that your examples illustrate more of a psychological dichotomy than a mathematical one. When BB pushes after an attempt by the button to steal with 63 off, the button thinks "Oh what a donkey I am -- I forgot that he was short stacked and would be calling more frequently, my steal attempt was a mistake."

Now let's say that from a mathematical standpoint it is at this point correct to call (but marginally so, that is, the difference in expected value between calling and folding is small). One group, the Hoyista, want to fold, for various good psychological reasons, and possibly some practical ones. For this group, folding is correct. A player of this type would be uncomfortable calling and losing, and his further play would probably suffer. The fold is right, not because he's saving money this hand, but because it will save him money on future hands.

But another group of players, the Patchites, say "what's done is done -- you can only play the hand in front of you, and the chips you put in earlier are just in a big pile in the middle, it doesn't matter how they got there". If a Patchite can be comfortable with this attitude (and I believe they can, being more of a Patchite than a Hoyista myself) then not calling would quite possibly have bad effects on his future play (because he'll lose concentration as he thinks about the earlier mistake).

3:04 AM  
Blogger Doog said...

Michael Albert -

Being of the Hoyista tribe, I'd like to respectfully state that I feel that this fold will both save chips now and EARN chips in the future. Observant players will notice that you got caught stealing and will be more likely to play back at you with marginal hands when you hold a strong-to-monster hand and put out the same stealy-looking bet. Just my 2 cents.

In any case, whether a Hoyista or a Patchite, it is imperative that you are comfortable with the decision and the result, whatever it may be. It's making a decision that is against the grain of your playing style and that ultimately winds up being unsuccessful that messes with your psychological constitution. When you make what you personally consider to be a poor decision, or one that you normally wouldn't make, and you suffer a loss of chips as a result, that can rattle you a bit and make you question whether you're on your game that night. THAT is what can tank your tourney, not the loss of chips. If you like your decision, the result really shouldn't affect how you play in the long run of the tournament.

That said, I do feel that Hoyista's stand a better chance of a better finish in this tournament than Patchites, IMHO. But, that's the great thing about poker - there's really no one-size-fits-all way to successfully play the game. To each his/her own!

3:37 AM  
Blogger Doog said...

Patch said:

"Considering the 'why' of the pot odds when determining what to do NOW is without merit."

I don't think that's entirely true. As I've already stated in my comments, what you do NOW has a huge impact on your table image, something that can be exploited in FUTURE hands.

Personally, I don't play every hand in the present. I'm always thinking about table image, tournament equity, chip stack, table composition, etc., as well as the impact of a call-vs.-fold on all of these factors. I think that if I were to play every hand solely in the present, I'd quickly become very readable to good players and get run over before I could blink.

3:44 AM  
Blogger Patch said...

Hoy, I think the essence of what you're trying to say is that you want a bigger edge if you're going to commit a significant portion of your stack. Change the situation you've described so that the pot is laying you 10:1 instead of 3:1. You're still holding 63o and you're still 35% to win, but you're getting 10:1 from the pot. Do you make the call now?

I suspect your answer is 'yes'. I know mine would be.

I think what you're looking for is that your final advantage (considering pot odds, estimated opponent holdings, outs, etc.) be proportional to the percentage of your stack you're putting at risk. In your example, you're risking 13% of your stack for a likely advantage of just a few percent.

I'm probably mangling accepted terminology, but what I'm calling advantage would be the amount above unity of pot odds times expected win rate. If the pot is laying 4:1 and you figure you're 30% to win, you're effectively getting a "bonus" of 20% above even on this wager.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to want the percentage of your stack you're willing to risk to be proportional to the "bonus".

4:01 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Right on, Patch, that's an excellent way of looking at what I'm trying to get at here. Calling off 20% of your previously 3rd place stack just because of a couple percentage points "advantage" (pot odds over chances of winning the hand) in a given hand with one of the worst possible holdings is not to me where I want to be anytime during the end run of a big poker tournament.

And yes, as I said near the end of my post, no doubt I'm calling there for that 3-to-1 longshot with 63o preflop if the pot is laying me 10-to-1 odds to make the call (ie, I put in the steal bet of 3000, and then the big blind moves in heads-up for his last 3800 chips, so I only need to put in another 800 into the 8300-chip pot to make the call). But for the couple of percentage point difference, IMO waiting for a better spot and preserving my chip stack is worth more tournament equity to me.

4:27 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

I don't think you fully understand the math behind it. This was pretty out there...

"Why take a hand with a likely 1/3 chance of winning, and play a pot laying you 8000 / 6500 (1.23 to 1) pot odds, which means you would have to win 81% (1 / 1.23)"

Maybe this was a typo or you typed it fast without really looking at it. Not sure, but its really, really off.

4:31 AM  
Blogger jhazen said...

I really like patch's concept of "advantage" in relation to stack risk. I'm also a Hoyista, and the way I justify requiring that the advangate be over unity, is that I think the chips you gain by winning the pot are worth less than the chips you lose by losing the pot. This skews the chipEV calculations, in a way that I haven't found accurately expressed yet. (ICM is good for end-game considerations, but I don't think it models the early/mid game kind of call that you're talking about.)

4:47 AM  
Blogger Patch said...

"As I've already stated in my comments, what you do NOW has a huge impact on your table image, something that can be exploited in FUTURE hands."

I think I poorly stated what I was actually trying to say. Let me try again.

The pot odds are a fact that is not open to debate. The chips have no memory. How the chips got into the pot do not in any way alter the odds. They are in the pot and they contribute to the pot odds. End of story as far as pot odds go.

What you eventually do in the hand will (should) be based on the pot odds and potentially dozens of other factors. Those factors may include the possibility of displaying your weak holding to the rest of the table and altering your table image.

As far as online play goes, I don't generally give a great deal of thought to table image. I'm either playing with people I've played with dozens of times before and they already have an image of my play that is unlikely to be altered by the exposure of the odd steal attempt with junk, or I'm playing with complete strangers, most of whom are paying little attention to what anyone else at the table is doing. If they even notice that you attempted a bluff they'll have forgotten all about it in another couple orbits.

4:50 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Meh Lucko maybe that math is all off, I do type these things fast and I make it a point not to spend hardly any time reviewing and correcting my posts (I do have to work and live my life somewhere during the day). All I was trying to get at there is that I wouldn't call 6500 chips into an 8000-chip pot with 63o. Based on the pot odds I would call no more than 2666 chips into that pot, assuming I thought the 63o had approximately a 33% chance of winning the hand.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Bazkar said...


I had somehow missed the satellite to the 30K all this time. I'll be seeing you there tonight....THanks to you, and Smokee!

7:43 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

whenever in doubt, just push.

disclaimer: i didn't read your looooong ass post.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Got here late (as usual!)

First off, I had to laugh at the use of the word "unwittingly" as associated with my posts! Truer word never spoken when it comes to me pontificating on strategy. However the post got half it's desired effect - I wanted this kind of nuanced question addressed by you and lucko in particular, so we're half way there.

I think that folding from button when he shoves 6500 is WEAK. I think, no - I KNOW it will tell LAGs who happen to be short-stacked that this guy WILL fold to a push and then, at the worst possible time for it, you've created a culture of Playback to your preflop raises.

I have given this a lot of thought and I happen to think it's better for the table to see me as the guy who WILL call with 63o. That way they know that shove restealing just won't work. They are going to get looked up. That should in fact tighten my range on them when they do. Conversely, if I fold, I think I can safely widen their range when they shove. This alone makes the call profitable I think given the hour of the day in the MTT.

Lastly, I think there is a big difference with calling a preflop shove with 63o for 6500 when you're only going to win 8500, than with understanding that wherever you are, there you are, and calling 3500 for the same pot. A lot of it has to do with implied range I think, but I understand fully where you are coming from too.

Great post, and unlike that uber-donkey $mokkee, I did read every word.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

FWIW there is almost no situation I like better at the poker table than sending what others perceive to be a clear message of me being either an automatic raise-folder or an automatic reraise-caller (take your pick). Anytime my opponents think they have me pegged as a particular thing, they're fixing to get stacked. By me. Hard.

8:46 PM  
Blogger FishyMcDonk said...

I'm sure he didn't have AT either. I'm just messin with ya. And generally I'm in the same place you are early in a MTT. I rely on pot odds when I'm drawing, and also on pots odds to prevent my opponents from drawing. But sometimes this actually does slightly cripple me early if I'm chasing too much.

10:23 PM  
Blogger TripJax said...


I've never actually felt pressured to write anything, I've just found myself so busy with non-pokery stuff like work and fam that I blink my eyes and realize I haven't posted in 3 days.

However, unlike some, I do not like going more than a week without posting. It is just in my nature to want to post something, so when I miss posting for a week due to travel or work, I just get that itch to write.

Having been posting since 2005, I do go through peaks and valleys with my writing, so with a busy schedule right now, I'm glad D can help me out.

And by the way, I love that when I do get a chance to read blogs, I can bank on the fact that I'll have a book to read from you.

Keep it up!

1:58 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

I'm slow, but what is all this about odds? Please explain.

2:22 AM  

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