Friday, June 27, 2008

Drawing Hands and Position

Big ups to Mr. Al today. Go check out the long-coming news if you didn't already hear. Al working full time for full tilt is just about the coolest thing I can think of and can only spell good things for poker blogs and poker bloggers in general. And having one's blog discovered by one's employer is just about the sickest form of torture that those of us stuck hiding our interweb presence from our overlords in the rat race can have to endure. And getting back to the T&A that is the primary drive behind my daily visits to Al's blog is all good too of course.

Today's little tidbit comes from The Poker Tournament Formula, by Arnold Snyder. This was another solid read for any serious poker tournament player, and one that approaches the whole idea of a tournament strategy book in a different way than most others. Although I can't say that all of the ideas in this book were new to me, personally, I think it is undoubtedly something that would help most players out there who either have not played a million holdem tournaments and/or have not had much success running deep late in these events. Although I think perhaps this book oversimplified things in some areas as far as generalized tournament strategy, the ideas in here are of paramount importance for any serious tournament player and will prove especially helpful to those who seem to have trouble playing aggressively enough to survive late and those who always find themselves threatened by the rising blinds and antes.

Anyways, one point Snyder makes in the middle of this book somewhere that I was just re-reading last night again really struck me today. In a section about the importance of playing in position, Snyder discusses drawing-type of starting hands vs. high-card type of starting hands. Snyder's overall point is that drawing-type starting hands -- such as connectors like JT or 76 as well as things like soooted Aces -- clearly benefit from being played in late position as opposed to early position. This should be fairly obvious in that if you hit your draw you get to decide whether to slow-play or bet depending on what action your opponent takes first on the flop, and if you miss your draw on the flop you once again can wait until your opponent acts before deciding if you want to bet/raise and go for the free card on the turn, just call and go to fill your draw, or fold if the odds just aren't there. So far, nothing new for most of you I would assume.

Snyder goes on to point out that a high-card hand like AK, or even plain old pocket Aces for that matter, should also definitely show more of a profit when played from late position than from early position. Again, pretty much a no-brainer.

But the point I thought was interesting was Snyder's last point on the topic, which is that, while both kinds of hands will benefit from playing them from late position as compared to playing them from up front, the pocket Aces or AK hand only benefits a small amount from better position. The drawing-type hands, in contrast, increase in value quite a bit when played from late instead of early position.

So, even though everyone knows that position makes all hands better in a game like holdem, the drawing-type of connected / big soooted starting cards are far more important to play from favorable position than the high-card starting hands. This is a good lesson I like to to keep in mind when, for example, I am considering calling a preflop raise from the blinds with two players in the pot and me holding something like, say, 98s. It happens probably a good once or twice a night in the blonkaments alone, and generally speaking calling in that spot with AQ or even KJ is perhaps more favorable than the call with a speculative, drawing type of hand like JTs that is hoping to pick up a draw on the flop and then win some money when it fills on the turn or river.

I'm sure next time you will fold that 43s into a heads-up pot against me in the blonkaments now, yes?

Don't forget the donkament tonight, 9pm ET on full tilt. Password as always = "donkarama".

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