Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Early Tournament Deep Stack Play

The 20k guaranteed deep stack mtt nightly at 8pm ET on Ultimate Bet continues to be one of the very best values out there as far as a regular mtt with some serious play in it that can seriously reward the skilled player due to its very deep stacks and extended structure. Although 8pm is very difficult for me to make regularly given my schedule at my job and a decently long commute now that I live in the 'burbs, I try to play this thing whenever I have the time and the inclination, because it's just too good to pass up.

Today I thought I would briefly show the types of plays I like to make early in this tournament, given how hugely deep everyone starts off in this thing. Blinds open at 5-10, and the starting stacks in this deep stack tournament are a fatty 5000 chips, making for 500 big blinds to begin with, and ending the first hour with still 100 big blinds even if your starting stack remains flat throughout the first 60 minutes of play. With stacks this deep, I literally find myself tempted to call almost any bet from almost any position if it's small enough, in particular from late position given the massive implied odds that can be present due to those 500 big blind stacks to start with.

So, for example, it is very hard to get me to fold any pocket pair preflop, just for the pure set mining possibilities. So here I am dealt a small pocket pair very early in the 20k deep stack, with a caller already ahead of me:

And of course there is no way I'm not limping along for 10 chips in this one. Unfortunately, the player to my left also limped but then the next guy popped it up to 120, 12 times the previous bet of 10 chips. At this point, with everyone sitting on still more than 40 times that 120-chip bet, I figure if this thing gets called in even one other place, which I knew it would, I can certainly see a flop to set mine and just hope I don't get set-over-setted if I do nail another 4 on the flop. While I'm pondering this though, the big blind surprises by reraising another 3.5x the already-raised bet, and the action folds to me:

So now I know my pocket 4s are behind at least one of these guys, there's no way in hike I'm re-reraising with 44 here, and it will cost me 395 chips to call into a pot with 570 already in it. But those pure pot odds are not the thing that really impacts my decision here -- really, what this reraise from the big blind does is significantly impair my ability to profitably set-mine. Because now, if I call this 405-chip bet, now my one (or two) opponents will each have just barely more than 11 times the preflop bet left in their stacks after the flop. I've seen somewhat different numbers from different sources on this point, but generally speaking, to profitably set-mine, I like to play against opponents who have at least 15 times the current preflop bet left behind in their stacks, so that my implied odds are high enough to enable me to really cash in in those 1-in-8 times when I do flop my set. In this case, 12 times the preflop bet, without knowing if the original preflop raiser is even going to call this reraise, is simply not quite enough for me to risk essentially 1/12th of my starting stack. So, reluctantly, I fold here, feeling like I'm just not quite getting the proper implied odds to make this call. The original raiser did call, the flop came all rags (no 4 on it, don't worry), and the reraiser led out for nearly the full pot, to which the original preflop raiser folded his hand. Well played by me.

On the very next hand in this particular run of the 20k deep stack, I pick up pocket 3s in a very similar position with one limper already in ahead of me:

Again, I go for the limp-behind here. Often with a pocket pair I will raise from many positions if first in, but with stacks this deep and so many people left behind me to act, it is highly unlikely that I get anyone to fold who was going to call the 10 chips with any kind of a normal-looking raise, and I could get reraised off the hand once again just like the previous hand, so why raise? I limp, and then the same bozo two players to my left raises it up, to the exact same 120 chips as in the previous hand, and the action gets back to me with the original UTG limper having already called the preflop raise:

Now in this case, I'm loving the case to call here. Now with a bet of only 120 chips, my opponents are each sitting on roughly 40 times the current preflop bet, easily enough implied odds to justify calling a preflop raise with any pocket pair. What's more, I've got two players already in the pot, and both of them are in positions of relative strength the way I see it, with the UTG player limp-calling UTG -- often indicative of a strong hand, generally speaking -- and with the preflop raiser having raised the limpers for a second consecutive hand, and done so with the exact same bet size as the previous hand. Knowing how bogus this move is likely to look to everyone else at the table, in my book this typically indicates a very strong hand, one where the raiser is trying to trap others into calling or even reraising him by trying to mimic exactly what he did in the previous hand just to appear like a big fat bluffer. Contrary to what you might be thinking, I love that both of these players have indicated strong preflop hands -- that's exactly what I want with a low pocket pair like 3s, if I'm getting the implied odds to set mine. Think about it -- what do I want these guys to have if I manage to flop a set of 3s on this board? Do I want them to have A9s and 66? Hell no. I want them to have AA and KK if I can pick it. I want them to give me easily sufficient implied odds to set mine, but then to have hands strong enough on most flops that they won't want to get away. Hopefully I have that here -- again my hopes are especially high for the preflop raise-the-limpers guy -- so of course I make the call thanks to the deep stacks that this tournament provides in the earlygoing.

The flop comes down gorgeous:

Not only do I flop my set, but there is an Ace on the board as well -- an Ace that at least one of my two opponents is surely to have hit, and the Jack could help as well on this board. Now, given the Ace on the flop and the fact that I did not play this hand overly strongly preflop at all, I definitely want to lead out here. With 495 chips in the pot, I don't want to scare anyone off with a massive overbet, but at the same time I want to bet enough that it starts building up a big pot here on the flop, in the hopes that someone will raise me and I can get them allin right here on the flop, or at least be in position to get them allin at some point in the next two streets. 340 chips it is:

The preflop raise-the-limpers guy raises me here, just a curious 100 chips more than a minraise:

Now, with my set of 3s I have to assume I am ahead here, so to me there is only one right move in this spot. I could reraise him big time here, essentially committing all of my chips as more than half of my stack will be in the pot here on the flop, but by doing that I am essentially screaming in this guy's face that I have a big, big hand on the flop. Top two pairs at least, if not a set. Then he might get away from TPTK or maybe a worse two pairs, etc., which would be a disaster from the perspective of trying to extract the maximum number of chips from your opponent in the few big hands one is dealt in a given tournament. So I do the only thing that I think will keep in the worst hands that might pay off on later streets but which I am ahead of now -- the smooth call:

The turn brings a raggy 2 of diamonds, and the action is to me. I led out on the AJ3 flop, got raised, and I elected to feign weakness by just calling that raise, so now it's time to continue the story that I'm not all that strong by checking to my opponent:

He obliges and leads out for about half the pot:

Now let's think about this. If I just smooth call again here, I have to figure anyone but a total schtunk will realize I have more than just one pair going in my hand. So since even just calling is going to betray the strength of my hand to my opponent, this seems like the time to raise it up and see if I can get the guy to commit even more here on the turn. My smooth call of his raise on the flop, coupled with my check on the turn, have painted a picture of weakness, and I don't really want to completely obliterate that image by pushing allin here and again maybe scaring off a top pair type of hand, so instead I reached deep, deep, deep into the arsenal and pulled out a favorite weapon of bloggers everywhere:

Yep. The minraise. A donkey's best friend. And even though still any real playa would know I am obviously strong at this point, the hope was to at least create enough confusion in my opponent's mind that he would be willing to throw some more chips into the middle, and maybe even see another street before making his final commitment decision. My opponent just called my minraise, and a non-threatening offsuit Ten hit on the river:

I'm not the least bit worried about losing to KQ here, as there is just no way I'm putting this guy on having raised the flop and called a check-raise on the turn with just the inside straight draw. I'm certainly not thrilled that now pocket Aces, pocket Jacks and pocket Tens all beat me with set-over-set, but at this point there's no way I'm reining it in when I have given off a somewhat weak vibe so far in the hand and still believe I am likely best. At this point, with 6000 chips in the pot and just a third of that or less in each of my and my opponent's stacks, I figure there is no reason not to try to get fully paid off, so I push in with my remaining chips, pretty much figuring this guy has to call me at this point based purely on pot odds:

He calls, and I stack his ass. Here's what he held:

TPTK for 500 big blinds, not 15 minutes in to the deep stacked tournament. Love it.

I post these two hands not to show how awesomely I played the lucky situation of flopping a set on an Ace-high board, but rather to illustrate how implied odds can dictate calling (or folding) with a spec hand preflop, and how you can easily cash in when you do hit your spec hand on the flop against a guy who is strong preflop. If this were the typical tournament on, say, full tilt, I would have started with 1500 chips instead of 5000, and with blinds of 10-20 instead of 5-10, and the result would have been far different. I would surely have called the 20-chip limp from early position after UTG limped ahead of me, but when the player to my left had raised the limpers, let's assume his raise was just a tad bit larger than it was at 5-10 blinds, to 150 chips instead of the 120 he raised it to in this hand. That would mean that I would have had to call 130 more chips out of my stack of roughly 1350 chips, or 10% of my stack, just to see the flop with the pocket 3s. Nine times out of ten, I fold in that spot, I never get the chance to flop my set and I certainly don't double up early there. And this is why the 20k deep stack is such a great tournament to play.

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Blogger nzgreen said...

The thumbnails aren't being displayed inline. When I click on them the link works and I can see the pic though.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

Seconded about the pics.

Implied odds are clearly king when you are 500 BBs deep. Stacking off one-pair monkeys is never more profitable than in circumstances like these.


6:31 AM  
Blogger Stevie Treys said...

Great story and I appreciate the tips contained in your explanation. I was glad I could at least click on the jpg to see the AK holding of your opponent.

5:34 PM  

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