Tuesday, September 25, 2007

When the -EV Choice is Correct Late in an MTT

Sometimes you need to do some crazy stuff at the end of MTTs when you are short and miles from the money. Stuff you would never do in a cash game. Stuff like playing a hand -EV on purpose, or inviting your opponent to take a +EV draw on purpose. I stress the value of EV in poker decisions probably more than anyone, so when I say it is OK to make what you know is a -EV play on purpose, that's a little weird coming from me. But it is right sometimes to do it. Its something that I have thought about for a while, but never mentioned it here. When it is late in an MTT and you are pretty desperate, a double up can become so important that you would take a 40/60 type situation on purpose to get it. That's not exactly what I am talking about, but at heart it is the same concept. When you are miles away from the money and desperate, your chances of cashing are so slim that tournament equity wise, a 40/60 for a double up can have a positive expectation. The double up gives you some chips to play with, and a chance at making a run, while folding away just gets you closer to elimination, and less chips lowering your tournament equity further.

What I am talking about is inviting a draw on purpose, knowing that your opponent(s) is very priced in. You do this because the value of maximizing what you make on this is so important for tournament equity, that you will risk elimination on what afterwards could be considered a horrible play. Lets say that you are short late in an an MTT, and you have flopped TPTK or an overpair in a limped pot. You might be against a flush or straight draw, or top/middle pair. All of these hands are drawing to beat you. The best normal draws will hit one out of three times. So lets say you have a little bit more than the pot left. You could push, and cut off the drawing odds. But if you push, the top pair/middle pairs probably will fold, and the draw may correctly fold as well. So you just end up picking up a couple of blinds/limps, and not getting close to a much needed double up. The other way to play it is to invite the draws. Bet 1/2 or 2/3 of the pot with the intention of pushing on the turn. Now the flush or straight draw is priced in, and top/middle may come anyway because you are short, and will not do much damage to thier stack. You will not be able to push them off the draw on the turn, so you will get the double up if your hand holds, and you will only lose 1/3 of the time. So you have the choice of winning a small pot nearly every time, or winning a big pot that you need for MTT equity most of the time. Its a risk worth taking late in an MTT when you are desperate. A better time to do this would be inviting a draw to the river. Give them 1-5 on a 1-6 so that you get some extra money at a pretty small risk, rather than just pricing them out.

Below are a couple of examples from this week's Hoy. Both I would describe as milking AA for all you can get while playing the hand in a risky (and -EV chip equity) way. The first hand is Astin limping behind another limper in late position with AA. Normally a recipe for disaster, and a -EV (chip equity) decision. Astin though is short, and its getting late. He must double through on this hand. It is less likely he will get his chips in preflop this way. He is essentially pricing people in for a draw to the flop. If someone catches top-pair he should get his double through. In this case, he is able to get it in preflop after a later position move at the pot.

FullTiltPoker Game #3663906682: Mondays at the Hoy (26058958)
Table 3 - 100/200 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:35:44 ET - 2007/09/24
Seat 1: Fuel55 (11,606)
Seat 2: Astin (1,615)
Seat 3: a104l9 (5,019)
Seat 4: iam23skidoo (11,995)
Seat 5: Blinders (2,225)
Seat 6: jimdniacc (12,710)
Seat 7: bdidde (9,985)
Seat 8: IslandBum1 (1,775)
Seat 9: emptyman (12,070)
Blinders posts the small blind of 100
jimdniacc posts the big blind of 200
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to Blinders [Kc 9c]
bdidde calls 200
IslandBum1 folds
emptyman folds
Fuel55 folds
Astin calls 200
a104l9 folds
iam23skidoo raises to 800
Blinders folds
jimdniacc folds
bdidde folds
Astin has 15 seconds left to act
Astin raises to 1,615, and is all in
iam23skidoo calls 815
Astin shows [Ah Ac]
iam23skidoo shows [5s As]
*** FLOP *** [9d Tc 2d]
*** TURN *** [9d Tc 2d] [7s]
*** RIVER *** [9d Tc 2d 7s] [Qc]
Astin wins the pot (3,730) with a pair of Aces

Now its my turn, and whats interesting here is the amount of the bet on the flop. I am limping this hand early for a lot of reasons preflop, none of which relate to this topic. The table was pretty aggressive, and there was a very good chance that I was going to get raised behind. I had also limp/folded in this position enough that it would not be obvious I was doing this with a monster. I am in last place at the final table, with just the top 3 paid, and very far below the top three stacks. My tournamant equity is close to zero, but a double up+ would raise my tournament equity substantially. Taking this down preflop with a raise would be a bit of a disaster.

FullTiltPoker Game #3664025416: Mondays at the Hoy (26058958)
Table 3 - 150/300 Ante 25 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:47:34 ET - 2007/09/24
Seat 1: Fuel55 (9,146)
Seat 2: Astin (2,805)
Seat 3: a104l9 (4,094)
Seat 4: iam23skidoo (6,723)
Seat 5: Blinders (2,310)
Seat 6: jimdniacc (16,068)
Seat 7: bdidde (9,365)
Seat 8: IslandBum1 (3,064)
Seat 9: emptyman (15,425)
Astin posts the small blind of 150
a104l9 posts the big blind of 300
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Blinders [Ah Ad]
iam23skidoo folds
Blinders calls 300
jimdniacc calls 300
bdidde folds
IslandBum1 folds
emptyman folds
Fuel55 folds
Astin calls 150
a104l9 checks
*** FLOP ***
[Tc 6h Qh]
Astin checks
a104l9 checks

So there is a potential flush draw, and/or straight draw and someone could have the Q or T easy in a limped pot. I will go to the felt for sure on this hand. So I bet an amount that will invite a draw or Q or T to call with the intention of pushing the turn. That line in itself is -EV compared to betting more, or pushing the flop, but I must get the chips on this hand so I take the risk.

Blinders bets 900
jimdniacc calls 900
Astin foldsa
104l9 folds
*** TURN *** [Tc 6h Qh] [9d]

No flush hit, so time to reverse/regular hoy him.

Blinders bets 1,084
jimdniacc has 15 seconds left to act
jimdniacc calls 1,084
*** RIVER ***
[Tc 6h Qh 9d] [Ks]
Blinders bets 1, and is all in
bdidde: a hoy there matie
jimdniacc calls 1
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Blinders shows [Ah Ad] a pair of Aces
jimdniacc shows [9h Jd] a straight, King high
jimdniacc wins the pot (5,395) with a straight, King high
Blinders stands up



At 3:39 PM, Blogger Mike Maloney said...

I definitely agree with this post. One of the only times I will limp with a hand like AA is late in a MTT, for the exact reasons you stated.

It's also important to keep that in mind when you're on the flip side of the hand as well. If I see someone limp UTG late in an MTT that sets of an immediate red flag and I am much more cautious if I end up getting involved as well.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger emptyman said...

Yup yup yup. This move helped me get out of the cellar in Riverchasers last week. Limped and raised and reraised holding AA, had to call 500 of my 1500 to see the flop.

Jamming the last 1000 preflop might induce a fold, but a call makes the double/triple much more likely.

If I'm going to put all my chips in no matter what, I will often try to invite at least 1 guest to come along. "Stealing" blinds with AA late is really unfortunate.


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