Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Digging Into MTT Example 1

"Most tournaments, it is just trying to play the cards you are dealt better than the rest of the field is."


The above is from Mookie's interview with lucko, when asked how much of his MTT game depends on the cards that he gets. I completely agree. This is all you can do in MTTs. You can try to play each and every starting hand you get better then the rest of the field plays theirs. This means that your EV graphs show a higher over all EV and are more adapted for MTT play by allowing for larger percentage swings when required late. Being able to play your cards better is enough to make you long term successful in MTTs, but it is never enough to get you a win in a specific MTT. To get a win in a specific MTT, you also need to catch some good cards at the right times and in the right situations. If you want to get better at MTTs all you can do is learn how to play specific hands better in specific situations. If you want to win 1000+ player MTTs you better play your cards better than the field does, and you will need to enter hundreds and hundreds of them (unless you are extra lucky). You can never expect to win a tournament of that size going in no matter how good you think you are. You can only expect to play your cards better and hope that will be enough. You simply can't control the other aspects of the MTT and those aspects outweigh your card playing advantage by a huge margin.

The graph of the first MTT example is not really readable. It will be impossible to show the details of each hand in a graph that also shows the results in all hands of an MTT. That is really not important though. I think if you understand what is going on for individual hands in the MTT you can see how this strings together to determine your MTT results. I am going to show in detail some individual hands below so you can really see what is happening. Lets start with AKs/AKo. You got that hand at the BB=50 and BB=100 levels of the example. Lets also assume for now that you picked it up on hand #1 as well, and also got it at the BB=500 level instead of the small pocket pair. Below is the cash game expectation value graph for AKs/AKo.

So now I am going to rotate it 90 degrees, get rid of the data bars, and fill in the starting and ending stack sizes and possible/actual results. For hand #1 you start with T1500, and could possibly get as high as T3000 or be eliminated. 45% of the time you will win about 2.5% of your stack and that's the result I show for this hand. You win T37 for an ending stack of T1537.

Now for the BB=50 hand shown below. Now you start with T2000 and could get to T4000. You are 40x deep now, and the graphs are set up for 100x deep stacks. This represents a 2.5x stretching out of the EV graph, as everything is relative to the blind levels. The most likely result now is a 12% increase in your stack size. There is a 12% chance of increasing your stack by 25% and this is what is shown for this hand. You end up with T2500 after the hand.

Now we are at the BB=100 level. You are still about 40x deep, so the EV graph shape is the same as the BB=50 hand, but now you start the hand with T3750, and can get up to T7500. I am showing the most likely result (45% of the time) of a stack increase of about 12% to T4200.

So now lets assume you catch AK again at the BB=500 level with a starting stack of T9500. You are only about 20x deep now so we will further stretch the EV curve vertically by a factor of 2x. The most likely result now is a 25% stack size move in either direction. About 10% of the time you will win 50% of your chips and that is what I am showing here. You end the hand with T14250.

You won money on all these hands, but that is not important. The curve determines the likelihood that something happens. Overtime everything shown on the curve will happen. During a specific MTT anything can happen. At BB=500 you are starting to face a significant elimination risk with AK that was not really there early on in the MTT.
These graphs assume that you are not making any adjustments to your play based on stack size. Stack size adjustments for AK will be pretty minor over the 100x to 20x range. Some poor MTT players may just play as if the stacks were deep the whole way, but good players will make adjustments as the stack sizes shrink. To keep things simple rather than a range of possible ways to play a hand, I will assume that there are only three ways hands are played based on stack depth. Deep stacks which would be for about 25x the blinds and up, middle stacks for about 8x to 25x the BB, and short stacks which is for 8x the BB or less. For short stacks I will assume a push or fold type strategy for most hands. In a later post I will show you how the EV graphs change for specific hands based on stack sizes.
I said in an earlier post that the cash game EV curves should be close to the most efficient way to play a hand. They should show the highest average EV. As you start to make MTT type adjustments to your play based on a small stack size relative to the blinds, you are moving away from ideal play and lowering your overall EV for the hand as a result. If you start pushing from the button with Ace little to steal the blinds this will be of a lower expectation value than a normal standard size raise that leaves you some options post flop. The curve will be radically different looking. The most likely result will be steal the blinds (a decent percentage move up), but the chance of losing all of your chips will be much higher, and your chance of doubling through goes up as well. Overall though you will lose more on average than before by playing Ace little in this way.
Now for an interesting result. While it is true that in general your overall EV will be lowered by making MTT types of adjustments late to specific hands, the overall EV value of the top hands (AA-TT, AK, AQ) will actually increase as stack sizes decrease relative to the blinds. This is a strange result. You play the hand in a less than ideal way, and your overall expectation goes up. I am not talking about a stretching of the curve. Top hands get stretched and shifted up in value late making wider swings more possible as well as increasing the overall Expectation Value of them. Anyone want to take a stab at why this may be true?



Post a Comment

<< Home