Saturday, December 16, 2006

Minding my M's and Q's

Got a tourney puzzler for y’all. Been goofin’ around w/those tourney dollars I won awhile back -- have yet, really, to try anything big. (Kind of nice always to be freerollin’ this way.) Still feel too much of a tourney novice to take any big risks, though. And as a novice, I humbly solicit yr sage advice, dear reader . . . .

Here’s the skinny: Level 9 of a $3.00+$0.30 NLH MTT on Stars. 957 entrants, and the bubble just burst about five minutes ago. About 130 players left. Blinds are 300/600, with a 50-chip ante.

After a rocky start, I’ve played fairly well for most of the two-plus hours of the tourney. I managed to donk off over a third of my 1,500-chip starting stack in the first two hands, but then patiently picked my spots and built back up. At the time I was moved to the current table, I had around 6,000 chips, but I was able to work that up over 10,000 primarily by picking on a couple of passive players who weren’t protecting their blinds. By the time we reached the hand in question, I had 9,711 chips, just a hair below the average chip stack for the tourney (9,832). The average stack at my table was just over 10,000, and there were exactly four players with more chips than me and four with fewer chips.

Pulling out my Harrington on Hold ’em, Volume II: The Endgame, I see that my “M” here is only a little over 7. That puts me in Harrington’s “Orange Zone,” where, according to Action Dan, I am mostly (but not entirely) reduced to all-in (“first-in vigorish”) moves. My “Q” (the ratio of my chips to the average stack) is almost 1. According to Harrington, your “M” is more important than your “Q” (“M” is the “strong force” while “Q” is the “weak force”). I usually don’t pay that much attention to my “Q” number, though I do generally pay heed to how my chip stack compares to the average stack at my particular table. Incidentally, Harrington doesn’t appear to specify what exactly constitutes a low “Q” number, though I imagine anything below 1 would qualify. (If anyone has any Q-tips, send ’em on, please!)

Anyhow, back to the hand. Given my stack size and the overall situation, I’m starting to get a bit anxious but am by no means desperate. For this hand, I’m in the small blind where I get dealt QdQc. I watched as a player in middle position -- SuperTrooper, with 9,304 chips (just a few hundred less than me) -- min. raised to 1,200. The table folded around to me.

Question 1: What do you do here?

I contemplated the all-in move here. With SuperTrooper’s raise, that would’ve netted me a nice pot (2,800) if he (and the big blind) both folded. I thought for a moment then decided a larger-than-average raise should accomplish the same purpose while also (perhaps) giving me options down the road. So I raised it to 5,400 (just over half my stack). Here’s my thought process: (1) He might have AA or KK; if so I’m cooked. However, if he doesn’t, the only correct call would be with AK (in which case I’m in a coin-flip situation). (2) He might think by my oversized bet I have less than QQ, and thus might well call me with something worse than AA, KK, or AK. (3) If there’s no ace on the flop, I’m probably gonna push.

SuperTrooper called. The flop came Jd7sKd.

Question 2: What do you do here?

What did I say? I'm probably going to push if no ace came? Is that what I want to do? When the flop came this way -- and I noticed our stack sizes relative to the pot -- I hesitated. The pot was 11,850. I now had 4,311, and SuperTrooper 3,854. Neither of us was going to give up this pot, I was certain. I quickly realized that pushing here was probably going to get a call no matter what SuperTrooper had. (In fact, as it turned out, my preflop play hadn’t really allowed myself that many options down the road.) I checked. I did have a couple of immature rationalizations in mind for checking (e.g., “If he pushes, he’s weak!”), but to be perfectly honest I was just buying time. SuperTrooper predictably put his remaining chips into the pot.

Question 3: What do you do here?

I called, of course. I had essentially committed myself to the pot with my preflop raise -- as had SuperTrooper, really -- so it was probably destiny that we were getting it all in at this point of the hand.

What did he have? Ad9d.

Shamus furrows his brow, obviously distressed. I had one of the diamonds, so I had to sweat the eight that were left (plus the other three aces, of course). The Card Player odds calculator says I’m 56.77% to win here. Still, given how the hand went, this was about as good as I could’ve hoped, really. (Looking back, the only other, better possibility for me -- that would be probable -- would be for him to have had tens or nines or something.)

Alas, the 6d came on the turn and I was all but toast. I lasted three more hands with my remaining chips (528), then quickly bowed out of the tourney with a cool $4.59 for my efforts.

My first response was frustration over the fact that my opponent had called my largish preflop raise (9x the big blind, 4.5x his own min. raise) with crummy ace-nine suited. (I didn’t fault his postflop play at all.) But the more I thought about it, the more I began to question my own play here. Did I really have to be in that situation? How would you have handled this one? If I had been less aggressive preflop, could I have escaped the hand with, say, half my stack (or more) intact?

Photo: “The sign at night with the lights illuminated” (adapted), Madcoverboy. CC BY-SA 3.0.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shamus,
with your chipstack it had to be a push here I'm afraid to say. Your preflop raise just was never going to be large enough for him to fold once he has invested in the pot, and it left you with zero fold equity after the flop. You'll often find worse calls than A9s in this spot aswell.
He minraised to see where he stood with the A9s, and I really think he's folding to an all in preflop.

With a flush draw on the flop, 99% of low stakes players are not folding here no matter how much you put in the pot to disuade them.

Congrats on cashing tho!

12/17/2006 3:24 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thx, cad. Yea, I sorta realized halfway through what I'd done here -- and since I indeed desired the preflop fold (and was likely going all the way anyhow), all-in preflop would've been preferable.

12/17/2006 5:21 PM  
Blogger Swifty said...

If you want advice from a total donk then I'm your man ;)

Minimum raise pre-flop. If you don't have a read on him then you have to flat call (weak and pointless IMO) or do the all in thing and curse your luck if he's played it slow (or simply doesn't know what he's doing in the first place).

I don't know whether his call post flop was corerct in terms of pot odds etc (I rather doubt it) but it's clear to see from some of my loses of lates that at the level you were playing at few people give a damn about such things.

Unlucky :)

You got sucked out but as cadmunkey says, post flop the die is cast.

If he'd called an all in pre flop with his hand then you were, as they say here in Yorkshire, stuffed ;).

12/18/2006 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with cadmunkey here. Push and hope the poker gods are on your side.

Not many players are going to call an all in with A9 sooted.

God how I hate min raises.

12/19/2006 5:14 AM  

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