Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Topping Off

Topping OffI said something last post about my playing pot-limit Omaha lately and that things are going relatively well. Added up the month yesterday and it turned out August was the best month of the year for me, despite a horrible start and a week of practically zero play when I was in Kyiv. I did win that media tourney that week -- did I mention that? (ha) -- so, yes, August was nice indeed.

One highly beneficial move I made this summer with regard to PLO was reading Jeff Hwang’s new one, Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha, Volume I, which I made reference to here about three weeks ago. As usual, I have been mainly sticking with the $25 buy-in, six-handed tables. I’ve played extended stretches of PLO50 before, where one will encounter a few more savvy players but not a huge difference in skill. Bigger swings, though (natch), so I am remaining within the comfort zone.

The comfort zone largely exists for me over on PokerStars, too, where there are many, many more PLO games going than on any other site. Also my fave (by far) for software and support. Even the bonuses aren’t bad. So probably 80% of the time I’m playing (or more), I’m playing on Stars.

With regard to the software, Stars has added some features over the last few months. Sometimes takes me a while to find them, and I’m sure there are a few of which I’m not even aware. The ones I know about, though, I generally like.

For example, there’s a new security feature I’m using in which I punch in a PIN in addition to my password when logging in. Also just this week figured out there was an option now to show or not to show one’s hole cards when all in. Only just discovered this after seeing several hands in which players were all in prior to the river, but the hole cards weren’t flipped over until the end, including hands in which I was involved. The hole cards will only be shown if all players involved have checked “Show Hole Cards When All-In (Ring Games)” under “Options.” I don’t feel that strongly one way or the other on this one, though I suppose I like the idea of having the choice.

Just below that option is another relatively new feature, the “Auto-Rebuy (Real Money Ring Games)” option. (Other sites have a similar feature, I know.) When you click the option, a box pops up that allows you to modify your auto-rebuying in various ways:

At the PLO25 tables, I am seeing a few players who are auto-rebuying whenever they fall below the maximum buy-in. Have also encountered a few short-stackers who have it set to auto-rebuy their usual $5 buy-in whenever they are felted. (No worries -- eventually that latter group will be rolling heavy weights around and against each other in the fourth circle of Dante’s Inferno, if I’m not mistaken.)

I personally have not chosen the option to auto-rebuy. Not yet, anyway. I do buy in for the maximum, and usually will top off if I ever slip down between $15-$20 or further. But I do it manually -- partly out of habit, but partly because I suppose I like remaining aware of how much I’m up or down overall, something that’s easier to keep track of when not auto-rebuying.

There are certainly a few good reasons to auto-rebuy (something the pros do regularly, I believe). Nothing sadder than making a straight flush versus someone holding the ace-high flush and only having a short stack with which to play. Also, auto-rebuying can perhaps make it more difficult for less aware opponents to keep tabs on how you’re doing.

I recall once many months ago -- before this auto-rebuy feature was in place -- playing at a table with a player who was obviously manually rebuying to the maximum whenever he fell even a quarter below it. Guy was very active, involved in a high percentage of pots, and after a hundred hands or so I’d thought I’d gotten a read on him as a tricky, somewhat capable player.

That’s when I realized he still had exactly $25 in his stack. He might have been decent, but he sure wasn’t winning. Later looked in PokerTracker and realized the guy had dropped two-and-a-half buy-ins during those hundred hands! (Some detective, huh?)

Anyhow, I’m leaving the option unchecked for now, but probably will eventually set it where I want it and take advantage. What are your thoughts on auto-rebuying in ring games?

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Blogger BigTPoker said...

Rebuy is a kind of double-edge sword. On one hand it ensures that when you hit your monster hand you can take a lot more money from the other player (assuming they have a decent hand as well).

The converse is that should you be mistaken about your monster hand then you can simply lose a lot more money.

For short stackers it seems clear. Since they just go all-in anyways they are never really *wrong* about their hand. For them not having their /full/ short stack won't be worth it long-term.

9/01/2009 10:19 AM  
Blogger Sean G said...

I always have auto-rebuy on, to fill my stack at all times.

I keep my poker spreadsheet open as I play, and frequently make adjustments to my buy-in based on my cashier amount available. For example, if I see the total in my spreadsheet is $1 less than the total on my cashier, I adjust my buy-in up $1 to balance things out. I justify the totals every ten or fifteen minutes, to help keep track. I only one- or two-table, however... if I did serious multitabling, it'd be trickier.

I wasn't so enamored with the autorebuy feature until I lost a hand (vs a short buy-in - I hate them too) and gave up about 1/4 my stack, and in the next hand found myself on the winning end of a set over set flop vs a bigger stack. I had already requested a top-off, but naturally you have to wait for the next hand.

I understand it's a rare situation, but once is all it really took to make me change my ways.

9/01/2009 4:01 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

I see having the max buy-in in front of me at all times to be a big advantage.

When I make the decision to get my stack in the middle I do so expecting to have an edge and those extra 10 or 20 BB I can pick up certainly make a difference to my long term win rate.

Sure, bad beats or mistakes will cost me those extra chips in the short term but playing a less than than maximum stack as some kind of bad beat insurance seems counter intuitive to being a confident poker player.

9/01/2009 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

I think the real key is bankroll management: if you're playing within your bankroll and each session is just part of a larger session called "the long run," you shouldn't have any reason to avoid putting the maximum on the table. But if you're playing above your head, variance and tilt become more important factors and it might not be such a good idea to top off.

I've been mostly playing 6-max PLO lately, and even though I've never done it much in the past I've been topping off any time I fall more than about 10% below my full buy-in. I feel like I play better poker when I always have a full stack in front of me. Chances are that I'm probably going to tick the auto-rebuy option the next time I play.

9/03/2009 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Big D said...

Interesting post. I love the way you make me think and look at the game through a different perspective. Thank you.

9/07/2009 7:53 AM  

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