Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tournament Strategy Musings, and a Query

For the first time in many moons I found myself playing in the Mookie, as the lure of the BBT5 proved too strong to resist. This was the first NLHE tournament I have played in a long, long time. I was excited to play with a lot of familiar screen names and to fire up BDR.

I got an ideal start, as not ten hands into the tournament I opened for a small 2.5 BB raise with two black tens from the cutoff. The big blind called and the flop came down a beautiful Td 3s 6s. The big blind checked, I bet half-pot, he check-raised to 330, and then I time-banked and shoved for 3100 hoping my 3-bet looked like an overplayed AK of spades or an overpair. Sure enough my opponent snap-called with a set of threes, and I held up for the early double-up.

For the rest of the early and middle stages of the tournament -- I think the Mookie had just under 90 players last night -- I slowly bled chips as I went completely card dead and lost every pot I played. Towards the end of the second hour I found myself back down to a starting stack of 3K after my AdKd got tangled up in a blind vs. blind situation where I didn't improve on the flop and I had to lay it down after a big flop raise of my continuation bet.

However, I managed to improbably triple up once the antes kicked in as I came over the top with KQ and another short-stack overcalled me, along with the original raiser. Two ace-high hands couldn't withstand a queen on the turn as I made top pair to vault up to a top-ten stack of 8500 entering the second break.

With one-third of the original field left, we entered the phase of the tournament that I have often used proficiently to position myself for a deep run into the final table in the past at the Mookie, as two of my past Mookie wins during BBTs can attest. Tonight it was not meant to be, however, as I uncharacteristically put my tournament life at risk preflop hoping for some fold equity (but not getting the desired result).

We'd just collapsed down to three tables with blinds at 200/400/50. A short-stack jammed his last 3 BBs into the middle, and an aggressive player with a 10K stack min-raised from the button to 2000 straight (20% of their stack). I'm in the small blind with AdKs and decide that I need to go with this hand. I hesitate between a shove and a scary-looking min-raise to 4200 or so (thus signaling I am committed to the hand), and opt for the former (this was only the second time in the tournament that I put in all my chips before the flop, but this player hadn't played with me during this tournament and would not be aware of this fact).

The player snap-called with a pair of fives. The short-stack made an improbable straight with 8s9h, the pair of fives rivered a set, and I ended up with the third-best hand with ace-high and exited the Mookie in 27th place.

Now, I'm a big fan of presto; this has been well-documented on this blog. I also know that many poker bloggers don't like to fold. But surely under these circumstances folding a small pair is prudent? The player can fold and still be in the top half of the remaining field in chips and avoids a situation where they can only hope they are in a weighted coinflip instead of being crushed by an overpair ...

Lastly, the structure of the BBT rewards winning a tournament to secure a seat at the ToC. How do these considerations factor in to a decision to stick it in with a small pair here? (Let us ignore the fact that this is a $10 tournament for the sake of discussion.)

So, did I misplay the AK? Would you have folded the pair of fives in that situation? Let me know what you think.


F-Train said...

Stylistic differences, I suspect. Many people are happy to get a stack of 20-25 BBs into the middle holding a pair. IMO I wouldn't make that call with 55 because it's either a flip against two overs or the pair of 5s is crushed by a bigger pair but some people would rather take that chance with 20 BBs than fold, fold, fold and fall to less than 10.

Your shove is fine. You want to be 3-bet shoving (which is essentially what you did - we can ignore the smaller main pot) when the stack sizes are the way the were in this hand because typically the button player will need to wake up with a reasonably strong hand in order to call you there.

Your AK plays better when it sees all five cards anyway. Calling 1/4 of your stack OOP hoping to hit an ace or a king isn't an ideal line.

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I of course get it in with AK there.

And I of course do not call with the pocket 5s. It may be the best hand you've seen in a while but obviously it does not stack up well against two preeflop raisers ahead of you.

Memphis MOJO said...

Whatcha gonna do? Sorry, you didn't do better.

lightning36 said...

Ditto what Hoy said. A TOC may be up for grabs, but this is still the Mookie!

dbcooper said...

I am out of there with pocket 5s but maybe that just me. Low pocket pairs i am not shoving unless its desparation time.