Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Playing the Draw, Pt. 3 (Poker Phil)

The hand in question again, my friend was holding a Jc-6c with a 10c-Qc-Ks board as a short stack in a MTT. The question posed involved the plan of attack when you have a good drawing hand but haven't made your hand yet. As a short stack, what do you do in this situation? Granted there are numerous ways to play every hand, and numerous outcomes to every hand, but what do you feel is the best way to play in this situation? I stated that I loved the all-in move here and now I'll reveal what happened in the hand.

Our protagonist moved all-in on the flop and was unsure about how good his move was. He asked me how I felt about it, and I told him that I, personally, loved it. However, the outcome he endured wasn't what we had hoped. The table folded around to his all-in save for the steaming guy who limped in. After losing some of his chips, he called the all in with A-Qo. The true odds of the hand had him as a 50.5% to 48.9% favorite even though he was behind in the hand. Unfortunately his draw failed as the turn and river when rag-K and he was knocked out of the MTT. However, even though the outcome was poor, the move was still a good - and here's why.

In a tournament, this move works because of the increase of blinds and antes as the tournament progresses throughout the night. Unlike a cash game, where your blinds never increase and you can effectively nurse a stack for as long as you see fit, you have a far shorter time span with which you can nurse a short stack. Having only 10xBB before the hand and having called from the button, that leaves him with 9xBB and gives him one orbit around the table with 1,350 if he chooses to fold here. That creates a situation where the next time you push you'll have less chips and quite possibly a smaller percentage to win the hand. Hands like A-J suited become attractive for a push, but actually get called by hands like A-Qo or 8-8 and have less of a percentage to win from the preflop than our hand above has to win from the flop. Also, the pot size is considerably smaller as well as the maximum you can play for with a single all-in caller is 2,925 if you are not involved in the blinds. Here, the all-in push created a pot of 4,200. That's a greater percentage to win a pot that's 33% larger. Of course with a preflop all-in with 1,350, you'll probably draw more callers, but that actually brings your odds down even further.

So when you get short stacked, and you're going to be forced to make a move eventually, this is probably the best reasonable chance you'd have to get as much return as possible for your investment as well as the largest probability to win the hand that you'll find at this point in the tournament.

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