Monday, July 16, 2007

LOL Marsh rUlz (Tournament poker play against inexperienced players)

Marsh rulz, but this post isn't *really* about that. This post is all about tournament play when you have passive, inexperienced players in the field, and the blinds are super-low compared to your starting chipstack. Last night, Martin, Marshall, and I were playing a $10 entry, (unlimited rebuys for 20 minutes) tournament with a bunch of friends and some other associated people (some of who were very inexperienced, passive players). Since Martin was Tourney Director, he had built in a structure that allowed a lot of play: 290 starting chips with 1-2 blinds to start.

Martin and I were seated at the same table with 6 other players. As I knew the people at the table really well, I could point out two very inexperienced players, two players with some experience (but fairly weak), two good players, and Martin (aka D0nk King). After the first couple of hands, it became very apparent that it was a "family pot" type of game at our table, and that no one was interested in raising preflop with anything less than AA or KK (and even those hands might be limped by some of the players involved).

In these types of games, I'm very confident in my ability to outplay players after the flop, and to see every flop possible, even when its junk. I understand that every good, tight player's instinct is to fold what is normally unplayable, crappy hands such as 8 3 or 7 2 unsuited, but I strongly suggest to play ANY hand in a "family pot", blinds-low-relative-to-the-chip-stacks type of tournament. The action in these kind of tournaments typically have all limpers 90-95% of the time in the early rounds, with no concept of pot odds on later streets. You can chase flush or straight draws with minimal risk, especially if you're the first to bet. "Family pot"-type tables usually just call bets, without any raising - so say the pot is limped around 8 ways. If you hit a flush draw, you can bet low to build a pot and get almost all the other players to call, and if you don't hit on later streets, you've only invested, say, 10 chips total. But, if you do hit your draw, you can overbet, and someone still is likely to call with any pair and get paid off!

It also should be easy to get away from any hand, as inexperienced players in these situations will raise a huge red flag if you're beat. Say you hit a flop with top pair and a crappy kicker, and you bet. If you get raised, it'll likely be a significant overraise - you *will* feel the heat or pushback from a n00b player, if you are beat. It should be very easy to lay down these hands, and you will know when to do so.

If you're confident that you can value a hand correctly, and apply basic principles such as pot odds and position, you have more than enough to have a significant advantage over inexperienced or semi-weak players in these kinds of tournaments in the early stages, and build up your chip stack without significant risk by calling with *any* two cards. Who knows, maybe you'll hit two pair and double up right away (that's what I did!).


Bob Loblaw said...

Well said. Was this at regular SNP? I gotta get back into that action. Can we have a post titled “How to convince your significant other that it’s no big deal to play poker two nights a week, aka the lawn that could be mowed today is the same lawn that will be mowed tomorrow“?

Sushi Cowboy said...

It was actually Saturday night.

For Ryan, I believe that he keeps the SO involved in the accounting so he can show how it is not a drain on the pocketbook, and in Ryan's case, a negative drain. Or you can just point at your friends and say "...but so-and-so gets to play twice a week!"

jsola said...

Great post! The first few times I played in a donk-fest sort of home tourney I tried to play really tight and wait for good hands, and then play them aggressively on all streets. This works, but you actually have to get good hands, and with 5 or 6 players in every hand, the suckout odds are hard to overcome.

Bad players call down faaar too much, so getting in there and playing "their game" preflop is completely viable. Once you see a flop you can start betting top or even middle pair for value and get very loose calls all the way to the river.

Ryan said...

Yeah, that's the correct strategy if there is room to play. I've been wondering since the tournament M, M, and J helped me with if I played too tight early in that one under the, "I need hands to win" philosophy.

30 minutes of 5/10 blinds with 1K starting chips...not as much play as in Jeh's tourney, but close. I probably should have loosened my standards a bit more.

I did love the terrible bets relative to the pot, though. I mean, you would frequently get odds to draw to 6 outers as they bet 25 into a 250 pot on the turn.

On the flipside, I watched the one other good player at the table that approach; it won him nice pot early, and then his stack was slowly and steadily whittled down by calling 50 with "good odds" every other hand but not ever hitting.

Never have I been happier to play medium suited connectors, though.

Marshall said...

I tend to take the middle road when it comes to these donkfest type tourneys. I think that ANY two cards can be a bit much, but I tend to loosen my standards quite a bit preflop. I play Q10s like its the nuts, and I will play a lot more suited/connecting type hands.

The one main caveat to playing this way is to make sure you don't try to bluff or bet people out of pots. Sometimes it just becomes like clockwork to see a flop in position, take a stab on the flop, get called, then get stubborn and think that the person will fold to another shell on the turn. They won't. For most total n00bs, if they are calling the flop, they will call you all the way down regardless. If you get called on the flop, you had better have SOME type of a hand if you are going to continue betting.

Great read Jeh, good stuff. You should be a writer...