Sunday, September 16, 2007

Back to School tourney structure

Not sure what happened last night. I heard/felt the mood that people felt like they were being blinded out. With 25/50 starting blinds and 10K(!) starting stacks that was a 200xBB ratio which is on the higher side of the spectrum and is incidentally the same as the classic Main Event opening round. The tourney ended right around midnight as planned which is about 4.5 hours or as long as you want a standard recreational tourney to go. I think that part of the issue was that everyone played very tight in the opening rounds, at least at our table. With only three people out after the first six rounds (two hours) the average stack was roughly 12,700 and blinds were 500/1000 so the average player had about eight orbits of blinds. Even with 11 players still in, the feel was definitely like being near the bubble. I was fully expecting that we would have already collapsed down to one table before the break and thought we might have thinned out twice as many players as we did by the break. Not a lot you can do about players being tight (except steal blinds all day like Joe did). Antes would help that situation but I'm reluctant to implement that in a casual tourney because most players are not used to them and making sure everyone posts is a hassle that slows down the game. I'm disappointed in the play of the tourney because it should have allowed for a lot more flops and plenty of post flop action but it turned out to be a whole lot of raising pre-flop taking down the blinds.


Bob Loblaw said...

I’ve been in plenty of tourneys where I felt the blind structure was too overbearing. Mostly those are tourneys at casinos where their main reason for being is to get you to get your $10 paid to the house and then to get you out of the tourney as quickly as possible so you can get into the other rake-heavy house games.

This was not the case at the Back to School tourney. I have a unique position for talking about this matter: I was the bubble boy. I came back into the game after the break with between $5K-$6K, I think, which was 40% less than our original buy-in. But I never once felt I was being forced to act based on the ever-higher blinds ($500/$1000 after the break, right?).

I used my short stack to my advantage on the first two hands, taking down the hands pre-flop, and quickly getting my stack back up over the original buy-in. From that point on I never felt like I was forced to make a move, except for the last two hands I was in:

the first: I had just been crippled by my AK losing to Marsh's pocket 10s. Next hand, two players ahead of me are all-in before I have a chance to act. I'm in the big blind (40% of my stack), but being on the bubble, I elect to fold my 9-5o, even though in any other instance in a tourney the odds tell you to get your money in there. Of course, the shorter of the two stacks (Andrew) ends up winning the hand instead of being felted, and if I had stayed in the hand I would have won it. But I stick to my decision to not get my money in there, hoping that Marshall takes Andy out and I magically end up in the money.

The next hand, I'm small blind and can barely cover the big blind. I throw my hands in the air and lose with K2o to Joe's 57o boated-up monster. Ah, the bubble. Gotta love it.

My M.O. for tourney play always seems to be the same. I win a hand, I lose two hands, win a hand, lose two hands, up until the break in the tourney where I end up coloring up to a stack just over a sum equal to the small/big blinds of the next round. Then I go all in on the first or second hand of the 2nd round and lose. Not so last night. It was pretty close to that, but because I actually had decent position and cards coming into the 2nd round, I was able to gain a little quickly and be comfortable up until I went out on the bubble.

Thanks Mr. Cowboy for running the tourney, and thanks to T&I for the great hosting job. It was a ton of fun and can’t wait for the next one.

Marshall said...

I thought the structure felt more overbearing than it was I guess. It was right on the edge. We had a lot of play, but people were of course being tight, and since we don't get too many hands per hour, it seemed worse than it was.

You mentioned that after 2 hours, the average stack had just over 11 BB, is this what you wanted? We started with 200 BB right? I don't know what the normal curve is for this stuff.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Not 11 BB, 11 orbits worth of blinds, which if you subscribe to the Harrington "zone" system means you have to start getting more aggressive with your hands. I thought we'd be down to about half the players by the break and that there'd be more headroom in players' stacks to see more flops. Or at least have combined to a table of 10 by the break. If it weren't for a break happening I would have preferred to keep the tables separate to get more hands per hour in and force more play but it was too good of an opportunity to get the cash game started while everyone was standing to pass up so I combined.

Two things that occurred to me. One was that mixing groups might have had something to do with it. Since half of us had only played among ourselves, we didn't have a feel for the other players and maybe that slowed things down. Also, people may have sub-consciously been protecting their plaque. I wonder how different the play would have been with 6 more T500s and two more T1000s in everyone's stacks instead of the single plaque which may have made people feel short stacked. I gave extra T25s and T100s to try to compensate.

The tourney did end up on schedule at the estimated blind level but the chart of eliminations was weighted way later in the tourney than I expected/wanted. The amount of "gamble" was far lower than playing with the Jeh's crew. Maybe having a few of them mixed in would have loosened the game up some.

Marshall said...

Oh I meant 12 BB, but isn't that correct? 500/1000 with average stack at 12,xxx?

Sushi Cowboy said...

No, an orbit is the total of BB plus SB and antes (if there are any). Harrington uses that metric to give you an idea of just how much trouble your stack is in and assigns colored zones like red zone, yellow zone, etc. If you get down to like 5 orbits or less then he says you just have to push with ATC if you are first to the pot and either take down blinds while you have some semblance of fold equity or if someone wakes up with a hand, get luck and hope to double up to a workable amount of chips.

Marshall said...

So if I have 12,000 chips and the BB is 1,000, I don't have 12 BB? Are you confused?

12 BB is getting pretty close to shove territory. 8-9 is shove territory, 12 I could conceivably raise to 3x then muck to an re-shove. With 9 though, I am shipping.

So my question has nothing to do with Harrington, I read that. My question is:

We started with 200 BB, after 2 hours the average stack has ~12 BB. Is this the expected result? Like I said earlier, I don't know what the curve is supposed to look like.

Sushi Cowboy said...

OK. I misread your comment. I had said that average stack had eight orbits. When your first post said that I wrote that we had just over 11 BB I thought that you had just substituted the term BB for orbits. Yes, you are correct that the average stack had 11+ BBs. My bad.

If you had asked me before the tourney started if we would have been down to a single table before the break or not, I would have guessed that yes we would have been down to 9 or 10 by the break. I double checked the structure (yes, like I double checked the starting stacks, ha ha) and it is not out of line. In fact a lot of T10K tourneys start with 100/200 blinds. They are flatter overall of course so the lack of action in the first six rounds was even more vexing. Just seemed that there was a bunch of small pots and no big swings so many just hung around and tried to coast (to the money?).

Next time I can see an extended first round of low blinds like at Dave's party or allowing a single rebuy/add-on to generate a little more action.

Marshall said...

Sounds good to me dude. I felt the whole time like I was on the edge of the edge, but never had to ship when I really didn't want to. And I was playing pretty snug. I think the structure wasn't bad at all and doesn't need much tweaking.

The whole point to having big stacks is that you can play tight and not have to make moves early. It rewards the players who understand this and are patient. If you make a rule tweak to make more action, it might sort of take that element away.

Nice job with the TD responsibilities btw, and thanks as always.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Valid point about deep stacks allowing for tight play. It is much better that players be allowed to choose their hands than to have to gamble with junk (like a suited connector!).

Thanks for the kudos on TD'ing. STILL don't know how I managed to short everyone's stacks to 9K. But at least I was consistent which is better than only some of the stacks being short. Good to hear feedback to throw into the tank for next time.