Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just a Little Shovin', Early in the Tourney.....

It's been a very nice trip so far. Yesterday I cashed out in the 1PM Aria tournament and in the process, met a very nice British woman who I made a great read on.  I will be blogging the details in the near future.  The night before I made a great recovery in a cash game when three hands returned me from the dead.  Again, details to follow.

All I have time for right now is something I forgot to mention when I was talking about the Friday night Orleans tournament last week.  The story of that tournament is here but now I want to get to what I forgot to mention in that post.

The tournament had just started, starting stacks were $12,500, blinds were 50-100.  In early position, seat 9 opens with a $300 or $400 bet.  Fairly standard.  Seat 1, immediately to my right, says "all in."


This was the 3rd or 4th hand of the tournament.  Everyone still had pretty much their starting stack.  People were still finding their seats (remember, there ending up being 307 runners in this event, a record for them).  And the guy shoves???

I'm sitting thinking what hand he could possibly have where that move makes sense.  I had crap anyway, but everyone else of course folded and the original raiser hesitates just a bit, laughs a little, and then shows pocket 10's as he mucks them.

Shover takes down a whopping $450 or $550 pot.  He doesn't show.

Again, I'm thinking, what hand justifies this?

If he's got Ace's or King's, he's sure as hell not getting value for his pre-flop monster.  Who the hell is gonna call him?  He gets a very small pot, when, presumably, if he 3 bet he might get a call and been able to win more chips.

If he has a lesser hand, Queens, Jacks, AK, sure he gets that dinky pot in most cases, but he does risk running into a bigger hand--there were still players to act after him, and for all he knows the pre-flop raiser has Aces or Kings himself. 

Suppose he has a garbage hand and he is just making a move to steal it?  Wow, talk about high risk, low reward!  He's unlikely to get called, true....but if he does, it has to be by someone with a better hand.

I just couldn't believe a move like that, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I wondered if this guy was going to keep doing that, and then I'd really have to adjust my play.

But no, that was the only time he pulled that crazy move.  I wouldn't say he was a great player, but he was at least a reasonable one the rest of the time he was there, until he busted out.  He made a weak call to bust out (don't remember the details) but he never did anything near that crazy again.

Now later, when he was out of hand, I heard him to explain to someone, not sure if it was the guy he shoved against or someone else, that he had AK.  And he does that early to either "double up or go home early."  Hmm.....if that's his goal, why not just take his $125 buy-in and make one bet at the Craps table or the Roulette Wheel?  Why thrust such insanity on a poker game?

And of course, how is he gonna double up if there's almost no chance he'll get a call, unless it's by someone who a hand that's better than AK.

Of course, he only said he had AK, he didn't show it.  So it could have been bullshit.

But wow, that was a weird move.  If anyone has a good explanation for it.....or a justification for it, let me know.

Because I just don't get it.


  1. Sounds like someone who does not know how to play AK well and just wants the hand to be over.

    1. If he's THAT bad a player, he should just fold it. Better yet, pick a game other than poker.

  2. Without getting into the idea of how to play AK early in a tournament, I think I can address the more general concept of doubling up or going home early.

    Let's say this guy does this on the opening hand of the tournament gets a call and loses. He's invested $125 in cash and received $0 in return.

    Now let's compare him to the player that bubbles. In your post about the tournament you said you went out after midnight around 70th and the bubble was at 35. Let's say it takes until 3:00 am to pop the bubble. The player who is the true bubble (i.e. the last person to receive $0) has invested the same $125 as Mr. AK and received the same $0 return. However, the bubble boy has invested something Mr. AK has not, and that is 8 hours of time. From a strictly monetary standpoint, you can certainly argue that AK is better off than bubble boy.

    I've heard interviews with a lot of very good tournament players (Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier leap to mind) that talk about how a key part of their strategy is to accumulate chips early. I've heard both of them say that they will pretty much either bust in the first level or they will make a final table.

    I don't think shoving 125 bigs with AK over a 4bb open is a good application of that strategy, but there are some very good players out there who will tune up the aggression early so they can accumulate a stack which can then be used to continue to accumulate/absorb bad beats/ride out periods of card death.

    1. Good thoughts, as always. I have to say tho, that one time a dealer buddy of mine (yes, he works a BSC) told me something like the opposite of this. He said that good players don't even like to get involved in pots very early in the tournament when the blinds are low. And he mentioned a famous pro--sorry I can't remember which one--who is famous for always showing up to his seat at the WSOP several levels late, making a grand entrance. Does this identify him to you or someone else? I know I do what is technically a poker blog, but I don't follow the pros that closely.

      Anyway, I see both arguments having validity. It sure is nice to get a big pot early, yes. But how much are you willing to risk? And as you said, I think this guy wasn't playing smart even if the overall idea is a great one.

      Now for me...when I first started playing tournaments, I never thought I had a chance to cash, so I was playing to learn and practice. As such, I was looking to gain value for my entry fee, not in terms of a cash prize but in terms of time spent. If I spent 5 hours in a tournament and didn't cash, but had some fun and had a good learning experience, that may have been better for me than investing a similar amount in a cash game.

      But now that I've had a few cash outs in tournaments, I'm looking at it differently. I would have been pissed if I'd busted out of that Orleans tourn 5 minutes in, but if I had the right hand (not AK, before seeing the flop), I would have shoved if I thought it was the right move....witness my post about busting out early with a set of 9's.

      Still...in this case, I was happier playing 5+ hours and having the fun I had and not cashing than I would have been to bust out a few hands in.

  3. Replies
    1. Hmm, interesting thought, but it sure didn't look like the pics of Tony I've seen. And tho this guy WAS eating at the table (he brought a cooler filled with water and snacks), he wasn't eating any mashed potatoes.

  4. I just read the comments - does Vanessa Selbst bother anyone else?...

    1. Hey Coach - I get from her the same kind of vibe that I get off of a lot of younger people who have had some success early in life without necessarily having a lot of bumps along the way. A certain sense of superiority is probably the best way to describe it. Certainly not something that is confined to Vanessa. Regardless of that, the girl knows how to play some poker.

    2. Can't comment, Coach, I don't know her at all. See comment above about not following the pros that closely.

      Hmmm....by "pros" I mean professional poker players. I recently got in trouble for following another kind of "pro" MUCH too closely.

  5. There were hookers nearby. He was attempting to bust out so he could follow them before they got too far ahead. You know, for his friend.

    1. Baby - I've got more buy-ins where this came from - tell me what room number and I'll be there dressed in a rubber ducky suit

    2. Josie, that was an awesome comment, I burst out laughing when I saw the email with it, right at the poker table. Awesome, just awesome. So you don't buy my hooker stories, huh?

      grrouchie, TMI, TMI.

  6. terrible play. You summed it up well. I have nothing to offer other than this article about great tits -> http://richarddawkins.net/articles/645726-great-tits-join-mobs-with-neighbours-they-know

    1. Those were some great tits, Vook, thanks for the link, but they would be tough to motor-boat.

  7. Thanks to all who commented, I will have some more to say to some of the specific comments later. Right now I am in a rush to meet one of my loyal blog readers who I didn't even know existed until a day or two ago. Going to play in a tournament with him in some god-foresaken locals place in the middle of nowhere (not really). Back later.