Archive for September, 2009

The pitfalls of equity

Posted: September 19, 2009 in poker

Ok been having some good convo’s lately and this is one that came up and got some what in-depth tonight during the $500 x 3 WCOOP. I feel like one of the most over used/least understood term in poker is equity. Understanding equity is a very powerful tool in any game of risk/reward; however, applying that knowledge in a misguided fashion can be detrimental. That being said, most breakeven+ players have come to comprehend ranges and equity, but I think far too many of them allow it to be the end all be all in decision-making. When you fall upon equity to be your “crutch” in making crucial tournament decisions you will constantly find yourself ignoring the strong portion of your opponents hand range and thus in turn neglecting the value of your tournament life.

A common trend that has become quite en vogue in MTT play is betting your hand in a manor in which you have proper pot odds (equity) to call a shove. Boggles my mind in a time when information is so available to people eager to learn that so many players don’t comprehend reverse implied odds and why it’s a terrible mistake. Creating a situation where it’s mathematically correct to call off your remaining chips based on your hand’s ev is not skillful play, it’s downright bad. It’s quite the see thru play in which you are never getting value when you have the best hand already, but are always taking the worst of it when the money ultimately goes in…it’s flat out misguided gambling.

A much more concealed flaw is combining the over estimation of fold equity with the equity of a hand. Much like in assessing one’s ability, people tend to be quite generous in estimating fold equity. Combine that with having a hand with outs and stacks will be punted…I included two HH’s from tonight’s $500 cubed the first being a friend whose game I very much respect, basically destroying a 75bb+ stack w/less than 100 people. The second being my bust hand. Both hands have debatable mistakes w/preflop calls, whatever, that debate would be brief and neutral.

HAND #1:
PokerStars Game #33013962965: Tournament #200909038, $500+$30 USD Hold’em No Limit – Level XXIV (3000/6000) – 2009/09/18 23:42:54 ET
Table ‘200909038 29′ 9-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: JasonGray (117757 in chips)
Seat 2: roo_400 (63444 in chips)
Seat 3: natefive (272488 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero (442810 in chips)
Seat 5: fabstinho (137346 in chips)
Seat 6: Lenny (370360 in chips)
Seat 7: SixthSenSe19 (246926 in chips)
Seat 8: matt1269 (298600 in chips)
Seat 9: g0lfa (320162 in chips)
JasonGray: posts the ante 750
roo_400: posts the ante 750
natefive: posts the ante 750
Hero: posts the ante 750
fabstinho: posts the ante 750
Lenny: posts the ante 750
SixthSenSe19: posts the ante 750
matt1269: posts the ante 750
g0lfa: posts the ante 750
fabstinho: posts small blind 3000
Lenny: posts big blind 6000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
SixthSenSe19: raises 9999 to 15999
matt1269: folds
g0lfa: folds
JasonGray: folds
roo_400: folds
natefive: folds
Hero: calls 15999
fabstinho: folds
Lenny: folds
*** FLOP *** [5h 4d Kh]
SixthSenSe19: bets 24111
g0lfa said, “flops!”
Hero: calls 24111
*** TURN *** [5h 4d Kh] [Jd]
SixthSenSe19: bets 48999
Hero: raises 55551 to 104550
SixthSenSe19: raises 101516 to 206066 and is all-in
Hero: calls 101516
*** RIVER *** [5h 4d Kh Jd] [Qc]
JasonGray said, “dDD”
JasonGray said, “d”
*** SHOW DOWN ***
SixthSenSe19: shows [Kd Ah] (a pair of Kings)
Hero: shows [5d Ad] (a pair of Fives)
SixthSenSe19 collected 508102 from pot

Hand one makes an aggressive mistake shoving a hand w/some equity w/one to come against what he failed to recognize as a very polarized range. Clearly his turn bet is with a hand he plans on never folding or total dust. Shoving over this bet will result in folding out worse and get snapped by better leaving you drawing to ~23% equity. Even if he had neglected all of the above, taking stack consideration/tournament equity into account would have led him to make a better choice (most likely flatting getting ~2.5-1 on the pot as well as ~4-1 implied). Realizing that flatting 8bbs on the turn and folding the river preserving your remaining 60bbs is in the long run a much bigger edge for a good player than gambling w/a little bit of equity on your side.

HAND #2:
PokerStars Game #33012488657: Tournament #200909038, $500+$30 USD Hold’em No Limit – Level XXI (1500/3000) – 2009/09/18 22:45:53 ET
Table ‘200909038 36’ 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 2: berkey11 (85570 in chips)
Seat 3: tomicars (116794 in chips)
Seat 4: beaniebags07 (80379 in chips)
Seat 5: Morteler (67923 in chips)
Seat 6: matt1269 (168058 in chips)
Seat 7: jeff710 (186204 in chips)
Seat 8: 011PokerDr (82261 in chips)
Seat 9: lassejay (76896 in chips)
berkey11: posts the ante 375
tomicars: posts the ante 375
beaniebags07: posts the ante 375
Morteler: posts the ante 375
matt1269: posts the ante 375
jeff710: posts the ante 375
011PokerDr: posts the ante 375
lassejay: posts the ante 375
lassejay: posts small blind 1500
berkey11: posts big blind 3000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to berkey11 [Ks Qs]
tomicars: folds
beaniebags07: folds
Morteler: folds
matt1269: folds
jeff710: raises 4250 to 7250
011PokerDr: folds
lassejay: folds
berkey11: calls 4250
*** FLOP *** [3h 6h Ts]
berkey11: bets 13250
jeff710: calls 13250
*** TURN *** [3h 6h Ts] [7s]
lassejay said, “?”
berkey11: bets 33333
jeff710: raises 35667 to 69000
berkey11: calls 31362 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (4305) returned to jeff710
*** RIVER *** [3h 6h Ts 7s] [5c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
berkey11: shows [Ks Qs] (high card King)
jeff710: shows [6c 6d] (three of a kind, Sixes)
jeff710 collected 174890 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 174890 | Rake 0
Board [3h 6h Ts 7s 5c]
Seat 2: berkey11 (big blind) showed [Ks Qs] and lost with high card King
Seat 3: tomicars folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 4: beaniebags07 folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 5: Morteler folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 6: matt1269 folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 7: jeff710 showed [6c 6d] and won (174890) with three of a kind, Sixes
Seat 8: 011PokerDr (button) folded before Flop (didn’t bet)
Seat 9: lassejay (small blind) folded before Flop

My bust hand was a disaster in that I should be ch/folding turn 100% of the time. I lead flop because this player proceeds in a very TAG manner. He’s not looking to get tricky in an unclear spot against my awkward stack, so to my lead he will generally only proceed w/a T or better and fold hands that dominate me, AK and AQ. Once flatted I shouldn’t be blinded by the out’s I’ve gained; Instead I should realize I’m dead to a flush draw w/one to come and in turn I possess a much bigger edge by protecting my 20+ bb stack w/a check/fold than I would by gambling my tournament life to get lucky for a 60bb stack.

Spotting and eliminating these mistakes ultimately will be where my edge lies. Given that most of these mistakes are a fundamental flaw in logic, it makes correcting them slightly more difficult than an error in execution. Mental mistakes/lapses have been the doom of performances since the beginning of competitions. Eliminating them, the foundation for excelling…