Don Key, Mr. Shortstack and The Prisoner's Dilemma
I've been playing a lot of online tourneys lately; mostly single table sit 'n' gos, but some MTTs as well. As I gain experience in this form, there are plays I see over and over again that just don't make any sense to me at all. Maybe I'm missing something, but I really see no value in making any of these plays at anytime ever. Now, I know the cardinal rule in poker is "never say never" since most of your decisions will be based on the specifics of a given situation, but still here are 3 things I will never do in a poker tournament:
  1. Limp-fold My Small Blind to a Short-Stacked Big Blind
    I see this way too often. It's folded around to the Small Blind and he choses to simply complete the bet instead of raising, even though the Big Blind is short-stacked and will likely push. Then, when the short-stacked Big Blind predictably shoves all his chips in the middle, the Small Blind folds. The only excuse for this is brain damage.

  2. Double Up the Short Stack Just Because I Can
    Our friend Don Key has somehow managed to build himself up a nice little stack. He finds himself on the Big Blind when a short-stacked player pushes for ~3.5xBB from early position. Old Don thinks to himslef "Oh boy, oh boy, a chance to knock out a player... I guess any 2 will do!" and he gives away his chips by calling with two cards that even Gus Hansen would be ashamed to turn over. Way to go Don! Now Mr. Shortstack is gonna win the whole damn tournament and knock me out in 2nd place because of those chips you donated, asshole!! (Ahem... not that I'm bitter, or anything).

  3. Ignore the Principles Behind 'Game Theory' When a Player is All-In
    The Prisoner's Dilemma should be required reading for anyone who wants to play a poker tournament. If a player is all-in and there is a potential side-pot for God's sake do what's best for you AND the group; check it down unless you are certain that your hand alone can knock out the all-in player (and no, top pair is NOT good enough to bet).
If anyone has seen me break one of these rules in the past, all I can say is, "I was so much younger then and I'm a much better tournament player now". If anyone sees me break one of these rules in the future, all I can say is, "I'm not as good a tournament player as I was back in my younger days".
Anonymous xgamma said...

For #2...How big was Don Key's stack versus the pusher's stack? He might have been simply following HoH Volume II's 10-1 rule?

11:32 AM  
Blogger Bill Sparks said...

Harrignton's 10 to 1 rule is designed for situations where the player who is pushing, is doing so out of desperation in the late stages of a tournament (usually short-handed) and you find yourself in the BB with more than 10x the size of the raise in your stack.

Although I think, even in the scenario Harrington describes, your hand should have a SAGE Power Index of at least 20 to call, the situation I am speaking of is at a full table in the mid-stages of a tournament when the player is pushing from way out of position and must have at least a reasonable Ace or a pair.

2:33 PM  

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