Following starting hands chart - epic fail

    • deezer79
      Joined: 13.06.2011 Posts: 191
      Just played a 10 player SnG ($5 buy in) and tried using the starting hand chart for the first time and follow it to the letter. Blinded out waiting for a hand the chart deemed worthy. Folded AQ UTG3 with no play before me and folded pocket 10s to a raise while on the button. Blinds took my stack until I was in shove or fold mode. With 11bb I got a raise all in for 8bb and I had AJ suited on the button. Despite the chart I felt that being so short stacked demanded I open up a little. I shoved over the top and my opponent had 9-5o.
      He hit his 9 and I was left with 3bb. Had to open my range even more then and shoved A5 in middle position, BB called and I won that one. Blinds took a chunk more while waiting for a hand. UTG1 raised 5BB and by that time I only had 2.5bb and A-10o, so I put it in. The raiser had K-9 and hit his king. Finished 7th in my worst performance in a while.
      Looking through the chart it doesn't say what you should do when in fold or shove mode with hands below par (relative to the chart, dealer didn't like me enough to give me any hands which it says you need to be aggressive with). Do those who stick to these guides think I did the right thing by coming over the top with AJ suited on the button, with 11BB? Should I of blinded out waiting for a better spot that would not have come this time? I understand that I can't blame the chart for my bad luck, I got it in good 3 times and lost twice (biggest pots being the ones I lost). With 3-5bb I trust shoving with A-10 or worse isn't awful play?
      Can this guide to playing SnGs honestly work if you aren't dealt AA, KK, QQ or AK? That doesn't even address weak plays that the chart states you should make. Another good starting hand was early in the game when I had pocket 4s UTG2 and the chart says you should limp. I did so, got another limper and as any good player on the button should do, they raised to 4bb. Folded round to me, I quickly checked the chart to find an appropriate move and as the obvious situation wasn't addressed, I folded. I'm of the opinion that if a hand is good enough to play it's good enough to come in with a raise. If re-raised with pocket 4s, I have an easy decision but to announce my weakness to the table by limping in early position is just asked to be bullied.
      Can you guys give me any good reasons to follow this chart cos I feel (running bad aside) I played awfully and just wasted $5. Just checked the chart again and missed that it said you can re-raise steal with pocket 10s in late position with a shove. The chart says earlier that you need to fold to that raise while on the button. WTF??
  • 3 replies
    • kidzoltan
      Joined: 05.08.2010 Posts: 815
      You played one SnG and you are complaining? And why are you playing 5$ Sng if you are not experienced enough. The starting hand chart is good but you have to know the push/fold strategy also. I advice you to watch some sng coaching videos they will certainly help you a lot.
    • deezer79
      Joined: 13.06.2011 Posts: 191
      I have been playing micro stakes for close to two years and have been in hundreds of SnGs. I'm not complaining because I lost (that happens plenty), I'm addressing serious concerns I have over the chart - this being the first time I used it. I adjusted the way I played to accommodate the laws of the chart and I felt I played awfully. Usually, win or lose, I am happy with the way I play in SnGs.
      $5 games are well within good BRM for me.
    • pzhon
      Joined: 17.06.2010 Posts: 1,151
      The starting hands chart for SNGs is not supposed to be optimal. It is a survival strategy for those who are new to poker but who have studied the push/fold strategies in the end game. It encourages players to be patient and to consider position, stack sizes, and the strength shown by other players' raises.

      I think the MSS cash game chart is better in early levels for those with more experience, but it is still not optimal.

      There were probably a few hands you folded that you could have played. However, some of the plays are a lot more marginal than you might expect. It is surprisingly hard to show a profit with AQo in early position, particularly when the stacks are deep. AJs is often a marginal fold on the button after a normal player pushes in middle position. Obviously you can adjust this if you have a read on the raiser. In most microstakes games, it is profitable to open-limp with low pocket pairs in early position in early levels because players are too passive to raise behind you, and they pay off too much in limped pots. If there is a substantial raise behind you, you often have to fold, as I think is discussed in one of the articles though not the hand chart, although sometimes you can call for set value if the stacks are deep enough. Raising with low pocket pairs means you invest a lot more, and you often end up with a bluff-catcher and an information disadvantage. With 100 bb stacks, the times you hit sets after raising can make up for the disadvantages most of the time, but when the stacks are 25-40 bb hands which often make one high pair or a big draw are much more effective than low pairs. It's not clearly profitable to push A5o with a short stack. It depends on the position. A5o is only a slight favorite over a random hand because even hands like T6s are almost even against A5o, and A5o is crushed by hands like AT or 66, and when you push in front of many players there is a good chance at least one will have a top 20% hand. So, sometimes you really are supposed to hit the blinds instead of pushing a slightly above-average hand.

      Incidentally, instead of saying "UTG" you should say "UTG 9-handed" or how many spots the player was off the button, or in front of how many players the player acted. If a player raises in front of 8 others who could each have a premium hand, this represents a lot of strength, and you might have an easy fold with ATo, even with a fairly short stack. Raising in the CO on the bubble shows much less strength.

      There is no $ difference between busting out 9th or 4th. In fact, being the first one out is usually better for a winning player because it means there is more time to start the next tournament. So, if your goal is to win $, don't view it as progress to make it deeper into the tournament if you still don't cash.

      Even if you play badly, you still average getting back a large portion of the entry fee. It takes really bad play to sustain an ROI under -35%. While the starting hand chart is not optimal, it's not close to that bad. It lets many new players beat the table average (-9% ROI) or even break even. I studied how various players did in each phase of the tournament, and ultra-tight players only lost a few % of a buy-in in early levels compared with good players who were looser. If your ROI is 5%, you can't ignore something that will increase or decrease your ROI by 3%, but don't say playing too tightly wasted your entire buy-in.