High ITM low earnings vs Low ITM high earnings

    • Valsomething
      Valsomething
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.08.2010 Posts: 20
      Hi Fellow Poker Players;

      I have a question that I hope many of you will comment on and give me your thoughts.

      Quick intro - I have been playing NLHE part time since 2008 and consider myself a reasonable player maintaining ITM around 18%-21% and modest earnings. I am ITM more often than most players but rarely get deep into the tournament (only made the final table once in the thousands of large player tournaments I have played although I have won several small player tournaments).

      One of the reason is that, I believe, the consequence of playing tight aggressive often gets you short stacked by being blinded down when your cards are not running so when you do get a decent hand and play (either initiating the bet or being bullied into playing) you run into players with bigger stacks who can take more gamble with lower odd cards and then out draw you.

      More specifically, I FREQUENTLY come up against players who play stupidly and luck it - some that defies explaination. Most recently I was ITM at the low money levels. With a AK I raise pre flop and the "villian" reraises and I call. Flop is AK2. I bet, the villian reraises I reraise and the villian goes all in which I call after some considerable thought - the villian displays Q3 clubs (there was only 1 club on the flop) hits a runner runner club and I am out. On another I have AA, the villian raises preflop before me, I reraise, the villian reraises and I reraise and the villian goes all in which I call. The villian displays 35o and hits a 5 on the flop and turn to boot me off. I admit, these are extreme examples of stupidity but there are TOO many hands like this where I was out drawn by lower probability hands played by loose aggressive players to list here and booted off a tournament at the lower money levels to prevent me going deeper into the tourney.

      My question is not what to do with these players (although if anyone has any suggestions I would like to hear it).

      The question is, when I check the ITM of these players on the poker rankings website they often have low ITMs - around 8%-10% (some lower) but their earnings are significantly greater than mine as they have reached the final table more often or gone much deeper into the tourney more regularly.

      I realise the ITM isn't a bible but the stats and their played hands indicates they are loose aggressive players who plays with an all or nothing approach - they lose a lot but when they win they win big.

      Whilst winning money isn't the only objective for me for playing poker, it is still an objective.

      In summary, my question to you all who play different styles, is it better to play loose and aggressive with a low ITM but earn more or have an decent ITM but modest earnings as a tournament playing strategy.

      User tag: Valsomething
  • 8 replies
    • VorpalF2F
      VorpalF2F
      Super Moderator
      Super Moderator
      Joined: 02.09.2010 Posts: 8,913
      Hi, Valsomething
      I've moved your question to the tournament strategy section, where it is likely to get a better response from people who have knowledge in that area.

      --VS
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      The maximal +EV strategy is always the one that makes you the most money, period. That being said, their way is not optimal either.

      The key term is SELECTIVE aggression. Rather than going all-or-nothing with really, really stupid hands, you're better off picking your spots. I don't know anything about your play, but if you end up getting blinded down, one of the biggest spots you should look at is blind stealing, especially after antes. Put it this way:

      You have 15 BB. The blinds are at 300/600/50. You're 8-handed. The pot is 1300 chips. If you're in late-position, you can put out a 2-2.5 BB bet, and even if you're called or re-raised fully 40% of the time, you instantly make a profit, even if you check-fold every single postflop hand, which you won't. In a vacuum, you can literally steal with ATC, but since people will adjust to you, you'll want to steal less than that. But steal with a wide-ass range. A really wide-ass range. My advice to you would be "Every time you're in doubt about pushing or stealing, do it." Then see how little they fight back, and your confidence will improve.

      If you have a bigger stack than both blinds, and the blinds have <12 BB stacks, you can be even more disgusting and abuse your advantage hardcore. Down until 4-5 BB or so (When the BB pretty much has to call you with anything half-decent due to pot odds) just shove over them a lot. If they call, they risk their entire stack, and you only risk part of yours. Thanks to risk aversion, they have to have a good hand to call you.

      You may also want to watch Johnathon Little's video on 3-betting in MTT's: Another good way to win a few BB without showing down much of the time.
      http://www.pokerstrategy.com/video/13507/

      Picking good spots to blind steal and 3-bet, even without great cards, is how to maintain your stack in those mid-late phases.
    • VorpalF2F
      VorpalF2F
      Super Moderator
      Super Moderator
      Joined: 02.09.2010 Posts: 8,913
      Originally posted by Salivanth
      ... you're better off picking your spots.
      so what you're saying is that doing well in MTTs is somewhat like curing acne :D
    • Salivanth
      Salivanth
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.01.2011 Posts: 587
      Precisely. Pimples are like leaks. You need to apply force until they explode in an icky gooey mess of...+EV? I don't know. I forgot the metaphor some time back.
    • Valsomething
      Valsomething
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.08.2010 Posts: 20
      Thanks for your comments Salivanth.

      I do steal the blinds - although probably not as often as I should. Being low on stack is not always my problem. I don't aspire to play their way but it is sometimes frustrating when they are making a lot lot more money than I am playing their way.

      Even today, I had a decent chip stack (about 3 x averge) and about 50 players outside the money. I am BB with AA. A player in the middle of the pack makes a decent raise and the player on the button goes all in with a huge stack. I can't fold this hand of course so I call and the initial raiser also calls with AQo. The villian in this case displays K8o and hits trip 8's to boot me off in the bubble. I check his stats and the player has a ITM of 11% but won over $7k in the last 120 days. The villian had a huge stack so I am gonna assume he was bullying the other player not expecting me to call. Had he made that move when all others folded to steal the blinds as your comments suggest, I understand but he did so against a raise. I know this is one of many bad beat stories......but I am not talking about the bad beat itself. I suspect that player with his now even greater stack went deep in the MTT and achieved a decent earning (assuming he didn't lose it all getting caught) whilst little ole me went without.

      As much as I don't aspire to their way of playing I am starting to think maybe I there is some merit in playing loose aggressive as they are obviously being rewarded much more than me and my decent ITM be damned.

      BTW - I saw the video link and found it very informative so thank you.
    • Asaban
      Asaban
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 22.09.2006 Posts: 8,242
      Hi Valsomething and welcome to the forums :)

      The tight aggressive approach is a good and solid way to make some money in the low and midstakes. It works, because players don't give you credit, although they should, since you have been tight all day long.

      Your problem might be that you are way to tight when the bubble comes closer. It is important that you don't get to tight while trying to get ITM. In contrary you should even try to abuse the bubble if you have a bigger stack then your opponents. Open Raise/Open Push a lot and force them to fold their premium hands. All of your opponents want to get into the money as well - you should try to take advantage of this.

      It doesn't help much to get ITM. Money is earned at the final table. If you get ITM in 10% or 20% of your tournaments doesn't make a big difference from a financial perspective. It would be a great achievement if your final table finishes would be the same. Unfortunately players that get ITM more often tend to have smaller winnings due to their passive bubble play and very tight approach.

      The best way to improve your results would be improving your general approach. I would suggest an approach that is a bit more focussed on aggression and in general a bit looser. The JonathanLittle Videos show that approach (at least in most cases). You don't have to play that aggressive - but you can try to follow the direction.

      Hope I was able to help you. Looking forward to read more from you!
      If you have any further questions feel free to ask!

      Regards,
      Asaban
    • Valsomething
      Valsomething
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.08.2010 Posts: 20
      Thanks Asaban..........sound advice and agree on all points. Will endeavour to loosen up a bit but not to the point of being silly like the villians in question :)

      Just a footnote though, after watching the video and deciding to put it to the test, I tried it on 7 occassions during the course of the day - it resulted in 1 fold, 6 calls of which I won 1 and lost 5 (4 to lower ranked hands than me pre flop) of which 2 cost me the MTT.

      This doesn't in any way negate Johanthan's suggestions as I admit I was testing this on very low buy in MTT's ($0.50 MTT SNG and $1,10 MTT) where a lot of the players do not think in the terms described by Johnanthan and many have the "it's only a buck" mentality and gamble. It is also fair to say 3 of those moves were quite early in the MTT where there were little chip differential.

      So my conclusion is not to try this too often on low level buy ins as the concept may be a little beyond a lot of the players who simply call with pretty much anything they consider decent - although the A7 vs J7 and villian hit the J rankles a bit :)
    • Asaban
      Asaban
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 22.09.2006 Posts: 8,242
      Your conclusion is right - you should be careful with such moves in micro and low BI tournaments. Tight aggressive play focussed on value realisation should be absolutely sufficient here. Jonathan Little's videos are produced for advanced players playing the midstakes or higher. For low BI's there are other videos (normally available for Basic or Bronze status).

      If you are playing low BI's I would suggest the strategy articles as well as our videos focussed on a more basic content. Furthermore I would suggest our weekly mtt coaching (on mondays 7 to 10pm CET) and our hand evaluation forums.

      If you use all of our free offers you should be able to improve your game and get to the higher buyins with a solid play.

      Regards,
      Asaban