10-man micros: bubble play. An essay on the benefits of gross cowardice.

    • Glopslart
      Glopslart
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.05.2008 Posts: 331
      I want to share my thoughts on the conflict between a good poker decision and a good money decision.

      I posted a few times in the micro SNG hand evaluation forums under the rubric 'Butchered on the bubble ....etc." and harassed the coaches by putting multiple hands on the same thread. They all had a common theme.

      They start with the same table scenario: 10-man SNG, 3 get paid, and there are 4 left. The blinds are high. There is one megastack at the table, two small stacks and one microstack.

      I am one of the small stacks, and have the choice of raising, or going all-in, or calling all-in against the megastack. I have monster cards.

      On several occasions that I posted about , and on others that I didn't, I put my chips in the middle, and got busted out. The coaches have been saying I did the right thing, and one community member said it's just variance, [i.e. I have to roll with it].

      What counts as 'the right thing'? The correct 'poker decision' is to play the good cards, no question. The right 'money decision', surely, is to let the microstack get eliminated. That means folding your monsters.


      I have started acting on that theory. In two recent such situations, I folded AKs, and 10/10. On the latter occasion I missed a full house on the flop, which was painful. However, I finished ITM on both occasions.

      Bubble play is an important area. My stats show me finishing 4th a large amount of the time, so any positive adjustments to my play here are going to have a healthy influence on my ROI.

      What does the community think?
  • 13 replies
    • Naidonis
      Naidonis
      Bronze
      Joined: 05.01.2013 Posts: 99
      What is the sample size from which you are making these observations?
    • Glopslart
      Glopslart
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.05.2008 Posts: 331
      Originally posted by Naidonis
      What is the sample size from which you are making these observations?
      That is a very acute question! The bubble issue has presented itself in the i-poker 50c + 10c Darwins, which I have been playing the last couple of months. The sample is 188 games. That might not be many by community standards, but is a lot for a man like me who is also running a profession, a [sort-of] family life, plus another serious side-interest apart from poker.

      [I used to play a lot more a few years back, and am trying to re-learn SNG technique.]

      The bubble issue has just kept recurring, even over this limited sample.
    • Naidonis
      Naidonis
      Bronze
      Joined: 05.01.2013 Posts: 99
      Originally posted by Glopslart
      Originally posted by Naidonis
      What is the sample size from which you are making these observations?
      That is a very acute question! The bubble issue has presented itself in the i-poker 50c + 10c Darwins, which I have been playing the last couple of months. The sample is 188 games. That might not be many by community standards, but is a lot for a man like me who is also running a profession, a [sort-of] family life, plus another serious side-interest apart from poker.

      [I used to play a lot more a few years back, and am trying to re-learn SNG technique.]

      The bubble issue has just kept recurring, even over this limited sample.
      If you want to re-learn SNG technique then you should listen to coaches in hand evaluation forums. And practice ICM with ICM trainer that is available for free under Poker Tools.

      I understand that this can sometimes be frustrating when u bust on bubble with monster hand. But sooner or later ICM will start to show it's benefits.
    • Glopslart
      Glopslart
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.05.2008 Posts: 331
      Naidonis, hello again.

      Yes, I have been training with the ICM trainer, but I am not satisfied that ICM is an adequate tool with which to analyse this particular situation.

      Barring miracles, the megastack has 1st place sewn up anyway. The two small stacks are jockeying for 2 and 3, and trying to make sure the microstack gets busted.

      Increasingly, it feels like the wrong money decision to confront the megastack - he can play ATC, and call with ATC.


      Confronting the other smallstack with a monster ? Sure! What can he call with, or bet with? The microstack is my insurance in this situation - the other smallstack will be slow to fight, when he knows the microstack is about to be blinded out.

      By the way, I don't believe I am a total noob. My ITM at this level has been 42%, with a ROI of 9%. If the rake was the regular 10%, not the ruinous 20% at these stakes, my ROI would be 30%. [Shocking, but true: I had a review last night, and analysed the money in detail.]
      And those results came with numerous leaks, which I am working on!
    • cryoburn
      cryoburn
      Silver
      Joined: 17.11.2008 Posts: 322
      Originally posted by Glopslart

      What counts as 'the right thing'? The correct 'poker decision' is to play the good cards, no question. The right 'money decision', surely, is to let the microstack get eliminated. That means folding your monsters.
      I don't really see the difference between "correct poker decision" and "right money decision". You shouldn't just consider what's the best decision on the current hand. The thought process you presented only considers a win/lose money situation: you (may) lose your buy-in if you bust out of the sng, or you (may) get ITM. So if you call an all-in from a bigger stack you may bust out, but if you fold you could be ITM (considering the microstack is going to call the big stack shove).

      But what you have to keep in mind is that that decision can't be made in a vacuum. You have to consider future hands in making a call/fold decision. I mean, in any sng would you fold preflop AA vs ATC knowing it has +85% EQ?

      Originally posted by Glopslart
      I have started acting on that theory. In two recent such situations, I folded AKs, and 10/10. On the latter occasion I missed a full house on the flop, which was painful. However, I finished ITM on both occasions.
      This seems to me just confirmation bias because those results confirm your belief. And I think that may be clouding your judgement.

      Also, you shouldn't focus on finishing ITM, but rather having a higher ROI. ITM% doesn't mean that much if you finish always in the bottom places.


      Nevertheless, there are times when you can/should fold premium hands preflop.
    • Glopslart
      Glopslart
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.05.2008 Posts: 331
      Cryoburn:

      Thanks for taking the trouble to chew over this problem.


      Yes, I truly am considering folding monsters and have indeed started folding monsters. I haven't done this with aces yet. I will certainly post and invite the scorn /comment of the community when I do so.

      The considerations specific to the particular tournament situation, to my mind, "bend the rules".

      I have no fold equity. The megastack WILL fight me with ATC.

      If I win the hand, I am STILL a smallstack, and the megastack is STILL likeliest to finish 1st. If I lose the confrontation, I am busto.

      The 83%+ equity with AA is, I am coming to suspect, an immaterial consideration in this particular tournament situation.

      The argument against my current position is that playing the good hands may benefit my ROI long-term. That is to say, I win the fight with the megastack most of the time, and my extra chips give me an extra chance of overtaking the megastack and finishing 1st.

      This would be a question for the mathematicians among us -

      Does the extra chance of finishing first [or the extra chance of finishing ahead of the other smallstack] compensate sufficiently for running the risk of busting out ?

      As for the issue of "confirmation bias", I don't quite see it that way. Experience has driven me towards a controversial hypothesis. I have started testing that hypothesis, with ITM finishes on the two occasions when tried it "to see what would happen".
    • Naidonis
      Naidonis
      Bronze
      Joined: 05.01.2013 Posts: 99
      Originally posted by Glopslart
      Does the extra chance of finishing first [or the extra chance of finishing ahead of the other smallstack] compensate sufficiently for running the risk of busting out ?
      Yes it does, especially if the megastack is fishy. Models like ICM are mathematically made specially for situation like this one.
    • cryoburn
      cryoburn
      Silver
      Joined: 17.11.2008 Posts: 322
      I must say I somewhat admire your drive to test hypothesis against what could be the position of the majority.

      When you mention fold equity, are you treating pushing with top range and calling with it? Because it seems quite different. I'm guessing you'd shove that range even against bigstack, while you mostly consider folding expecting the microstack to bust?

      The question you asked is pertinent and indeed could only be objectively argued with data, calculations and estimations. Though I always play towards maximum profit instead of making small profit, it's what I've learned from studying and experience as well. But it would definetly be nice to see some one willing to show the math behind all that.

      Therefore although you finished ITM we can't immediatly conclude it was the best decision. Because you could be trading finishing early for making it to the 1st place.

      Feel free to post hands so specific situations can be discussed! :)
    • Glopslart
      Glopslart
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.05.2008 Posts: 331
      Originally posted by Naidonis
      Originally posted by Glopslart
      Does the extra chance of finishing first [or the extra chance of finishing ahead of the other smallstack] compensate sufficiently for running the risk of busting out ?
      Yes it does, especially if the megastack is fishy. Models like ICM are mathematically made specially for situation like this one.
      I would seriously like to see proof! Only the other night I was watching a PS training video, which advised us to be watchful for situations where the "normal rules" don't work. I may have found one!

      And never mind if the megastack is fishy! First, he probably isn't, which explains how he got the chips in the first place, and second, even if he's dumb, he will still use the chips against you.
    • Glopslart
      Glopslart
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.05.2008 Posts: 331
      Originally posted by cryoburn
      I must say I somewhat admire your drive to test hypothesis against what could be the position of the majority.

      When you mention fold equity, are you treating pushing with top range and calling with it? Because it seems quite different. I'm guessing you'd shove that range even against bigstack, while you mostly consider folding expecting the microstack to bust?

      The question you asked is pertinent and indeed could only be objectively argued with data, calculations and estimations. Though I always play towards maximum profit instead of making small profit, it's what I've learned from studying and experience as well. But it would definetly be nice to see some one willing to show the math behind all that.

      Therefore although you finished ITM we can't immediatly conclude it was the best decision. Because you could be trading finishing early for making it to the 1st place.

      Feel free to post hands so specific situations can be discussed! :)

      Fold equity - this is specific to the particular game type, 10-man SNG, to the specific game stage - bubble, and to the specific stack situation - megastack, 2 smallstacks, microstack.
      The mega will never fold, and will always attack.

      "Maximum profit" - yes, yes, yes, but where is that profit found? In the right 'poker decision', or in taking account of the stacks?
    • cryoburn
      cryoburn
      Silver
      Joined: 17.11.2008 Posts: 322
      Originally posted by Glopslart
      And never mind if the megastack is fishy! First, he probably isn't, which explains how he got the chips in the first place.
      Well this statement is entirely untrue.
      There is no direct relation between the size of the stack of a player and skill.

      Originally posted by Glopslart
      The mega will never fold, and will always attack.
      In terms of never folding it depends on the player.
      Regarding "will always attack" is only true for at least a somewhat competent player, which aren't abundant in microstakes.

      In fact most of the playing field in microstakes sngs have absolutely no clue about ICM or even other easier concepts.
    • ghaleon
      ghaleon
      Black
      Joined: 17.10.2007 Posts: 5,877
      Yes ICM is tool for defining value of your stack in different situations. It's pretty good tool though it alone is not enough in some situations. Future situations might have big difference.

      I think I checked some hand where you had AA called and lost. Well that happens, but you will be losing money if you are too scared of these confrontations. Though it's better to be bit too tight than too loose.

      You seem to think that by making these folds you are guaranteed to get into the money? In reality micro stack can double up couple times and quickly you notice that by folding monsters and waiting for bubble to burst you might have ended up smallest stack. In these spots as middle stack ICM is going to be accurate tool. You might not want to make marginally profitable calls, but still make those that show clear profit.

      If in bubble chip leader really calls everything we end up in funny situation as middle stack. That is we have to be extremely tight and cannot shove any wider on him than we could call versus his any2 shove. But this should be very rare situation as such player would be making huge mistakes with his calls.
    • aboesing
      aboesing
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.06.2008 Posts: 900
      In these spots, you have a bigger ICM influence, because you are not playing for chips, but money that chips represents.
      Read articles that show how ICM works in sng articles and I think you will understand better.
      And know how are objectives in bubble. If you are big stack, you will pressure middle stacks to get more chips, because they have a small range to call you as +EV. And you love this and wants bubble last longer.
      If you are mid stack, you need avoid confrontation with big stack, but need push some hands to stay alive and as a mid stack.
      As nano stack, you soon have to push, especially before 3 BB,when you lost your fold equity, and maybe survive after bubble.
      But correct way to play is with ICM rules under your arms, and push or fold as rules says.