The Tsunami

Strategize. Optimize. Pulverize.


$530 Tournament Ticket for Only $400 at PokerStars!

I woke up today to a pleasant surprise: today’s discount item in the PokerStars VIP Store is a $530 tournament ticket for 25,000 FPP (at $.016/FPP, that comes out to only $400). I was disappointed a few days ago when the $285 cash bonus didn’t have an exchange rate of at least $.016/FPP, but PokerStars made up for it today. I can’t wait to see how much they discount the $215 Sunday Million Ticket. Since PokerStars increased this weekend’s guarantee from $1.5M to $2M, I’m assuming that the discounted ticket is going to be a sweet buy.

In other news, I finished another 1.5 hours of footage for PokerPwnage. In total, there’s 2 hours of my footage to be released.

That’s it for the announcements. Here are two hands that I played in a recent tournament. Hopefully these satiate your thirst for poker analysis :)


Seat 1: UTG+1 (15120 in chips)
Seat 2: UTG+2 (7622 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 3: Tsunami (22704 in chips)
Seat 4: CO (30012 in chips)
Seat 6: B (13014 in chips)
Seat 7: SB (40089 in chips)
Seat 8: BB (94836 in chips)
Seat 9: UTG (13151 in chips)
UTG+1: posts the ante 60
UTG+2: posts the ante 60
Tsunami: posts the ante 60
CO: posts the ante 60
B: posts the ante 60
SB: posts the ante 60
BB: posts the ante 60
UTG: posts the ante 60
SB: posts small blind 250
BB: posts big blind 500
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Tsunami [Kc Ad]
UTG: folds
UTG+1: raises 500 to 1000
UTG+2: folds
Tsunami: calls 1000
CO: folds
B: calls 1000
SB: folds
BB: calls 500
*** FLOP *** [Ac 4d Jc]
BB: bets 6000
UTG+2 has returned
UTG+1: raises 8060 to 14060 and is all-in
Hero: raises 7584 to 21644 and is all-in
B: folds
BB: folds
Uncalled bet (7584) returned to Tsunami
*** TURN *** [Ac 4d Jc] [Jd]
*** RIVER *** [Ac 4d Jc Jd] [8s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
UTG+1: shows [Ah Qs] (two pair, Aces and Jacks)
Tsunami: shows [Kc Ad] (two pair, Aces and Jacks – King kicker)
Hero collected 38850 from pot

HAND 2 (About 8 hands later. I’m about 35th in chips with about 300 left. Tournament started with about 1,000 people):

Seat 1: CO-2 (6230 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 2: CO-1 (11432 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 3: Tsunami (46614 in chips)
Seat 4: B (57654 in chips)
Seat 5: SB (35444 in chips)
Seat 6: BB (11654 in chips)
Seat 7: UTG (38479 in chips)
Seat 8: UTG+1 (73315 in chips)
Seat 9: UTG+2 (18276 in chips)
CO-2: posts the ante 70
CO-1: posts the ante 70
Tsunami: posts the ante 70
B: posts the ante 70
SB: posts the ante 70
BB: posts the ante 70
UTG: posts the ante 70
UTG+1: posts the ante 70
UTG+2: posts the ante 70
SB: posts small blind 300
BB: posts big blind 600
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Tsunami [Ac Kd]
UTG: folds
UTG+1: raises 600 to 1200
UTG+2: folds
CO-2: folds
CO-1: folds
Tsunami: raises 2100 to 3300
B: folds
SB: folds
BB: folds
UTG+1: raises 69945 to 73245 and is all-in
Tsunami: calls 43244 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (26701) returned to UTG+1
*** FLOP *** [6c 7h 8s]
*** TURN *** [6c 7h 8s] [4d]
*** RIVER *** [6c 7h 8s 4d] [7d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
UTG+1: shows [Qc Qs] (two pair, Queens and Sevens)
Tsunami: shows [Ac Kd] (a pair of Sevens)

I didn’t win the second confrontation, but oh well. This sequence of hands is great because it’s a perfect example of how I mix my play (i.e. play the same hand two different ways). Many players consider AK to be an auto 3-bet hand; however, even AA is a hand that you need to flat occasionally to balance the times you flat with hands that you’d rather not 3-bet with. Meanwhile, an occasional flat with AK has other benefits:

1.) When you flop top pair, you tend to get tons of value from players with worse kickers…especially when effective stacks are in the 30bb-50bb range.
2.) When the original raiser is in early position, flatting has the potential to get other callers or to induce a squeeze. Even if you have position on the preflop raiser, getting extra chips in the pot from an extra caller or two is not a bad thing when the initial raiser is on a pretty narrow range.

Obviously, the hand won’t always play out as it did in Hand 1. Many times, I’m looking simply to sad face a hyper-aggressive foe. To sad face someone is to call down, showing no aggression whatsoever in the hand. The reference is from Poker Tracker 2, which used a sad face icon to denote a player who’s semi-loose aggressive passive (though it should be noted that my Caltech friends and I apparently confused the reference by referring to the call down line as happy facing instead of sad facing). Hand 1 is really the best case scenario that arises from flatting AK instead of 3-betting. The key concept is simply that it’s actually necessary to flat big hands sometimes…especially if you’re in the business of flatting other hands.

Meanwhile, Hand 2 is a very similar situation. To tell the truth, when stacks are deep and a raise comes from early position, I’m more inclined than usual to flat AK. However, UTG+1 had a VPIP of 75 and a PFR of 44 after 16 hands. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to create an inflated pot in position. The 4-bet overshove wasn’t completely unexpected. Unfortunately, no fold to 3-bet or fold to 4-bet stats were available because of the small number of hands I had on UTG+1. But to tell the truth, I wasn’t too unhappy with his shove. The pot effectively had:

  • 9(T70) = T630 in antes
  • T900 in blinds
  • T3,300 + T46,544 = T49,844 in chips from me and UTG+1

In total, there was T51,374 in the pot, and it was T43,244 to call. To make this call +cEV (profitable with respect to chips), I needed ((43,244)/(51,374+43,244))(100%) = 45.7% equity in the pot to call. Plugging AKo vs. {QQ-TT,AK} into PokerStove, I get that I have 45.263% equity. If {QQ-TT,AK} was, indeed, my opponent’s range here, then my call was slightly -cEV (about -2/3 of a big blind, an edge that I’m usually not very happy with conceding). At the time, I thought the call was +cEV on the order of about 1/2 a big blind…oops! If AQ was in my opponent’s range, then I was a genius and was hugely +cEV. If I was wrong about exploitatively adjusting to exclude AA-KK from UTG+1’s range, then I was hugely -cEV. The bottom line is that this was a marginal confrontation with very high variance.

Some people might think that I’d be crazy to get involved in a marginal confrontation like this being top 10% in chips. I was over double the average stack at the time. However, at this point in the tournament, I was still so far from the final table that survival isn’t a consideration. If I win that pot, I have T94,618, which is about 4.5x the average stack. To put it another way, T94,618 would have been the average stack with about 67 players remaining. Another way of looking at this call is that someone with UTG+1’s preflop stats is likely to be someone who’s going to donate his stack to the entire table. I’d much rather take a chance at getting all his chips in a confrontation like this than to allow my opponents the opportunity, especially since there’s an added exploitative benefit: players tend to make the wrong adjustment after seeing a hand like this; when players see someone with a complete lack or regard for tournament survival, they tend to tighten up. Many players are already too tight to begin with, thinking that they can wait for a better edge. As a result, such a confrontation makes it even easier to take advantage of them. The bottom line is that you need to take calculated risks to perform well in large field MTTs with top-heavy payout structures.

May Your EV Always Be Positive!

Tony Guerrera


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