The Tsunami

Strategize. Optimize. Pulverize.


WPT Raw Deal Casting: Vote for Me!

It takes more than temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit to stop me (though I guess keeping my place air conditioned at 82 degrees Fahrenheit softens the blow a bit)! I haven’t had time to play poker since the +$813.66 session I had last Wednesday. However, UB has been keeping me busy, I’ve been making final arrangements for the unveiling of the new, and I got some programming work in on some casino table game analysis that has been dragging on for way too long. Additionally, I found some time to make a video submission for a contest.

WPT is holding auditions for a new segment that they’re calling The Raw Deal. They’re having regular casting calls, but they’re also having a contest on Facebook. Contestants post videos up to 45 seconds long about the hand that knocked Phil Hellmuth out of the most recent Bay 101 Shooting Stars event. The videos with the most votes move on to the next round of auditions. If you’re sick of the bullshit that currently passes as poker analysis on televised poker, and you’d like to see some real poker analysis represented, then vote for my submission (and remember to revisit daily…I think you can vote once per day for the same video).

The 45 seconds that I was confined to weren’t nearly enough to discuss this hand (and the aftermath) in full KillerEV style. If you’d like to hear my full analysis, I spent about 30 minutes talking about this hand on today’s edition of Killer Poker Analysis (my weekly podcast on Rounder’s Radio; past shows are available to download here).

In short, though, this hand (like any other tournament hand) is about the following:

- Payout structure

- Stack depths

- Bet sizing

- Hand ranges

At the final table of a typical multitable tournament (MTT), proper strategy is going to be tighter than proper strategy in a 9-player sit and go (SNG) with a 50%/30%/20% payout structure. The ratio of 1st place money to 2nd place money and the ratio of 2nd place money to 3rd place money is usually something along the lines of the ratios found in 50%/30%/20% SNGs. Meanwhile, the other places at an MTT final table pay whereas the other places in a 50%/30%/20% SNG do not pay. Once you’re at the final table of an MTT, the payout structure is effectively flatter than the payout structure of a 50%/30%/20% SNG! Therefore, proper strategy at the final table of an MTT is going to be tighter than proper strategy in a 50%/30%/20% SNG.

The above, combined with Phil’s reputation for overvaluing his tournament life (evidenced after Andy Seth’s shove, when he says something along the lines of being worried about KK), means that Andy is probably incorrect in 4-bet shoving his AJs to around 37.5bb in response to Phil’s limp reraise to 14bb. Andy’s shove is very likely to be -cEV. But even if Andy’s shove is slightly +cEV, as chip leader, it’s not Andy’s job to take advantage of marginal +cEV spots for large chunks of chips. Each additional chip for Andy isn’t worth as much money as each additional chip is worth for his opponents.

Andy’s shove isn’t the only mistake. Even though Phil got in for 37.5bb as a 70% favorite, Phil’s open limp suggests that he’s making a mistake that I constantly caution the players I coach against: don’t play hands in a vacuum (i.e. always ask yourself what other hands you’re executing a particular action with). In some cases, it may actually be proper to execute an action with a very small range of hands. However, in this case, Phil is most likely better off in the long run by open raising to T60K with something like 15% of hands…with the intention of 4-bet jamming the top two-thirds of his open-raising range. A player who’s likely to 4-bet light is going to be 3-betting an even wider percentage of the time. And in the end, raise -> 4-bet gives opponents the opportunity to make a mistake by playing too loosely or too tightly (whereas limp -> reraise generally only gives opponents the opportunity to make a mistake by playing too loosely).

If Phil thinks that his opponent was hyper-exploitable by the limp-reraise line, then perhaps he was correct. However, given Andy’s online tournament track record, I’m assuming that Andy’s endgame is more technically sound than the endgame of most players (despite his apparent mistake in this hand and despite the fact that he hasn’t had a profitable year in online tournaments since 2008).

With all the hand analysis out of the way, the final lesson from this hand is a psychological one. Phil was absolutely devastated when he lost this hand and was knocked out of the tournament. A poker player who attaches emotional significance to the outcome of every hand and tournament is an unhappy poker player. And an unhappy poker player is ultimately a poker player who is unable to perform to his potential. I would love to see Phil get knocked out of a tournament, smile, shake everybody’s hand, and then proceed with his day as if nothing happened. Though Phil wrote the foreword to Killer Poker Shorthanded, I’ve never spoken to him in my life (my coauthor, John Vorhaus, managed the hookup). However, if I was buddies with Phil, I’d expect a phone call from him following a tournament exit…asking if I’d like to throw down at the Pinball Hall of Fame.

On that note, it’s Friday night, and I’m planning on putting in a very full day of online poker tomorrow to make up for my recent lack of volume. It’s time for a relaxing night of video games (I think Evelyn and I are going to play some Tetris). Until next time, I’m Audi 5000!

May Your EV Always Be Positive!

The Tsunami


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

KillerEV Updates

Leave your email address here if you wish to receive updates when new content is added to

Tony's Books

Tony's Blog

Show By:

  • Category

  • Date