Thursday, October 4, 2012

"A-ha!" and "Hmmmm..." Moments

I took a long soak in the hot tub last night and read some of Snyder's second tournament book. While I'm still struggling with his concept of Chip Utility*, he did write something that made me literally sit up in the tub and mark the page:

"If you do not sit at a tournament table and feel [what emotions they're experiencing] as you assess your opponents, I'll give you some advice: Hang it up."

Snyder's point comes at the end of a section he wrote on so-called "Emotional Intelligence," which put simply is just the ability to gauge your opponents' emotional states based on, among other things, their chip stack size. Snyder writes:

"Some of the short-stacked overly tight players... don't even know yet that their [chip stack is so small] that they lack true utility. Their "M" seems fine to them, so they're just waiting for a hand. Their basic strategy came out of a [Harrington] book. An aggressive player with the same size chip stack, by contrast, will be impatiently anticipating an opportunity to do something about his sorry chip status that is restricting his play. As the tight player's "M" slides into his yellow zone, then his orange zone, you can feel his nervousness as he must start looking for more marginal hands to play. You can feel the haughty confidence exuded by the big stacks and the hopelessness of the desperately short."

The first step of my REDi system is Reading, and Snyder's point in this chapter is that one of the key factors that should influence your MTT reads is not your opponents' position or VPIP or PFR, but their chip stack size and what their corresponding state of mind is as a result of it.

R-is-for-Reading is ultimately about putting your opponent on a hand range, and in a tournament that range is going to significantly vary as a function of how desperate your opponent feels he or she is. Note that I did not say how desperate they actually are, but rather how desperate they feel they are. This is a subtle, but very important distinction.

For some of you multi-tabler's and SnG'ers, this might be old hat. But for this bug, it's definitely an "a-ha" moment on the long and winding path up the tournament poker learning curve. Cool beans.

All-in for now...
*Notably what has me a bit confused in this chapter is Snyder's contention that a tournament chip you win is worth more than one that you lose. At first blush, this seems to be the opposite of what almost all other poker experts contend in their books and videos. Hmmmm. Need more coffee and time to ponder this, but I think that Snyder is saying that the utility of a chip lost is worth less than the utility of a chip won, while the other experts are talking about the  ICM-derived monetary value of a chip lost versus won. In other words, ammunition value vs. tournament payout amount value. Hmmmmm.....


  1. Snyder's contention that a tournament chip you win is worth more than one that you lose.

    I've read both Snyder books and wanted to weigh in here. I believe he's talking about the fast and super-fast tournaments that casinos offer. The blinds zoom up so quickly that you absolutely MUST take chances to get chips. If you lose chips, so what -- you were probably dead meat anyway.

  2. Memphis, Yeah, I think you're right, but I'm I'm still a little confused about the advice Snyder gives. I read his first one on low PF MTTs. Now I'm about halfway through Snyder's second book, and his basic strategy for early in high PF MTTs is to push really hard too. The rational is different for each case: low PF MTTs result in exactly what you state above; i.e., you must take chances to get chips. High PF MTT's mean that you need to take the opportunity when everyone else is being cautious to chip up and increase your utility. I'm still sorting all this out in my little brain... :-)