Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hand Analysis: JJ Facing a ReRaise in MTT

[This MTT hand analysis comes courtesy of  the Guru, who forwarded it to me from the Hand of the Day website. When I first read it, I thought meh. But then I tried to answer it... and it's actually a tougher question to answer than the average HotD quiz. Jacks are always tricky, and this one is especially so. The bottom line is that I think there are two or three equally-defensible answers to this quiz. Here's my take:]

What do you do?

  • The problem states that we have no strong read on the other player. Therefore, unless and until proven otherwise, we should assume the villain is a solid ABC player who understands ranges, SPR, commitment, and is playing good Level-2 poker.
  • You had [(6465+525) / 200] = 35 big blinds preflop, and we open-raised in the HJ seat, so our perceived range is moderately wide. Therefore our opponent’s re-raising range could also be equally wide… except he’s relatively short stacked, with only [(2685+1600)/200] = 20 big blinds prior to re-raising. When he 3bets to 1600, he’s sticking in nearly a third of his stack. In other words, he’s pot committing himself with this raise, so his range is tighter than it might first seems.Also, if he had a small pocket pair or weak broadway hand, I think he'd bet all-in to put maximum pressure on us and just take down the pot. But he doesn't; he bets an amount that commits him, but also allows us to come back over the top.
  • I’d call his range here something like 88+, AQo+, and maybe KQs.
  • Our equity with JJ against villain’s range is roughly a coin flip at 52:48.
  • The SPR if we call will be [2685/(2425+1600)], which is less than 1.0, so therefore we’re definitely pot committed if we call. This means all the money is going in, one way or another if we decide to stay in the hand.
  • We have essentially no fold equity due to villain’s own pot commitment issue. In fact, the only real hands we’re going to fold out by shoving are the weaker end of his range, which unfortunately reduces our own equity.
  • Our expected value of shoving and getting called preflop by his range is positive: +$1200.
  • If we shove, get called, and lose, our new stack size will be [6465 – (1075+2685) = 2705, which is 13 big blinds. We’d still be alive, but we’d also be nearing a critical stack size. 
  • Because of the pot commitment of the villain, we have very little, if any, fold equity, so our hand has no real semi-bluffing possibilities. It’s also not a big value hand given the range we’ve put our villain on and our coin flip equity. It does, however, have reasonable positive expected value, so let’s call it a moderate Value/SDV hand if we raise.
  • The big question to decide is whether the coin flip gamble is worth it or not at this stage of the tournament. Besides payout structure and phase, it also depends on who we are, how strong the competition is relative to us, and how risk averse we are. From a tournament life point of view, if we feel we're a significantly better player than your opponents, we might think about waiting for a better spot; i.e., take a fold line. On the other hand, if we’re equally skilled (or lower skilled) than our average remaining opponents, then raising is plus EV and takes post-flop play out of the equation, so from a mathematical PoV it’s correct. 
  • Our line choice is Value or Fold.
  • If we choose to play for Value, the big question is whether to get the money in now or wait a street with a stop-n-go, which might actually add some fold equity back into the mix depending on board texture. 
  • If we do raise, it has to be all-in, which theoretically gives him the wrong odds to call with the non-made drawing hands in his range. There is some danger he’s going to fold out the very bottom of his range if we do this, which reduces our equity, but we said he’s pot committing himself, which mostly discounts this effect. 
Answer (in order of preference): 
  1. Stop-n-Go. For me, I like this play here. All the money is going in, so why not do it in a way that puts a harder decision to my opponent? I’m calling preflop and then shoving any flop.
  2. Raise All-in. A good solution, too, as it takes all further decisions out of the equation.
  3. Fold. Folding is always zero EV, so it’s perfectly acceptable here. 
All-in for now...

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