"Dorkusizing" the article contest entries - Part 1: A Risk Management Course...
...for Tournament Betting By Joshua McSparron (damn topic character limits )
Disclaimer: This is a thread in which I ramble on about article contest entries. I may at times sound (a) nitty, and/or (b) overly critical, but bear in mind that I have the best interests of both the article writer and everyone who will later read it at heart. As I said in the SQ&A thread, I think they were all most definitely well-written, but not perfect (not that I am implying that my amendments are perfect).
Feel free to comment on both the original article and my suggestions in here. For convenience, I'll paste the article with my paragraph-by-paragraph comments and suggestions in bold
I thought I'd start with the winning article for no real reason.
The author has consented to me doing this, and is obviously free to heed or ignore my comments and the comments of anyone who posts in this thread as he wishes.
This guide is to teach you how to play small pot, tournament poker. It
is meant to keep you in the tournament by not over inflating pots by
betting too much too early. The strategy is to try and maximize your
river value bets by disguising your strength and allowing you to get away
from traps and reraises with the least amount invested. The bets will
allow you to still take control of a hand and not allow pots to get to
the point where you are all-in before you really need to be.
This is fine, although I'm a little confused about what you mean by
"maximise your river value bets". I'd either rephrase or use a sentence
How many times during the first couple levels of a tournament do you
see someone raise 10-20 big blinds (BB)? Blinds are 10/20 but someone
will raise to 250 in middle position with no limpers or any action in
front of him. Two people call and all of a sudden at least one of them is
busted out of the tournament. The person who initially raised to 250
made the outcome of this hand inevitable by over inflating the pot too
early in the game. Understanding why you raise is straightforward but
how much is the skill that most people don’t get. This is where
management of your tournament stack becomes essential.
Again, I think a little clarity is needed. I assume by saying "The person..
..made the outcome of this hand inevitable" you mean it was inevitable
that someone went bust in the hand, but this isn't clear. If someone who
isn't us goes bust, it's a good thing, so I don't think we should think in
terms of "the outcome".
I'd rephrase to something like "The person who initially raised to 250
has committed himself to the pot far more than is usual, and indeed
necessary in the early stages of a tournament".
The raise is a declaration of power in poker. It is the declaration of
war against the table by saying my hand is better than yours. There
are two primary reasons to raise: 1) to decrease the number of players in
the hand 2) to make money. You want to push out the weak hands to
increase your odds
of winning. You also want to invest money when you
think you have the best hand. Who is going to call a larger than normal
raises? Another powerful hand of course! Pocket KK will see AA at the
showdown around 17% of the time. Who is going to call all the betting
but another good hand?
"To make money" is way too vague. How do you make money when
you raise? The implication here is that when you raise you just somehow
magically make money, in which case everyone would be raising every
hand, of course. It only takes a sentence or two to explain the concept
of raising for value.
Be sure to specify where the KK vs AA stat comes from. If you're raising
UTG at a full table then the 17% may be correct (I don't actually know if
it is but I assume you lifted it from somewhere credible), but obviously if
you're at a shorthanded table, or in late position with players having folded,
In a tournament every chip matters and you cannot afford to waste a
single one. Why? You have to keep ahead of the increasing blinds. Bets
are made based on the size of the BB. Every time the blinds go up, the
chips become worth less relative to the big blind. Think of being in
the middle of a large tournament with a stack of 3,000. The blinds are
75/150 so you have 20 big blinds left. Now the blinds go up to 100/200
and now, without your stack changing in size, you now have only 15 big
blinds left. Your chip stack has lost 25% of its value relative to the
This is good.
The bet needed to win a hand also has to increases as the pot gets
larger. The bet has to be large enough to make the pot odds
a caller. This is called the compound effect. An overbet preflop will
compound how much you have to bet postflop. As the turn and river are
put out, the pot will get bigger and you will have to bet more to win
it. Most of the time, you want to keep the pots from getting so big
that you are forced to bet a large portion of your chips to keep playing.
You want to keep the pot a reasonable since most of the time you are
betting with good hands but not “the nuts.” The compound effect also
works for the amount a player has to reraise to get you off the pot. If
you are betting half the pot he only has to triple that to make a decent
raise, but when you bet the whole pot the only move is all-in unless
you have a deep stack.
Grammar nit - "increases" should be "increase". Or ditch "has to".
I don't like a lot of the phrasing here. "The bet needed to win a hand" is
a really wishy-washy statement. Something like "The optimum bet size for
acheiving a compromise between pot control, value, and pot odds given to
our opponent(s) increases as...". Similarly I don't like "and you will have to
bet more to win it".
I've never heard the "compound effect" used with regards to poker.
The standard raise if you are the first one into the pot is a 3 BB
raise. You need to increase this amount if there are limpers in front of
you. You should add 1 BB for every limper into the pot in front of you.
For example, the blinds are 100/200 and there are two limper in front
of you. The bet should be 1000 (5BB) = 600 standard raise + 400 for the
The reasons are simple. You want to bet enough to force weak hands to
fold but not prevent one or two callers. This creates isolation and
helps you make money by increasing the odds that you will have the
winning hand. By doing these standard raises, you are not investing more
than you need to accomplish this. You can fold easier if someone goes
over the top because you have invested only 3 BB. You are also decreasing
the amount that someone will have to bet to go over the top of you.
This will make it easier to call the reraise and stay in the hand.
Fine. Slight wording nit - "By making these standard raises..." sounds
a lot better.
It is the early stages of a large tournament and you are at a full
table with 10/20 blinds. You still have your 1500 starting chips. You get
AJ in late position and are first into the pot so you raise to 60. The
button then comes over the top for 200. You can now let it go easily
if you choose since you are only going to lose 60 chips. You can call
since 200 is not a huge portion of your chips. If you don’t hit, you
can fold and still have plenty of chips to keep playing.
I'd mention that folding is generally a far better choice than calling.
Using the same set up as before, you are dealt AJ in late position and
try to steal the blinds. You don’t want any callers so you raise it to
150. The button then comes over the top. Now the reraise will have to
be around 400-500 to try push you out. He can’t just raise it to 200
anymore. You have just force this hand into a larger pot than it needed
to be. You are now forcing yourself to fold because you don’t want to
risk 1/3 your chips with the call here. If you call here, the pot is
now almost 1,000 chips. A pot size bet is the rest of your stack and a
fold now leaves you with only 2/3 your original stack and it is still
the first blind level. You now have to play tighter to try and work you
way back up.
Actually these examples are a little counter-intuitive, and contradictory to
what you've said earlier. You previously said "In a tournament every chip
matters and you cannot afford to waste a single one", and now you're
essentially speculating in example one above that it might be okay to call
because it's not a lot of chips, and vice versa with example two. This really
needs some sort of clarification.
The all-in bet preflop is used in only a couple of spots. When you get
under 10 BB, your only bet should be all-in (what cards to do it with
is up to you). The other time is when someone reraises and forces you
to an all-in or fold decision. For example, you only have 15 BB left
and raise the standard 3BB. What do you do when someone comes over the
top and reraises to 7 BB? You now have that critical decision to fold
or go all-in. Do you see the value here of the standard preflop raise
here and the compound effect it created? You can fold in this situation
and not be shortstacked since you will still have 12 BB. If you had
initially raised to 5 BB,have pot committed yourself without knowing it.
By making the larger than normal raise, you will leave yourself
shortstacked if you fold.
Fine. I'd either leave the bit in parentheses out or be willing to clarify it
There are 3 kinds of bets post flop. A small bet which is ½ to 2/3 of
the pot. A medium bet which is ¾ to a pot size bet. And a large bet
which is over the size of the pot or all-in. The first two are the most
common, unless the person betting is shortstacked. Postflop there is
two scenarios to look at: a single caller or multiple callers.
You have what you really want, just one caller. Small bets work when
facing one opponent. On a non-drawing flop, the proper bet should be ½
the pot. It is enough to announce that you are still in control and
think you are ahead. If you do this consistently, it will make it harder
to tell if this is a continuation bet or you really did hit the flop.
It also allows the pot to stay smaller if he goes over the top. Small
bets all the way down also help hide the value bet on the river. If
you bet the pot on the flop and turn, then bet only ¼ the pot on the
river, something will look fishy to smart opponents. If you are betting
about ½ the pot after the flop and on the turn, the smaller value bet on
the river seems a more natural bet amount.
This really needs (a) specific example(s), and a little clarification. The
implication, as this reads, is that one should always be betting postflop,
which is obviously untrue.
A medium sized bet is better on a flop with a flush or straight draw
present. The proper bet is a ¾ pot size bet so it is harder for them to
call and chase. You want to make it look tempting to call but really
have them priced out. You don’t need to bet the pot to do this. You
are actually extracting value if you get them to make the incorrect call.
Loose players will look at the bet and say I am willing to risk it even
if it is incorrect pot odds. The bet looks small because it is not a
full pot size bet or really close to it. Shorter stacks will push on a
drawing hand to semi-bluff. You will then have to decide if it is
worth the call. The smaller the pot the less likely they will attempt the
semi-bluff to begin with.
All instances of "them" here should be "your opponent" or equivalent
- it reads far better that way. Again, "it is harder for them to call and
chase" needs clarification in that you want your opponent to call and
chase. I don't really think the "Loose players will look ... really close to
it" bit needs saying.
First and foremost, bluffing
is not recommended in a multi-player pot,
even in position. You more than likely are behind and don’t want to
risk chips in a losing cause. More traps are found in these hands than in
heads up because there is a better chance someone hit the hard. You
don’t need to risk a reraise by doing a continuation bet (you bet first
preflop so you fire out again hit or miss after the flop). If you bet
after the flop and someone calls, then you increased the pot with a
small chance to really improve on the next card. You should try to take a
free card and see if you improve. This will reduce the bet you will
have to make on the turn if you want to take a stab at the pot. Think of
the compound effect here. The trapping opponent just got more money
into the pot and will make his move on the turn with a reraise and
collect even more money.
"You more than likely are behind" should obviously have an "are" in it,
or better yet should read more along the lines of "With several hands in
play, the likelihood that one or more of these hands has either directly hit a
flop or flopped a reasonable draw increases". This also negates the need
for the third sentence (which also needs to read "hit the flop hard" if
you decie to keep it.
The medium sized bet here is good if you hit the flop. A ¾ pot size
bet is good enough to take most non-drawing flops down or a flop that has
only a flush or straight draw present. You want to bet enough to scare
the draws and make the under pairs and second pair hands pay to see the
turn or fold. If you don’t bet enough and everyone calls, the draws
will get priced in. You need the bet to be big enough to start isolating
or winning the pot outright. The pot size bet is for a flush and
straight draw boards. You will have lots of scare cards here and will want
to take the pot down right away.
The all-in bet postflop is used as a scare tactic and a double up move.
It can be used to look like a bluff when holding a monster or forcing
someone to lay down a marginal hand. The other time all-in is used is
when the pot gets to big and that it is your only bet left in large
I don't like this whole paragraph. What's "a double up move"? How
big is "too big"? I just think it needs re-wording entirely, something
along the lines of (oh god I said I wasn't going to directly alter stuff lol)
"Once our stack becomes sufficiently small in relation to the pot, we only
have one feasible move left if we are going to bet - and that is an all-in bet.
All-in overbets are uncommon, but can be used as..." and proceed to talk
about their possible uses. I'll leave defining "sufficiently small" to you.
The betting patterns you present when playing in a tournament are
different than a ring game. Once you run out of chips you are done so you
have to be more careful. The betting amounts here may not maximize
every hand you win but will also help you lose less when you are behind.
It will also help you stay in a tournament longer. The longer you stay
in a tournament the better chances you have of hitting that monster
hand that really boosts you chip stack. Slow and steady wins the race;
fast and crazy is for roller coasters.
This is a nice conclusion aside from two things. "Maximize every hand.."
really needs to read "Maximize your profit on every hand...", and the last
sentence isn't needed at all, as it's (a) clichéd, and (b) incorrect, as many
big winning players utilize a 'fast and crazy' style. Don't make out that your
strategy is the only correct one!