Originally Posted by WiZZiM
Anyways i'm getting a little bit off topic here, but overall, playing to win by making +$ev decisions is going to greatly improve your ROI. For me it's a balancing act of when and where to take certain risks at certain stages of the tournament. WHen you find that right balance, things become easy.
This is probably the best way to put it, the issue I have with these generalizing strategy articles is they don't give any context to their advice. Its important to understand where it's appropriate to take risks, and how to balance chip accumulation and good ICM decision making.
For example (this will be very very general, it may not even be relevant but I think it is), if we're up against a 50/0 on the first hand of a STT (we've played with him before), we have AJs on the button and we raise after it folds to us, the villain calls out of the BB. Flop comes A72, and he pulls a stop-n-go and shoves. If we call and lose we bust. But here I think we need to call, it is way too +$EV not to. He could be showing up with a ton worse, so on average we'll wind up way ahead. Plus, by calling here, the ICM tax is way less than it would be if we were making the same decision on the bubble. Also, by calling here, we become the chip leader, which isn't all that handy at the moment, as it is still early and our lead isn't huge, but it can help us as the blinds get higher as we can be aggressive and take more chances (we're risking less equity to further increase our stack and dominate the table). A "not playing for first" strategy would advocate a fold here, because we can't win the tournament if we lose on the very first hand, but from a +$EV standpoint we have to call, not necessarily because we want to "play for first".
Sometimes the two goals clash, specifically on the bubble, and that's why we need to realize that a catchy one-liner like "playing to win" isn't the most helpful strategy, it needs to be given context. I suppose my example wasn't the best, a better example might be if we're 6-handed and we have something like QJ heads-up in position and we flop an open-ended straight draw and the reg who opened the pot fires at us from early position. The pot is about 1/3 of our stack by now, but we know he is pretty strong here. So raising all-in might be pretty marginal, but the difference is that the times that he folds we increase our equity pretty substantially, if he calls and we hit then we have a huge stack to take to the bubble. Obviously if he calls and we lose we're out, but that's an appropriate risk, because overall the line is +$EV. The immediate decision itself is probably about neutral depending on how much fold equity you have, but the opportunities you get later on will allow you to maximize your total equity.
So I suppose that's a better context than what most articles give, making the same move on the bubble when there's a player with 2.5bb's would be a disaster, although it would appear that we're making the moves for the same reasons, that we're making them to win the tournament. But the difference is one decision is way -$EV, while the other is not, and it grants us many opportunities to score +$EV later
(how's that for a babble, lol, I feel like my thoughts are so scattered and won't make any sense)