Great article by Mike Caro..............

1nickthegreek

1nickthegreek

Visionary
Joined
Feb 1, 2008
Total posts
621
How To Lose $47,000 Playing Aces With A $9,000 Bankroll
by Mike Caro


This article first appeared in Card Player magazine.

The first time I ever heard this question was in the late 1970s. At that time, I hadn't bothered to analyze hold'em, but that didn't stop me from promptly providing the correct answer.
I was playing at the now-extinct Rainbow Club in Gardena, California. A player I'd never heard of then and haven't heard of since, "Bobby the Bullet," had driven from Alabama. He'd stopped and played a few hands in Las Vegas, and then he decided to come see what Gardena was all about.
He sat on my right and had the annoying habit of engaging me in conversation when I was involved in a pot and he wasn't. "Whatcha like about this game," he wanted to know. This was a combination of youthful curiosity and bad manners, I guess.
"Faster pace than jacks-or-better," I told him matter-of-factly, starting to raise the pot. "And there's more skill than lowball," I continued, after splashing the appropriate amount of chips in front of me.
Bobby the Bullet, who insisted that "My friends call me just Bullet," continued to talk while three of us tried to concentrate on the pot. Finally, Fred, an older opponent who usually had an even temper, snarled, "Hey, show some respect! We don't talk while other people are in the pot in Gardena!"
No talking at the table. Well, just when the Bullet seemed to be reacting angrily to this surprise scolding, half the table burst out laughing. "We don't?" somebody questioned. "Hell, Fred, you're always talkin' when I'm in a hand."
Anyway, I won the pot, and things lightened up. The Bullet, though, never stopped enlightening us about hold'em. He just couldn't figure out why we wanted to play draw. We explained that hold'em and stud weren't offered in California cardrooms - only lowball and five-card draw.
The Bullet just kept losing and losing. And the more he lost, the more he swore that draw poker was the worst game he'd ever had to sit through.
Another hour and another thousand dollars deeper into his bankroll, he said he was bored. But he was only bored for another 30 minutes, and after that he was broke.
A hunter's game. He finally rose from the table, trying to force a feeble grin. "If you guys ever get down my way, we'll play a hunter's game, not a game for little boys. And I do mean hold'em."
That part stuck in my mind all these years - a hunter's game, he called it, lifting a make-believe rifle, taking aim, and making a soft bullet-like whisper. I tried to put it all together, his name Bobby the Bullet, the reference to hunting, and his invitation to come to Alabama and play. But before I could unscramble it in my head, he unexpectedly slammed his palms face down on the table, hard enough to rattle everyone's chips.
And then, relishing the tense silence he had created, said, "Draw poker is for pansies," and walked away.
Now, you're probably wondering why I'm telling you all this. Well, if the Bullet had disappeared right then, I wouldn't be telling you. But he didn't. After leaving the floor, he suddenly reappeared, tapped my shoulder, and said, "They say you've got a good mind for poker. Let's say you're at Binion's in the hold'em tournament. Would you ever throw away a pair of aces before the flop?"
Important question with an obvious answer. Even though I knew very little about hold'em, I answered immediately, "Sure."
"That's right," is all the Bullet said. And then, seconds later he walked away, and this time he really was gone for good.
So, Bobby the Bullet was the first one to ask me if you should ever throw away aces before the flop in a hold'em tournament. Since then, I've heard that question asked - sometimes of me, sometimes of others - dozens of times.
Years have passed, and the answer is still the same, still yes. And it's so easy to prove, you wonder why the question fascinates players as much as it does. Want the easiest proof of all?
OK. There are three of you left in a tournament, and $750,000 remaining to be awarded. The money will be divided as follows: $400,000 for 1st (40% of an original $1,000,000 prize pool); $250,000 for 2nd (25%); and $100,000 for 3rd (10%).
Right now, you have $9,000 in chips (plus $1,000 invested as the big blind), and Jack has $369,500 in chips (plus $500 invested as the small blind), and Jill has $370,000 in chips and is first to act.
Just as you look at the cards just dealt to you and see a miraculous pair of aces, Jill moves her entire $370,000 stack into the pot. You begin to say, "yum-yum" when Jack adds his $369,500 to the $500 already blinded. Both your opponents are all-in. Should you call?
Of course not! If you call, the best thing that can happen is you'll triple from $10,000 ($9,000 stack plus a $1,000 blind) to $30,000, and you'll have second place secured, because one of the other opponents will lose a massive side pot and be eliminated. But the worst thing that can happen is one of these two opponents will beat your aces, and you'll settle for third place.
How likely is that to happen? About one-third of the time! That's right, considering what players might hold in this situation, your chances of winning are no better than two-out of three. So, two out of three times, you've got second place secured and you have $30,000 versus $720,000 in your quest for the championship. But one out of three times you take third place and are out. If you pass, you'll always have $9,000 left, have second place secured automatically, and be facing $741,000 opposing money in your heads-up battle.
How does calling with the aces work out mathematically? Not very well, I'm afraid. Assuming equal skills among players, and ignoring slight complicating factors regarding blinds, all-in bets, and split pots, your position in this tournament is worth $251,821.86 if you throw your aces away, and only $204,166.67 if you call.
An expensive mistake. Yes, most sophisticated players understand this concept. But I suspect many would play the aces anyway. That's because they don't grasp the magnitude of the mistake. Put plainly, you would be making a $47,655.20 mistake by playing your aces. And, my friend, that's a pretty big mistake for a player with only $9,000 in chips in front of him!
While I used one of the most obvious examples of when you should pass aces, there are many more. And, it means you should start thinking about exactly which hands you really do want to play toward the end of a tournament when there's a chance other players might be eliminated. You'll be surprised how many hands you can throw away.
 
Q

quads

Guest
Joined
Mar 25, 2007
Total posts
414
This falls in the bracket of common sense. Think Mike Caro is running out of things to talk about.
 
F

feitr

Legend
Joined
Feb 8, 2008
Total posts
1,570
lol that is like saying "would you play AA if you had 30 chips left and 5 guys (with equal stacks) had gone all in in front of you in a 6 handed SnG. Oh gee i wonder what i'd do.

What i'd like to know is how the blinds are still only 1k when a 750 000 chip tourn is down to 3 players. I'd also like to know where i can buy into such a donkalicious 1 million$$ prize pool tournament where the 2 chip leaders are willing to play for stacks when they each cover the 3rd place person by 35x...

While I used one of the most obvious examples of when you should pass aces, there are many more. And, it means you should start thinking about exactly which hands you really do want to play toward the end of a tournament when there's a chance other players might be eliminated. You'll be surprised how many hands you can throw away.

yep well when you are playing vs total idiots and the blinds haven't risen in 3 days i guess that is an option given to you...in real world situations with somewhat competent players i think the only time it is right to throw away AA in hold em is on the bubble of a sat. I'd agree that he must be running out of things to discuss.
 
zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
This thread should simply be titled "Article by Mike Cary" as I fail to see how it is great in any way shape or form. He starts out with a totally pointless anecdote that doesn't even lead all the way to his point. He then proceeds to explain in detail something that the majority of cardschat members know and would execute.

Pretty basic concept, spends way too much with the anecdote, and imo it's just not a very good article. Seemed he wanted to explain the concept and was short about 500 words and had to fill it in with useless details.
 
MR TOYMAKER

MR TOYMAKER

Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Total posts
98
I've lost a few pots with aces,but I also won alot pots. I can't honestly answer what I would do in that situation. I'm a aggressive player and I'm always pushing. I would call most of the time. Especially preflop
 
zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
And you would be wrong, losing money that way.
 
1nickthegreek

1nickthegreek

Visionary
Joined
Feb 1, 2008
Total posts
621
This thread should simply be titled "Article by Mike Cary" as I fail to see how it is great in any way shape or form. He starts out with a totally pointless anecdote that doesn't even lead all the way to his point. He then proceeds to explain in detail something that the majority of cardschat members know and would execute.

Pretty basic concept, spends way too much with the anecdote, and imo it's just not a very good article. Seemed he wanted to explain the concept and was short about 500 words and had to fill it in with useless details.

And you would be wrong, losing money that way.

Apparently you missed my sarcasm in the original post Zach!!:p I wish there were Sarcasm smilies to end titles with;)
 
zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
Apparently you missed my sarcasm in the original post Zach!!:p I wish there were Sarcasm smilies to end titles with;)

ah ok, sorry about that. I guess when you look at all the dots I can see what you were trying to say. Sarcasm's tough to read over the internet though, also I spelled Caro's name wrong, lol Mike Cary.
 
1nickthegreek

1nickthegreek

Visionary
Joined
Feb 1, 2008
Total posts
621
also I spelled Caro's name wrong, lol Mike Cary.

Just consider yourself lucky that I chose not to comment on your spelling error, I think that is the first one I've ever seen come from your fingertips!!:D
 
X

xCashin_inx

Guest
Joined
Apr 6, 2008
Total posts
152
I have determined that his hypothetical situation is almost impossible, not completely impossible, but kinda like the chances of getting struck by lighting 4 times in one day, it just doesnt happen. If you are down to the final 3 people in a tournament and 2 people have 370,000 in chips and you have 9,000 the chances of the huge stacks both going all in and letting you sit there are almost slim to none and if someone made it that far then you are playing in a terrible tournament.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

Cardschat Elite
Joined
Jul 7, 2006
Total posts
4,596
Believe it or not this isn't "common sense" to a lot of people.
The scenario is very similar (if not the same) to the one outlined in Sklansky's TPAP.
Anyway, the concept (a tournament one, obvioulsy you would never fold in a cash game) in general is a very important one: there is a distinction between +chipEV and +$EV.

As you get farther from aces and/or less shallow stacked and/or with less opponents calling the shove the issue gets much murkier: people who can easily understand the aces example given will still make the mistake of distinguishing between the +EVs in a tournament by doing things like betting into dry side pots on a money bubble, for example.

See here.
 
S

switch0723

Cardschat Elite
Joined
Sep 2, 2007
Total posts
8,430
shove before your m is <10 imo, then this will never happen
 
Paw_kit Aces

Paw_kit Aces

Rock Star
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Total posts
200
This falls in the bracket of common sense. Think Mike Caro is running out of things to talk about.

Yes, it may seem like common sense, but we all know that most of us who never play at that level would have called. Reading the article it seem obvious to fold and move into 2nd place for sure, call and maybe you are out in 3rd. When sitting in the chair looking at those rockets the obvious response is probably call. I am already in the money, yes I may go out in 3rd, but I would rather go heads up with as much $$ as possible, even though my stack is a micro-stack in comparison.
 
zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
Believe it or not this isn't "common sense" to a lot of people.
The scenario is very similar (if not the same) to the one outlined in Sklansky's TPAP.
Anyway, the concept (a tournament one, obvioulsy you would never fold in a cash game) in general is a very important one: there is a distinction between +chipEV and +$EV.

As you get farther from aces and/or less shallow stacked and/or with less opponents calling the shove the issue gets much murkier: people who can easily understand the aces example given will still make the mistake of distinguishing between the +EVs in a tournament by doing things like betting into dry side pots on a money bubble, for example.

See here.

ok well since everyone understands the initial post (well most people), how about we do take this to the tougher ones to understand. I read the thread you linked to, and I have to say I was thinking "easy call, but I'll bet everyone says fold" at first. Now as I read it I got what I expected, people scared of losing the money, not using logic, but instead simply using emotional appeal to basically say that we should fold.

Then came someone who's opinion I respect a great deal, I expected him to explain why it was a clear call. And to my surprise, he posted about how it was a clear fold, and what's more actually offered some support for it and the argument made a lot of sense.

Now this is extremely similar to a situation that comes up with me a lot recently (well a lot considering I barely play tourneys). Whenever I play the $3 re-buy, I ALWAYS double re-buy to start. Of course this may not seem the same, it's essentially the same decision. Are the extra chips worth as much in terms of winning me money as the first set are? Is starting with 3k chips going to more than double my expectation from starting with 1.5k? It's the same question in the wsop example. If doubling up will double the expectation, then it's obviously a clear call. If doubling up will only increase it by a tiny bit, then it's an easy fold.

So let's have a logical discussion without the emotional appeal of "there's an x chance of busting out, don't take that chance" or "AK is the 3/4th best hand, push it". The question is whether or not doubling your chip stack will double your expectation for the tournament. Does this vary by tournament? (ie does a deepstacked event like the WSOP ME have the same answer as a turbo? A re-buy?) I've heard arguments both that additional chips have more value and less value than previous chips and I think that also varies by tournament structure and where you're at in the tournament.

Maybe I should start a thread specifically for this.
 
zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
shove before your m is <10 imo, then this will never happen

What if 4th place had an M of 3? Do you want to be shoving when you will most likely be called with ATC from the big stacks when you could just check/fold your way to 3rd?
 
NoWuckingFurries

NoWuckingFurries

Legend
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Total posts
3,819
kinda like the chances of getting struck by lighting 4 times in one day, it just doesnt happen.
Actually an electrician friend of mine assures me that when he installs lighting, it is quite possible to be struck by lighting four times in one day...
Maybe I should start a thread specifically for this.
Yes, be interesting to see what people say, without hijacking this thread. :)
 
dj11

dj11

Legend
Joined
Oct 9, 2006
Total posts
23,189
Awards
9
Seems with this topic, and it is similar to so many topics about folding AA, folks seem to miss the point I see.

It doesn't matter what cards you have. There are 2 big stacks about to do serious damage to one or the other. One may go out, one may become so shortstacked that I might have another way to get to that next step.

So even if I got dealt 2 Jokers, it would be the correct thing to fold em, not hold em!
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

Cardschat Elite
Joined
Jul 7, 2006
Total posts
4,596
ok well since everyone understands the initial post (well most people), how about we do take this to the tougher ones to understand. I read the thread you linked to, and I have to say I was thinking "easy call, but I'll bet everyone says fold" at first. Now as I read it I got what I expected, people scared of losing the money, not using logic, but instead simply using emotional appeal to basically say that we should fold.

Then came someone who's opinion I respect a great deal, I expected him to explain why it was a clear call. And to my surprise, he posted about how it was a clear fold, and what's more actually offered some support for it and the argument made a lot of sense.

Now this is extremely similar to a situation that comes up with me a lot recently (well a lot considering I barely play tourneys). Whenever I play the $3 re-buy, I ALWAYS double re-buy to start. Of course this may not seem the same, it's essentially the same decision. Are the extra chips worth as much in terms of winning me money as the first set are? Is starting with 3k chips going to more than double my expectation from starting with 1.5k? It's the same question in the WSOP example. If doubling up will double the expectation, then it's obviously a clear call. If doubling up will only increase it by a tiny bit, then it's an easy fold.

So let's have a logical discussion without the emotional appeal of "there's an x chance of busting out, don't take that chance" or "AK is the 3/4th best hand, push it". The question is whether or not doubling your chip stack will double your expectation for the tournament. Does this vary by tournament? (ie does a deepstacked event like the WSOP ME have the same answer as a turbo? A re-buy?) I've heard arguments both that additional chips have more value and less value than previous chips and I think that also varies by tournament structure and where you're at in the tournament.

Maybe I should start a thread specifically for this.

This is indeed a super interesting topic when you get beyond the surface.
We have:

1. survival vs. stack building; which clearly changes at different points in a tournament (1st hand vs. bubble, and everything in between), and current chip stack (short, chip leader, and everything in between).

Raymer (every edge = call) vs. Hellmuth (as long as I'm in I'll eventually win = fold).

2. chips = more valuable to YOU the more you get because you are a sweet big stack user vs. less valuable to you intrinsically because the more you have the less they are worth.

3. simple chipEV vs. moneyEV and where you find the fine line.

4. Should you / would you play differently in different tournaments? wsop ME vs. online freeroll or different goals for the same event (PH might want to win the ME, someone else might be happy cashing or just lasting long enough to say they got an 'experience')


goot topic that goes beyond the obvious.
 
E

Exit Strategy

Guest
Joined
May 4, 2008
Total posts
5
When the big boys want to slug it out, it's my policy to duck.

In fact, you rarely see a three-way all-in among the winning players in televised tournaments. Assuming those people know what they're doing, the conclusion is obvious.
 
S

switch0723

Cardschat Elite
Joined
Sep 2, 2007
Total posts
8,430
What if 4th place had an M of 3? Do you want to be shoving when you will most likely be called with ATC from the big stacks when you could just check/fold your way to 3rd?

Play ftw
 
Top