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Big Stack Strategy: Avoiding Confrontations with Other Big Stacks

Discussion in 'Poker Strategy Articles' started by jojobinks, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. jojobinks

    jojobinks Poker Nerd (and Admin)
    Lifetime Supporter

    Mar 21, 2005
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    bottom pair and a flush draw
    Big Stack Strategy: Avoiding Confrontations with Other Big Stacks
    by Jojobinks

    This is a hand that took place on Sunday at a local cardroom. 2-table tournament, $30 buy-in, with $200 added by the room. Sweet!

    5k stacks to start with 25/50 blinds. I get active early and work my stack up to 16000 with 11 players left and 250/500 blinds. Average stack is around 8k.

    I'm in the big blind with :8h :8d. The cutoff, a very bad, loose aggressive player, limps in, the small blind completes, and i make it 2400. He started the hand with about 12.5k. The cutoff calls. I strongly suspect the cutoff would raise with any pair any ace in that spot, so put him on two big cards or a smaller drawing hand.

    Flop comes :4c :6c :Jc . He has 10k left. I bet 4k with the assumption that I have the best hand. He pushes pretty quickly. 19k in the pot and 6k for me to call so I do.

    He rolls :Kc :10h. He has 6 overcard outs and 8 flush outs (we don't double count the :10c). This makes him a slight favorite:
    Board: Jc 6c 4c
    equity win tie pots won pots tied
    Hand 0: 46.667% 46.67% 00.00% 462 0.00 { 8d8h }
    Hand 1: 53.333% 53.33% 00.00% 528 0.00 { KcTs }

    To recap: I thought my hand was strongest preflop so I raised it up. I suspected my hand was still best on the flop so I bet it for value. Then I called his raise getting 3:1 as a very small dog.

    When put that way, the hand seems fairly well played on my part, but IMO I misplayed it horribly.

    Here's why:
    • I'm a big chip leader at the table, and with the quickly rising blinds we'll be getting to the bubble in the next level or two.
    • This guy is basically the only player at the table that can hurt me
    • I'm gambling it up with a weakish hand, even if it is in the lead. If he has a jack I'm nearly drawing dead, and obviously there are all sorts of combination hands that put me at risk for most of my stack.
    • Winning this 2 card race gives me a HUGE stack, but losing it puts me in grave danger with 7 spots 'til the money. The benefit (huge stack) is less good than the risk (no cash at all) is bad. With this stack I'm a pretty good favorite to cash in any event.
    I lost the race, of course. Much worse than getting "unlucky" there was that I know better. Being a big stack doesn't mean that it's your duty to bust everyone out (Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang notwithstanding :wink:). Much more important is to pick your spots, protect your stack, and FINISH with all the chips at the end.

    Addendum: the villain in this hand didn't learn the same lesson. At the final table with 6 left and 4 paid, he and the player to his left had massive stacks and no one else had much at all. The blinds were 500/1000. I was sitting on 10k and dreams of stealthing my way into the top 2. A shortstack moved in preflop for 2.5k, and the big-stacked villain called from the sb. The other big stack called in the bb. Flop comes AK4 rainbow. With a dry sidepot and just K6o, our poor-playing lag friend shoves for 20-something thousand into the only player that can hurt him. She insta-calls with AK, and the Lag's day is over, out of the money. His bone-headedness cost me 13k earlier, but got me into the money. Yay!

    Learn more about bigstack play, bubble play and more. PM me or visit my forum for NLHE tournament coaching.
    More advice from Jojobinks (Matt Feldman): Poker Coaching by Jojobinks and Themightyjim2k
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2008
  2. shanes3t

    shanes3t Active Member

    Jan 30, 2008
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    The bigger mistake in betting the 4K is that unless you're under ideal conditions (88 vs two undercards off-suit with only a gut-shot draw), you're not getting proper pot odds to make the bet. Take the free card and decide after the turn.

    Especially given that the other player is agressive, you have the decision to commit enough to send him out of the tourney if your hand improved (like is say an 8 hit) or if the other player's outright bluffing.
  3. Tayman20

    Tayman20 Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Cashville, TN
    Excellent Article.
    I needed help in this regard of big stack strategy about 3 weeks ago. :cry:

    I played in a 60 man $10 buy in tournament where the final table of 6 got paid. House (actually school) added $200 extra.
    I made it to the final table at there were 4 players remaining. I was 2nd in chips and myself and the Big stack were very close in chips, approx 4000 and 4800 chips. The other two stacks were about 1200 and 2000. The blinds were at 100/200 and about to move to 200/400.

    So to make a long story short, I got in a large hand with the Big stack when I had top pair to the river and eventually folded leaving me with about 1500. The BB then hit me and I got blinded out before the other two.

    If I had it to do again, I would have waited for the other two players to get knocked out or blinded away. Would have made myself $200+ instead of $100. I learned a valuable lesson though.
  4. Aces74

    Aces74 Member

    Apr 29, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Good write up.. I think too often, when sitting on a big stack, you tend to not consider the size of the chipstacks you're betting against until it is too late.

    I used to have a huge issue with being 2nd/3rd largest stack and busting on the bubble to the chip leader (I've got 3 70+ man tourney Bubble Busts (only top 3 paid) here @ the Fiesta in the past. All because I was trying to wrangle away the top spot and walked into a trap, or whatever.

    Lately, I've changed gears and decided to pick my spots, and it's improved overall cash % much better, though I find at times it's tough to put on the brakes when I all I want to do is push the gas pedal more....:cool:
  5. troysteelerfan

    troysteelerfan Well-Known Member

    Jun 29, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Good article and one point I liked the best - the big stack doesn't need to try and bust out each player left. I see a lot of marginal calls and "gambles" from big stack players just because they have chips to "play with" - they get involved in either a lot of small stack confrontations and bleed chips or they tangle with someone who can hurt them and then ....bang they are a short stack again.
  6. cgraham86

    cgraham86 Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Great analysis. Another way I look at hands like this with players like that is small/mid pair domination. My brain tells me if he's holding a couple of larger cards he will be willing to commit a lot of chips to them even if he doesn't hit hoping to improve, so small/mid pocket pairs get trashed. The club heavy board would make me hesitate to call here as well, but that's not why I would fold. Yeah, the odds and the money make it almost too good to pass up. However, I like to let players like this trap themselves thinking they're way ahead in a hand to commit the money rather than trying to race them to the river. I'd probably lay it down even though the 3:1 beats the math for equity to get a better spot later. In the end if I didn't get one and he slipped away - oh well, but I'd hate myself more for putting myself in a weak position after loosing this hand to K-T offsuit (what a horrible push). You're not short, so there's no reason to think you have to commit with this hand, but that's me.

    In the end getting in the $ and having him walk was justice.

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