Archives for May2013

How should you play AK in no limit holdem?

AK being a non made hand you should consider it as a drawing hand

How to play AK?





Although being one of the strongest hands in no limit holdem poker, AK can prove a risky hand to play. How you will play it will depends mostly on the size of your stack and the autonomy you have left. Just have a quick look at the following stats :

AKo going to war  in heads up against 1 opponent (both players see the river) :

  • AK vs AA : 7%
  • AK vs KK : 30%
  • AK vs pair : 45%
  • AK vs Ax : 72%
  • AK vs Rx : 75%
  • AK vs 78s : 60%
  • AK vs any two cards : 65%

Seing the odds, i guess you understand quite quickly that it would be fullish to go all in preflop with AK if your stack is deep (vs the blinds) at a beginning of a cash game or a MTT and if you still have time to manoeuvre at the table? Add to this all situations where you will not get paid by anyone…and try estimate now how much value you will get from this hand going all in?

AK needs a positive flop to improve. If you re-raise this hand preflop you should be quite satisfied when you win the pot preflop. It should be your target and if you do not succeed doing so you should try to find only 1 opponent. No specific re-raise amount to advise. You have to re-raise as intensively as needed based on the table profile to win it preflop or isolate 1 opponent. You must get all suited connectors out of your way. Maybe you will be called by dominated hands like AQ, AJ or KQ against which you will then be far ahead.

Hopefully this hand has a potential and you will also find an A or a K on the flop 32% of the time.

On a neutral flop you can apply here a standard continuation bet . If the conditions of a C-bet are not met the best thing you have to do is check. Because at this stage you are only beating a bluff if you did not connect on the flop and it will be difficult to stay in the hand if any kind of action shows up. If your C-bet gets called on the flop you will find yourself in a tricky spot on the turn (especially if a lot of action occured preflop leading you to think that you could be facing some top or middle pairs). You will be in a better place if you have the position on your opponent but should in any case try to control the pot size.

If your stack is decreasing (lets say during the end of the first phase of an online MTT) you can consider re-raising all-in with AK. However calling an all-in with this hand is another story since you have no more fold equity.

Below 10BB or with an M<7 it is a no brainer : re-raise all in or call any all-in with AK.

In a multi table poker tournament your options will decrease as your stack melts

ulti table poker tournament

A multi table poker tournament is all about survival

To survive you need to master 2 dimensions which are time and the size of your stack. You need to anticipate on the move you will have to deploy (depending on the size of your task) to take the correct risks at the right time.

Traditionnally in a multi table poker tournament where late registrations are not allowed (or after closure of late registrations) you will notice that 2/3 of participants bust over the first 5 levels before the MTT reaches a stabilization phase. Your target is to reach this phase with 30-40BB. Considering blinds increase at each level…it will not be an easy task and you will need to observe but also be active. 30 to 40BB is enough because this threshold usually corresponds to the average stack in the stabilization phase. Meaning most players will be below this limit. The average MTT stack reflects the MTT level of agression. The higher the average is the looser the players. If at your table the average stack is below the MTT average it means that players at your table are more tight and you will need to adapt your game accordingly quickly to benefit from it (bluff and steal) because you can change table at any moment.

30-40BB is a target not a necessity. But for sure you cannot reach the stabilization phase with a stack that would lead you to applying a push or fold strategy or you will be in great danger.

During the first 5 levels, if you feel like you do not have an edge at the table, play TAG and wait for the point in time where the post flop game (more complex) will be less developed. At the same time you should try to put pressure on the fish, the weak tight, the loose passive and the scared money players.

Throughout the stabilization phase you should fight to remain in the 3-bets zone and fight against blind erosion and here again a lot of activity is requested to suceed doing so. You will face 3 type of players : short stacks (10-12BB), cheapleaders and above 40B stacks and average stacks (15-40BB).

If you are above 40BB during this phase do not think that you have  »to do the work » and try to get someone out as soon as you can. Your target is to grow your stack and your interest is to maintain short stacks under pressure (and not allow them or an average stack to double up and then step on your land).

Standard preflop raise in an MTT is 3BB and it drops to 2,5BB as soon as antes appear.

How do engagement zones evolve depending on the game type you are playing?

In an MTT without antes :

. 4-bets zone is above 70BB

. 3-bets zone is between 30 and 70BB

. Re-steals zone is between 11 and 30BB

. Push or fold zone is below 11BB

In an MTT with antes :

. 4-bets zone is above 60BB

. 3-bets zone is between 25 and 60BB

. Re-steals zone is between 10 and 25BB (between 15BB and 25BB your margin to manoeuver is globally the same – sure, you can try a few steals with 25BB but if you get called you will be committed…)

. Push or fold zone is below 10BB

Refer to the Power Number when you are short stack in an MTT

The Power Number or how to play short stack in an MTT in early or middle stage?

Power number

You are playing an MTT and are off to a bad start, the field is still big and with only 11BB left you are starting to lose hope. Players at the table are agressive and prevent you to find a nice spot. Blinds and antes are eating up what remains of your stack. Next time everyone folds before you are determined to go all-in preflop with any decent hand. The occasion happens and you shove your stack with T7 suited. You face a snap call from the big blind which reveals KK…You are out and keep wondering if you made the right move or not, if you should have waited for another hand. Where you right to risk your tournament at this stage? Lets find out.
The power number is a concept that allows you to play a game which is mathematically unsuable by your opponents. The short stack status is so specific and so « theorytically straight forward » that all spots have been studied and assessed and synthetized in this model.
First you need to calculate your M-factor. M equals the number of rounds you can survive in a situation where you would decide to stop playing any hand (factoring in SB, BB and antes if they do apply). Hence M = your stack / CPR (or cost per round). M = your stack / (SB + BB + number of players at the table x antes). Let’s assume our M is 4,5.
If your 3 < M < 8 the power number model enables you to determine if your hand is strong enough to sustain a profitable all-in move (assuming that all players before you have folded).
After having calculated your M you need to calculate your power number at « equilibrium », the PNe meaning the minimal PN you need to justify an all-in.
PNe = M x number of players to speak.
Last you need to refer to the below table which provides the PN of all starting hands. If the PN of your starting hand is superior to the PNe you can go all-in and will be profitable in the long run. If PN < PNe you have to fold.
Going all-in with T7s was the right call.
Remember this is a statistical model (very robust) but it assumes that all players at the table play in an optimal manner (which is rarely true). You might need to adapt it slightly depending on your image at the table and your opponents profile.
NB: this model loses its interest as you get closer to the money (due to the change in the distribution of the prizepool). You will then use the Independent Chip Model (ICM) since too many parameters need to be taken into account when reaching the bubble.