Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adventures above my bankroll - practice ring game

I won a $20 9 man tonight, then I was watching my friend Mr. Pietzak playing on a 6 man, $1/$2 capped NL table for a bit.

Capped tables are odd. You can have as much money as you want on the table, but the maximum each player can put into a pot on any one hand is 30 big blinds. This provides a safety net for those who overplay their hand get sucked out on.

The cap also drastically changes the strategy, in my opinion. Speculative hands go way down in value - and I would venture to say they are probably unprofitable in the long run. If you play 78s, for example, the times you will have to fold will not make up for the times you finally hit your flush or straight and stack someone, because that "stack" will yield only 30 big blinds. Even small pocket pairs go down in value. Say you call a 3.5 BB raise every time you hold a small pocket pair, and fold if you don't hit your set. You will flop a set 11.76% of the time, so you will miss 88.24% of the time. Here's the math:

.8834 * -3.5 BB = -3.0884 big blinds lost when you miss.
.1176 * 30 BB = 3.528 big blind when you hit.

Looks like a profit of .44 big blinds, but that's assuming we get someone's stack every time we flop a set. That's a pretty big assumption. Say a normal TAG raises it up with AQs, we call with 55, and the flop comes K95. We flopped a set, great, but the TAG isn't putting 30 blinds into this pot. He missed! He might throw a c-bet out there, which we'll call or raise, and that's about it. Unless the turn gives him one of his 6 "outs" (not real outs since we have him crushed), you're winning 7-8 blinds on this hand, not 30.

So let's say your opponent hits a hand he's willing to go to the wall with 1/3 times (that might be generous, but remember that he should be willing to stack off with top pair/top kicker type hands vs. 30 BB in the capped game). So I'll take a third of the 11.76% and give us the full 30 blinds ,then take the rest and let us win 8 big blinds (the preflop raise and a c-bet). Now the math is this:

.8824 * -3.5 = -3.0884 (we missed and fold on the flop)
.0392 * 30 = 1.176 (we hit our set, he hits top pair/overpair and stacks off)
.0784 * 8 = .6272 (we hit our set, he whiffs, we win a c-bet)

Now the total is -1.285 big blinds - a distinctly unprofitable situation.

(math ends here)

So anyway, the capped game looks to me like a "hit top pair and shove" kind of game. Two pair, trips, and higher are the nuts - worth a shove every time. But the suited connectors and small pairs don't look to be worth a play, at least against a raise.

I talked myself into sitting down at Pietzak's table, even though $1/$2 is above my online bankroll. I had two justifications for this:

1. the cap prevents me from losing too much at any one time.
2. I'm playing $1/$2 in a casino next week - a bit of practice couldn't hurt.

I played very well for an hour or so, and was up $30. Then the roof fell in. I got involved in a blind vs. blind battle with Pietzak. I played J9 from the small blind and hit a board of J33, and lost $20 because he held JT and outkicked me. Oof. I called a shove from him with the very weak AT because he was riding an up/down rollercoaster, and I thought he might be on tilt. Whether he was or not didn't matter - he had pocket kings. Oops. I chased an open ended straight flush draw that didn't come in, and had to fold the river (I got a free play in the blinds, I didn't play a speculative hand that time). Drat.

We even got Tony in on the action - he joined the table as well. I won a nice pot back from him by ignoring my own analysis of the capped game and playing 79s from under the gun (I got into a cheap limped pot), and hit a hidden straight on the turn. (he paid off a turn raise, but folded the river).

The net damage was $80 lost, not so good. I gave Pietzak himself $100 (now he has enough to play in the live cash game tonight, ha ha). Since I had won a tourney earlier, I think the net result on the night was nearly even, maybe up a buck or two. But I squeezed in some non-tourney experience.

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