Friday, March 20, 2009

Implied Odds in a Short Stacker/Full Stacker Scenario

This next entry is something that I had written in response to a post about short stack theory that I was reading on another player's blog. Even though it may be the height of egotism to quote myself, I thought that this concept was far too important not to mention here.

I wrote the following response at Poker Anon where the blog author (as a part time short stacker, mind you) recommended making an overcall vs. a shortstacker early open raise and nitty full stacker flat call with 44. Here is my take on the matter:

This is kind of a conundrum. I like the way in which you analyze hands and play, but your short stack theories are wildly inaccurate. I think this mainly comes from a misunderstanding of implied odds and how this applies to full stack play. I consider the concept of implied odds to be the greatest con ever pulled on the poker community at large.

I noticed that you said if you buy in full and a SSer raises 4x and a tight big stack calls, you should call with 44 to bust the big stack. Where to begin here?

The SS range up front is very tight, typically TT+, AQ-AK, and sometimes tighter (like myself). The nitty full stack is almost always re-raising the hands you are likely to bust him with, namely QQ-AA. However, look even further here. He is only likely to stack off with QQ and KK IF no ace hits the board. And given the effects of card removal because of the short stack, he is more likely to contain hands like AQ, AJs, 77-TT. The only way that these hands are likely to stack away against another full stack acting behind him is when he either flops 2 pair (still has 4 outs), pair + nut draw, nut straights, and bigger sets.

And now back to the (very) optimistic scenario that this guy was actually smart enough to cold call with QQ-AA. These hands are just as likely to flop a set as you and if they are going to stack away every time here, guess what? You are right back to being a 4:1 dog with your 44. And that doesn’t even factor in when the board comes really bad and you happen to get bluffed off your set.

In addition, the concept of flopping big and stacking someone is simply the wrong way of looking at things. If you assume that you play your 44 perfectly, you still need to look at what your AVERAGE profit for this scenario is. In a $1/2 game, I would say it would be VERY optimistic to assume that this situation will even net you $3 on average, but the variance you will be taking on to win this $3 is enormous. And yet again, it also ignores the negative psychological effects of missing your set an inordinate amount of time, flopping it and getting nothing in return, flopping it and losing to a higher set, flopping it and getting little because of scary boards, and the worst of all, flopping it, building a large pot and then getting bluffed off it.

As a foot note to my response, given the negative scenarios that can result even after flopping your set, the potential ensuing tilt probably makes this play neutral EV at best. In a round about way, what I am really trying to say here is that set mining in general is a bad policy and goes against basic good play which requires that YOU be the aggressor.


havin_a_laff said...

I don't know if your comment about set mining applies to full stack play but I have gotten into a few debates with low stakes posters on 2 + 2 who will never 3-bet with a pair like 66 from the BB.

Preferring to call and set mine thinking that they are behind a 20/18 (6-max) who raises from the SB. I don't think I am particularly aggressive and keep wondering if I am over playing hands like 66. Anyway I definitely prefer to be the aggressor PF rather than try to setmine.

Lorin Yelle said...

I can't see a whole lot of value of 3-betting 66 in this spot as a full stacker. Unfortunately for you, this is a play that works for short stackers, as we can just shove in this spot.

With a full stack, by 3-betting here, you are folding out all the hands that you want to play with you. You are also inviting a very undesirable 4-bet situation, which you can't possibly call.