Sunday, August 4, 2013

Missing Value in MTT's

Last night was the latest installment of the monthly home league MTT (usually 35-45 players) that I've been doing fairly well in so far this year.  Going in to this month I had final tabled 6 out of the past 7 months with 3 cashes, including one win.  Despite having a very cold run of cards in the middle stages last night, I managed to finish 4th out of 36 players, making it 7/8 final tables and 4/8 cashes.  Not too shabby I guess, and this most recent finish should hopefully put me atop the leaderboard in points (which determine starting stacks for the final championship freeroll).

I still left this tournament mulling over a few hands.  The bustout hand was a no-brainer, though it did sting a little - with blinds at 4k/8k I shoved from the SB over a 20k button raise to 55k or so.  My AKo out-flopped his A2s, but a deuce on the turn ended my run.  The hands that I picked out for analysis are two main spots where I felt I missed a bet and did not get full value out of my hand on the river.  These were not spots where a big chunk of my stack were on the line, but when you think about the big picture of MTT play, little spots like these make a big difference in how you run.

Hand #1: AQo in a TPTK situation
2nd level of the tournament, blinds at 50/100 with 15k effective stacks.  There are 2 loose-passive limpers in front of me and I limp along with AQo in middle position.  Terrible player and complainer - we'll call him Mr. C - on my left joins in and so do the blinds.  5-way flop comes out Q65 rainbow.  Checks to me and I bet 225, hoping I'm in fairly good shape and didn't end up letting suckout hands in by only limping in.  I like my hand, but am willing to let it go in this spot if I get significant return fire.  Only Mr. C calls and the flop comes out a 2.  I lead again for 450 this time, Mr. C calls.  River is a 3, no flush draw on the board now of Q6532.  I figured Mr. C for a Queen here.  If he had better I would have likely heard about it before the river.  Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5, and Q6 are all within his range, as he is really bad, but more likely are probably hands like KQ, QJ, QT, or possibly also 87.  Chances are I'm still ahead by the river and that Mr. C has a hand he is going to call a decent sized bet with.  A bet of somewhere in the range of 800-1000 would've most likely gotten called.  Of course I didn't do that - I checked it down with him and my AQo was good against his KQs.

Perhaps it was an unconscious habit of usually getting 2 streets of value with TPTK hands and looking to check-call the river, as I might do in a cash game, that kept me from value betting the river.  In hindsight I think it was clear that I missed an easy bet here that cost me maybe 1k or so in chips.  On a wetter board, such as QJ949, I wouldn't be suggesting this.  Q6532 may look wet to some, and in some situations could be considered as such, but given the action I think Mr. C's range is mostly Queen-heavy.

Hand #2: 2nd pair against open-faced player
Much later on, we're down to 12 players or so with blinds at 1k/2k (can't remember what they were but there were antes as well).  6-handed and our villain, an older lady who tends to play her hands very face-up (min-raises pre with top pairs, 2 face cards, and big aces, then insta-shoves any stack size with TP and anything better), min-raises to 4k.  I'm in the BB with KQo and about 30k.  I contemplating re-raising or shoving, but the old lady has called down light before with hands like A5o, and I'm not looking to get it in as a slight dog.  I just flat call and decide to see a flop first.

The flop comes out AQ6 with two hearts.  I check and the old lady checks back.  This is a clear sign to me that she does not have an Ace, and probably not a Queen or flush draw either.  The turn is an off-suit 7.  I lead out for 2500 and she calls.  The river is another 6.  I check and she checks back, I show the Queen and she mucks, taking a harder look at the board as if she had no idea a Queen was out there.  My guess is that she had a middle pair like 88 - JJ and might have called a small-medium bet on the river.  I would have been very surprised if I was not ahead in this specific spot against this specific opponent, and although she might have folded to any river bet, I once again missed a clear spot to get value.

These may seem like minor missteps or missed opportunities, but think about it in this scenario.  Say you missed this extra value and find yourself short-stacked later on with a 15k stack.  You then go on a good run and double up twice through bigger stacks, putting your at 60k.

Now let's say that everything else is the same in our scenario, except that you picked up that extra value earlier on and were short-stacked at 20k instead of 15k.  Again you double up twice and work up to 80k instead of the 60k in our first scenario.  Those few extra chips that we missed in earlier stages can become compounded in their value later on when it really matters.  The extra 20k here could make the difference in whether or not we gamble with knocking out a short stack, how aggressive we can be in attacking the blinds, and whether or not we have to put our tournament life on the line in certain spots.

The key here is knowing your opponents, being able to read and analyze the board texture, and sizing your value bets precisely.  Look for the small leaks in your tournament play and the big picture of how you finish in the long run should hopefully begin to reveal itself.

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