Monday, October 13, 2008

A Brief Thought On Late Stage Play

After responding to a post over at the Poker in Colorado forums, I thought I'd share it here. Take it for what it's worth, it's one donk's opinion related to latish stage play. In particular, when you find yourself with a mid pocket pair in early-to-mid position in an unopened pot.

The original poster offered up a scenario of fiding a medium to large pair (up to QQ) in such a position, and asked whether a player should open shove, or perhaps put in a standard raise (presumably, to be followed by calling any 3-bet preflop). The original poster's logic, which I agree with, is that "AK will almost always call here if you shove and often ace doesn't hit board on flop, so if you just raise, you may be able to bet AK off of hand, unless they are big-stacked."

Anyway, the poster asked which play has is more +EV.

I couldn't really say which has the better long term +EV potential. However, I've run into this situation a few times recently myself, and have come to the conclusion that it's a pretty good spot for a stop and go play. Or, I suppose a modified stop and go, since you'd be open raising, as opposed to the classic stop and go, which would consist of flat calling preflop, and shoving any flop.

You could put in an open raise between 2.5-3.5x the BB (if 3.0x would be 1/2 your chips, I'd go closer to 2.5.), and if a later player flat calls, you can shove any flop. Even if an ace hits the flop, shoving the flop could reasonably push out smaller aces, say, through A8 (such donk shouldn't be flat calling your open raise in the first place, but they often do). If villian has a large ace and is in late position, they're probably 3-betting enough to put you all in preflop anyway, in which case you can conceivable still lay down here if you have enough of a read on villian. However, I think that's a weakish play, and don't recommend this form of stop and go unless you're prepared to call any reraise behind you. Otherwise, you're best preflop play is simply shoving or folding.

Though in most cases, if you're open raising early with 77-TT, you're probably calling a 3-bet anyway. You're opening these hands knowing you're essentially committed to calling off the rest of your chips to a preflop reraise. But then, if your decision is whether to open-shove, or open-raise followed by a shove on any flop that doesn't include an ace, you're probably keen to call the reraise anyway.

If you try this move, you almost have to shove any flop that isn't AAx (because your preflop caller won't put you an ace in your pocket if you shove here and he's holding an ace, because you'd be slow playing flopped trips). Frankly, it all depends on villian's concept of fold equity and his stack size, to a certain extent. But here's the thing, if you open raise, versus an open shove, and you don't bet the flop, you'll be either check-folding the flop or much more likely, calling from way behind. So you have to take the lead.

This form of modified stop-and-go is probably a much easier play with TT-QQ than with 77-99, in that the latter requires a bit more intestinal fortitude. But remember, we're doing this trying to get someone with a weak A to call, and unless the ace hits the flop, there's a good enough possibility you're still ahead, and even if you're not (example, if ATo calls and flop is something like KT5r, or if A3-A6 calls, and flop is something like AQTr), the shove on any flop should still induce a fold a good enough measure of the time to make this a profitable play.

Still, I'd recommend having a decent table image and decent read at the time you try it. I imagine this is workable whether you're playing live poker or online poker.

Am I wack here, or is this even sound strategy?

I'm interested in others' ideas here, particularly folks like LJ, Hoy, Lucko, and others who tend to run deep in MTTs often enough to have been able to see this situation more than a few times.

EDIT: As LJ pointed out, there's no real mention of stack sizes, and only vague mention of position. Again, this is pretty much just a theoretical possible strategy, but assume average (or slightly below) stack size, and seating anywhere from UTG to MP2. If your stack is shorter than that, and you want to play the mid to QQ pocket pair, you're better off just open-shoving. If you're larger than average stack this deep in the tourney, your plays aren't really limited to the couple talked about here.


lj said...

i lost you about halfway through. what is the stack size, and in what position are you talking about?

Mondogarage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mondogarage said...

I think part of this is that I was responding to someone else, and he did not specify.

I'll edit my post to assume UTG, through, say, MP2, and average stack size.