Tuesday, August 30, 2005

and another lightbulb goes off

You're familiar with the GAP concept, and you know what a LAG is, but do you know what you get when you COMBINE the two? A way to work through being card dead.

I always assumed that when pundits squawked about the early level exception to the GAP rules, I understood why. But I really did not until now. If you recall, Skalansky recommends in his advanced tournament book, "Do an awful lot of limping in the early rounds". I assumed that this was because stacks were so deep and you did not want to get involved in a big pot early. But that is not quite it. It's more about pressure and GAP respect.

No one is going to respect a 3xBB raise in level 1. So basically, you are unable to play solid poker and have an edge. You are much better off playing very low risk and speculative poker until the blinds catch up with the stacks. Why? Well, look at it this way. Early levels you are looking for BIG hands post flop. Two pair minimum vs. what is a probably a multi-way pot. There is lots of action and you need to showdown winning hands. Some pros play very tight in this situation. But others play loose and try to accumulate lots of chips. Either way, no one is trying to beat the game pre-flop at level 2.

Fast forward to level 8. Blinds are getting bigger and there may even be an ante. TJ says, “when the antes start, poker starts”. Why? Because NOW you have to play very solid to survive and advance. And you need to do both.

Now, if you build the following perceptions:
1. I have solid starting requirements
2. I understand the GAP and will lay down even AK in the right situation.
3. If I get a hand, I will punish limpers or unraised pots.
4. I will make you throw away your hand if you come in with junk and I have a good hand.
5. I am not afraid to raise you, even when every chip is valuable.

Once that is established, you can make a well timed First To Act raise with lower requirements such as JTo. If you get called, you still have a chance to win based on the flop. If someone puts in a big reraise, they probably not only have you beat, they have you clobbered. They have overplayed their dominate hand and allowed you to escape.

But to circle around to the original premise… When you are card dead, you can use the GAP to raise in early position with any suited 1 gap or better connector, and Kx or Qx (caution) or even a unsuited connector and win enough small pots to survive until either you get caught “changing gears” or you actually hit a flop hard and really hurt someone.

And this is why changing gears is so important. Because you can also artificially create this situation in circumstances where others would tighten up, such as the bubble. You don’t have to win all the hands. Heck, you don’t even have to win a majority of the hands. You simply have to do this profitably. And the measurement is that over the course of the entire tournament, this results in gaining more chips than losing them.

Can it be this simple? Can this be the understanding I needed to click in my head? (That and to stop overplaying made hands.) Combine this with "pressure" (see the DoubleAs blog, and we have a Whirling Dirvish.


doubleas said...

Awesome post!

columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

High praise indeed coming from such a highly respected player. A sincere thank you.