Saturday, February 16, 2008

Harrington and AQ

I was readying Harrington Vol 3 today and I was particularly focused for an hour on 3 pages. The AQ hand. Now, I consider myself a Harrington disciple. If this was a chop-socky movie, I would address him as "master". So imagine my confusion when I read this scenario and disagreed with his take on it.

Its a field of 400 and the top 10% get paid. There are 50 players left, so its 10 to the bubble. The blinds are 400/800 and the stacks vary from $4800 to $18000. You the $4800 stack.

The UtG player raises to $1800 (3xBB) which is standard since the ante's have not started yet. Folds to you in the 7 hole with AQo. The player folds and Harrington chastises him for his "mistake".

Now I am not one to challange the masters at their own game, but it really bothered me. In the last few weeks, I am sure I would fold AQ here. Anicdotal evidence would show me going on to cash in all of those situations. What am I missing?

Here is my theory, and its important heading into our WSOP season. This may be a situation where its correct to fold online, but push at a table. Why?

Three reasons:
  1. There is far less respect at an online table. Player are more willing to make calls here online. Therefore, you have less fold equity on your push over the top of $3k.
  2. You play more hands / hour online and therefore can wait longer for a situation you like better, such as getting into the pot first.
  3. The ante has not started and the player has the biggest stack at the table, so I expect his range to be narrow here. Narrow enough that he knows he is calling my push when he bets here. I expect a pair or AK/AQ from the UtG here. I cant see AJ here with him expecting to have to fold to a reraise and 8 others to get past.

But at a big money brick and mortar tournament, coming over the top here for $3k more carries much more weight in my opinion. You have fewer hands so AQ goes up in value, aggression is far better in table play and is an established formula, and there is more folding respect at a table, especially in big money tournament where you are willing to re-raise on the button. At a table, I might see AJ or a 66 do this expecting to gte past 8 players or simply get called.

This remains a big debate for me in my head and I continue to argue for the fold here. But I certainly see some situations where shoving is correct.


23skidoo said...

While I can argue for the fold here, I can also argue for a push in a good situation such as the bubble. I've never played any large tournaments live, but from what I've seen and heard the bubble is a great place to pick up chips in a live tourney as most ~%70 of the players are going to try and fold to the money.

I push here about %50 of the time and fold the other half of the time.

OhCaptain said...

The biggest problem with the argument to push here with AQ is that AQ is the hand of the devil.

I'm an avid reader of the "Poker Blogs" of these here Internets. My non-scientific scanning of these great writes shows that while the numbers say AQ will win X% of the time, reality shows that AQ is a hand that has no hope or promise at all. Only heartache.

Look for yourself. We've all read the hand histories. Note what hand people die on the most often. It is AQ. Why? It looks good on paper, but in reality, it is cursed much the same way as the Bermuda Triangle.

Am I paranoid? Maybe. But anecdotal evidence is valid if and only if you can reach a number so large people lose track of the facts. I think we have reached that threshold.

Julius_Goat just busted from the FTOPS with AQ. Kajaguru, lost his tournament life in Omaha, NE with AQ. I can't tell you how many times I've pushed it all in with AQ only to go home.

If you chose to push here, you've chosen to dance with the devil. Be prepared for the date to end poorly.


Wirdpair said...

Just an observation, but what tournament doesn't have Antes yet at the 400-800 blind level? The 2008 WSOP main event has antes kicking in at the 150-300 level.

Poker Bully said...

You have 8x the BB in your stack. This is auto push. You need to accumulate chips fast. This will be your best chance to do it before the blinds hit again and you are left with 6.5 blinds and absolutely no fold equity to an initial raiser.

This is especially key during the bubble. It's much more comforting to raise liberally during the bubble 3x the big blind and still have chips left if someone comes over the top, then if you are moving all in every time.