Other Key Topics For PHASE I

Drawing hands – checking pot odds

Some times in the early stages of the tourney you have a choice of either staying in the hand with a drawing hand, or folding. Your actions depend on the pot odds (implied). Here is an easy way to compute your odds – from our limit system:

“One simply method to calculate pot odds is to determine how many outs you have. If you have 2 overpairs –AK and a gutshot str8 draw and the pot has $10 and someone bets, another person calls what should you do? Calculate your outs A (3 outs)or K(3 outs) plus the str8 gutshot card (4 outs). The pot has $10 plus the $2 just added – or $12.00. The odds of you hitting one of your hands is 3+3+4 =10 outs. Double this and you have 20. You can estimate that you have a 20% chance of hitting one of your cards with one card coming. Since calling only costs $1 you have great odds (calling $1 to win possible $12 and you have a 20% chance of hitting a winning card). So add your outs and double that number for a %. This is a rough way to calculate your odds but can be helpful. Remember that just because you might hit an out- doesn’t mean you will always win. If you hit the A, someone else might have 2 pr and you lose. Use this as an estimate. To account for this- you can use partial outs. Perhaps only count 4 or 5 outs instead of the full 6 for the AK draws. Using this system using pot odds is beneficial in times where the correct call is unclear.

The other concept is implied odds. You calculated odds for the current pot. Your actual odds are a little better because once you hit your hand, you should get more bets in. This is implied odds. You can use this if you are sure the opponent will call. I normally won’t use implied odds – I’ll stick to normal pot odds and if its even I make the call since I know in reality I’m getting a little bit more with the implied odds.”

In the No Limit system, we only use pot odds for our drawing hands – either a flush draw or straight draw. In both cases, odds of hitting are about 30%. So if the pot has 200 and someone bets 100, its ok to call since you only have to put in another 100 for the chance to win 300. Implied odds make it worth it since if you hit on the turn, you can always raise and hope he has an overpair he won’t let go of. In the same example, say the pot had 200 and he bet 200 (the pot). Its not quite as good now. You have to put in another 200 to try and win 400 (2:1). I would only call if I had a flush draw and it was the nut or second nut flush draw. I would also like to have another out in the form of the Ace or King. This is a tough call but probably ok as long as your M is high. Lets say the pot has 200 and he bets 400. Now you have horrible odds and it’s an easy fold. You would have to bet 400 to try and win 600 (almost 1:1).

The other subtle concept when checking your odds on drawing hands is to make sure you are not going to pot commit yourself and be forced to hang out. You want to always have around 60-75% of your start chips at all times. So in a tourney starting with 2000 chips, you only mess with draws if in doing so, your stack won’t shrink too much. This is why its ok to play draws early (when blinds/bets are low) but not good later in the tournament. If you have 1500 chips after the flop, the pot has 500 and someone bets 300, you might have decent odds to call, however in this case I would probably not make it. The reason why is that if you miss the turn you will only have 1200 (getting in the red zone). He will probably push all-in the next hand and you will either have to call or fold. Neither case looks good when you are drawing on the river. So, beware and don’t get too attached to drawing hands.

Unnecessary Risks (risk/reward)

You must be careful to not take unnecessary risks if the gain is small. Good example is calling a raise with AQo in an early stage of a SNG. You don’t need to risk 10% of your stack to grow it by 5%. It is more important early on to keep your stack big than to risk getting into a low M situation because you missed the flop or made a continuation bet and someone reraised all-in.

Put another way, if a certain action won’t improve your odds of finishing ITM, but there is a chance you will get knocked out or placed in a position that will greatly affect your ability to finish ITM, then you shouldn’t take the action. For example: “Early stage of tourney. You have 1200 chips. You have AQs and limp in. Someone reraises 50. You call the raise. Flop comes and it is 27K rainbow (pot has about 130 chips). The raiser checks to you. You see weakness – what is your move? Answer: “ you should check back. There is very little to gain, with a fair amount to lose. Here’s why. You have about 1100 chips. If you take a shot at the pot (bet the pot) you might win 130 – giving you 1230 chips. If you bet and he calls or reraises, you will now have to fold and will have less than 1000 chips. Not a good situation to be in at all. Especially since the blinds are coming and when they’re done with you you’ll only have about 900 left. So, there was little to gain, but a lot to lose. In this case, checking would be the correct move. Our system tries to take all these situations into account but you must understand the whys in order to be able to act fast. Just think “what is the gain, and what is the potential lost?”. If you do this when there are questions, you should be ok.

Keeping Your Stack above 1000 chips

A very difficult concept contained in this system is that you should under most circumstances, do every thing you can to keep from allowing your stack to go below 1000 chips. The reason why is that once you are below 1000 chips, you become extremely vulnerable. Not only from bigger stacks, but also the blinds. You are getting crushed and the doors are closing in real fast when your stack hits about 1000 and the blinds are getting big. In the middle and late stages of the tourney we address this issue as needed – but basically what the system instructs you to do is to push all-in before the blinds take you below 1000 chips. Of course you can’t push in with any hand – you still are selective. The key is that your standards drop significantly once you are about to drop below 1000 chips. It is much better to do a coin flip with 1000 chips than it is to do one with 600 chips. The reason why is that in the first case – if you win – you are immediately back in the tourney. In the later case, you need to win two coin flips to get back to the initial point of being in decent position for the tourney. Again, this issue is discussed as needed in the appropriate sections. This is just a preview.

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