The two most valuable things I learnt about playing tournaments were a) 16-24 big blinds is a lovely stack size to shove over a raise that you think will fold a fair amount of the time with a hand with equity & b) if the pot represents more than 15% of your stack then shoving with some equity and prospect of picking up the chips uncontested is the thing to do.

The trouble is you get into spots like shoving Th9h over a cut off raise to find QQ waiting in the blinds or the original raiser calling wider than expected, that make you question the play and ultimately give some tough math problems!

Hand 1

9 handed on final table of a WPT Barcelona Sat where top 4 get seats to the final. Blinds 200/400 with ante of 40.

Villain raises UTG to 800 from a stack of 25 big blinds. Hero has AKo in the hijack.

I decide to reshove over 40 big blinds because villain is very aggressive, opens 15% from early position and shouldn’t want to call off without the very top of his range as it is his tournament life. Equally there is only one stack behind me significantly larger, calling would cripple anyone else.

The simple math on this is average winning = (chips we win when villain folds x frequency this happens) + (chips we win when villain calls x frequency this happens) - (chips we lose when villain calls x frequency this happens).

Here I expect that villain folds 64% of the time and we pick up 1760 chips

I expect we win when called (36%) 42% of the time and we pick up 10960

I expect we lose when called (36%) 58% of the time and lose 10000

= 1126.4+1644-2071.4 = +699

Trouble is only factoring in the original raiser and need to consider that the 4 players still to act will probably call with the top 3% of their range … This calculator  factors in players behind but only for the effective stack between you and the original raiser (which still has it as a winning play). As it happens the button called all in with AA and the original villain folded.

Even though the Math says I gain more than I lose, I still think the better play would be to 3 bet to 2200 committing myself clearly versus the shortie in the cut off and the UTG raiser and being able to fold to any of the 30bb+ stacks who shove. As it was shoving 40bb to get snapped off by a 35bb stack with aces + close to the bubble made me feel a bit silly!

Hand 2
Late stages of a Sunday Major on one of the smaller euro sites. Villain who is new to the table so no hands played yet opens from the hijack to 50000. I reshove AKo from the small blind. Big blind is short - has 300,000. I have 980,000 villain is effective stack of 750000. Blinds are 12500/25000 with ten players at the table total antes are 25000.

I believe the villain would open 18% and call off AQs+ and TT+ = 3.8%. When I plug that into the calculator with the assumption the big blind calls with only top 2%, I get:

I expect that villain folds 79% of the time and we pick up 112500 chips

I expect we win when called (21%) 43% of the time and we pick up 800000

I expect we lose when called (21%) 57% of the time and lose 737500

= 88875+72240-88279 = +72836

Because the big blind is short and I expect only calling with top 2%, it only makes -10000 difference to expected gain. So more of a gain than hand 1, but given that I was 13/40 in a tourney with 12k up top you do have to consider am I happy with being knocked down to less than 10big blinds around 12% of the time. I think given that this is balanced with going 2nd in chips around 9% I would do the same again. The alternative that is worth considering is 3 betting small and folding to his shove – I don’t like that as I feel like he does that with more than 3.8% of hands as 30 big blinds is a perfect stack for this move.

As it was I lost a big race against QQ and finished 36th. But I guess the moral is to come away from losing a race or running into a big hand behind when reshoving, plug the numbers into the formulae or the tool that considers players behind for a little more accuracy and often you find that what felt like foolish moves in isolation are winning over the long course. Still as hand 1 shows you can adapt in order to avoid losing the maximum, especially when beautiful Barcelona is involved.

Update: Online tourneys going pretty bad, need to get back to keeping records on Excel rather than relying on sharkscope for tourneys and Holdemmanager for cash, the former misses some tourneys and the latter misses some hands on some sites.