In my last blog I wrote a piece about patience in tournament poker.  I talked about how practicing patience does not mean waiting for “real hands”, but rather for good situations.  I promised to follow that blog with an analysis of a hand I played that I felt was a good situation at the time.  Was it?   Let’s find out…

This hand comes from a $215 buy in MTT I played recently.  It was my bust hand, and it involved me shoving Q2 from the SB into the BB, getting called, and losing.  To the casual observer it might look like I lost patience/was willing to gamble.  That was definitely not the case, I can assure you.  I felt at the time it was a +EV situation to steal the blinds and antes.  Whether or not that was an accurate assessment is another story, and I like to review these spots after the fact to help refine my decisions in future similar situations. 

First, here is the hand:

1,500/3,000 NL - Holdem - 9 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 4

UTG: 96,701
UTG+1: 48,800
UTG+2: 87,755
MP: 74,330
MP+1: 151,497
CO: 33,530
BTN: 73,327
Hero (SB): 30,533
BB: 73,109

9 players post ante of 300, Hero posts SB 1,500, BB posts BB 3,000

Pre Flop: (pot: 7,200) Hero has 2d Qs
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, Hero raises to 30,233 and is all-in, BB calls 27,233

Flop : (63,166, 2 players) Ac As Th

Turn : (63,166, 2 players) 7s

River : (63,166, 2 players) 8d

Hero shows 2d Qs (One Pair, Aces)
BB shows Ad Jd (Three of a Kind, Aces)
BB wins 63,166

So let’s get to the details of why I shoved here.  The BB player was tight, and had not made any light calls or even loose shoves (that were shown), and we’d been at this table together for 63 hands (they were playing 14/13 during this time, and play 18/15 over a larger sample from prior MTT’s).  So I felt I had a lot of fold equity here.  I better feel this way to be shoving, since I’m not shoving on the power of the mighty Q2. 

I estimated in game he would call ~15% of the time.  So now it’s time to do some math and see if this shove is gaining me or losing me chips.  Then decide, if it is in fact gaining chips, if that gain is worth the risk of my tournament life or not. 

There is 7200 chips in the pot preflop.  If he folds 85% of the time, then the fold equity is worth +6120 (7200*.85)

The other 15% of the time I get called and will be an equity underdog to win the pot.  Plugging the range into an equity calculator I’m about a 72-28 dog when called by this range.  So 72% of the time I will lose my remaining 28733, and 28% of the time I will gain 34443 (his call off+blinds/antes).  So the chip EV looks like this:

EV=(7200*.85)+.15*[(34443*.2-(28733*.72)]
EV=6120+.15[9644-20688]
EV=6120-1657
EV= +4463 chips

So, if my estimation of him folding this often is accurate, then the shove shows a long term approximation of adding about 1.5 big blinds to my stack. That’s not bad, especially considering I start the hand with only 10 big blinds.  I can expect to bust out of the tournament about 11% (.15*.72) of the time (a little less than 1/9th of the time). 

After the bust out I felt like maybe I should have passed on this spot.  Hindsight is 20/20 of course.  85% of the time I would have thought nothing of it, simply taking the blinds/antes.  And 4% of the time I would have had a double up that I may have later referred to as a key lucky spot that propelled me to a big finish.

After a critical analysis of the hand, again if my assumption about his calling range is correct, I feel better about taking this spot.  8/9 times I’m going to get a good result, and I think that 1.5bb increase to a stack that will be under 10bb’s if I fold, is worth that risk.