Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Analyzing NLHE:TAP Concept 51

If I'm going to get through these by the end of the year, I'd better try to get a few done during the week. So, here is my analysis of the next concept from the end of No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice. Sorry to those of you who are more interested in my narratives from the poker tables! I'll try to get one of those out in the next week.

Concept No. 51: In tournaments, other things being relatively equal, prefer small river value bets that will often be called to large river value bets that will seldom be called. Put another way, if a smaller bet has a bit less EV, it is still right to make it in most tournament situations.

I haven't played tournaments in years, so I'm no expert, but this concept is seems obviously correct. It's a specific example of a more general tournament concept: it can be worth giving up a little bit of EV in exchange for less volatility. The reasoning behind this idea is that since you can get paid in a tournament even if you do not come in first, it's worthwhile to hold on longer than other players even if your chances of coming in first are diminished slightly. This more general idea would have made for a much better concept idea (ie, more insightful, useful, and generalizable), except perhaps that most tournament poker players already understand this idea.

I'm not sure why, but in these concepts, Sklansky and Miller often forgo more general concepts like this in favor of specific examples that the reader might have difficulty generalizing and incorporating into his game. Maybe using specific examples is more effective in marketing poker books; Sklansky is certainly experienced at writing poker books that are popular.

Also, does anyone else find it strange that the authors are bringing up tournaments in this one concept for this rather obscure point? I guess tournaments are fair game since they are a common form of "No Limit Hold 'em," but I had thought they were focusing on cash games.

1 comment:

Dave said...

It's been a while since I read this book, but I think this concept about tournaments was useful just because it was in direct opposition to an idea that the spent quite a bit of space on proving earlier.

The earlier concept was that when in doubt, it's better to bet bigger when you have the nuts on the end than to bet smaller hoping that they would call the smaller amount. They mathed it out to show you're better getting called one time for a huge amount than 2-3 times for a smaller amount.

I think they wanted to make sure the reader knew that in tournaments you don't necessarily want to use that method because it's so important to accumulate chips.

At the very least, that's what I remember thinking when I read the book.