Making EV Decisions in MTTs

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Making +EV Decisions in Poker Tournaments

Poker is a game of incomplete information, and in every tournament we are faced with decisions to risk our stacks in the hope of getting extra chips.  Whether it’s for value-shoving or re-stealing, we should always consider EV and our estimatation of our opponents hand range when deciding to shove pre-flop. This article illustrates the importance of reading your opponent’s positional hand ranges before deciding to re-steal all-in.

Situation: We have 15xBBs left in a tournament and our opponent opens for 3xBB.  How do we decide whether it will be +EV to jam now with regards to our opponents hand ranges?

Firstly, we need to estimate what hands and how often our opponent is calling.  He could be opening on the button 50% of the time; however he’s only calling your shove with his top 10% of hands.  (Note this could be much higher if we had a smaller stack).

Now, 80% of the time we win 5.5BBs (3xBB plus SB + BB + antes) and our stack increases by 1/3.  20% of the time we’re getting called.

We can use a free program like PokerStove to then determine our hand strength versus his calling range.

The top 10.3% of his hands is: A9s; AJo; KTs; QTs; KQo, and 77+.  

Now we can plug in whatever hand we’re considering re-stealing/jamming with.  Examples of good re-stealing hands against his calling range are calculated below:

78s: 33.7%
A2o: 34.7%
22: 39.1%
JTs: 35.8%

All of these hands are underdogs; however in a poker tournament situation such as this, it shouldn’t put us off.  For example, even 72 offsuit is 24.5% against his range.  Using the above calculations, if we were to re-steal with 72, 80% of the time we’d win 5.5BBs, 20% of the time we’d get called.  Now, in 75.5% of those times (or 15% of the total sample size) we lose 15BBs, and 24.5% of the time we get called and win 15BBs + the 2.5BBs from the SB, BB and antes.

Our EV for making the move altogether is = 2.265 big blinds.  This is profitable play and we should re-steal/shove in this situation.

Conclusion Using PokerStove yand Calculating Your Opponents Hand Ranges

 What this brief scenario has shown, is that you can/should be using tools such as PokerStove to calculate EV decisions in poker tournaments.  Obviously there you cannot make calculations like this all the time; however by inputting scenarios like this you can improve your experiences in determining profitable play.

A word of warning however that when using poker calculator software such as PokerStove,  it is heavily dependent on how accurate your estimation is on the percentage of hands your opponent is calling with.   For example, if we have a chipstack of only 10BBs, our opponent could be calling with 30% of his hands.  This would radically change the EV of re-stealing 


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