Two live cards

Some bloggers were playing in a blogger-only WSOP satellite Sunday night. Two short stacks went all-in; one survived. But the survivor had the hammer (7-2 offsuit), and that got the other guy mad, and some name-calling resulted.

It may hurt to hear it, but the hammer player made the right decision, and wasn’t acting at all in an “essentially random fashion.” In low-M situations, the cards aren’t that important. You can’t afford to see a flop without first exploiting the fold equity of your stack. If you did limp in with half your stack, your opponent would put you all-in on the flop no matter what. So your only move is to go all-in preflop the first time it’s folded to you. You hope that everyone else folds, or someone calls with two cards that don’t pair up.

Unfortunately, this works in the other direction, too. The larger stack is going to assume the short stack is playing aggressively:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em Tourney,
Big Blind is t3000 (3 handed)

Sowbug (t146659)
Button (t89108)
SB (Victim) (t34233)

Preflop: Sowbug is BB with 4h, Qs.    
1 fold, SB (Victim) raises to t9000, Sowbug raises to t15000,
SB (Victim) raises to t34083, Sowbug calls t19083.

Flop: (t68316) 2s, 7c, 4s (2 players)
Victim said, "what?"

Turn: (t68316) Jd (2 players)

River: (t68316) 7s (2 players)

Final Pot: t68316

Results below:  
Sowbug has 4h Qs (two pair, sevens and fours).  
Victim has Qh Ad (one pair, sevens).  
Outcome: Sowbug wins t68316.

Much of the preflop raising was just posturing on my part, but Victim’s all-in gave me excellent pot odds (2.6 to 1). Against 22+,ATs+,KTs+,QTs+,JTs,ATo+,KTo, Q4o was a 2.2 to 1 underdog, so I had little choice but to call. Granted, I didn’t do this calculation at the time; I knew I’d call when I had to put in 19,083 to win 49,233 and have a chance at guaranteeing at least a second-place finish.