Fold Equity and
Restealing in Multi Table Tournaments
will be hopefully the first of a series of posts
I'll make on concepts of advanced tournament play.
School is starting so MTT play will be limited,
but as I try to implement or learn new concepts
I will share them on this blog.
As a little bit of a background,
I have a fairly nice history in online MTT play.
I've made some final tables and some nice 4-figure
scores against tough fields. I have made some
great ballsy plays against tough opponents that
amaze me when I go through my hand history. I've
played players such as Rizen on final table bubbles
and went deeper than him (although I can't necessarily
say I outplayed him or even have the capability
to). I've read opponents' cards like they were
face up and picked off the most intimidating of
I have also refused to give up on
hands where I was obviously beaten, and have given
up on hands where a monkey can see that I was
ahead. I have gone on tilt and donked off a dominating
chip lead with 80% of the field gone and only
10% left to the money. I have given up on aggression
and gone into a weak-tight shell when facing quality
opponents. I have made horrible bluffs with my
entire stack, and made horrible calls for my entire
stack when convincing myself that my opponent
was bluffing. I have slow-played myself out of
more tournaments than I can count.
Anyone playing a good aggressive
game with ABC poker skills can have some success
in MTT tournaments. Most of my big scores have
been when I played fairly straight-forward the
entire time, and this is the best way to play
at least early on in a tourney. However, in the
middle to late stages of the tournament I feel
I miss out on tons of opportunities to play the
situation and not the cards. You HAVE to find
ways to go outside of the box to accumulate chips
if you want to put yourself in position to win
the tournament. We all know the importance of
concepts such as blind stealing when the blinds
get high and antes kick in but I want to learn
and discuss some of the lesser-known issues.
I played a small MTT on Bodog ($10+1,
401 players) this week that really opened my eyes
to the art of restealing. It was one of those
"Aha!" moments that we poker players
occasionally experience in our evolution.
Bodog won't let you save hand histories,
so here is the summary as best I can recall:
Around 80 people left in tourney
with 45 getting paid. Average stack is around
7100, blinds are 150/300 with 25 ante. Here (yours
truly) is in small blind w/ 68s, and a stack of
around 3000 left. Everyone folds around to the
button, who makes it something like 1000 or 1200.
Pot is now approximately 1800. I looked down at
my 68s and decided they couldn't stand a raise,
especially not with my stack. Big blind folds
and button takes it.
The thing that bothered me about
this hand is that I never thought beyond my cards.
A better player would recognize that the button
is most likely stealing and recognized a good
chance to resteal. Many better players would probably
push from my SB with any two considering the opponent
I was against. I am not a better player, but am
trying to become one, so pondered this hand for
awhile. I should automatically suspect a steal
here, and additionally my notes on the player
already stated that he was a habitual blind stealer
and had even shown 39o after a steal from the
cutoff earlier in the tournament.
I concluded that I have to push
at this point. First off, I have tremendous fold
equity. For those not familiar with the term,
it is basically saying that I stand to make a
decent amount of money on average because my opponent
will be folding. There is a very good chance here
that my opponent will fold and I won't have to
show the world what I'm raising with. These reasons
alone are almost good enough to justify pushing
any 2 cards here.
But what if he calls? I will be
an underdog for sure. However, I can assume both
of my cards are live and suited 1-gappers play
reasonably well against strong holdings compared
to complete trash like 47o. I decided to try to
put my opponent on a range here. I decided that
he will probably be raising on somewhere around
the top 50% of hands at this point (and based
on his 39o from earlier, this may be too conservative
of an estimate). With so many chips in the pot
I will say that he will have to call with most
good holdings. A-8s, any two broadway cards, and
any pocket pair might make the call. This is around
20% of all possible holdings. From here, I can
determine my average gain (EV) of pushing.
In terms of chips, I expect to profit
F * (1800) + C * (W*3600-L*1800)
F= % of time opponent folds, C = 1- F = % of time
opponent calls, W = % of times I win when he calls
and L = 1-W = % of time I lose when he calls.
The chip amounts are based off of how many are
in the pot already (around 1800), and what I would
stand to gain or lose should he calls (I have
to put in 1800, but will make 3600 when he calls
and I win). The first term of the equation is
the fold equity, the second part is the showdown
Using the idea that he will raise
with the top 50% of cards but only call with the
top 20%, F = 3/5 = 60% and C = 2/5 = 40%. Running
my holding versus his possible range in PokerCalculator
I find that I should win somewhere around 35%
of the time, or a little more than a third.
Running everything into my above
equation I find:
Expected net = 1116 chips. When
I just fold expected net = 0 chips.
Basically, every time I make this
play I expect a 33% or so increase on my stack.
With that kind of edge, this push HAS to be made.
If he surprises me with a huge hand I'm going
broke, but I can comfortably put him on a range
that makes this a long-term good move.
I encourage you to use the formula
above and play with it depending on different
opponents. The most important thing to note is
that the lower your fold equity, the better your
starting hand should be. For example, against
a very tight opponent the fold percentage may
be around 10% or even less and his range increasingly
dominates ours so that it becomes a losing move.
Even against my opponent 60% may be too high since
he will get 2:1 on what he calls with. My suited
1-gappers are actually a profitable move against
his range even if I am 100% sure he calls, but
chances are my fold equity will still be high
enough for this to be profitable if I had worse
cards. Check 27o vs your opponents range to see
when it may be right to move.
You don't have to be short-stacked
to make this move either. You can both have big
stacks. The equation I gave is only applicable
in the case that someone is getting all their
chips in preflop, so if you are big stacked and
just repop to 2 or 3 times his raise you are on
your own postflop if he calls and may God have
mercy on your soul should he re-raise. However,
if you assume that you will give up on the flop
unless you hit big or will fold to a preflop 3-bet
it is good to have some kind of handle on your
fold equity. If you think he has a big raising
range but small calling range you have great fold
equity and it may be worth taking a chance to
accumulate chips. Show him your dominance and
this and other articles in the Lizard Lounge.