Patrick Clarke – Irish Open 2014 Final Table

Final table time…

Finally made it but the job wasn’t done yet, not by a long shot. I went into the final table pretty confident actually, I had played with most of the players throughout the tournament and had a good feel I thought for what they were doing, and I had my own game plan as well.  I started off the final table in 3rd place but there was so little between 1st and 6th places. It was actually pretty unusual because normally there would be 1 or 2 guys with a significant chip lead but that wasn’t the case here, so it started off like a sit n go in a way.

I decided I was going to play pretty snug starting off and pick my spots to chip up and hopefully get some hands as well. The 1st hand I really played at the final table was I defended my bb from a min raise from Thomas O’Shea who seemed to be the most active player at the table. Maybe he was just picking up hands, I’m not sure.  Anyway I defended with 55, flop comes Q73 rainbow. I check, he checks back, turn pairs the board 3 and I check again, and now he bets 100k. I call and the river comes a K which I didn’t love but wasn’t just gonna give him credit for it either. I check he bets 200k so am thinking he’s either slow played a monster from the flop maybe hit the K or he’s bluffing. He just didn’t seem comfortable at all. I think a few hands before that he won a pot and was all chatty on the river when the other guy was tanking, and he showed a card at the end of the hand. I was pretty sure he had it that hand, and now in this hand I was tanking for quite a bit and he didn’t budge so I eventually made the call and was right, it was an important pot at the time as it gave me a nice boost as well.

The next big hand I played was QQ utg, I open for a min raise, and Antone Smitts shoves all in for around 700k, I call and the QQ holds v his 1010, and that gave me a nice chip lead then.. We were down to the official final table now of 8 and I was a chip leader and growing in confidence.

We went on a short break and then were straight back into the action, this time there was hole card cam so the players could find out what you had 15 mins after a hand.  I don’t think it really affected my play at all, I just played as I normally would. I was pretty active when we came back after the break, raising a lot in position and trying to use my chip lead to my advantage.  I wasn’t just gonna shut down and try ladder up a few places, I was going for the win,

I played an interesting pot with Barry Donovan were I had AJ and I was raising a lot at this stage so I felt someone was gonna play back soon enough, so I opened for little over min raise 130k and he 3bets me very small to 255k. I didn’t wanna just give up on the hand yet so I decided to 4 bet him to 620k and he kind of snap called it, which had me kind of suspicious straight away, and I decided in my head I was gonna give up on the hand.  I checked the flop of Q92 and he shoved.  I found out later he had AA!! Dodged a bullet there, 2 bullets even.

Next man out was John Lundy who I was told to be careful of, that if he got chips he would be hard to stop, he got kind of coolered when his AK ran into my AA

Then after that came maybe the hand of the tournament, Donovan raised utg with and it folded round to me in the bb and I just called with 1010, I had about 2.6m and he had around 2.2m we were the 2 chip leaders.. Flop came J 10 9 all clubs, I checked raised Barry on the flop and he went all in. I call and he turns over KK with the K of clubs for a mountain of outs and the ultimate sweat, any Q club or K, 15 outs he had. It bricks out thankfully for me and I move into a bigger chip lead.

Another sole survivor was out next Micheal Gilligan, he was getting short stacked and shoved from the hijack and I called with A8 from the button, he had Q10cc. I flopped an ace and he flopped a flush draw but never improved. Shortly after that Olly Lynch was out in 5th when his AK got outdrawn by O’Shea’s J10 all in pre flop.

O’Shea was next to hit the rail in 4th, he made a large open utg and I shoved on him with A10 he called it off with Q9cc, Ace high held and we were down to 3.

It felt like we were 3 handed for quite a bit before the next exit, and there was quite a few different dynamics building between us all. Anyway, the hand began with Liam raising from the button to 250,000, I then made it 725,000 from the small blind, Pollock folded and Liam then pushed all in. I called and he had 44 and I was in a good spot with 88, no improvement for Liam and I was heads up for the title and also the sole survivor.

We took a short break and then got back into it, I had 8.5 mill starting heads up and Pollock had 2.5mil, after about 10 or 15 hands he had clawed his way back to the point that we were almost even.  I had barely made a hand the whole heads up when the final hand happened, he limped from the button and I checked my option wit K8, flop came down K72. As soon as I seen it I thought this was gonna be a big pot, I checked and he bet, I raised him there and then, and I got the reaction I was looking for, he went all in. I called and I was he a commanding position to take the title. He had Q7 and the board bricked out and I was the champion. It was one of the best feelings I ever had in my life, a dream come true. Even now when I see the trophy sitting in my sitting room I still can’t believe it.

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Too Much Information

One of the hardest things I’ve found in live tournament poker is when you get moved to a new table late on in the day with a below average stack. You’ve familiarised yourself with your previous table for hours and got used to the dynamics there but you now find yourself facing a whole table of new players you know nothing about. You might be tired as well and you’ll be facing raises from unknown players with no clue what their game is all about. You’ve got to get back to work and start figuring all this stuff out. Is that big stack bullying me or is he just picking up hands? Do I raise this opponent back and show I won’t be pushed around or is that too risky with my stack?  Perhaps I should just straight bat for the last two hours and get through the day?

Working all this out is what separates the wheat from the chaff. The very best players can make reads on the fly and overcome these difficulties while the likes of me are more likely to just cling on for the next day and hope to survive.

Well during this year’s WSOP one media outlet was marshalling its reporters to gather HUD statistics on every player and publish them for all to see. HUD stats (or “Head Up Display” statistics) refer to particular information that are usually the preserve of online software packages. But now they were available for everyone to see once they were down to a few tables.  So for instance everyone would know what a particular player’s “Pre Flop Raise” percentage was or their “VPIP” percentage (voluntarily put chips in pot). In short information about the players’ games was freely available to everyone.

Well this didn’t go down well with a lot of people. Clearly the news outlet thought it was a good idea for their readers and viewers and  there is no doubt that spectators find this information interesting. But many of the players didn’t like it one bit.  I totally agree with them. The main reason is that a player’s poker stats are seriously personal information! Only players who sit at the table should be privvy to these statisics. I’m sure some pros would sooner reveal their medical records than details of their playing style.

Of course, this information is “publicly available” in the sense that their table is being played in the Rio hotel and people can wander by the table and have a look. But it isn’t freely available to everyone. The majority of people who really matter – the players themselves, are mostly unable to find out this information because they can only sit at one table at once. If they are sat at table 3 they can’t see what a guy at table 1 and table 2 is getting up to. This information has to be earned. It’s hard to sit there and remember what everyone has done over the course of an hour’s or a whole day’s play and that is a major skill, if not the most important skill of live poker. This information shouldn’t be freely available to all.

That said, it is undeniably good for the spectators to have those stats to analyze the action.  If a player 3-bets with 9-8s it makes a whole lot more sense to the viewer knowing that the guy he is 3-betting is raising with 35% of hands. So if he’s raising that many hands he’s probably got weaker than average hands and it’s easier to get him to fold to a raise.

Just as it is good for the viewer to know what a player’s hole cards are, it’s good to know what his various statistics are too. But that’s the viewer, not the player. It might sound strange to maintain that it is good for the watching public to have this info but not the players themselves but that is exactly how I feel.

During the 2012 WSOP they started producing some statistics just for the final table. You might recall that the final table was televised with a 15 minute delay and the TV audience would only get to see the hole cards after the hand had finished. I wasn’t really comfortable with this either because within 15 minutes of a hand being played a player could find out from someone on his rail that he had been bluffed in that big hand. Knowing this information could change his future action and the course of the whole game. It interferes with the sanctity of the game.

That year it transpired that one player – eventual runner up Martin Stazko – was not bothering to ask his mates on the rail what his opponents’ statistics were while they indeed were finding out from their mates on the rail about Stazko’s stats. So they had a clear advantage over Stazko. Obviously Stazko was missing a trick here but if they hadn’t been available in the first place this couldn’t have happened.

So how do you stop it? That’s a tough one. Players actions are publicly available information after all – to a random observer, not all players as previously stated. This information can be easily compiled and disseminated. I suppose organisers could ban electronic devices completely in the playing arena to stop the flow of information but even then, people could just use old fashioned pen and paper.

There was an even worse consequence in the way stats were presented this year. As Chris Moorman said “Also, they only made the main feature table stats available at first. Therefore if a player moved from the secondary table during this time they would have a lot of information on their new table, whereas some of the feature table would never have played versus the player at all, giving the new player a significant edge.”

Now that is obviously and manifestly unfair. The tournament organisers should have put a stop to this as soon as they found out and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a meeting before next year’s event with this topic on the agenda. It’s also interesting that this viewpoint came from the world’s most winning online tournament professional of all time.

It will be a shame if stat reporting becomes standard practice.

Your talented observant player has a good feel for players raising and calling tendencies because he will have spent hours diligently watching and memorising. This takes great effort. Now a lazy player who can’t be bothered can sit on his phone tweeting all day and have the same information as the most observant and diligent pro. This is wrong in my opinion and it is unfair and it ruins the sanctity of the live game.

I’ve even heard players saying they are “not even looking for live reads on their opponents” when they play live and that they just “make decisions based on bet sizes”. I’ve actually heard this from winning professionals. You have to wonder why some people bother playing live tournaments at all.

There’s no doubt to my mind. Publishing HUD statistics gives an advantage to lazy players. They’ve got to earn that knowledge. Otherwise you may as well make the WSOP and online event.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

It’s caption competition time again.  But before that, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:


I’ve been perusing some quality look-a-likes this afternoon.  I’ve heard that a new series of Dangermouse is going to be released, which has to have been inspired by the appointment of Felix “Penfold-Magath” at Fulham last season.


And the resemblance between Luis van Gaal and Butthead is uncanny:

van gaal

This week’s caption competition picture is a compilation of young Tom Dwan lookalikes. What do you reckon they could be saying here? Submit your caption on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

Dwan lookalikes

Congratulations to Ronald Allen for winning last week’s competition with: I lost my shirt last hand but looks like you lost your bra”


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Hand of The Week – Week 130

Last week we looked at a bizarre hand where we could actually justify shoving all in with a pathetic 3-2 suited given that we would only expect to get called around 25% of the time.

We used the Independent Chip Model to compare 1 – our expected prize money if we just folded with 2 – our expected prize money if we pushed all in. The conclusion was that it was absolutely borderline between shoving all in and folding, albeit we had a very slightly positive expected value (EV) in favour of shoving all in.

Tournament poker can throw up some funny situations, situations that just don’t apply to cash games.   Last week I played a hand that was the polar opposite to our 3-2 suited example. I had pocket aces in the big blind. Better still, someone had pushed all in ahead of me. Yet you could actually justify a fold! I kid you not. This was the situation:

There were four players left at the end of a $30 six seater “Double or Nothing” tournament. The “Nothing” is the key word to bear in mind here. With just four players left we were on the bubble: the next player out would get nothing. The other three would collect $60 each (ie double their $30 buy in), regardless of their finishing chip stacks. Blinds were 200-400 with a 50 ante.

Player 1 – 4575 – ALL IN

Player 2 – 1094 – FOLD

Player 3 (small blind) – 1125 – FOLD

Player 4 – Me – (big blind) – 2006 – AA….so what do I do?

1-2 Cant fold ACES 24-07-2014 14-26-17

We’ve talked about it being correct to fold aces in this column before so it did actually occur to me that folding was an option. Ha ha, yeah right, as if I’m ever folding aces here. There’s no way I folded of course. But honestly, it did cross my mind that it could be the correct thing to do. My thought process was something like this:

“Wooo hoooo! Aces and an all in – I’ll call this and double up.

But the all in is from Mr Giant Haystacks so I’m dead if I lose. Hang on a minute, don’t I need to be huge percentage to win here?

Well I’ve got AA, I AM a huge percentage to win, he could be shoving anything. Can’t fold this. Going to really hate my life if I fold aces and then go on to lose.

Just call and then it’s me who will be Mr Giant Haystacks.”

So I called. Well you know what happened then. It’s obvious! :)

2-2 Cant fold ACES 24-07-2014 14-36-56

So, forgetting whether or not I lost the hand, was it right to call?

Well let’s look at the maths like we did last week, using the Independent Chip Model. ICM assigns a prize value to your chip stack.  There’s an excellent explanation of ICM I found online at the end of last week’s piece so I won’t repeat it here.

ICM has its limits – the main one being the assumption players are equally skilled – but when you are down to 2 or 3 or 5 big blinds it’s hard to see how your skill can really help you. There is no post flop play in these end game situations and you are basically all in or all out. So I like what ICM does, namely assigning a cash value to your chip stack.

Before the hand began our chip stacks, converted into prize money, looked like this:

Player 1 – $57.57

Player 2 – $36.23

Player 3 – $36.97

Player 4 – $49.23

Which adds up nicely to $180. It should do too, because that is the total prize pool.

Without knowing anything about his hand (or even my hand for that matter) the ICM tells us the following, which we work out just by feeding in the chip stacks into an ICM calculator:

If I fold I would have an equity of $47.09. That’s because I will be down to 1606 chips

If I call and lose the hand my equity is zero. That is pretty obvious because I am dead!

If I call and win I have an equity of $56.81, which corresponds to 4162 chips.

So the question is, knowing the potential before and after situations, should we call with AA?

Well what happens when we call? Most of the time we call and our aces will hold up. In that case we are up to $56.81. (Notice we still haven’t actually won though.) But sometimes we call and lose and get knocked all the way down to zero. What we do know for sure is that if we fold we are certain our equity will be $47.09.

So we need to know the answer to the question “how often do we need aces to hold up to make calling (either $56.81 or $0) the better option than folding ($47.09)?”

We can set up an equation which tells is this exactly. We need a probability of “winning” the hand to satisfy the equation:

(Probability WINNING * $56.81) + (Probability LOSING * $0)  > $47.09

We know that anything multiplied by $0 is zero and we also know that the probability of losing = 1-probability of winning. So we basically have $47.09/$56.81 which = 82.88%

If we think we have a better than 82.88% of winning the hand then we call. That is our answer.

Now of course when our opponent shoves all in we don’t know what he has, but let’s pretend for a minute it was a live game and he exposed his cards to you. Well let’s look at those hand match ups again: KdQd vs Ad Ac

That’s 83.56% vs 16.44% according to any hand calculator.

You need to be 82.88% sure of winning to make the call +EV and you are actually 83.56%.  So although it is a call, that’s unbelievably close. Yet it seems like such an instant call.  If you could see your opponent’s K-Qs and have AA with those chip stacks I don’t know a man alive who would fold AA, not a single one. Yet there is only the tiniest smidgeon of value in calling.

That’s tournament poker for you. It can throw up some of the strangest and non intuitive hands that you can almost justify shoving all in with 3-2s one week and folding AA the next.

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Poll of The Week

We have a simple yes or no question for this week’s poll.

In this year’s WSOP main event there was some controversy over the reporting of statistics while the event was being played.  To recap what happened, when the action got down to just a few tables (I believe the number was three tables), PokerNews reporters started to record HUD like statistics on each player and then broadcast them at the end of each break.

I suppose you could like it to a football where they flash up “shots on target” “fouls conceded” and “distance covered” on your screen.  But instead it would be “Pre flop raise %”, “Hands played %”, “Folded in Blinds %” and other similar stats about the remaining players’ games.

This development has really divided opinion. Some people were up in arms, saying it spoils the purity of the game and shouldn’t be allowed. Others found it helpful, some of the players being in that camp themselves I imagine. But the issue was certainly a controversial one and I am sure this will be debated by the WSOP organisers before next year’s event.

This week we’re far more interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments section than your actual yes/no answer.  So answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

Congratulations to @ironnutzpoker for winning last week’s poll.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

It’s caption competition time again.  But before that, the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight is:


That’s the effect looking at this photo can have on you. It might be 90 degress out in sun today but when you consider this picture probably hasn’t been photoshopped?  Chilling stuff indeed. What do you reckon these two could be saying to one another? Submit your caption on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.


Congratulations to Kevin Mealy for winning last week’s competition with: This is just a sideshow, wait till I captain against Germany… pakifani”

Sideshow bob

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Hand of The Week – Week 129

I saw this hand last April and it really caught my attention. After being knocked out of a tournament I’d left the screen open on my PC and happened to look over just as the final hand was played.  This are the scenes that unfolded. I took a screen print of the hand history and saved it as a word document. I gave it the title “Funny shove – Funny call” and I resolved to look at it in more detail later on.

FUNNY SHOVE FUNNY CALL 17-07-2014 14-27-47

Being as it was the final hand there were naturally just two players left. One had 25k and the other had 65k. The 25k stack shoved and the 65k stack called in an instant, with absolutely no thought whatsoever. Showdown!

25k stack: 3-2s….whoopsie.

65k stack: J-8o.…..!!!!???

No-one made anything, the jolly old J-8 offsuit won with Jack high and he took first place.

It’s that age old problem. It’s fine to move all in with a filthy hand…..unless you get called! I’m joking of course. The play is either fine or it isn’t fine.  It doesn’t become good or bad depending on the result but you know what I mean. When they fold you get away with it but when you are called you’ve been exposed. Hand in the cookie jar, trousers down and all that.

Anyway, I did look at the hand in further detail and what I found really surprised me even though I’ve been playing poker for seven thousand years. The shove itself is not a bad play!

Not a bad play – how so? How silly do you end up looking when your pathetic 3-2s gets called? This really is not intuitive stuff and it requires an explanation. There’s a bit of maths here but stick with it because I can actually prove the point to you. Basically I asked myself the following question: “If I was in the shoes of the player with 3-2s, how often would I expect this all in move to be called?”

I came up with a figure of 25%. He could expect to get called one time in four and the other three times his opponent would fold. And this is the conclusion that surprised me: if that assumption is true – ie if your opponent will call you 25% of the time – then it is not a bad decision to shove all in.

25% of hands means something like: 66+,A2s+,K6s+,Q8s+,J8s+,T8s+,A7o+,K9o+,QTo+,JTo

Do we think this is fair?  I reckon so.  Our 3-2 suited man probably wouldn’t expect to get called by the likes of T8s or JTo but then again he might expect to get called by some hands which aren’t in the list, particularly any pair or any ace. We only go as far as A-7o but A-2o through to A-6o could also call.  So take a few out hands and put a few in and 25% is roughly OK.

Now our 3-2s man wasn’t to know he was going to get called by a hand as weak as J-8o (which would amount to a calling range of at least 43%) but my point is that he was entitled to think 25% was all he would get called with and on that basis, his shove was absolutely fine.

To prove this we get into the realms of the ICM, or the “Independent Chip Model”.

ICM puts a monetary value on your chip stack which is important because as we all know, poker chips and money are not the same thing. If we know what our chip stack is worth right now – and we also know what it will be worth after a hand has played out, we are in a position to compare the two scenarios and answer that vital question “will this play show me a profit?”

If you really want to understand exactly how ICM works I’ve added the best explanation of ICM I ever found on the internet at the end of this piece*.  That explains it beautifully but you don’t have to read it. You could just take it on trust that ICM assigns pretty accurate monetary values to chip stacks.

OK – back to our “ridiculous” hand with the 3-2s and J-8o. There were 61 players in the tournament and we were down to the last two. 1st place paid $192 and 2nd place paid $132.  The exact chip stacks and monetary values assigned by ICM were:

25,832 (ICM = $148.94)

65, 668 (ICM =$175.06)

Now let’s look at it from the point of view of 3-2s man. We are only looking at shoving or folding here to make things simple – ie we won’t consider small raises. That being the case, these are his options.

He can FOLD and move on. If he does this he’ll have 1000 less chips, ie 24, 832 (ICM = $148.28).  So folding gives us a monetary value, calculated with the ICM, of $148.28. Remember this figure because it is the figure we will use as a comparison to shoving all in.

Folding = $148.28

Or he can SHOVE all in. When he does this one of three things will happen.

1 – his opponent will fold and he will win the blinds (stack is 27 832 and his ICM = $150.25)

2 – his opponent will call and he will win the hand (stack is 51664 and his ICM = $165.88)

3 – his opponent will call he will lose the hand  (stack = 0, he comes 2nd and gets $132 no need for ICM)

So we know what the potential results are. What we now need to know is what are the chances of each outcome occurring should he decide to shove. This boils down to one question: how often will he get called if he does shove?

We’ve already agreed on 25% but the longer answer is that we just don’t know. Of course we don’t know because we don’t know what our opponent is holding and even if we did we still couldn’t guarantee he would call with those cards. But we can always estimate. The ability to estimate well is what makes the good players good. They will ask themselves “Is he loose or tight? What’s he been doing so far? Have I tested his patience lately and is he itching to call?”

With a calling frequency of 25% let’s get back to those three things that can happen:

1 – opponent will fold 75% of the time and he will win the blinds (ICM of $150.25)

25% of the time his opponent will call. Of this 25%……..

We feed into a hand calculator

2 – opponent will call and 3-2s will win! 33.43% of the time 3-2s will have an ICM of $165.88

3 – opponent will call and 3-2s will lose. 66.57% of the time 3-2s will be eliminated with $132

We now have all the information we need to work out the expected value of shoving. When we’ve done that we’ll compare it to the EV of calling and see what the better option was. For each shoving outcome we multiply the probability times the result.

Our EV is shoving is the sum of: (0.75*$150.25) + (0.25*0.6657*$132) + (0.25*0.3343*$165.88)

112.6875+ 21.968+13.863 = $148.52

Shoving all in = $148.52

If we shove we can expect a monetary value of $148.52

If we fold we will have a monetary value of $148.28

The numbers are almost identical, but shoving 3-2s all in is ever so slightly preferable. So there you have it: shoving all in is as good an option as folding, assuming our man will fold 25% of the time. That’s nuts. I reckon 90% of players, if not more, would just fold the 3-2s in that spot even though that option is indistinguishable from shoving all in.

OK, you’re probably thinking “but his opponent called with J-8o. That’s not 25% of hands”

And you’d be right.  But in some respects, calling with J-8o is every bit as ludicrous as shoving with 3-2s. Would you call with J-8o? I wouldn’t.

If you ranked all 169 starting hands against a random hand, J-8o would be the 79th best.  43.9% of all hands are better than J-8o. So the chap calling was pretty darned wide – a good bit wider than 25%. Like I say, I saved the document as “Funny shove – Funny call” so my initial reaction was that it was a perverse call.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying 3-2s is an automatic push here. All I’m saying is that it’s as good as folding if we assume you’re only getting called 25% of the time and I maintain that this is a decent assumption.

What if we assumed differently? Say we expected to get called 20%, 30%, 40%, or even 50% of the time? Well let’s have a look. Using the same method of above, here are the results:

20% (67.85% to beat 3-2s) – shoving has EV $148.83 vs EV of folding = $148.28.

30% (66.34% vs 3-2s) – shoving has EV $148.19 vs EV of folding $148.28.

40% (65.97% vs 3-2s) – shoving has EV $147.56 vs EV of folding = $148.28

50% (65.67% vs 3-2s) – shoving has EV $146.94 vs EV of folding = $148.28

As you can see from these results, you are actually marginally better of shoving 3-2s unless you are getting called 30% or more of the time.

Although shoving 3-2s looks pretty awful on the face of it, it leads to elimination a lot less than you’d think. If you get called 25% of the time, you get eliminated less than 17% of the time because you still win one in three of those times you do get called.

In this case I think the guy shoving 3-2s was actually unlucky to run into a player who was prepared to call with J-8o. Calling with J-8o is the riskier play in my opinion. So is there a moral to this story?

Well if there is, it’s that perhaps we ought to be sticking our stack in a bit more readily than we do! So go forth and start spewing (I mean shoving) those chips around !




*Appendix: ICM Explained (source unknown):

ICM stands for Independent Chip Model…don’t worry about the name, it’s not worth it. It’s one of many attempts to try to equate tournament chips to cash. Like the rest of them, it’s not perfect…there’s way too many factors involved to get an exact answer to what your stack is worth – player skill, style matchup, desperation by very short stacks, tilt…stuff like that is just too arbitrary and complicated to put into a model. So…assuming equal skill, enough skill that straight style isn’t much of an effect, no-one’s very short stacked (like 3xBB) or tilting, ICM does pretty well at equating tourney stacks to cash.

The idea behind the model is that every chip is a ticket to a lottery. To figure out who gets first place, you pick a ticket at random and that person wins. Take their tickets out and draw again for 2nd, and repeat that for 3rd, etc ’til you’re out of the money. Now, we all know that’s now how poker works, but remember, this is a model…a guess. Let’s look at an example.

3 players, stack sizes: 5k 4k 1k
Each person’s chance of winning 1st is their stack/10k, their chance of getting picked in the first lottery. To figure out who’d come in second given who comes in 1st, their chance is stack/(sum of remaining stacks). We end up with our estimated equities.

1/2 – chance of 5k winning
2/5 – chance of 4k winning
1/10 – chance of 1k winning

If 5k wins:
4/5 – chance of 4k in 2nd
1/5 – chance of 1k in 2nd

If 4k wins:
5/6 – chance of 5k in 2nd
1/6 – chance of 1k in 2nd

If 1k wins:
5/9 – chance of 5k in 2nd
4/9 – chance of 4k in 2nd

Let’s go with a $100 pot, to make things easy on me, with standard payout of 50/30/20

Equity of the 5k stack:

(Chance of 1st) + (Equity if 4k wins) + (Equity if 1k wins)

(1/2 * 50) + 2/5 * (5/6 * 30 + 1/6 * 20) + 1/10 * (5/9 * 30 + 4/9 * 20)

(1/2 * 50) + 2/5 * (25 + 10/3) + 1/10 * (50/3 + 80/9)

25 + 2/5 * 28 1/3 + 1/10 * 25 5/9

25 + 11 1/3 + 2 5/9


Equity of the 4k stack:

(Chance of 1st) + (Equity if 5k wins) + (Equity if 1k wins)

(2/5 * 50) + .5 * (4/5 * 30 + 1/5 * 20) + 1/10 * (4/9 * 30 + 5/9 * 20)

(2/5 * 50) + .5 * (24 + 4) + 1/10 * (13 1/3 + 11 1/9)

20 + .5 * 28 + 1/10 * 24 4/9

20 + 14 + 2 4/9


Equity of the 1k stack:

(Chance of 1st) + (Equity if 5k wins) + (Equity if 4k wins)

(1/10 * 50) + 1/2 * (1/5 * 30 + 4/5 * 20) + 2/5 * (1/6 * 30 + 5/6 * 20)

(1/10 * 50) + 1/2 * (6 + 16) + 2/5 * (5 + 16 2/3)

5 + 1/2 * 22 + 2/5 * 21 2/3

5 + 11 + 8 2/3


So what we got is:
5k: $38.89
4k: $36.44
1k: $24.66

Which makes some sense – everyone’s got at least $20 equity because they’re in the money now, and the 5k is slightly better off than the 4k, and both are way better off than 1k.

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Poll of The Week

The 2014 November Nine is set!

On Sunday night the last three tables eventually dwindled into one and the unlikeliest story to emerge is that of the nine remaining contestants we have a player who made the final table last year! What are the odds on that happening I wonder?

Mark Newhouse finished ninth last year but will surely do even better this time around with his stack of 26m, third in chips behind 38m chip leader Jorryt van Hoof (who you’ve guessed it, is Dutch.) Scandanavia is very well represented at this year’s final table with a Swede and a Norwegian as well. We also have a Brazilian and a Spanish player in the final nine for a really international flavour – a proper “World” Series if you will.

Spare a thought for poor bubble boy Luis Velador. With a 900k raise from the Brazilian Bruno Politano and a Mark Newhouse call in front of him he went for the old squeeze manoeuvre, moving all in for 6.15m with pocket 4s. Bruno Politano thought for two minutes and folded. Newhouse also thought for a while – no doubt agonising for Luis Velador who was sitting there with his puny pocket 4s desperately hoping he folded. When Newhouse called it was the worst news of all for Velador: Newhouse had pocket fives and Velador literally had two hopes. He must have been sick to see that hand, wondering how Newhouse couldn’t find a fold.

I have to admit I would fold pocket 5s in a heart beat if I were Mark Newhouse. I know you gotta be in it to win it, you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take and he who dares wins etc etc. But I confess, I’m a gutless coward and those pocket 5s would be binned in a trice.

Newhouse’s options are these: 1 – FOLD and move on with 20m chips in mid division, 2 – CALL and win – you’re 3rd in chips with 26m or, 3 – CALL and lose and be knocked right down to the bottom of the pack with 14m (which is 35 big blinds).

This weeks’ question is: In Mark Newhouse’s shoes, what strength hand do you need to call?  Answer this week’s poll and leave a comment with your Twitter username to be in with a chance of winning a token for my Bounty competition.

Congratulations to @pcbunter for winning last week’s poll.

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Friday’s Caption Competition

It’s caption competition time again.  But before that, here’s the password for the Freddie Mays Bounty tournament at 9pm tonight:


I’m still getting to grips with that Germany 7 Brazil 1 scoreline.  Has such a colossal beating ever been administered in such a high profile game where the two teams were neck and neck in the betting? I can’t think of anything like it.  Bayern dealt with Barcelona 7-0 a couple of seasons ago but that was over two legs. Wednesday’s game was just surreal.

Poor old David Luiz. Or should I say poor old Paris Saint-Germain! They were warned by the big wigs of FIFA Financial Fair play committee not to carry on spending and stuck two fingers up at them by weighing out 50m on this…. “defender”.  Surely has to be a contender for the worst piece of transfer business since Fernando Carroll? Anyway, on with today’s caption competition and what could Sideshow Bob-Luiz be saying here?  Submit your caption on Facebook for your chance to win a token to my bounty tourney next week.

Sideshow bob

Congratulations to David O’Connor (celtic3x) for winning last week’s competition with Tim Howard can save the Garth Brooks shows”

Tim howard kick foot lesson

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 Hand of The Week – Week 128

Here’s an example of a good, solid disciplined fold… that leaves you kicking yourself! I was seriously itching to call with this hand but I decided to let it go.

In front of me was a double all in. Three hearts on board and I was holding the ace of hearts. You have to be tempted to call in that spot, but I reckon folding was the right play.

The hand cropped up mid-way through a 6 seater sit n go and I had 1580 chips, almost exactly the 1500 starting stack. It was a “double or nothing” sit n go so we needed three people to get knocked out before we would make the money and double up. At the stage the hand was dealt all six players were still alive.

Blinds were 50/100 and there was a limper in front of me. From the small blind I just put in the extra 50 and the big blind checked. The flop was monotone: all hearts and I’ve got the ace!  I readied myself for action but then it all started kicking off in front of me.

09-07-2014 11-43-57 HOTW 128 1 of 2

An all in for 820 was followed by a raise to 1640 and from being really keen to get involved I was starting to get reluctant.

The player all in for 820 probably, nay, almost certainly doesn’t have a made flush. He’s probably trying to protect a hand like top pair and the fact that he’s getting short on chips means you can widen up the possibilities because he’s getting desperate.

But the second player’s action really does spell strength. He could have been trying to trap by limping with an overpair preflop. He could have a set of 2s (9s or 10s would probably have raised preflop) or he could have a made flush. He could also have a hand like A-10 or K-10 (with or without Kh) and be raising to isolate. Or two pair perhaps. But whatever it is, it’s something strong and it certainly beats my bare ace.

I leaned towards the second player having a made flush with a hand like 8h-7h

What I did know for certain was that my “no-pair-nut-flush-draw” hand was behind. It was a draw and no more. The first important thing to factor into the equation is that losing = elimination. Indeed this was an overriding concern so I actually realised pretty quickly that I’d be folding this.

In real time it crossed my mind that if either of my opponents held hearts then my draw wasn’t as good as it looked. Instead of 9 hearts to shoot at I might be drawing at 8 or even 7. Plus, if one had a set that board could pair up (the board always pairs up when they have a set but never pairs up when you have a set, that’s the law.)

Let’s look at it this way. If there are 9 hearts in the deck, I have a 35% chance of making the flush. That’s means I’ve a 65% chance of being dead.  If there are 8 hearts left or only 7 hearts those odds are even worse! Lastly – I could make my flush and still lose.

So I folded and this immediately happened:

09-07-2014 12-21-01 HOTW 128 2 of 2

Turns out that a) neither player was as strong as I thought and b) I would (of course) have won the hand!

Still, if I made that call a thousand times I’d be winning. That’s the way you have to look at it. As depressing as it is to see these cards slot in perfectly with your hand after you’ve folded, I’m here for the long haul and in the long run I’ll win making that play. In fact I was planning on writing this hand without revealing what the turn and river cards were. Results are irrelevant! All that matters is that you make the correct decision, right? But that would never do, would it :)  ?

In a cash game I’m pretty sure I would have called. My thought process would have been something like this: “there are two all ins and I’m 35% to make my flush. I’m getting 2-1 odds and I’m slightly better than 2-1 to get there.”

But I’d have been deceiving myself. Although it looks like a chance to triple up it isn’t because the first all in is short stacked. So instead of getting the approximate 2-1 that I need I would have only been getting around 1.76-1 (1480 to win 2600 is 2600/1480 = 1.76)

So cash or tourney this was a fold.

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