Last Man Standing

Roy ‘The Boy’ Brindley shows you how playing the odds can win you digital dollars

Internet poker is now simply the greatest creation of all time

I fell about the place laughing when PokerPlayer editor Dave Woods asked me to write a strategy piece about online tournament poker and to highlight the differences between that and the traditional face-to-face game. Didn’t he know that my 1,500-word masterpiece in the 2004 Ladbrokes Poker Diary – comparing the relative merits of either discipline – was clearly and massively biased towards live play?

Curiously, the concluding paragraph of my original script was omitted from that diary. It read: ‘So, to draw to an end I will stick by one of my favourite comparisons – that of American pool against Britain’s snooker – different mindset, different strategy, deeper pockets and bigger balls!’

Stranger yet, as copies were going out to thousands of their online customers, the rest of the piece was actually published!

Of course, since then, everything has changed and Internet poker is now simply the greatest creation of all time. And before you ask, no, I haven’t been pussy-whipped by my taskmasters at Ladbrokes. You see I’ve genuinely come to enjoy spending my evenings in front of a computer screen clicking buttons. And it’s in no small part due to a recent $50,000 tournament win and consistent earnings in cash Omaha games.

Against the odds

In hindsight, I think my general disapproval centred around bad players getting lucky and winning situations as outsiders in confrontations they should have never gotten themselves into. You’ve got to love getting involved in a head-to-head situation facing an even-money pay-off as 2/5 favourite (J-J v Q -10 for example). But, as in any form of gambling, these stick on hands are going to get beaten every now and again and you need to be lucky to go through an entire tournament with all your odds-on shots successfully standing up.

Key decision 1 Automatic fold or value call?

We’re down to the last two tables and the blinds are 10,000-20,000 with running antes of 500 (blinds posted by all players in every pot). The average stack is 277,000 because there are 18 players remaining and five million chips are in play; I have 280,000.

I’m on the big blind holding 10-8 ; I find the player on the button has gone ‘all-in’ for 72,000 chips and everyone has passed. It is 52,000 more chips on me to call with my poor hand – so is it an automatic pass?

Well, a fold would set me back to just under par with no real need to get itchy. A call and subsequent loss would send me down to 207,500 and give me mild indigestion. The crux of the situation is the 52,000 that I stand to lose (as my 20,000 big blind is already dead money). For this extra 52,000 I have a crack at my opponent’s 72,000, a big and small blind totalling 30,000 and 4,500 in antes – that’s 106,500, which gives me about 2/1 for my money.

With the maths now done, I have to consider the hands my opponent could be in possession of. Over 1,980 people have now left the tournament and I am presuming the remainder have a sound enough understanding of the game and most would work on established formulas – such as raising on the button, especially when relatively short-stacked, with a high card.

So what do I do? See the table to the right for my assesment of my opponent’s hand.

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