Tournament Theorey - Are you going for EV or 1st place?

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I was talking to Neverwin on the phone today, and we were discussing a recent online poker tournament in which our good friend Teddy C. won $29k. The following hand came up:

Blinds are 10k-20k, and Teddy C. is in the big blind with about 120k in chips when he is delt A-K. There are 8 players left, and there is a sizeable prize difference between 8th and 6th. There are two players with only 15k, both who must taste the big blind, and will be all-in when that happens. A player with a lot of chips raises from middle position to 200k. It folds to Teddy C.

What is the correct play? To you experienced players, I hope your answer was "fold immediately!" This situation reminds me of a topic Skalansky addressed in his Tournament Poker for Advanced players book (buy it) about how you increase your expected value (EV) over time by folding that A-K, and trying to move up one, maybe two spots in the money. The player that is ignoring EV, and is only concerned with winning the tournamnet, has an easy call with his A-K.

There is a second part to this discussion that Neverwin brought up: Pokerstars to some degree, and Partypoker to a larger degree have very top-heavy payouts, so it *may* be in your EV's best interest to start going to first place. Anyone that runs the math on this (to my satisfaction!) will win some NWP gear.

Hope that got ya' thinkin!

a couple of questions/comments

ok i have just finished reading the sklansky book and have a couple of comments/questions. first off before reading the book I had no idea of EV and would push with hands with a slight edge or even slight disadvantage. I had a situation similar to the above, when i was less experienced and I played it totally different and it payed off. I was in a tournament on pokerstars with about 15 left and i was in 12th or 13th. I was dealt 99 and had to guys push all in in front of me, or at least push me all in. The sklansky play would be to fold here correct or is it a different situation? I called as did another and I was against 1010, QQ, and AK i believe. No one improved until my river 9 and i moved up to 5th and finished the tournament in 2nd. Do you believe this was a bad play or different considering my low stack and finishing less than final table was a waste? Also a few points in his book that I think are different in online poker or poker in general with with great influx of new(and horrible) players. In alot of the online tournaments I have been in I see very little GAP from the majority of players, meaning they play the same crap that they would play in a live game, also it seems that the chapter "They're broke, they're gone" is almost thrown out b/c i see alot of players push or call all ins with marginal at best hands now(1010,AJo, even A10). How do any of you think this should affect the approach of has Sklansky puts it(one of the better players in the tournament)? If anyone has any comments on this let me know or if anyone wants to just talk poker hit me up, Im a big fan of poker and always want to hear criticism, advice, and play better poker. Sorry this comment is so long. Thanx.

P.S. I may try to work out that EV problem mentioned earlier. My math isnt the best so we'll see.

Re: Tournament Theorey - Are you going for EV or 1st place?

Teddy C's situation is a clea fold IMO. No way do you risk all your chips for a potential 57 to 43 situation with a significant difference in payout structures - I can't see any justification for making this call - part of increasing your chances for first is to have other players eliminated therefore the chances of you finishing first goes up more siginificantly as players drop out versus the risk he is taking in this type of situation & that's assuming the player doesn't hold AA or KK.

As far as the second part of the discussion goes, it's obviously important to evaluate the range of cards that the could hold. Adjust you percentage by the average of those calculations = X. Then the calculation is as follows - I think: Teddy X% of times he wil win 410k/total chips outstanding = Y%. Z% of the time he loses. $A is the amount he would win if he went bust. $B is first place. $A-$B = $C. (($C*Y%+8th place) times X%)) + (Z% times 8th place) = $D equity for that decision and it assumes that he will win first.

You then have to calculate the average equity which adjusts first place to $D given that he wins X% of the time in that situation which is lower than 43% IMO. Then adjust for the probability of each finish between 7th and first times the dollars paid to come up with an average equity. This is a more difficult calculation with 8 places.

If I got this wrong - please post a better formula - but I'm pretty sure it's right. Do i get NWP gear and will Dustin sign it?