Donkley Poker Tournament--A mega? part I

I've dealt or blogged about this before... where I've made lay-downs in the Donkley that are definitely sub-optimal for standard poker tournament strategy but for that structure are probably (?) the right move. Here's why...

Well, the Donkley is a Texas No Limit Hold Em' Poker Tournament, however, it doesn't play like a true tournament. Sure, it's a freeze out where the objective is to play down to one player and like a tournament all the big money is in positions 1,2, and 3. But the Chop factor changes the dynamics significantly. In essence it is more a mega than a typical tournament.

In "mega" tournaments it may be right to lay down AA preflop on the bubble. Why? Because in a mega satellite everybody wins the same amount (usually a seat into a bigger buy-in event). All you have do is survive to the money and you get the same prize as the big stack. In that format, protecting your chip stack, ie survival is paramount. There is no incentive to become the chip leader.

Let's make it a concrete example. Say you are trying to satellite your way into the Aussie Millions. There are 18 players left, 17 get seats. You have a middle stack. You look down at two black aces and raise. The only four stacks bigger than you at the table in short order go shove, shove, shove, and shove. Action back to you. Your bet that is in the middle is 1/20th of your stack.

You'd be an idiot to put the rest of your chips at risk, when all you need is one player to go out and everybody has you covered. You may have the best possible chance of winning the hand, but your hand vs. the field as a whole makes you an underdog. Why call here?

Why not take a hand off. Even if the odd thing happens where they all chop, or the smallest stacks in order have the best hands, you don’t lose anything. Probably somebody can be picked off later. If blinds and antes aren’t a factor don’t jeopardize your tournament just because you got black aces… or in other situations the best hand—but one that is extremely vulnerable. Say top pair top kicker when they are flush and straight draws and three or four other guys sticking to their hands.

That being said in most tournaments this is a bad strategy. You rarely get aces so you need to exploit the opportunities you get them by getting money into the pot. If you want to win the tournament, and who doesn't because all the money is there, you have to stockpile chips. Take the WSOP Main Event, Darvin Moon made it to the final two players despite being probably the worst player at the final table.

A big reason why, was he had already stockpiled chips and played his big hands hard and been lucky enough for them to hold. To him Aces and Kings were probably invulnerable; he certainly played AQ like that too.


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