When I arrived in Monte Carlo I decided to play a single-table qualifier to the main event. I remember that last year I did exceptionally well in SNGs so I was excited about playing them again. Each player starts with 2,500 chips and the first level begins at 25/50 blinds and increases every 20 minutes like so: 50/100, 150/300, 200/400, 400/800, 500/1,000, etc. etc.
I wasn't really thrilled about the superfast structure but when we started playing I instantly remembered why I love these sit-and-gos, and live sit-and-gos in general, SO much! Generally speaking, six to eight players in any given 10-handed SNG in Monte Carlo literally play exactly the opposite of optimal SNG strategy. It's like in their minds, instead of the goal being to win the SNG, the goal is to see who could lose the quickest in the worst possible way. They play really aggressive and spewy in the early stages and really tight/weak in the late stages.
During the first three levels it's not uncommon to see players play a lot of pots, open-raise for 10x the big blind, limp/call weak hands, call massive reraises and check-fold missed flops and bluff in obvious spots.
In the late stages of the SNG most of the players tighten up significantly and fold in spots where they're suppose to shove any two, or limp with under 10 BBs; fold to a shove; and even worse, limp with under 10 BBs; call a raise and check-fold a missed flop (this is a pretty standard play in big-buy-in SNGs in Monte Carlo).
I am seriously not surprised at anything I see in poker anymore. The way people play in these sit-and-gos you'd have to get really unlucky not to come top three. Best thing is, a lot of these guys are willing to do last-longers :)
So in the qualifier I played, I managed to get heads-up with a dominating lead against the worst player at the table. We started heads-up at 500/1,000; I had 20k, he had 5k. He managed to crack my aces with 7-10 and things went downhill from there and I ended up coming second.
Surprisingly, even though the stacks were so shallow, there was one interesting hand that I thought I'd talk about.
Villain limps in for 500 more.
Hero raises to 4k.
Flop: A♣ Q♣ J♣
Hero goes all-in for 5k.
Villain has 6x-4♣
Turn = club
The point I'm trying to make from this hand is that when you have a short stack and you're playing against bad to terrible players, you should always encourage them to see a flop without going all-in pre-flop if you have enough chips behind to create fold equity on the flop.
People love to see flops. As long as you're not all-in, bad players will find an excuse to make a mistake by calling your raise pre-flop to try and out-flop you even if half your stack is already in the pot. Mathematically, people miss a lot more flops than they hit. So next time if you're a short stack and plan on shoving, consider reraising (or raising in this case) enough to commit yourself but have enough to get them to fold if they elect to see a flop.
There is a lot of value in knowing how to create fold equity. This is one of the more advanced plays I've learned over the years. Let's say you have 9 BBs on the small blind and an aggressive late-position raiser opens for 3x the BB with what you deem as a wide opening range.
If you shove all-in he's likely to call you with any two cards since he's getting the correct odds. If you just call pre-flop and shove in regardless of the flop, he won't be able to call you unless he hits. You can pretty much justify making this play with any two cards. Obviously it will work well against some players better than others, so choose your spots carefully.
I'll be writing Part 2 in a couple of days and talk about some hands from the main event and my overall experience in Monte Carlo... OH, and another prop bet! This time with Antonio Esfandiari...
-- Sorel Mizzi
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