Barry – you and I talked some about this at the Bellagio $1500 event in December. I agreed (and still do) that there are some gross misapplications of mathematics in poker, but wanted to comment some on your specific points.

On points 1-4 – I really disagree with the hand selection criteria you are using, I find it VERY rare to play at tables where everyone is playing Axs UTG and NOT playing 87s or 66. Your hand selection criteria is really heavily weighted towards aces a lot more than I think a typical table is and is therefore amplifying the so called ‘bunching’ effect.

I’m on my laptop at the Borgata so I can’t change up the hand selection criteria at all and see how it changes things, but I’m not sure it’s all that important honestly. As in most situations where you find yourself with ~20BBs the rest of the table has very dynamic stack sizes in the 10-30 BB ranges that are significantly impacting their hand ranges as well (I am assuming I’m not so out of touch with today’s game that we’re not opening A2s with 15 BB but might with 30? ditto for 22?) that would make any assumptions beyond saying the big blind’s hand may be a little bit stronger than average in these situations a bit reaching.

Really in both our pokerstove simulations (because it completely disregards the other 7 players discards) and in your simulation (because it assumes everyone is opening a similar range weighted towards aces and because it does not take into account how players will significant adjust their ranges because of stack size) there are imperfections.

I think studying this sort of pokerstove calculation has its usefulness in the way Justin already stated:

Here’s a common example on the usefulness. Let’s say player X is open folding K8o in the SB with 14 BB’s in a short-handed cash game. Now DJK shows you can shove it profitably FACE UP with Y stack (where Y > 14). This proves that folding is a mistake. It doesn’t show that shoving is always optimal, but it’s a start in figuring out what the best play actually is, and corrects a very fundamental mistake that many players make (folding K8 in this spot).

I do agree with Barry that this often becomes very misapplied though. I mean I can prove in pokerstove that shoving AA UTG with 100 BBs is +EV but that doesn’t mean I want to actually do it at the table. Ryan and Barry have already discussed in this thread that it’s all about finding the MOST +EV play to make at the table that’s important, and one factor I think that’s very important here is the concept of edge.

Barry’s background (I believe) is mainly live tournaments where your edge at the table is often far greater than it is in something like the $100 rebuy or $1k freeze out tournaments online. The bigger your edge is at a given table, the more the concept of passing up thin edges for future edges when your risk/reward is fairly skewed (as it is in this situation where we are probably risking 22 BBs for what probably amounts to a 1-2 BB edge, I haven’t seen the calculations and don’t have pokerstove on this computer) becomes important.

Dan’s background comes more in the tougher $100 rebuy and such online games, where your overall edge over the table is much lower than it is in your typical live event (due to the limited information and typically poorer structures in the online games as well as fields that typically play more ‘fundamentally’ sound). The lower your overall edge is the more you have to push these thin edges to contribute to your bottom line.

The other usefulness in studying some of these calculations IMHO is there are times for whatever reason (although admittedly for the posters here much less frequently than most players) where we find ourselves with a 15-25 BB stack at a table full of extremely tough players who we may have little to no edge against, or because of our table position we are unable to exploit edges at the table that we would be much more easily able to exploit if we were to shift chips at the table from directly to the left into our stack. In these situations it can be helpful to know how to implement this sort of strategy.

A rough hypothetical example. I’m playing a tournament and have 22 BBs in the middle to late stages of the tournament (let’s say 1000 players, 100 paid spots, ~200 left). I’m in the 1 seat and there are some extremely weak/tight players in the 3 and 4 seats. In the 2 seat however, is Sorel Mizzi (using him as an example, there are many players that would work) with a 30-ish BB stack.

Sorel knows my game well enough to be using a pretty optimal strategy versus me when I have ~20 BB here, and him sitting between me and the weak players is preventing me from gaining the edge I would easily have if he were not sitting there or significantly shorter than he is right now.

Now, if it is folded to me in the SB and I have K8o and ~20 BBs I’m much more likely to open shove because I am not only exploiting a thin edge, but I am creating a situation that will, when I do get called and get lucky, create new +EV situations that wouldn’t otherwise exist (the ability to now exploit the weak players without Sorel’s interference).

I wrote about this once on 2p2 I think, but it creates a ‘compounding’ effect when the table situation is right. Basically it’s sort of the inverse of passing up a thin edge for future greater edges, in this case it’s taking the thin edge because it creates future edges.

This concept doesn’t come up all that frequently and I think many players misapply it, but I think for true students of the game knowing some of these situations, even if the actual need to apply it comes up very rarely, is something that is worth studying.