Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Turn the Small Blind Into the Button by Angel "GiJoe" Valdez

He's Back!

Angel "GiJoe" Valdez has a few observations from watching the Pros play online poker Sunday. He brings up two moves he sees the Pro use that essentially turns their small blind into the button. After reading this post you may think, "That donk is actually a Pro who is pushing with nothing to get chips early, since he is busy doing the same nonsense at 20 other games at the same time." Hey, you never know.

Joe, thanks again. Mitchell

Watching Pros Play Online Poker

I like to take breaks from online poker quite a bit. I don't play that many games like most, so during my breaks I like to work on my game by reading up on my books, my notes from the academy or watching others play online.

Yesterday I logged into PS to check out what the pro's were doing. To my shock I saw 36 PS pro's logged in and playing. I am sure there were more but they

When the online poker gods smileImage by Ryan Harvey via Flickr

weren't affiliated with PS. Most of the 36 players were playing the $215 or the $500 MTT. Now the $215 MTT had over 8k players. It seemed like this particular game was an ALL-IN-LET-ME-DOUBLE-UP-OR-BUST game.

I chatted with one of my WSOP instructor and I asked him about this tactic, and his response was very interesting. He said that the pro's have a huge bankroll to play with so $200 is nothing for them. They don't want to play a game just for the sake of it and waste time. They want to double up quickly and often. They want to be in with huge stacks and take advantage when the blind and ante's increase. For them there is always another game they can play and most play 12 games a across multiple sites.... By the way when I was chatting with him he was playing only 9 games on PS!!! ONLY!! lol His buy-ins were $5, $33R, $500, $215, $50, $109, $55R1A, and some cash games of mix 40/80, mix 10/20, and 1 more that I don't recall.

When he first started playing this game I saw him go all in with hands like A5 and above. It didn't matter if they were suited. He did go all in pre-flop in the later stages with A3s vs 88 and of course he flopped an Ace to give him the win. This was against a smaller stack that he easily had covered. Once half the field was eliminated they started playing poker, with the exception of the short stacks who were looking to double up.

Two Moves To Consider

There were a couple of moves that I saw several pro's make successfully. The blinds were high and ante's had kicked in. The first one is called the All-In Re-Raise and the second the Stop-N-Go. Both are covered in one of my favorite poker books "Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves." The pro's did have a bigger stack then the other players so that might influence when to use these moves.

In the All-In Re-Raise players folded to the button which made a standard 3x raise. Then the pro being in the SB moved all in. The BB would fold and so would the player on the Button that tried to steal the blinds. So not only did the SB get all the ante's but he also pick up a nice bonus from the button. It was amazing to see it work.

After a few times the button didn't want to steal so the SB became the new button. I saw a pro get called by the BB with 66 once. The pro showed J7 and they held up. So his range to me was basically any 5 gap cards, suited connectors, to any pair. I mean that's a huge range. When they get deeper into the tournament, players value their tournament life more than at the beginning. I can see why this move worked out the way it did, although I kept saying "will someone please call that!!!"

The Stop-N-Go I first read about in "Tournament Poker:

Greg Raymer in the 2005 World Series of Poker.Image via Wikipedia

101 Winning Moves" and even got hands-on experience at the WSOP academy while sitting at Greg Raymer's table. This is how it goes. It all gets folded to the cutoff or button where they make the standard 3x raise. The player in the SB would smooth call and so would the blind(sometimes). After the flop, the SB being first to act would fire off a half to 2/3 pot continuation bet. The BB and initial raiser would fold. I saw this move work well a lot for the pro's. Again they were taking advantage of their stack size and being first to act.

I originally planned to watch the pro's play for only 30 min but 4 hours later…

The SB is the New Button

I now understand why most online pro's are calling the SB the NEW button. With the two moves above you can not only steal the blinds to keep up with the

blind increases, but also get extra chips to increase your stack.

1960s Action SoldierImage via Wikipedia

After a while players feared the pro when it came down to the button and SB. He was considered a maniac not only by them but by me!

So the next time you are in a tournament and the blinds are starting to increase and you think you might be "card dead," try one of these moves and see what it does for you. I know the more I see it, use it, and re use it… the more I will remember it.

Good luck

Angel "Gijoe" Valdez
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