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Chip EV versus tournament EV

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  • Chip EV versus tournament EV

    One thing that interests me is to what extent chip EV should influence our tournament decisions,

    One point of view is that tournament equity is proportional to stack.

    Suppose I have 50bb and think my tournament equity is 1. If I increase my stack to 100bb my tournament equity might be more than 2, because I have more options. I might decide to outlast the smaller stacks, bully the medium stacks, or bully both. I can use my entire play book.

    I am not referring to ICM which comes into play near the money, but to situations far from the money.

    If I have 10bb then my tournament equity is probably less than 0.2, because my options are limited. I will be taking actions that are -EV in chips because my tournament equity is so small I am prepared to trade it for a better shot at the money.

    In a cash game if I can get 100bb in with a 1% edge I will do it all day as 1% of 200bb will make me a lot of money very quickly. Should I do this in a tournament?

    The usual answer is no, we try not to risk all of a decent stack. We play small ball; call 1bb in the BB for the chance of winning 10bb; make a 2.25bb open with a speculative hand in the hope of making a big hand against another big, but second best hand. Some of these plays might not be +EV in chips because of implied odds, but risk small amounts to increase our stack.

    I still haven't made up my mind. I would be interested in opinions.
    Last edited by Patrick O; 03-30-2017, 12:29 AM.

  • #2
    1) In tournaments cEV is not always equal to $EV. ($EV is shorthand for tournament equity). Early in tournaments they are close so ignoring $EV is of little consequence.

    2) Survival in MTTs has a value.

    3) Doubling up in chips does not double your equity. If you bust or cripple another player, you don't win all of their equity, part of their lost equity goes to the rest of the field remaining. (Think of it this way, if 9 players get paid and you bust the 10th player, everyone left increases their equity, so the busted player's lost equity gets shared among the field.)

    4) ICM is a tool to measure $EV. Some players feel it is the final result. Some players disagree. Their perspective is that ICM fails to account for stack dynamics and utility that larger stacks represent. I agree with the second group. ICM is a tool to help analyze, but the result is not always the final result. Stack utility should account for some of the analysis.

    So the answer is that you want to give yourself some sort of an edge. For example, say your pot odds require 35% equity to call. You should call if your hand has 38% - 39% equity. You want to avoid break even spots in MTTs. You always want some sort of an edge.

    There are two mistakes players make in this type of decision. First they don't set an edge for themselves. They would need 35% equity and call with 35% equity. The other end is players will sometimes set too high an edge. For instance, folding a hand that has 48% equity when only needing 35% (because they don't want to flip for their tournament life).

    The thing is, since ICM does not account for stack utility, this edge is not able to be defined mathematically. How much is the edge that is required? To be honest, no one can really answer that correctly. Alexander Fitzgerald (Assasinato) looks for a 5% edge in all areas. Jonathan looks for 3%ish and sometimes a little more. I like to increase my edge by 10% of the equity required for break even. For instance, above in the 35% example, I like to add 3.5% to the equity required to come to 38.5%.

    *NOTE - there are some high ICM situations where this simple edge setting will not work. For instance on the payout bubble, final table bubble or when you get down close to top 3. Those are the situations where ICM holds more weight, but stack utility should still be considered.
    Last edited by jjpregler; 03-30-2017, 06:31 AM.


    • #3
      Also in regards to measuring chip values, the last chip in your stack is way more valuable than your first chip. Think of it this way, if you lose 1/2 your stack in a $10k MTT now your remaining stack represents your entire $10k investment. If you double up on your first hand to t60k in the WSOP. All of those extra chips have less value than your first t30k, because you cannot use those extra chips yet, since no one else has that many chips yet.