What does “valid” mean since it’s not a synonym for “good”?
And he’s not playing to good odds. He’s dominated or at best looking at near 50-50 odds in most of these hands. Reviewing the video:
Hand 1: 22 vs AJs. 50-50 odds. It pays off, he flops a set, improves to a full house on the river. Hellmuth misses a straight.
Hand 2: 84o. Table folds.
Hand 3: K9o. Table folds.
Hand 4: A6s. Table folds.
Hand 5: T7s vs ATo. Dominated, an 85-15% underdog, Hansen pairs the 7, his one out card to escape, eliminating Moneymaker. He’s now eliminated 2 players and given himself a dominant stack, which sets him up for the remainder of the table.
Hand 6: QJo vs. KQo. Dominated, 73-25% underdog, Hansen escapes by chopping with a straight.
Hand 7: 66. Table folds.
Hand 8: K6o. Table folds.
Hand 9: QTo vs 88 53-47%, Hansen the slight underdog with the two overcards to Deeb’s pair. Hansen pairs the Ten for the win, eliminating Deeb.
Hand 10: A5o vs. AKo. Dominated, 70-25% underdog. Hansen loses the hand. But his stack is healthy from his previous wins.
Hand 11: A8o vs A2o. 55-23% odds, in Hansen’s favor for once, but Ivey wins hitting the Wheel straight.
Hand 12: J4s (39%) vs K9o (35%) vs K2s (17%). Ivey all-in. Hansen is a slight favorite, but it’s close to even odds against the 2nd favorite. With the best odds to win of the three, he’s still more than 60% likely to lose the hand, so it’s easy for this to feel like an underdog situation for him as well. Hansen hits the Jack on the river to win the hand, eliminating Ivey.
Hand 13: QJo vs K8o. Esfandiari shoves. 57-43% underdog. Hansen flops a Queen to win the hand and the match.
Hansen is the favorite: 2 hands (Hands 11, 12). Hansen’s record, 1-1.
Hansen has ~50-50 odds: 3 hands. (Hands 1, 9, 13). Hanson’s record: 3-0
Hansen is underdog: 3 hands. (Hands 5, 6, 10), Hansen’s record 1-1-1 W/L/T
Table folds to his aggression: 5 hands, Hansen’s record: 5-0. At 10k/20k blind levels, that’s not insignificant.
Now, putting my mind in the table as each hand unfolds:
It’s a remarkable run of luck, and his early win set him up to be able to steal blinds and sustain the losses when they came later. But it’s the early win and the stack position that he has that makes shoving every hand after that viable. The first hand was just a coin toss, and shoving in the dark like that, he just got very lucky, and was able to capitalize on it very effectively thereafter.
But by winning a huge pot with this hand, he’s given himself a big stack he can bully with, and stealing blinds at 10k/20k for 3 hands in a row is pretty good outcome for 3 marginal hands.
If he plays a different strategy, he probably doesn’t come out as well.
If he’s thinking in the first hand, maybe he mucks 22. Or maybe he plays more cautiously and then can’t extract as much value out of Hellmuth when he flops his set. In the 50-50 hands that he ended up winning, he probably folds at least one or more of them, realizing less value, and probably doesn’t shove any of them, meaning less value even if he wins.
It’s interesting to watch this and try to get into his head and figure out how he must be feeling and how that influences his thinking. This is guesswork, admittedly. But in the first hand, I’m probably feeling bored, disengaged, and just decide to shove for the hell of it without even looking at my cards. I happen to get a call, and win. Hey, allright, windfall!
The next three hands, I’m bluffing. “Feel lucky, punks? You saw what I just did to Hellmuth, who else wants to try me? No one?”
Now he’s stolen blinds in 3 hands in a row, further improving his big stack position, and showing no sign of playing any strategy. Just shoving any 2 cards, daring someone to call him.
In the 5th hand, he gets caught, but gets a lucky escape, and eliminates another player, and grows his stack still bigger. Uh oh, now he’s Godzilla at this table. (If this were me playing, I would have switched gears here, tightened my range back up to super tight and tried to hold onto all those chips that I’d just lucked into.)
6th hand, OK maybe not Godzilla, but certainly Houdini. And still with the most dangerous stack at the table.
7th, 8th hands, more blind steals, daring anyone to try and call.
9th, another lucky win and another elimination. By now he’s next to unstoppable.
10th hand, first loss, but it’s sustainable. Not a big deal with as many chips as he’s amassed through the first 9 hands.
11th hand. Uh oh.
12th, 13th hands. More lucky wins with narrow odds.
I’m forced to re-evaluate, and based on the stack size, I have to admit there’s more to to his approach than simply “shove any two cards every hand until the game is over”. At first, perhaps it’s “I don’t care if I win or lose, I’m bored and want to end this quickly – one way or the other.” Which, that really isn’t much of a strategy, but then this turns very subtly by hand 5 into “I’ll beat you with my chips, not with my cards”. And somehow that ends up working for him.
I think for this exact sequence of hands, this was perhaps the best way he could have played them. Certainly if he had been more cautious with 22 in Hand 1, he would not have been set up for everything else that followed thereafter.
But if he played out these exact starting hands in 1000 tables with these same players, and the starting cards were identical in each hand, but cards after the flop were dealt randomly, I suspect his win rate would not be greater than the average of 11% (assuming it was a 9-seat table – 16.6% if it’s a 6-seater.)
That said, it’d be interesting to run a monte carlo simulation to test that theory out. If the win rate is better than average, then I’d say that indeed it’s a “valid” strategy. Whatever that means.
I don’t think you are looking at the video in context. They were playing for a position in a league final 16. So no, they all had to finish in at least a certain spot. This is why I said they couldn’t call except with aces or maybe kings.
He knew this, and took advantage of it. Because of this, the odds weren’t what you might think they were.
I said “valid” because another thread suggested that it’s not a strategy at all, so “valid” in the sense that it is a strategy. I don’t think it is a good one in general, but it is a strategy. It was the perfect strategy in that circumstance.
At the expense of repeating the same thing over and over again, if something was valid “in one specific circumstance”, it doesn’t make it valid everywhere else.
By the way, that’s what you always say too
He exploited that fact, and it worked for him. But it worked for him, as puggy said, due to pure luck. If someone had actually called with aces and hit a monster hand, he would have been eliminated. He just got lucky. It doesn’t make his strategy a great one, it just means he was lucky
But I already know you agree that it wasn’t a great strategy.
Nope. I’m saying that in the case where going all in preflop is a sound strategy, it’s not bingo.
And when it’s bingo, it’s never a sound strategy.
You explained this situation very well. He is in a tournament. He needs to stay in. He is using a certain strategy that relies on luck and is not a very good one, but it’s his strategy in this very specific situation. That is not bingo.
Bingo is when you have a player on replay who joins every table and every tourney and goes all in preflop every single hand without any strategy or thinking. Now please, give me an example where this is “perfectly sound”.
This, I think, is actually the old rule. Players can bet without seeing the cards. This is where the term ‘blinds’ comes about, I think. Next player bets the same if he also doesn’t see the cards or double the amount if he sees the cards. @Alan25main could throw some light on this.
Added: Sorry, I didn’t read it along with the title. So, its still played in some places.
A variation on this is the straddle bet. This functions like an extra blind that’s 2x the size of the big blind, often limited in live play to the UTG position. It’s been requested before, but I’m not sure whether that option is in development.
Exactly correct. He is no more relying on luck than someone moving in with AKs or KK is lucky that his opponents don’t have aces, or someone with a small pair doesn’t flop a set, or someone with a hand like QJ doesn’t flop 2 pair. There is some luck involved no matter what you play, but that doesn’t mean you are relying on luck.
He knows that he can only be called by a few hands, and that statistically, he won’t be facing those hands very often. For example, each person will get aces about 1 in 220 hands. If he thinks they can only be called by aces, he’s in pretty good shape shoving any 2 cards.
The astute viewer will notice that he abandons the strategy at the end, when it is no longer optimal.
You might also notice that several players got frustrated and called when they shouldn’t have. OK, this is because he was shoving blind in some cases, and yes, he did get lucky against them.
Gus Hansen has been pushing the envelope of the game since he 1st started. His strategy here was solid, so long as he remained the big-stack at the table. He was in while the others were not. None of them could afford to bust out and he took maximum advantage of that situation. This is not BINGO - its sound tournament strategy.