Why outside the box strategy isn't always a bad thing

This is sort of a brag post that I probably would not be posting if I had not been mildly berated at the table for doing it. That being said if brags don’t appeal to you then this post may be tl;dr.

So, earlier today I entered the Asian Million tournament for 15K. We ended up with 93 runners in the tournament in total. Not sure how many we had when this happened as late reg was still open. Sometime during level 1 of play (10/20 with a 2500 starting stack) I received a call that was taking me away from the tournament for a personal reason. Not an emergency but something I had to take care of. Now if this happens I would normally just blind off. Some players will shove all in pre with ATC (any two cards) to get off their chips. This makes no sense to me and can give someone lucky enough to have a premium at that exact right moment an unfair advantage over not only the rest of the table but the field in general and does not have the all in players interest at heart as they are leaving.

On to the thing. I shove all in pre flop from UTG or UTG1 with 9s7h off of 2150 roughly into a pot of 30 with blinds at 10/20. I did get one caller from an 1800 stack who held AcQc. I spiked a 9 OTT (on the turn) and AQs went unimproved to the river giving me almost a full double up and busting my opponent. I did not announce to the table that I would be shoving ATC, but that was my intention. After the hand was over I was basically called stupid without provocation by a player who I have only known to be a nice person and has been on Replay for 5+ years, though we don’t have a ton history because I haven’t generally played many tournaments and this player plays them almost if not exclusively. I was not asked what my reasoning was and I don’t think this player cared to know.

Now my reasoning. As I stated earlier I would normally just blind out in this situation. The thing that made my decision to go the other way is that I knew I would have the issue taking me away from the game taken care of in a matter of 45 minutes to an hour. This tournament has a very slow structure with levels of 10 minutes pre and starting at 10/20, 15/30, 20/40, 30/60, 50/100 and 100/200 I believe (without going to check exactly.) I felt like if I doubled up there was a good chance that I could get back with some play left. I did get back with approximately 5 bb’s left in the first level after break. 200/400 and I had 2040 or something close to that. Now, while my position (31 out of 34 remaining) was not strong, this tournament paid out 15 spots, I did still have some equity in the tournament that would have been relinquished had I just blinded out my sub starting stack and I needed that double up to retain it.

Results, and I’m not results oriented. This post is mainly about understanding someone’s reasoning for what they’re doing before going after them in a negative way and in some part equity retention and making +EV decisions no matter how big or small the edge is and it’s importance in being a winning player. I was able to get through a couple of steals and then got a double up and was up to 20 bb’s before long and was able to parlay that into a 2:1 chip lead HU (heads up) for the tournament title. I ended up 2nd vs a very capable and good opponent and a slightly bad run of cards HU. I took a prize of 389,363 chips or 374,363 profit after my buy-in of 15K is deducted.

I love to talk strategy as I find it the absolute best form of study and path to getting better.

If you actually read all of this and are now here on this sentence, thank you very much for your time and please leave a comment so I know who took the time. GLATT (good luck at the tables.)


First, calling a shove with AQs is kinda dumb. It’s a drawing hand. You have around 50% of pairing your cards, plus flush and straight potential. If you pair your Ace with AQs, you’re still behind AA, which is the likely hand you’re calling a shove from UTG. As much as I hate to muck premium suited broadway cards, I’m likely to do so in this situation.

Later in the game, I’m more likely to call. If I have a bigger stack than the hand I’m calling, I’m more likely to call. If the shover has been shoving a lot and is likely not to have such a good hand, I’m more likely to call. So I’m saying, I may call a shove with AQs, but I’m not going to call every shove. And when you call a shove with the smaller stack, you know chances are you could go out. That’s just how the game goes. If it happens, it happens, and you have to accept that if you’re going to play.

So, while they’re out of line for berating you, your play wasn’t “outside the box strategy”. You weren’t trying to win. You were trying to exit. And you happened to knock out a player and win a big pot instead. In so doing, you wrecked another player’s game. But you shouldn’t feel the slightest bit bad about it. That’s just poker. You put your chips in and what happens, happens.

If they’re mad, that’s their problem. If they ask you why you made that play, just tell them the truth, or make up a story, like you accidentally clicked the all in button just before hitting bet, or whatever you want, really. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. If you play “dumb” plays, more often than not you’re going to get burned by that and the odds will serve “justice” in the long run.

Ultimately it’s one hand out of however many thousands will be dealt today, an insignificant blip. I can sure understand feeling sore at taking a beat like that, but I can let it go quickly, because if I don’t, it just puts me on tilt and I stand to lose way more chips that way. I mean, at least you didn’t ruin his run deep into the tournament, wasting an hour or more of his time, right? At least you didn’t rob him of a $10000 WSOP buy-in, right?

1 Like

Maybe I didn’t articulate well enough in my OP (original post), but I was not trying to exit and I had every intention of making the most +EV decisions I could possibly make to give myself what I thought would be the best chance of winning the tournament. I do believe the choice to move all in in hopes of a double up was outside the box thinking and should not be lumped in to the same category you would put a player who is shoving all in pre with ATC in an effort to either double or bust. The player who berated me was not in the hand, outside of folding the bb and maybe that’s why this person was cross. Probably seen the board and knew they would have won on the river but not considering had I made a standard open or what I actually would have done under normal conditions, FOLD, that other players may have gone along and they may have lost there stack being involved. So maybe I saved their tournament.

My points are 1.don’t judge someone for something you haven’t inquired as to why they are doing or have done something and 2.always keep thinking about ways to maximize your profits and maybe you’ll find avenues you never would have considered before.

Thank you for reading and the reply @puggywug, I do appreciate the feedback.

OK, well in that case your goal may have been to win, and your outcome was what you wanted, but that was still a poor strategy. You lucked into a winning hand with a giant-sized bet that you had no business making. Enjoy it while it lasts :slight_smile:

You still don’t understand or you didn’t read the entire OP. I had to leave at that moment and was going to be gone for 45 minutes to an hour. I would have blinded off without doubling up. In that scenario I lose 100% of the time. By shoving all in and doubling up maybe I only increased my chance of winning by 1%, BUT, it is still a chance of winning. Therefore the strategy was outside the box and sound IMHO.

In the situation as you described, leaving yourself some chance of winning was better than having none. You paid to enter, they are your chips, you can do with them as you will.

The player calling you stupid was out of line. You are under no obligation to explain yourself to them or to anyone else.

Just out of curiosity, what would you have done had everyone folded?

1 Like

No, I understand. Leaving in the middle of a tournament (for whatever reason; I’m not questioning your reason) isn’t a sound strategy. It might have been the only thing left for you to do in that situation, but that doesn’t make it a sound strategy. Not by my definition of “sound strategy”. When you do the only thing you can do that could possibly have a chance of working, I call that “desperation”.

Shoving to give yourself that tiny bit of a chance of getting enough to not be blinded out makes sense, I guess, but still isn’t a great strategy. I understand why you did what you did; that doesn’t mean that it was a great play. By the time you got back, did you have any stack left? If you’d stayed and played, might you have done as well if not better? I think staying and playing is the right strategy. Shove, leave for an hour, hope you come back with chips left and the game still going is such a bad strategy, it’s not even a strategy. I’m not calling you stupid, you were in a difficult situation and couldn’t have done much else. But I’m not going to dignify the shove-and-take-a-walk by calling it a “strategy”.

What I would say is that often times players will make moves that appear “stupid” but they actually do have some reason for doing it, and when it works out, it can annoy a player who had the better hand, or what seemed like the better strategy, but not the better outcome.

You do realize in order to be awarded tournament points, you must have been present for at least half of the hands played, yes? I’m not sure if that applies to chips won out of the tournament or not – I don’t think so.

It’s not really worth arguing about, and it does give me some insight to some of the frankly weird plays we all sometimes see here. So thanks for that much :slight_smile:

As I was absolutely pressed for time I would have done the exact same thing I did after the hand was over. I checked the away and post box and took care of my business while I blinded off. I 100% would have been out of chips (BUSTO) by the time I returned with out the near double up.

Also, as stated in my OP I would normally just go straight to away and post and blinded out as I would not anticipate my return. This time I happened to know with a good amount of certainty how long I would be out and as the structure was so deep I thought I had a chance of getting back in time to “have a chance” chip and chair style.

Thanks for your replay @SunPowerGuru, appreciate it… cheers! :slight_smile:

Fair point taken. Semantics though. Too mate O/2 mot O!

Offends me, what I had to do I don’t have tell you but it was a much bigger deal than taking a walk. I am restrained.

No offense intended, I just meant “leave the game for an extended period”. Like I said, I’m not calling into question the legitimacy of your need to take leave right then. I know you had your reasons, and there’s a ton of things that are way more important than a free poker game.

1 Like

Thank you. We’re all good. :slight_smile:

Hey Dayman, I understand what you are saying and what you did completely.“I have to go now”…so, you either post away and return to see you blinded out in 45th position or whatever, or you do what you did. 2 outcomes were possible, you either lose and are out, or you win the hand and return to maybe still be in the game. Was it a “strategy” a “desperation move” a “thinking outside the box” tactic or “an opportunity” to continue? WHO CARES about the meaning of these things? People read too much into the semantics of things.You did what you did to be able to possibly continue when you returned, and you did. Plain and simple.

1 Like

@dayman ,
Since I have been fired for ( OTB ) thinking… ( outside the box )
I can attest that I find your strategy, that shows you have a few
brain cells left and know how to use them… Bravo !!

To me OTB thinking, is always a good thing…


Thank you very much @ironsides. I appreciate your input. :slight_smile:

Haha! Thank you for your comment. When have a partner spot opened up at the top of OTB Firm I’ll be looking for ya. Cheers! :slight_smile:

Same thing happened to me in one of the Bankroll builder tournaments. I was sitting pretty with my stack doubled up or tripled up I don’t remember, when I had connection problem and was shut out from the tournament. After two hours when the connection came back up, to my surprise I saw I finished in prize position. I would not have if I had played.

Initially I tended to agree with @puggywug. When all is normal everybody wins some, loses some and breaks even, the sit out will only be paying out 1.5 BB in blinds every full round and gain nothing. So at anytime he will be at he bottom of the table just paying his blinds. This is no strategy.

But on a deeper thinking, things are not normal always. Some players are on a winning streak, and some are on a losing streak. What is the scope of a sit out in this situation. It depends on the winning and losing streaks and the distribution of them.

To simplify the matter, let us say, one player never loses and others are even. In a nine player table, it will translate to, 11.11% winning expectation (1/9) and 12.5% losing expectation(1/8). Overall expectation is negative1.4% who are even.

I did some statistical analysis on tournament data for average BB per deal. It came out to be 6BB in lower blind rounds (like 200BB out of 3000 starting chips). In ring its about 7-10BB, which can be computed from the average pot size which is given in lobby listing.

Expectation in terms of BB in tournaments is (-1.4% x 6BB) -0.084 for others if one player doesn’t lose. What a sit out loses is, 1.5BB every nine deals, -0.167. He still loses more (-0.167 vs -0.084BB). What is the cut off point where he breaks even with the playing players.

Considering the sit out as one of the players and he never wins or loses, and the tournament averages eight players per table, not the full nine players, the equation will be

      6 x (1/x - 1/7) = 1.5/8

Gives x as 5.74. To say a sit out breaks even when 1.26 players never lose. If the streaks are more distinct than this, a sit out starts gaining. So it is possible to progress by sitting out.

As the blind increases, as happens later in the tournament, the average BB comes down, progress of a sit out slows down. This is to say it may not be possible to reach out to prize position by sitting out. A doubled up stack may push through. At lower number of players per table the influence of the streaks is more, sit out becomes more profitable.

In summary, we can conclude more prominent the streaks are, more sound the sit out strategy is.

Good post, stirred up a thinking.

Lol! If you can’t do any better than bleeding out the blinds, why are you even playing?

It’s so true, though, if you fold every hand you’ll probably last longer against me than you will if you try to play.

Well yeah. If you get 15 of each suit and we all only get 13, you do have a distinct advantage!

1 Like

This is a provocation, and needless. In case you misunderstood my quote on you, let me clarify. It was not meant to be any derogatory, but a credit to your stand that when everything is normal sit out is no strategy which I implicitly acknowledged as correct.

Hope this clarifies.


1 Like

I didn’t take any offense at all to what you wrote, and I meant no offense with my reply.

Folding every hand with a big stack at a full table does take a long time to bleed out. It really will take longer to knock a player out this way, many times, than it will to play for a pot. Folding every hand will only end in a loss, but playing hands you might win. A slow bleed out might get an unskilled player who lucked into a windfall deeper into a tournament than trying to play will, but to win eventually you have to bet if you aspire to win. And if you either don’t aspire to win, or if you can’t do better by trying than you do bleeding out, then why play at all?

Bleeding is a viable strategy, and the only one, for a player who must be absent. But it’s really just a long forfeit.

When I played my very first MTT, I finished 4th overall, and was surprised to do that well. I folded most of my hands, and played a super tight range that served me well until the final table. I didn’t know enough then to open my range, or how the odds change as a table shrinks down to heads up. So I did about as well as I could have expected. Overall, though, my strategy in that game was only slightly different from folding every hand. But it was a world of difference all the same.

The only time an extended away is an advantage is if you’re seriously outclassed by your opponents, or if you have no other choice. But still, bad players will lose their stacks faster by playing than they would by folding every single hand from start to end. That’s science.