Gaining a lock through aggressive play

Discussion in 'Blackjack Tournament Strategy' started by Ternamint, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. Ternamint

    Ternamint Member

    Ken's book How To Win Even More mentions trying to accumulate your target in each round. I know there is also information available about the odds of winning consecutive hands or 3 out of 4 etc...

    Considering an elimination tournament with re-entry allowed in the first round, might it be a reasonable strategy to play for a lock in round 1A and 1B? Play aggressively and then correlate but shoot for a lock during end play.

    I wouldn't do this if I had no re-entry. But my odds of busting out twice would be less.

  2. gronbog

    gronbog Top Member

    The strategy of shooting for a goal during the round usually only applies to accumulation rounds, where you are competing against everyone and not just those at your table. Is this what Ken was discussing?
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  3. Ternamint

    Ternamint Member

    Yes, but I am trying to apply it to elimination. But, can my question be math based.

    What are the odds of busting out versus chipping up using aggression in two consecutive sessions? Using full aggression, how often will a player chip up versus going bust? If the answer is aggression wins once out of two times, then it could be right to be aggressive, but if it's (more likely) once in 20 tries, it's clearly wrong.

    However, there is also the concept of Hail Mary. If I don't want to pay for a mulligan and reaching the second round doesn't return my entry fee, yet the prize pool is very valuable assuming a guaranteed second (for example) round start, why not Hail Mary and try to reach the second round as cheaply as possible?

    You may answer that it would still be best to go slow and play the end game, but the competition all have mulligans and you were too cheap (smart) to buy one.
  4. LeftNut

    LeftNut Top Member

    If a mulligan is available and you don't obtain one, you're giving up a tremendous advantage to your opponents who did. It does suck to have to pay extra for one, such as the GN Vegas BJT's but you do not want to be in an elimination round facing such a disadvantage.
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  5. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    If we agree that there is an optimal way to play, maximizing the probability of advancing from any given table, then it follows that the average cost of advancing will go up (due to the extra rebuys required) if you play more aggressively than is optimal. And the same is true of the disadvantage you would have from not having a mulligan (i.e. more extra rebuys required).

    So I suppose it boils down to a question of whether the saving from never buying the mulligan outweighs the cost of all the extra rebuys (which I'm guessing it generally doesn't).
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  6. Ternamint

    Ternamint Member

    I believe I understand this as: The average cost of advancing if you always play non-optimally would go up. The disadvantage of always declining a mulligan would definitely hurt your chances and that would drive up your eventual cost of winning also.

    I think I was trying to determine if I go contrary on an individual big prize play, and possibly doing this when you don't like the structure/cost of the event. Assume expenses are already sunk (you traveled to play the event and discovered you don't like the rules).

    Pay the least amount to enter and play (no reentry and no mulligan). Would there be a "best" approach or would it not matter much. You are at a disadvantage anyway. Play fast from the 1st hand, or Wong it using 1/7, 1/3, 100%, or play 20%x5 hands etc...

    Would it be better to throw the entry fee into a slot machine or play the tournament where your skill could have an impact (assume no other options available except hanging out or going home)? If you play the tournament, would you still play it typically tight to end play, or would your lack of a mulligan change your approach.

    In forming this question, it dawns on me that you could use up a mulligan in a tournament and be in a similar situation. I can research the advice on how to play when this happens. That might answer the overall question I am trying to ask.
  7. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    There is no distinction. The average cost of repeatedly doing something over the long term is the same thing as the expected value of doing it once.
  8. Ternamint

    Ternamint Member

    I think I am ultimately trying to figure out how to value tournaments including the add on features of mulligans and re-entries. Ultimately, I will develop some rules of thumb to follow. But, I'm not there yet. Disclaimer: I don't argue to be hard headed or to try and be correct. I do it to help myself understand and learn. Hopefully, the dialogue will help others as well. So thank you for your indulgence!

    Despite the long term/large sample/bell shaped curve telling us the right answer even in the short term with potential high variance, there are exceptions. I have posted an excerpt from Ken's book below as an example, standing on 12v3. I believe the example assumes "all" other players have stiffs and that's not a given in real play. However, he seems to state that standing is his rule even when it's "wrong"(my word), i.e., counter to basic strategy.

    My question to beat this dead horse: If you had one chance to play a tournament in your entire life, and you were the expert that you are right now, and some or all of the OPs held mulligans and were all willing to re-enter, and furthermore, you thought the event was too pricey unless you could win it on the cheap with a single entry Hail Mary shot, does it really matter how you play it? If you also had a Mulligan and you were willing to pay for a reentry, I would agree to go slow and then end play if needed.

    Here's the example of an exception to a rule. It's ambiguity like this that is raising more questions in my mind. I put my thoughts in {}.
    5 4 How to Win Even More Blackjack Tournaments – Volume II
    If you had to pick one way to always
    play 12v3 in tournaments, I think you would be better off always standing rather than
    always hitting.
    Hitting 12v3 at a tournament table causes problems because it can easily create
    a negative swing {but could create a positive one}, where you lose the hand but the rest of the table wins. With a dealer
    three up, your opponents will not be hitting busting totals (except perhaps the 12 if they
    didn’t read this article!) {or if they were taking a contrary shot or firmly believe in playing by the book} That means that if the dealer busts, every player at the table will
    be paid {assumption that this will happen}. If you hit your 12 and bust, you're the only loser. {Assumes no other hitters/busters}
    {end quote}

    I am certain that I would play tournaments as Wong, Smith and you experienced and knowledgeable posters teach to do so. But, in my own mind, I need to cement certain rules. So many things in tournament play are situation dependent (like poker) and even ambiguous that I want to have my certain solid go to rules that allow me to concentrate on all of the other aspects in the heat of battle.

    All of your posts are greatly appreciated!
  9. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    If you hunt around, I think there are a few past threads discussing this at some length.

    I think the re-entry issue is a bit of a red herring. Each opportunity to re-enter is effectively a new tournament which you can choose to take part in, or not. So at any given point, it's just a question of whether the fee required to enter this round -
    1. has a positive expectation for you.
    2. is not so big, as a proportion of your overall bankroll, that it goes beyond either your personal risk tolerance, or some more objective, Kelly-like assessment of the max bet you should be making.
    The only real complication that re-entries throw up is the uncertainty about what the final prize pool is likely to be, depending on how many rebuys there are.

    Of course, all the above assumes that the profit motive is the only reason to take part. Fun is another good reason to enter tournaments. But, to my mind, if entry fees are up at the level where I have to worry about not being able to afford to rebuy, then that's no fun at all!:eek:

    The mulligan issue is perhaps more complicated. It's not something I have experience of. But I can imagine it would be possible, in theory, for a mulligan to be overpriced, so that it genuinely is not worth purchasing.

    It could also be the case that, although a particular mulligan is worth buying (so declining it puts a dent in the absolute, monetary value of your expectation), you do still have a positive expectation without it. (In terms of percentage return on your investment, maybe it could even be higher?)

    So, going back to my original comment, what I am suggesting is that in extreme circumstances it might make sense to decide to play just one round, and decline the mulligan, because you can afford neither the mulligan nor the rebuy. But if you can afford to rebuy, then that money is probably best used on the mulligan instead, unless you determine that the mulligan is overpriced.

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