Restealing in Online Poker Tournaments – Breaking Down The Resteal

The Resteal Can Be An Effective Way To Gain Chips In An Online Poker Tournament.
Learn To Spot When To Use The Re-Steal Here.

There are many complex moves in multi-player online poker tournaments – one such move that you really can not do without is the resteal. This article looks at restealing as a semi-bluff and looks at the mathematics and situational factors behind this tournament move.

Restealing In Poker - A Definition And An Example

A resteal involves making a big re-raise when one or more opponents have already entered the pot with a marginal holding in order to steal the raised pot pre-flop. This re-raise is most often made when you are last to act – on the button or in the blinds. It is actually a form of semi-bluff (if you had a strong holding you would be raising for value or isolation instead). You are betting that the gap between the range of hands your opponent would raise with and those he will call a large re-raise with is big enough to take down the pot a large percentage of the time. When you are called your holding will still have a chance to win a showdown.

Here is an example. You are in the small blind with a stack of 20,000, most of the table (including the raiser) have you covered. The blinds are 1600 / 800. The hand folds to the button who makes it 4500 to go. You have 8-9 of hearts in the Small Blind position and push all-in as a resteal.

There are several factors that come into play here. Firstly your assessment of the button’s raising range and his calling range for your re-raise. For example if you assess that he will raise 50% of hands here as an attempt to steal the blinds but will only call with the top 10% of all hands you have a clear mathematical edge (ignoring the big-blind for now): Over 100 hands it looks like this:

  1. Button Folds: 80 times you pick up his 4500 chips + 2400 in blinds = 6900 chips
  2. Button Calls: 13 times you lose your 20,000 chips
  3. Button Calls: 7 times you win 22,400 chips

The totals are ((80*6900)+(13*-20000)+(7*22400))/100 =  +4488 Chips Per Attempt. As a proportion of your stack that is a huge gain.

Restealing In Poker Tournaments - Questioning Assumptions About Opponent Hand Ranges

We made some assumptions here, deciding that you have 35% winning chances when called. Of course this is not always the case. In our example we chose 8-9 suited for a good reason… that these cards are less likely to be dominated when called. Think of it this way, a large part of any button calling range is going to be the high unpaired hands such as Ace-King, Ace-Queen or even King-Queen suited. Against these hands we have 2 ‘live’ cards and are only a 55/45 underdog. Compare this to restealing with Ace-Six, now when called we are likely to be dominated and a 70/30 underdog to win the hand. This makes medium-high suited connectors more valuable when called.

We also make an assumption that the gap between the button raisers range for betting and for calling your reraise was large. This is opponent dependant, especially in lower level multi-player online tournaments some players are more inclined to call than this. Try to choose aggressive opponents for this move – their raising range will be larger so they are less likely to call when faced with a large bet.

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Restealing In Online Poker Tournaments - Factoring In Stack Sizes

Stack sizes also come into play. Make sure that the original raiser is not priced in to call your raise. In the above example if the button only had 10,000 chips then this move would be a no-go. He would need to call 5,500 more to contest a pot of 15,000 chips – getting almost 3/1 pot-odds it would not then be correct for him to fold.

The big blind should also be accounted for in our example. The action he sees ahead is a raise and then an all-in. Most people in this situation would only call with the very best hands... but make sure you are aware of their style and stack size. A loose and / or desperate (shorter stacked) big-blind might read your action for a steal and call with less than premium holdings.

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