Looks At Gigabet’s ‘Block Theory’ And Asks Whether This Has Useful Application In SNG Tournaments?
Block Theory was coined by former 2+2 ‘Celebrity’ and later live poker professional Gigabet. The theory, and subsequent dilemma is based on the thesis that your chip stack in a tournament is ‘grouped’ with the stack of others. This influences your strategy to such an extent that your single goal should be to move your chip stack out of its group or block…. The associated dilemma can be summarized as follows:
"Intentionally taking negative equity situations with the idea that if the gamble works, the positive equity gained later in the tournament from the power of the big stack, will outweigh the long term net loss of chips"
This premise went on to become the most abused in all of internet poker – a ready excuse for less skilled players to justify their horrible calls!
The Gigabet Diemma - Applying The Concept To SNG Tournaments
Let us look a little deeper – especially in relation to early level SNG strategy – could making a ‘loose’ call actually be a long term positive expectation move?
Firstly we will not cover the actual bubble here. SNG Bubble decisions usually have a clear mathematical outcome – your equity risked vs your equity reward make decisions clear. However, In the early or middle stages there may be some valid applications. Stripping out the fancy words about blocks we are left with the relatively clear concept that chips you hold over and above the current 'average' have less extra utility in the middle stages while you remain in a 'group' of players with similar stack sizes.... lets look at an example;
Player 1 - 2500
Player 2 - 2500
Player 3 - 2000
Player 4 - 1500
Player 5 - 1500
Player 6 - 800
The advantage of having 2500 chips is good - but not great – here. However the advantage of adding another 1000 to this stack could potentially move you away from your 'group' and put you in a very advantageous position to exploit the upcoming bubble...
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The short stack pushes and you have an average hand – say Q9 - you are next to act, and decide to isolate by shoving all in. The idea being that you 'take the worst of it' because the positive effect of having those extra 800 chips somehow balance the fact that losing 800 chips will happen the majority of the time.... after all 1700 chips still retains you enough fold equity / flexibility to win assuming you are a decent player. While you are risking equity in this example, losing the pot will not result in leaving the current ‘group’ or ‘block’ of players you are in, while winning will move you out of the group into a very advantageous position.
There are dangers here, the players behind you need a big hand to overcall your all-in. This will happen a percentage of the time, even loose shoves need to factor in the number of opponents still to act!
The Gigabet Dilemma In SNGs - Should You Use It?
Should you do it? As with most aspects of our game there is no right or wrong answer here... with Q9 I’d almost certainly fold, but what about KJ or 55?? It can be easy to see the logic as to why ‘gambling’ for a big stack could allow you to pick up many more pots at the bubble. Whether you choose to do this should be based on your perceived skill level in using that big stack as well as the tendencies of your opponents.
For further thoughts on SNG play not bound by ‘standard’ mathematical chip equity model (ICM) see this excellent article by Albatross77 “Thinking Outside the Box”
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