Dara O’Kearney dispels a big myth that the blind rollback feature is good for short stacks, it actually benefits everyone but the shorties.
Last week I wrote about the strategy adjustments for the GGPoker seat selection feature at final tables. Today I wanted to discuss the other aspect of GGPoker final tables that is unique – the blind rollback feature.
The blind levels get rolled back when the final table is formed to make the average stack have at least 40 big blinds.
This can be quite a significant change, especially if the stacks had been shallow leading up to it.
Knowing that the stacks will be deeper when you make the final table, who benefits from this feature?
Short stacks suffer the most
Short stacks are in tougher spots
Most player assume that this is a good feature if you are one of the short stacked players, because it means it buys you more time at the final table with more room for manoeuvre. As such the conventional wisdom might suggest that playing tight as a short stack before the final table is the way to go.
This is a fallacy. When you are one of the shortest players at the table it is in your best interest to have the shallower stack. If the average stack is 100,000 and you have 20,000, you are better off if the blinds are 2,000/4,000 than if the blinds are 250/500.
We have an example in my most recent book on ICM where we show this. In it we have short stack with 5,000 chips and the average stack is 33,000. When we made the blinds 125/250 their middle position opening range in a solver was 15.8% of hands. When we made the blinds 500/1,000 their opening range more than double to 37.3% of hands.
When you are really short, more hands become profitable. If you have 40BBs you can open less hands, because your opponents can flat you or reraise you and put you in positions where you have to fold. When you have 5BBs you can push a very wide range because you force your opponent to have a hand strong enough to call with.
Big and medium stacks have more room
More blinds = more room to manoeuvre
The blind rollback is better for medium stacks. They cannot just push their entire range so as such they need to play some flops.
It is better, for example, if they have 40 bigs compared to the 80 bigs of the chip leader, rather than 20 bigs compared to the 40 bigs of the chip leader. They can play more flops, turns and rivers, because the chip leader cannot just shove their entire range over them.
Blind rollback is also pretty good for the chip leaders. When they have 20BB stacks acting after them, they will find a lot of their opens get reshoved on. Once you get above 20BB, reshoving becomes less attractive for the shorter players. So a chip leader can open wider with deep stacks knowing the 40BB average stacks have less ways to attack them.
So just like the seat selection, the blind rollback feature favours the chip leader. It is also terrible for the shortest stacks at the table.
Dara O’Kearney’s new book Endgame Poker Strategy: The ICM Book is out now.