2 pair flop disaster - bad play, analysis, lessons. Advice?

4-handed in a 9-hand game (bubble time!) you’re dealt Ad6d in the SB with the blinds at 150/300, sitting on a 4300 stack. BB holds 3320 chips, CO is the big stack with 15000 chips, raises to 2BB, Button folds, you and the BB call, pot is 1800 chips.

Board comes up 6hJdAh, giving you two pair. You check, BB checks, CO bets 1/2 pot, for 900. You raise 1800, BB folds, CO calls.

Turn is a bad card, 9h. Noting the 3 hearts on the board, you figure your opponent was either betting his position (but since they called, it’s likely they have something), and you don’t put them on a draw because they should have laid down to the raise (or so you think.) But now with 3 hearts on the board, if they have 1 heart in their hand, they may call any bet, and you want to punish them for it, and maybe put them off continuing the hand and win it outright here, so you shove your remaining stack, 2034 chips, and the CO calls, flips up Kh7h, and you’re KO’d, rivering out a useless Kd.

Where did I go wrong? Clearly shoving at the Turn was the worst mistake, but let’s back up.

Should I have called a 2BB raise preflop with A6s? A lot of people will say to fold A6 automatically, always. But 4-handed, and already committed to the SB, I would argue it’s playable, with my stack size where it is.

Should I have played the flop differently? I might have tried a pot-size bet at the flop, but I felt in the moment that check-raising was a better play, because two pair AA66 was a pretty strong hand, here, with a lot of value, and I wanted to get more value out of it, hopefully doubling up.

Should I have check-shoved? I think that would have been the preferrable play, here. Raising to 1800 gave good odds to call, especially for a big stack with such a large stack advantage over me. Holding 15000, it’s an easy call to make, and not at all intimidating, even for no-hand four to the flush. At that point, to call my raise it’s 900 to win 3600.

But my thought there was, I wasn’t trying to get a fold, I wanted the call, to get more chips, because I was ahead of most hands. 66, JJ, AA, and AJ were the only hands ahead of me here. So why not build a pot and go for more value?

If I had wanted to close the hand, then shoving my entire stack in here on the flop would have been ideal, giving the flush draw poorer odds to call: Instead of 900 to win 4500, I would have been giving the CO 4734 to win 9468, which should have been enough to get a flush draw to drop the hand.

Because I sized my bet wrong to deny EV to a flush draw, and didn’t realize it, I thought when the 9h hit the board that I was probably fine, because I imagined my opponent was holding Ace-something, and hopefully not AJ. I figured AJ was unlikely because if they’d had a high Ace, probably they’d go higher than 2BB with it.

(Although, with such a big stack, maybe they would rather play hands out rather than raise high enough to mostly steal blinds here, who knows. Lately I’ve been seeing some “interesting” plays with limping hands like AA KK in order to hide its value at a short-handed, high blinds table, hoping to catch a small stack shoving at the wrong time.)

If I’d been right, this would have been a good play. Aces mostly call here and lose, I double up and get even to the big stack and am looking good. But sometimes suckouts will happen and I’ll go home angry that I bubbled to a suckout or a cooler.

Arguably, I still shouldn’t have taken such a risk on the bubble, but when you flop top and bottom two pair, you’re good to win about 75% of the time. Although, in this specific case it was only about 66% likely to win, due to the board being two-hearts. If my opponent were wrong-suited, I would have been about 97% to win here against K7o, which was about how I felt about it when I saw the flop.

Where I’m at now: I recognize that I misplayed the hand, and how, and I think I’ve learned from it.

If I open-shove on the flop here from the SB, and the big stack calls on their flush draw and lands it, well here on Replay probably a lot of flush draws make that call from a big stack, and I still double up through them 66% of the time, so I think that would have been a good line to take. Better players probably muck their flush draw more than lesser players, and that works for me as well. Check-shoving this situation would have been good, also and might have gotten me better value for it, even if I might get called and lose this specific hand.

Check-raising, into the big stack, who has me covered about 5x, not so good. On a different board texture, rainbow flop, sure, absolutely. I also like the play a lot more after the bubble than on the bubble, but I think it’s better to play the bubble period strong when you have a hand.

Here’s the hand, if you care to review it. https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/531748578/flush-ace-high

Let’s take this action street by street.

Preflop, calling is probably your worst possible action. You get no fold equity, you’re in a rough spot if BB comes in for a jam, and you’ll be out of position postflop. Most flops aren’t going to hit you, and starting the hand with 14BB, a call will leave you with 12BB and a pot of at least 5BB. I wouldn’t mind a 3-bet jam here. It’ll often get some folds and grow your stack by 3BB. If CO calls with K7s, you’ve got substantial equity to double-up. Also, it’ll make the big stack think twice about deciding to open weak holdings when you’re willing to play aggressively at him. Of course, a fold will get you out of a hand that usually plays poorly postflop, particularly out of position.

In general, when there are players left to act, I recommend only raising or folding preflop. Out of curiosity, have you mapped out what your preflop calling range looks like here? Where does A6s fall in that range - toward the top, or are you calling with even stronger hands?

On to the flop… I like your decision to check initially. It’s good to give the preflop aggressor a chance to make a play at the pot. You also block so many of the hands that beat you - all but one set of sixes or aces, and there are only six combinations left of AJ. He’ll often continue, since he’ll have a lot of aces in his range that you shouldn’t have, and he can credibly represent them even when he has, say, pocket 9’s.

However, after V makes his half-pot bet, you need to come in for a jam. Minraising gives even the big blind odds on a flush draw if he has one. You’re also pot-committing yourself - if you fold to a jam on later streets, or even on this street, with an ace holding 2K chips behind in a pot of 5400, then you’re over-folding. Also, if you’re planning to jam any turn anyway, why give V the chance to catch up? Jam here and deny his equity. This could also be a play you could make if your range includes KhXh, possibly putting V in a tough spot if he held a lone ace.

Finally, you NEED to get away from the line of thought that says “I have X, therefore I want my opponent to Y,” where Y is fold/call/raise/jam/whatever. Right now, that mindset is probably the biggest roadblock to your ability to improve.

Instead, play a balanced range. When you bet for value, figure out which bluffs would take the same line, and vice versa. If you play the same way when you have both bluffs and value hands, and size your bets appropriately, then you’ll actually be indifferent to whether your opponent calls or folds, because in the long run you’ll make the same amount of cash in those spots. Happy to go into this in more detail if you want.

Also, you seem to be giving a bit too much weight to the relative stack sizes here. If you were to double up in this spot through V, you’d be nearly even with him, which would be a disaster from his perspective. It’s rare that a player has the rest of the field covered to the point where he can bully everyone around with anything. Rather, in almost every spot you should be thinking in terms of the size of the pot. Move away from thinking “Should he call this when it’s just 10% of his stack,” to “Does he have the right odds to call a 3/4 pot bet?”


Your analysis agrees with mine quite well, for the most part.

I think a blind steal attempt with A6s here is a risky play. I’ve gotten burned so many times trying a move like that, it’s as though any time i shove, it’s suddenly 75% likely that someone else has a big pair. When called, I tend to win about 1-in-10. When I don’t get called, it’s fine, but I am usually left wishing I’d gotten more value from the hand. But I suppose there’s a lot of value in getting 3BB without seeing a showdown. But then, when you jam preflop, each time you do it, makes it more likely that you’ll be called. You can get away with it once, twice, and after the third one, you’re inviting a call.

I personally don’t like to risk that much, and given the choice of fold or jam, I’d fold. I also wouldn’t 3-bet raise, for the same reasons you gave against calling preflop and against my too-small raise on the flop. I think jamming the flop would have been best, or second best if you think folding pre was best.

I could use more explanation of what it means to “play a balanced range”. I think I have a good range, that I am comfortable playing with, and have decent success with. But it sounds like you’re telling me that I shouldn’t look at my cards or the hand they make when playing from the flop forward, and I should somehow play my hand as though I have a quantum superposition of any of the possible hands in what my opponent perceives to be my range, based on how I’m acting with the current board texture, and this superposition only collapses to a known quanta if there’s a showdown. Which makes sense, I guess, as that’s how an opponent is looking at my play from their perspective, but HOW DO I ACTUALLY DO THAT?

Could you walk through the hand, street by street, and narrate what I should be thinking if I’m playing my balanced range rather than playing the two hands I can see?

What hands in someone’s hypothetical range would anyone bluff jam with on the flop? If I flop the nuts, should I be folding sometimes, in order to represent my range?? That would be idiotic, wouldn’t it? So I don’t understand this.

I get that the best players, like Doyle, are said to be able to beat the average player without looking at their own cards. But that has to be relying on the read they get from their opponents actions to know what they’re likely holding, and a certain amount of intimidation, bluffing, and luck. Right? And what I see Doyle doing in tournaments is look at his cards. Not surprising, really. You need to know what you’re holding in order to play a range. But in fact, I saw a video yesterday between him and Dwan, where he only looked at one of the cards, saw an Ace, shoved, and Dwan snap called him with A9, and Dolly had a weaker Ace and was dominated, and he lost the hand. Probably could have saved some chips if he had looked at both cards.

Can you please expand info… replay doesnt offer a way to the lobby or the status at the top right… What do you mean Bubbletime ?

I mean there’s 4 players at the table, three will win chips.

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This is one of the reasons why I asked what your preflop calling range looked like. I probably wouldn’t have one in this spot… but if I did, it might look something like this:
22-66 (77+ would be jamming)
78s-JTs (stronger suited connectors would be jamming)
A2s-A3s, A6s-A8s (A4s, A5s, and A9s+ would be jamming)
K9s, KTs, KJs
A5o, A9o, ATo, AJo
KTo, KJo
JTo, QJo

That’s a total of 30+12+20+48+12+24+24 = 170 hands, or 12.8%. When the flop comes AhJd6h, many of those combinations get knocked out of your range, since you obviously can’t have any combo that contains one of those cards. You end up down to 25+11+15+11+16+21+18 = 117 potential hands.

If this is my preflop calling range in the small blind, facing a cutoff minraise and a button fold, then what hands would I have for value that would want to check-jam? Bottom set, definitely - three combos there. AJo without Jh, since I’ll want my competitor to have more hearts in his range, and having AxJh would give me some very strong hands that I can mix into my check-call range - six combos. A6s - three combos. That gives us 12 of our 117 potential hands that we can have for value, or just under 10%.

If we jam, ignoring ICM considerations (one tournament chip doesn’t equal one play chip, which distorts the math a bit), your opponent would have to call 2934 chips to win a pot of (1800+900+3834+2934 = ) 9468 chips, so he needs to be right just 31% of the time to break even on a call. As a result, you need to add between five and six bluff combos to your range to be balanced. What are your best options? Well, anything with very high equity that’s not a made hand would be nice, and you have three suited combos with Kh. The other three combos of KTs could be work too, as they don’t block hearts, are unmade hands, and could make broadway on a queen.

Are we jamming with appropriate frequency here? Well, you’re doing so with just 15% of your hands (18/117). That should be enough to make V think twice about betting for thin value on this street without over-exposing our range, as an all-in check raise is a very aggressive move.

Now, what do I mean when I say that I’m indifferent between my competitor calling and folding here?

How much will I win, on average, when I make this move? Well, when my opponent folds, obviously I end up with the full pot: 1800+900+3834 = 6534 chips. That’s the easy part.

When I jam here for value, it’s unlikely - though possible - my competitor will call with a better hand. I could be walking into a set, but with only nine in total out there (three each of AA, JJ, and 66), many of which I’ll block with my value hands, there are very few my opponent can have. Let’s imagine for the sake of argument that my value range is ahead of his entire calling range. If he calls, 1/3 of the time (6 bluff combos / 18 total combos) he’s “right,” I was bluffing, and I end up with 0 chips. The other 2/3 of the time, he’s “wrong,” my value hand is better than his, and I win the pot of 9468 chips. Since (1/3 * 0) + (2/3 * 9468) = 6312 chips, that’s how much I expect to win on average when I make this move and my opponent calls.

The value I get on average when my opponent calls and when my opponent folds is very close, and should be as close as possible. That’s what I mean when I say we need to play a balanced range, which should make our opponents - and us! - indifferent between calling and folding. If we bet too large given the ratio of value hands to bluff hands, then we aren’t bluffing enough and incentivizing our opponents to fold; if we bet too small, we’re bluffing too frequently and giving our opponents too good a price on their calls.

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Please take some time to watch this video - bubble play and push/fold concepts begin at about 28 minutes in. Gripsed is a solid professional coach who is dealing with small stake tournament players for a living. He explains it in a way that you will understand the concepts so that you can tailor your play to the players you are facing. Avail yourself of the free content these people put out. Most people won’t ever bother to study or learn. You will gain large edges on the competition if you do.

If you can think about relative stack sizes, opening ranges and what villains may fold from that original range, then the math is super easy. You will find spots where shoving any 2 cards is profitable and other spots where folding AQ is correct. Once you understand what’s going into the decision, you will own that skill forever.

If you want, you can also get a cheap app from ICMizer called SnG trainer. It will drill you on push/fold situations until it becomes intuitive.


And do you think you are the only one who feels this way? Of course not. And that’s why a proper push/fold strategy will give you a monster edge over other players. Take advantage of the natural human instinct to be cautious. Take advantage of the fact that people don’t want to look dumb and call with a mediocre hand. Make them fold and grow your stack without seeing flops. You will lose a good amount of the time but this is a numbers game and in the long run, your profits will go up dramatically.


I get that. It’s just that so many of the times when I have jammed like that, I’ve picked a hand where someone had QQ+. I did it again in Sunday’s Badonk’s Foals, jamming AJ into AA, and busted 15th where I could have lasted quite a while if I hadn’t made that move.

And the other times I jam with a real hand, and it doesn’t stand up eiyh6, and I lose AA under 86. I really think I win a lot more tournaments being cautious than I do trying to get away with preying on the caution of others.

Lol, I actually did watch that video yesterday, which is where I got the idea that I should be defending the SB wider than I had been, which is why I chose to play this hand that way! Of course, I didn’t learn enough apply the lesson correctly, obviously, and I learned some more from the mistake, and even then one bad outcome on a misplayed hand doesn’t invalidate the lesson.

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Defend the BB wider, not SB. SB is a different proposition because you are not completing the action and you have the positional disadvantage for the rest of the hand vs anyone else on the table.

I’m glad you watched it. For the issue you are having with whether to jam in certain spots, go over the formula he gave out again. Your expected value is the sum of the % villain folds and the % you win when he calls. If you recall, he made a very important point about winning hands with your chips instead of with your actual cards.


It happens all the time, to everyone. Play enough games and you learn to get over it. If I happen to shove into a top 5% hand, well that stinks (unless I suck out). If someone is only defending with top 15% of hands though, well that opens up a whole bunch of potential for you to jam with any 2 cards. Yes, any 2 cards will show a profit vs one player who only defends top 15%.

I think there are some peculiarities here that don’t exist in online cash games. One is that games seem to play down to where everyone is working off sub-20BB stacks. I see people trying to play multi-street poker with 10BB’s. It can’t be done, but they try. Also, online cash SnG’s are meant for volume players. Its less emotionally painful to bust in 1 game when you have 3 others going and you can start another in under a minute. Here, people tend to play 1 or 2 at a time and they take a while to fill up.

Anyway, master the concepts and tailor them to your specific games. I think everyone can see the growth you’ve shown as a player since you started here. I hope you continue to do so and will be happy to help in that effort any way I can.


Ok @Puggywug ,

Chipleader is safe with a 3x margain in chips… in this hand if both shortstacks fold out then Puggy is in 2nd by I think 20 chips.

So if everyone (other than chipleader) folds out 100% from here pretty sure puggy is 2nd… Taking this into account we can then move on…

The question now becomes… is making the bubble more/less important than winning. Depending on WHO the blinds go up on, can dramatically change things. You can play here “to make” the bubble but lose the MTT usually, or possibly bust 4th or have a much better shot @ winning the MTT.

Money (bankroll I have) so unless this is for special tickets, then I’lll play to win… otherwise I’ll certainly play to make the bubble no matter what.

Your 1st mistake here was limping in. You invite the BB to see a free flop or raise you, and you allow the bigstack to see a cheap flop. You have to Shove to hopefully take the BB in with you , so If the bigstack beats you both… you still get 3rd. You also lose your adv of being in 2nd place chipwise. It also signals to table you are playing for more than just to make the bubble by abandoning your 2nd place to take a shot.

Once the flop hits, again… the only clear move for you is to shove your 2pr and make anyone drawing pay dearly to see it. The big problem is… if the bigstack has the flush draw ( and they did ) and calls ur all in and looses, they still have a 3:2 adv against you and a 3:1 against the other 2 players, so a good draw (2hearts with AorK) usually gets played here.

When the bigstack bets out the 900… if they are not bluffing, then that says they have a legitimate flush draw WITH a better A that might hit a better 2pr, or better. Here you can’t just call and a shove is suicide so only option is fold.

Personally I wouldda never play’d the hand, hoping the bigstack wins, hand putting me into 2nd place chipwise. Altho I pass’d out last night and didn’t play the final 4 sattalites, giving me only 3rd place… you can see I’m pretty good @ bubbletime when say tickets are on the line and 1st means less ( non freerolls ). ( RPOS sattalie LB , both weeks so far ).

Blinds were 300/600, even @ 400/800 or 500/1000, you have 3 orbits left minimum if you fold this hand. Either shove/bet big preflop ( be pot committed ), or fold !!!

Yes, you can never do a lot of damage to yourself folding…

A flush draw with an ace isn’t possible on this board, unless it’s back-door, like AsKh. The ace of hearts came on the flop, so V can’t hold it, and @puggywug was holding Ad for his own BDNFD.

If you’re folding top and bottom pair to a half-pot bet in this spot, you don’t deserve to cash.


Btw, there was a recent (like, last 48 hours) video posted by Finding Equilibrium that analyzed three check-raise spots from the London Super High Roller that’s highly relevant to this hand. SPR is obviously much higher, because the players aren’t really in jam-or-fold territory, but the concepts carry through.

Parenthetically, I think Chidwick has become my favorite poker player. His flop action in the third hand… well, you have to see it to believe it.

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I love Chidwick too… anyone who can out GTO Vogelsang is a beast!

EDIT: I also love the Finding Equilibrium channel. I’m fully caught up on his vids which are very good. Was happy to see him analyse the LLinusLLove cheating claims from 2+2’s forums.


Shove pre from sb with suited A @puggywug. If you’re not going to shove this hand just fold it. Calling is the worst option.

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A few have suggested shoving pre, and I’m still resistant to the idea, for the reasons I’ve given above already. I might do it once in a while, but I still feel if I’m finding enough situations like this where I could shove, and take them, I’ll get beat more often than not, and I seem to do better with my SNG games if I try to minimize my mistakes by playing mostly for smaller pots. That’s not to say that shoving isn’t part of my game, and I could maybe shove here, but I’d be much more likely to do so with a smaller stack than I would with 4500. If I’m < 10 BB, it’s move of a shove situation, and I’m just over that, here, so it could have been an OK time for it, and I certainly agree with the analysis that says check-shove the flop is the way to go here.

How often do you shove in a situation like this, and how does the size of your stack relative to the rest of the table factor into the decision making?

Coder, I guess I wasnt typing right…

he couldda had a legitimate flush draw…
A better A to hit a better 2 pr with
or better … ie trips

On that board, with A6, puggy has a great chance here of already being behind… or facing the obvious flush draw, with no flush protection. Thats what I was saying…

The crucial question deals with bubbletime… are you gonna make top 3… or do you want a shot @ winning … pick one ~!!~

17/20 … I fold that hand, there are just way too many bad results from playing this hand to make it viable. This is standard Bubble Economics 101. @1Warlock is on point here.

Personally with the stacks as small as they are ( even leader only has 10k ) , then I deffinitly want to “bubble in” before I attack… because a 6:1 deficit going heads up is doable, especially with my HU strategy…

@Puggywug …if you’re afraid to shove, then hang up on NoLimit, thats 1 of your main weapons…

@ bubbletime-- 100% of the time— the size of my stack vs table stacks ( everyone left in MTT/SnG ) factor into my decision !!!

I’m only shoving against the non chipleader ( usually, unless I know 100% that he has gone passive and will fold to most bets ), thats if I shove and thats VERY posistional… chipleader came in 1st, so I’m gone…

Puggy if you wanna see some good bubbletime action… play or watch the RPOS Sattalites… both the freeroll and the reg ones… you’ll see wierd play @ bubbletime, and you might understand why I’m saying … u shudda just folded.

The perfect example happened to me yesterday.
Down to 6, bubble is top 4 ( tickets only ) and stacks were
aprox. … 14k, 13k, 16k, 11k, 4k, and 1.5k … blinds were 300/600 I think.
Suddenly all 4 top stacks become passive , playing “not to lose”… eventually the shorts even out with table, 1 of the orig shorts busts, and the orig chipleader busts out 5th, practically being blinded out. This was atrocious table play by the top stacks, and that chipleader deserved missing out.

In reality, the only person/people ( @ bubbletime ) that MUST make a move is ““Bubbleboy””. If the bubble is top 30, then the person in 31st or worse has to get off the bottom ( 30th or better ) or get blinded out …outside of the bubble.

It matters where the button is, who the blinds will go up on next, which table(s) are playing slow, if the bubble ppl are good bubble players, or even if making the bubble is more important than winning… sometimes it is…