AK vs 88 for two million chips

Well it had to happen. I had to experience playing in a tournament that was 1 million chips to enter. It was intimidating because every single player had Replay Poker rankings of less than 2000, and I would say that at least half had rankings of less than 1000. The highest ranked player I saw had a ranking in single figures.

So this is what it is like to play for high stakes. Not good for the heart at all. Probably a good idea to take a beta blocker or something before the first shuffle of the cards.

There were 33 starters, so 30 million chips in prize money, but only four players would get any return–the rest would lose a million chips.

Everything went swimmingly until the fourth-placed player was eliminated. Then we were left with three stacks all about equal, and the lead swinging back and forth due to the monstrous blind levels–I think it was 1500-3000 at the end.

Unfortunately I shoved with AK and was called with 88 and went out in this hand.


Could I have done anything different? I suppose with 14 Big Blinds in my stack I might have made a smaller preflop raise and then played the hand on its merits and folded to try to save some powder for another rally, but I would probably have ended up taking a big loss. I would have had to make a continuation bet, because checking the flop would look really weak, and I doubt whether check raising the flop would have put the opponent out as he would also be on the way to pot commitment.

What would Daniel Negreanu do?

Oh, wait a minute, this is not real money.

I would not have gone all-in just because of AK before the flop.
If I had a pair like AA or KK, yeah maybe…

You can always think of something different to do, especially after the fact. (haha)

One line that has worked well for me in low buyin real money tournies would have worked there…

In the context of that situation, bet 10k preflop, then shove the flop, no matter what. That is just a spooky line to take, and you can only get called by a set or maybe a big overpair. (QQ might fold sometimes, and KK less often) It’s a little risky, but so is moving in preflop with AK. Something to think about anyway.

By the way, I would have folded the 88 there. In that situation, 8s are either a slight favorite (vs 2 overs) or a big dog (vs a bigger pair.) Even in a $10 real money, 1,100 seat tourney, the difference between 2nd and 3rd is a few hundred dollars, enough to wait for a better spot.

Yes, I would have folded the 88 too.

Good idea about shoving the flop. At that stage of the tournament we were all playing all or nothing. A few hands earlier when I was in the BB, the SB had put in a raise, and I restole all-in with a pair of 2s, and foolishly flashed my cards when opponent folded, so perhaps I had given the other opponent expectations that I might be shoving with any pair or with rags.

Opponent was definitely a loose caller, as a little earlier he had called this shove and taken a beating. I would not have called with A7 either.


easy shove imo.
you hold about 14 BB’s and there is also a limper. so you have to play push/fold here.
besides that, AK is a great hand preflop. not only is it one of the best hands, you also have a lot of dominated cards in his calling range (weaker aces). and you still flip to lower pairs. the only cards that beat you are KK and AA, but they are just 2 hands which you also hold a blocker for both of them.
and as you mentioned, he was a loose player, so besides that standard fold equity you also hold a lot of value from hands that might call.

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This is tournament poker. With all three players sitting on ~14BB, AK needs to shove, and 88 should call. Either you double-up, or get knocked out. If you double-up, you’re in a really good spot to take the tournament down.

Alternatively, your opponent may have decided to call with a weaker ace and been dominated, or folded a smaller pocket pair. If you’re going to jam with 99+ as well, he’ll basically be drawing to two outs.

Don’t second-guess the decision just because it didn’t work out this time. You made the right move.

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You asked if there was something different you could have done. I suggested something different.

14Bbs is not automatic shove/fold ground, at least not to me. You’re getting close, but you did have other options.

Sklansky’s fundamental theorem asks, “Would you make that same play if you could see his hole cards?” Since you showed the 22 and knew he was calling too wide, you would have realized you had almost no fold equity preflop, so the answer should have been, “no.” From this perspective, it was a mistake to shove there.

If he could see your hole cards, should he have called the shove? Yes, he probably should have.

Had you bet less preflop, there’s a good chance he would have shoved on you anyway, and you would have to call. Still, there was a chance he just calls, and there is a fair chance he folds to a shove on the flop. Long term, I think the line I suggested gives you a better chance of winning the tournament.

Shoving preflop wasn’t horrible, but you did have other options.

Thanks, lots of good points. I think when I wrote some of the above I had forgotten that UTG has limped in with 3300. With 3300 already posted by the BB, my expectation was that BB would fold, then UTG would fold and I would pick up the 6600 chips and the tournament lead.

I still think I might have folded had I held the 88, as there is nothing I like more than to see other players going at it while I am on the sidelines.

As it was BB almost doubled up and just 2 hands later the tournament was over as his call with KQ overtook a pair of Jacks shoved by the other player, so I suppose if I had played more cautiously, I might have defaulted into another 2 million chips. Still, you don’t get to the final 3 by being faint hearted, so it as all hypothetical.