Calling bluffs

One of the worst aspects of my game is calling bluffs, but here is one of my better ones. I like to use the Donks League tournaments to play a little more experimentally. I had JJ and opponent was super aggressive raising almost every hand preflop, but I had observed that he did not like to get all-in preflop.


That wasn’t really a bluffcatching play, but more of a valueshove since JJ is a really good hand preflop, and you actually want your opponent to call your shove since he can have 22-TT and a lot of Ax, so you’ll make a lot of money.


Yes, but in short stacked tournaments your really do not want to get all-in preflop unless it is absolutely necessary. Sure JJ is a decent hand preflop, but it is far from unbeatable. I limped from UTG deliberately as I expected he would bluff-raise from position and try to steal 2/5 Big Blinds due to reading my limp as weak since I frequently raise preflop. JJ is a good hand for this limp-resteal play because it does have some showdown value, but I would not really want the opponent to call.

Middle pairs can get you into a lot of trouble in tournaments, especially when aces come on the flop, but one of the strengths of middle pairs is that they make position less relevant. A middle pair played from the blinds or very early position can be folded at the flop if the outlook is poor, or check raise if the outlook is good or you have an over pair to the flop can take out a continuation bet, or if you hit a set you might want to slow play.

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I think a few of your points are slightly flawed, which changes how you approach the hand.

In short stacked tournaments, you actually want to get all-in preflop more, since the bbs are worth much more. For example, when you have a 2bb stack(and no ICM), you will shove any 2 cards, but when you are playing 100bb, there are exactly 0 hands in your openshove range.

In addition, JJ isn’t a “middling” hand, it’s considered an extremely good hand near the top of your range: it’s the 4th/5th best possible preflop hand. Therefore, you almost always want your opponent to call against your JJ shove unless they’re a massive nit. You dominate 22-TT, have 2:1 against A2-AT, flip against AQ and AK, and only lose to QQ+. There’s no such thing as a “valuebluff” where you want your opponent to both call and fold, and JJ is definitely on the value side.

Your statement that overcards coming on the flop bringing trouble for those pairs is exactly the reasoning behind getting the hand in preflop, rather than limping/calling. Postflop, you don’t want to be just folding those pairs when there are overcards due to the “poor outlook” since most of the time you still have the best hand.

You can fold, xraise, cbet, or slowplay with a ton of hands, I don’t see how pairs make it any different.

I’m not sure what you mean by middling pairs making position less relevant, but if you’re getting your chips in preflop with any 2 cards, position is irrelevant.


True, but if you see a flop the advantage that the opponent has being last to play is largely neutralized since you will never completely miss the flop. The only question is whether you have a set or an overpair, second pair, third pair, or 4th pair. You cannot flop a flush or a straight. but you may have blockers to opponent’s straight draw. If the flop is monosuited, you may have a draw to a flush, but usually not the nut flush.If you flop an open ended straight draw, the outlook is favorable, since you will have blockers to the opponent’s straight draw.

With JJ it is not quite a coin flip against AQ or AK since the advantage is something like 53% to 47% to you, which is not a large amount, but is significant. ( In the United States Senate this would give all the power to the 53%!)

However, although you will be well favored except against AA, KK, and QQ, I don’t think you want to be getting all in early in a short stack tournament if you can avoid it. In the later stages of a tournament, then yes, certainly. Otherwise you will bust out early in too many tournaments. For example JJ vs Q9s you will lose 1/3 of the time, and if you do it two times you will lose at least once 2/3 of the time, which could be the end of your tournament.

Positional advantage isn’t really affected by your hand strength, since you’ll still always get more value from acting last.

For example, when you have an overpair or set, you don’t want to be leading out of position, because you won’t be leading there with your bluffs, and your opponent can easily fold. However, if you’re in position, you can bet much more freely and expect to get called much more often. The main reason that your hand strength doesn’t affect the positional advantage is because its based on a range of hands, rather than specific ones.

In this case, you’re correct that position isn’t very relevant, but that’s much more due to the small stack sizes, which make it much easier to get all the chips in on the flop/turn, and not your hand strength.

About the coin flip, it’s extremely common to use the term “flip” even though you do have more equity with the pair, and sometimes people even use it for 60-40! The fact that you have 55-45 with JJ vs AK/AQ only makes it better to shove and get it in preflop, since that means you will win more often.

That isn’t a good mindset to approach tournaments. In the early stages of a tournament, the goal isn’t to avoid getting busted. There is no difference between busting 1 off the money and 100000 off the money, so the main goal is just to rack up a big stack, and WIN CHIPS. This means that you should always go for +EV plays. After all, if you get a big stack through good value plays, you can lose 2 all-ins and still have a healthy stack.

If you focus on both winning and losing from shoving, you can calculate how many chips you’re expected to win. Lets say the total pot is 300bb. You win 2/3 of the time, lose 1/3, so you win 200 and lose 100. Overall, your net winnings is still 100bb, which is 1/3 of the pot, so you should be very happy to see those shoves.

Finally, if you win 2/3 of the time and lose 1/3 of the time, the probability that you lose at least once is 1-(2/3)^2 = 5/9, which is around 50%, not 2/3


55.6%, so more than half, though it is not 66.6%, you are right, but the likelihood of losing is still more than half.

If you start a tournament with 5000 chips, and everyone else does, the hardest part of the tournament is getting that first double up to 10,000 chips while the blinds are low, because if you remain at close to 5000 chips, the blinds will rapidly mount and by the time the BB has got to 300 chips, you need 10% of your stack to go through the blinds and will rapidly cease to be a force to reckon with.

So you are probably going to have to shove somewhere to get to 10,000 chips, but the question is where. Usually my strategy is to win potspreflop as much as possible

Here is a hand I played early in a tournament last night that was a little different. I limped in from the small blind because opponents were allowing me to. Had the BB raised, I would probably have folded. I was eventually knocked out before the money, but in the top 25% of entrants.

I find these kind of hands are quite effective in the early stages of tournaments.

Of course there was a possibility that opponent could have had T9, which is why I did not raise all-in, although it seemed more likely he had a flush.

I guess what I am doing is trying to develop a way of playing in tournaments that reduces the probability of getting wiped out by the kind of hands we see daily in the Ridiculous Hands thread, and I may change my strategy, if it stops working.

Yes it’s 55.6%, although you are only focusing on the negatives. There’s a 55.6% chance of losing a shove, but there’s a 44.4% chance to quadruple your stack!! In addition, if you win one all-in first and then lose another, you have a very good chance of still staying alive because they won’t have you covered.

Playing passively and trying to avoid ridiculous hands won’t help you win the tournament. You need to go for chips, and once you have a lead you can easily make the money. If you run bad, you’ll end up losing near last place instead of the top 25% out of the money, and the only difference in the end result is that you’ve saved time.


I agree 100% with everything @john456852 has posted ITT. I think some of the concepts concerning position, short stacks, ICM and tournament play in general are being misapplied @MekonKing. It’s hard to recognize and improve on because some of ways you are applying these concepts which would be very easily exploited are just not happening due to the play in these very small and extremely weak fields. Cheers!