Monster pot

When you are playing in a tournament, often when it gets to the final table, it becomes a monstrous drawn-out war of attrition with half a dozen or so equal stacks exchanging the lead, but no one willing to call all-in bets or bluffs and risk elimination.

In these circumstances, sometimes you get a pair of tens in against a pair of nines and neither will back off and the result is usually that the nines hit their set on the river, but occasionally a stack does get eliminated.

But what some players miss is that this is the time to get tricky. Sometimes getting tricky is the only way to break the impasse.

The player on my left was the chip leader and was playing very aggressively in a lot of pots. On the hand below I picked up the Ace and Queen of Spades in the BB and checked to his limp, and this is what happened.

There has been much discussion on these boards about preflop raises and how large they should be, but I am coming to the conclusion that in these tournaments it is best to limp promising hands other than AA most of the time, because raises have little deterrent effect on callers until very late in the tournament, and the effect of, say, raising 3 or 4 big blinds from any position is that you will end up with a pot of about 12 1/2 to 15 big blinds on the flop, meaning that if you do actually hit top pair, top kicker with your AK, you need a bet of about that amount to have any chance of ending the hand then and there, and if an opponent hits two pairs or a set on the flop, you will lose most of your stack, or a large part of it, or maybe all of it.

On the other hand, if the flop misses you (let’s say you have AK, and the flop comes QJ rag, you can totally guarantee that 99 will go all the way to the river and call any bluff, never considering that you might have a pocket overpair, Q, or J.

So I am coming to the conclusion that it is better to sneak into pots with AK, thus disguising your hand when the flop hits you, and not putting your tournament life at stake when it does not.

Of course I am not saying NEVER raise preflop, but you need to have a definite plan based on the size of the pot relative to the stacks, and know what kind of continuation bet will be needed. For example with a preflop raise bluff, you need to know exactly how the SB and BB are playing, the size of their stacks, what size bet they will probably fold to, and so on. If the BB is small stacked, you need to have a plan for if he reraises all-in. If you don’t want to put him all-in, you should probably leave him alone in the first place.

There is nothing worse than helping a small stack to treble up by attacking him with rags.

If you have a pair of Jacks and raise preflop and are called by the BB and the flop comes A, K, or Q high, if he leads out, then he is probably ahead of you, but if he checks to you, you are probably good to take the pot with a continuation bet unless he is slow playing a monster. You do not want to risk half your stack on a continuation bet. Sometimes it may be necessary if you need to win a pot with a bluff to stay competitive in the tournament, but it should be premeditated with consideration of all risk management factors.

There is some sense to limping strong hands with big blinds and at a short handed table. If you’re getting the table to mostly fold when you raise preflop with broadway cards and pairs, try limping them once in a while, but be more ready than normal to lay them down if you don’t hit with them and someone else bets.

You want to play good fundamentals, but at the same time you want to do things that are counter to what your opponent would suspect, in a way that is to your advantage. That’s the tricky part.

It’s like post-flop when you hit a monster, if you hit a full house on the flop, you can try to bet it, but it’s often more profitable to let the rest of the table think they have a chance at the pot, and let them bet into you, and just call them to the river, raising for value for the showdown.

Another good play (if you’re not last to act) is to bet big on one street, then check on the next. It seems like a lot of players will call you on the flop with a half pot or full pot bet, and then either shove or bet the pot if you check the Turn. Same works for betting the turn and checking the river, but if they don’t bet the river then you’re going to lose value on the hand. When they bet, you raise them or jam, and then you get them.

It’s hard to get players to call big bets that would put them all-in when they don’t have a hand that can feel like a sure winner. Occasionally players will get so pot committed they’ll throw good chips after bad, knowing they’re beat, but feeling it’s pointless to continue with a new hand if they give up this pot. But the better players are more likely to go out by playing aggressive, hoping to get you to fold, than they are by calling when they’re behind.

As for the hand you posted, A2o was behind the whole time, and should have given up on the flop. They called with nothing, assuming that you must have been bluffing yourself. You had a draw, but you hit it, and it was good to win the hand, but that was a scary board with the pair of Kings on it, and your opponent calling your bets like they were, it would have been easy to assume they were on Kx or KK, or 99, and with the river bet they could have been on KJ or JJ. I don’t know if betting like you did was the wisest or not. You could have gotten into big trouble against a boat, or missed your flush. Maybe it’s better not to think about that, and just try to win a big pot when you win, and if you lose then accept that outcome, and that way you have the mentality to play for bigger pots, and maybe win more of them.

It comes down to your table image and your reads on how the other players are approaching the game.

There are no, “do this every time” rules in poker. You have to be willing to limp and play passively with big hands sometimes, especially against certain player types. Since most mistakes are frequency-based, “sometimes” is the key word here.

A few weeks ago, I was at a table with 3 people I know think I bluff too much. Within 3 orbits, I realized that they all went from playing 3 or 4 or more hands per orbit to playing 1 hand or less per orbit. It was obvious that they were in trap mode. A few hands later, I pick up AA, limp, check/call the flop, check/call the turn when an ace hit, then check/raise the river. Everyone folds, and I show the set.

One of the players says “wow” in chat, haha. My table image was that I’m a high aggro player who would never take such a passive line with such a strong hand. Making an “out of character” play forces them to make adjustments on the fly, and a lot of people aren’t good at doing that. It also erodes their confidence, making it much harder to put me on a hand. Both of these are to my benefit.

You have to know who you are playing and how they approach the game. Limping sometimes can be a good thing, but you have to know why you are doing it… it should be to accomplish a specific goal. To me, these goals often extend beyond the current hand.

A high is far from nothing! HU with bb who x his option folding A high is pretty exploitable.

HU 4 at a 4 handed FT flopping the nut flush draw and bd str8 draw with AQ high is the nuts and a slam dunk high five your neighbour bet and get it in. So if V shoves on the flop folding would be horrible, especially V as described being very aggressive as the big stack bully. Which he should be, all though it’s not quite as effective as it is IRL because we aren’t playing for real pay jumps as poor folk. On Replay we’re all rich. Cheers :slight_smile:

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On a board with two Kings? And they are wrong suited? It’s nothing. They should have folded that garbage at the flop.

With A2o, you’re essentially hoping for low cards, specifically 345. If you hit an Ace on the flop, you’re worried that any other Ace is going to outkick you. If you hit two pair, AA22, that looks OK, but if the board pairs any other card, the other Ace now has a better two pair, and outkicks you. Best case, you’re chopping then.

With two Kings on the board, and someone betting into you, it’s pretty likely they’re doing it on a King, but they might just be doing it on pairing the undercard, or with a pocket pair, or a naked bluff. But the only hand you’re ahead of there is the naked bluff. Well, if you manage to pair the Ace on the turn or river, now you’ve got AAKK, I guess that’s a good hand. Does it beat KKK? Nope. To get there, you need to hit AAAKK. How likely is it the turn and river will both be Aces?

Against any two cards, A2o is 51% to win in this situation. Against a hand that would bet on that flop, those odds are likely to only go down. And in fact, if he’s up against KX, he’s 3% to win. Against AsX, he’s already only an 8% winner.

I like a win when I’m BB, and get raised by a “gut feel” opponent trying to steal/ bluff my BB, I raise back, they lose.

The problem I see with your logic is you assign your opponents to narrow of a range. You’re only ever talking about all the hands that hit the board the bb holds, who has 2 random cards facing zero action pre flop, so literally any two cards. Then you talk about “a” naked bluff as if it’s only one combo of cards. The fact that the board flops paired makes it much more likely to have missed the flop, it’s hard’er’ to have a K when there are two already on the board. Now my point about A high is not that it’s a good hand to continue with because of all the ways it can improve but quite simply is the best hand at the moment and if you’re folding the best hand (which A high is way more than 50%) in position this is huge leak. I get where you’re coming from because a large part of the top tournament players ‘on Replay’ have adopted this very face up fit or fold strategy that works great in this very small, very loose, very passive community. Even that being said A high is still the best hand in this spot a good amount of the time. Put in the real world playing for money with this strategy and your money would dead money, as the pros call it.

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A2o is literally 49% to win vs any two cards in this spot. It’s not the best hand “way more” than half the time.

Any player’s range has a lot of Aces and Kings in it, so getting a call here, if you are holding A2 is a bad sign. Essentially it is a bluffing hand to bet A2 on a KK9 board. You can expect an opponent who isn’t holding a king or a 9 to fold here. A nut flush draw might call, and did call here, but as I pointed out to the OP, playing a flush draw on this board is risky, because anyone who has the cards to stay in this hand legitimately is drawing to the full house.

In fact, A2o heads up is only a 53% favorite preflop against any two cards. So it’s really not much of a hand at all.

Great comments here.

I think that to me this hand is situation specific. The game had been at stalemate for long time as we approached the 3-hour mark, but the big stack was becoming increasingly impatient. I had folded the BB several times to his raises, thus promoting my table image as a coward who was in awe of his big stack, but this time he limped, and then played the odds that I would fold to a bet that put me all in, as had happened before. I also think if he had any King with kicker 8 or above, he would have raised preflop.

I suspect that when he saw me check the turn, he thought that I was scared of a spade flush and had given up on the hand, giving him an opportunity to bluff.

In any case, since he put me all in if I called at the river, was he hoping for a call or for a fold? What would I call with, in his mind? Would I fold a flush, a set of kings, a pair of 5’s? Note that he very specifically put me all in, by betting half the pot, rather than just shoving himself, which would have been effectively the same thing and easier to do, so probably somewhere in his mind he was thinking that even if he lost the hand, he would have plenty of chips left.

Anyway, this hand was a game changer and a few hands later the big stack bully was laid to rest.

I notice that often once a big stack bully is cut down to size, he often fails to adapt to his new circumstances (I have been guilty of this too) and rapidly declines while trying to recapture his former glory with a spectacular double up.

Plus, playing at the end of a tournament is often a matter of sheer stamina, as one slip can be fatal and it just becomes a matter of desperation as the larger stack tries to wipe out the smaller stack and the lead goes to and fro until the larger stack of the moment gets lucky.

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Both very standard spots with 8 and 12 bb’s effective IMO.