Notes from Busting the Staff

60BB deep, we’re sitting in the small blind with a pair of black jacks. It’s midway through the March Bust-the-Staff tournament, with about 200 players still in the tourney out of 500 that started. We’re nine-handed. UTG and UTG+1 both limp, then it folds to @shoeman in the Hijack (two off the button), who has us covered. He bumps it up to 6BB. CO and BTN both fold.

We opt to 3-bet to 15BB. It folds around to @shoeman, who jams. What do you do? Is folding here too nitty? Should I have flatted the initial raise, knowing most flops will bring an overcard?


Ok, I don’t know @shoeman or you, for that matter, but I know your hole cards :slight_smile:

6BB raise from @shoeman is, I feel, nothing special - I’m going for TT+, QJs+ and, in late position, it’s not impossible that he’s playing a semi-bluff with mid-range suited connectors.

JJ in the small blind is quite nice and your 3 bet was great. I think you’ve achieved your primary goal of narrowing the field. I don’t think you can expect too much from JJ against 3 others.

@shoeman shoving from late position is a nice move, unexepected given his initial raise and certainly puts the pressure on you!

We know for sure now that he’s got KK or AA. AKs is an outside possibility. Otherwise he’s trying to steal the pot with a semi-bluff. Losing the hand here will hurt @shoeman but he’ll survive, regroup and attack again. You losing the hand here is the end of your tournament.

In a ring game, this is a definite call but in a tourney, especially when you’re only just over mid-way, I think I’m folding here. I can’t see any advantage in picking a fight with the big stack unless you have AA or KK yourself for a coin flip flop.


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Your decision should highly depend on @shoeman’s playing style.

If HJ is an skilled player or is very loose, I would shove. Your small raises gives HJ great pot odds to call. I wouldn’t imagine HJ ever folding.

If HJ is an unknown, then it gets a bit complicated. Your play does have 2 major benefits; you give HJ the opportunity to shove AA, KK, and QQ and allow yourself to fold, and you prevent the limpers from calling (to an extent). The issue is that HJ may shove with AK and deny your equity. It comes to how wide his opening and shoving range it.

Of the 500 field most of the spewy players are out. This leaves the good players and the tight nits. Probably something like a 20/80 split would be generous to the good players being 40. Of the 200 left I believe through my interactions with you that you’re almost certainly in the top 5% of the remaining field and wouldn’t be at all surprised if you’re hands down the most knowledgeable. For this reason I think you can be slightly more calculated with your strategy. I have played this tournament once and final tabled it… busted QQ < AJ, A on the river.

Off of 60 bb’s and with such a large open to 6 bb’s I would elect to call pre and play post flop poker. You’re going to be in pretty bad shape when you get jammed on losing to QQ+ and when called AK AQ and KQs will flop top pairs 30%ish of the time.

As played you’re pretty high in your range and you’ve put in .25 of your stack so calling off can’t be terrible. I think you can fold with your skill edge over the field though and be fine, sucks but whatever. In this tournament this deep I just don’t think many of these players are 4! jamming light.

Can’t see the hand because I’m working and posting from my phone. I’ll look for results later.

This is a bounty tournament, correct? The presence of bounties will change the math and strategies. I haven’t looked at the hand yet but noticed that this wasn’t being mentioned. If V has you covered, taking you out is worth more than just the size of the pot (3,000 chips more).

Good call; I had forgotten to mention that. The bounty on my head was 11K chips; most players had only a 1K bounty.

I hate playing from the small blind.

With five players still in the hand (UTG, UTG+1, HJ, me, and BB), I think I have to 3-bet with a hand as strong as JJ. TT is pretty borderline; I’d probably flat it most of the time and occasionally work in a 3-bet in this spot. Not sure if we can set-mine profitably with smaller pairs, but I’d probably still flat 66-99 and cross my fingers for a favorable flop.

Agreed with many of the posters that due to the strength of the remaining field (maniacs have busted, but still a lot of weak players, as evidenced by all the limpers), JJ is probably a fold after getting jammed on. The HJ player probably isn’t 4-betting light, and I’m close to a coinflip with the weak hands in his range (AK, maybe AQ) while dominated by the value (QQ+). Particularly if I’m not 3-betting pairs weaker than TT, I think we’re still okay from a minimum defense frequency standpoint to fold whenever I had chosen to 3-bet with TT and JJ. AKo would be iffy; AKs and QQ+ would be calls.

Not to be too results-oriented, but HJ showed two black aces after I folded.

As for the tournament results, I ended up placing around 40th after being called for dinner with ~90 players remaining and having my ~25BB stack dwindle down to 1BB by the time I returned.


I read small blind but by the time I posted I had you in the bb. Definitely 3! from sb. I think the fold is good. It’s exploitable but don’t expect too many players in this tournament to take advantage of that, while in the meantime you’re exploiting the crap out of villains. NH

Also, yeah I didn’t realize this was a bounty.

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This would expand V’s profitable 4-bet shoving range dramatically. I didn’t realize you had an 11x bounty on your head. The question is whether you think V understood the bounty dynamic or not. If you don’t think he did, then the fold is probably a good one exploitatively. If he did, then you can’t fold JJ.

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I was going to add this in my previous comment, left it alone because I highly doubt, even as decent player on Replay if he is, he would understand this. Even if he does/might we couldn’t know it without some history and this is probably the only progressive bounty tournament Replay runs. So over folding to this dynamic is pretty good imo.


HJ had the largest stack on the table and SB one of the larger stacks. Usually as the big stack you do not want to get into confrontations with a stack that could cripple you when there are softer targets who can be pushed off a pot. Everything signaled that HJ had AA or KK, which puts JJ way behind.

In a tournament with 500 players and 200 left, this is probably exactly how I would play AA. You want to narrow the field, and then if you find an opponent who wants to fight back, try to get them all-in preflop and take their stack away. In a 500 player tournament with rapidly escalating blinds you simply cannot afford to give up such an opportunity for a near double-up. If I was in the SB and it was folded to me with AA, I would limp in very hesitantly and hope that the BB jammed to steal the blinds! You cannot afford to just pick up the blinds with hands like this.

Having said that, HJ is a very low-ranked player on RP, and such players are notoriously erratic, and if they have won a few good pots to get the table leadership, they may get carried away by the adrenalin and make rash moves amd start trying to use their stack size to steal preflop with hands like A8s. However given that you have the second best stack on this table, you will have better opportunities to win chips. To me, given the situation, that is a fold. Many, many players on RP would autocall that hand without a moment’s thought, but that does not make it a good play in tournaments.

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For full disclosure, I am terrible at PKO tournaments. I just started to study them because they have become so popular online. People are just starting to figure out the math so there is good money to be made playing them if you are ahead of the curve. Here’s a video from ICMIZER on the subject. Do not even bother to watch it unless you are ready to get your geek-hat on. Its probably better to view in full-screen mode b/c its hard to see the charts in the smaller window.

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thanks @1Warlock