September Hand of the Month - Discussion

It’s time for our first Hand of the Month discussion thread! Thanks to everyone who took the time to submit an entry. This month’s 500k winner is __KEEPNET__!

We’ve posted a little bit about the hand on our blog, which you can read here:

But it’s your input that we’re hoping to receive! What did you think of this hand? How would you have played it? Reply below! Please keep it constructive and don’t make any comments personal. We’ll be awarding five participants with 50,000 chips each on Wednesday, October 31st.

Don’t forget that we’re now taking submissions for October!

I’m not in a place where I can watch the hand, but going from the blog post, it seems staightforward. AA is a raise every time, then facing a re-raise, I would 4-bet. I cannot tell what the blinds were from the blog post, but given that an hour had gone by and from the stack sizes, the 4bet should probably have been a shove, effectively ending all decision-making preflop. You have the best hand, someone else shows strength to reraise so you 4bet for value.

As played, the flop looks super safe, so again depending on stack sizes I’m probably happy to get all in right there. Nobody should have a 4 (or really 55) in a 3bet pot. Getting pocket pairs to fold their equity pre is another great reason to 4bet AA preflop. Either they call getting the wrong price or they fold and lose the chance to flop a set against you.


Yeah, I would have shoved preflop. Done.

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OK, I watched this again and will add a little more.

The initial bet was OK, but a little on the small side. Something around 1800 would have been better, I think. I would have definitely shoved over the raise though. You have to at least try to limit the field if you can. Shoving there also makes the allin less important because it, in effect, reduces the number of hands against you by one. If you shove there, you could lose to the allin and still end up ahead, even if everyone else comes along.

Betting 300 into an almost 11K pot on the flop was pointless. You were giving everyone at least 35-1 pot odds, which made it correct to call with pretty much any 2 cards. I would have called that bet with 1 hole card. If you didn’t move in preflop, you have to move in on the flop there. If you run into 44 or 5X, such is life.

Checking the turn was a mistake too. That queen put a possible flush draw on the board, you can’t let them fish free. Any queen would have a 10% chance of beating you with trips or 2 pair, and there was still 3 active players in the hand. Yeah, QQ has you beat, but you can’t worry about everything. I think you have to move in there if you didn’t do it earlier.

Calling the river was OK. At that point, you won’t get better hands to fold, and hard to get worse hands to call any meaningful raise. A small raise would just give the other guy a chance to come over the top and put you in a tough spot. The aces have enough showdown value to call that adorable mini-bet, as does any pair or ace high.

The tiny flop bet and the turn check were, in my humble opinion, big mistakes.


I’d have to agree with SPG, letting AA go all the way to the river without shoving was pretty risky.
After orifito called and then Mike49 re-raised I think I would have shoved right then before the flop.

Any analysis that is not factoring in the effects of the bounties is starting at the wrong place and therefore continues to be incorrect all the way through to whatever conclusion it reaches.

In bounty formats, the bounties affect ranges because they have an impact on direct odds. In most typical bounty formats, a certain % (~20 usually) of a player’s buy-in is paid out as a bounty when knocked out and the rest goes to the general prize pool. This feature has significant effects at even the 20% level. However, this is not just a regular bounty format - this is bounty on steroids. In this game, every bounty is worth 100% of your buy-in and the staff bounty is worth 51,000% of your buy-in. That means you make back your entire buy-in with every person you knock out and make 51-times your buy-in for knocking out a staff member. UTG+1 was staff.

I don’t want to go through a lot of tedious math here. All I want to do is point out that this hand needs to be looked at through an entirely different lens than you would a cash game hand or a typical mid-stage tournament hand. That would be true for any hand in this particular game. The presence of the super-bounty at the table brings in the maximum possible distortions. Once that bounty player is actively in the hand, the focus should almost entirely shift to taking it by yourself.

Without getting specific, any player with a stack larger than that of the staff player has the proper direct odds to play the hand with any 2 cards - forcing them out is going to be hard and must involve the risk of them being knocked out as well. Nothing short of that should be effective at all and even that isn’t as much of a deterrent as it would be in any other situation. This should lead Hero to exert maximum pressure to isolate the all-in staff member. It is doubtful this could be done pre-flop, for the reasons stated above. Therefore, a flat call pre-flop to the raise and a shove on any dry flop would have been the most profitable line.


I didn’t realize the bounty structure was so extreme.

Knowing that, I would have been even more likely to re-raise allin preflop.

Knowing that, betting 300 into an almost 11k pot makes even less sense.

Checking the turn was a bigger mistake.

I still don’t have a problem with just calling the min bet on the river.

So nothing really changes for me.

I don’t know the payout structure, but let’s say it’s a 1k buyin and a 50k staff bounty. Yes, that makes it correct to get in there with any 2 cards. But is it optimal play?

If there were other staff still in, other bounties to win, and the standard payouts for top finishers, I don’t think it is. Right or wrong, I would wait for a better spot than “any 2 cards.” Maybe a better spot would never come, but sorry, I’m still going to play poker, not bingo.

David Sklansky once said, "Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.”

Would you have entered the pot there, with any 2 cards, knowing you faced 2 aces? Again, it is probably correct to do so, but I don’t think it’s optimal from a long-term ROI perspective. I’m more than willing to talk about it. Hell, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been totally wrong.

I wouldn’t. I might have called to see the flop with A9s. I might have done the same with pocket 9s. I’m assuming the other guy has 2 hearts or the last ace or some sort of KX type hand. Without knowing what he had, it’s hard to say what i would have done there.

I do know i wouldn’t have min raised preflop with A9s, and I would have shoved once the action got back to me. I also know I wouldn’t have min bet the flop or checked the turn. There are many ways to approach the game, I’m not saying my way is the only way, or even the best way. I can only offer my perspectives from my perspective.

Having watched the hand, there doesn’t seem to be much room for discussion. The initial raise size was too big; it should have been smaller to get action from the staff member because the actual raise size effectively put them all-in. As played, the staff member should easily fold KQ preflop. Beyond that it’s very simple. Facing a re-raise, based on the size of the pot and the stack sizes, the player with AA must go all in. The staff member is effectively all-in already, so going all in is another way to protect the bounty (because surely the staff member will not fold). Plus, calling gives a bunch of players a chance to outflop you when you can just charge them the maximum to continue making the mistakes that they seem intent on making (KQo, A9s should be easy folds and even 99 is probably a fold unless the player believes the original raiser may be opening too wide, which is extremely rare in these types of tournaments, especially after an hour).

Interesting analysis. The math on that is beyond me. I am still not sure that I agree with your conclusion. The specifics seem important because the player with AA is the first to act. Surely, they should not limp to induce action from the staff member? They should raise to create a smaller field and simply hope that the staff member comes along. But they should not raise so large because it will likely get folds from the staff member. You may be correct that on some level the math says that losing their tournament life is worth it to go all in with the staff member, but I am also not sure if that is correct for the other players in the hand. Surely, the original raiser has a range that looks like JJ+/AK at the weakest, based on the size and position. A9s has 29% equity against this range (before taking the staff member’s range into account), so I suppose they are getting the right price to call off their tournament life since the bounty is worth so much and the staff member is effectively all-in. The same logic would then apply to 99 trying to flop a set. So, I take back the analysis of those other players from my previous post. But the action for original raiser should still be all-in when facing a raise. They want to try to get folds (even if it is not possible given the math you described) and they want to get as many chips in with the best hand to try to eliminate the staff member and have a large stack to eliminate other staff members if there are any. There must surely also be some value to the A9s and 99 player folding to the initial raise so that they can live to try to bust a different staff member, assuming that there are additional staff members. I guess all of that is what makes this the hand of the month…

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The math is odd and that’s why I didn’t want to do a deep-dive on this one and get too specific. I did not mean to say your particular analysis was wrong or the @SunPowerGuru had it wrong either. I was only pointing out that unless you take into account the bounty aspect in this hand at the very beginning, any analysis is starting from the wrong place. As I’ve said in previous posts, rather than trying to lay out the absolute perfect line using my assumptions, I’d rather address the proper way to look at the hand and let people input their own assumptions from there.

IMO, the hand had 2 parts - Hero’s action before the staff player was involved and his actions after. Without knowing whether or not the staff member would enter the hand, Hero should raise AA UTG. You can make an argument for raising to a smaller size to entice staff into the hand but only Hero would know how staff had been playing up to that point. Once staff flatted the open (which is really weird on many levels with his stack and specific hand), that opened the door for all the other players to jump in.

I think you can make strong arguments for Hero shoving pre-flop when facing the raise but there are equally strong arguments against. Is it possible staff folds if Hero shoves all-in? I have no idea given he had most of his chips in there already. I’ve seen stranger things here so shoving may have resulted in hero putting his tournament life on the line and not even having the staff bounty in the hand. Flatting seems to be optimal to me here.

Its a complicated hand because of the structure. I didn’t look at it from the perspective of the other players in any depth. I did not mean to imply that everyone at the table should be willing to risk their tournament lives on the same hand either. I simply stated that direct odds made it profitable for any 1 player to play back vs the entire stack of the staff member so long as the player had staff covered. Last thing I would mention is that I wouldn’t go with “surely” on any opening range here without knowing the player. Some raise QQ+ and some raise any 2 broadways. I have no info on Hero up until this hand. I also don’t think 99.9% of players here have any concept of what you are talking about. They are going to play their pairs, suited Ax and suited Broadway connectors at a minimum most times. How often do you see someone flat with hands that cannot realize enough profits to justify the call, implied odds or not?

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I didn’t have the info for the payout structure for the last one so I was curious to see how the actual payouts were. 1 is running now and I’ll just assume its similar to the one played in September for the hand.

1000 chip buy-in
398 runners
60 places pay
*60-51 = 3400 chips
*50-41 = 4000 chips
*40-31 = 4900 chips
*30-21 = 6500 chips
*20-16 = 9000 chips
*15-11 = 12000 chips
*10 = 16500
*9 = 19500
*8 = 23000
*7 = 29500
*6 = 39500
*5 = 52000
*4 = 74000
*3 = 99000
*2 = 146500
*1 = 207500

With this info we could actually do the math but I think we can eyeball the relative value of a single staff bounty to the total payout structure. 1 staff bounty is the equivalent of a 5th place finish out of nearly 400 runners.


A post was merged into an existing topic: What is your worst lose?

I personaly play this tournament like every other MTT and see the bounty as a nice add on. No thougths about bringing the staff into the hand. He was in allin mode anyway given by his low stack, so his decission of playing or not was affected by his cards only.

3bet with AA preflop is fine. Orbitos joining might have had effect to the other players raising and calling but I would expect a good starting hand A10s+ or 1010+ anyway in the other boxes. At that point AA was still top.

I am with JoeDirk that 4 or 5 is not likely in a 3bet pot. No action after the flop and behind is only 1 player (orbito was commited allready). Perfect point for me to go all in.

These are just my thoughts and not covered by any maths.

Thanks for your posts - I am learning every time.

Interesante y muy acertada la tactica empleada, me asombró mirar tal tecnica e inteligencia del participante.


Interesting and very successful tactics used, I was amazed to see such technique and intelligence of the participant.

Thanks to all who participated in this discussion! It was great to see that attention was called to something that’s frequently overlooked – a high-value bounty. Everyone who participated in this contest has received a 50,000 chip bonus to their bank.

We’ve received 31 submissions for our October Hand of the Month, and we’re very impressed with the quality of entries. Many of them have some really interesting plays, and our Poker Ops team has their work cut out for them in picking out a winner. We’ll be posting the next blog article and discussion thread on Monday, November 5th. We look forward to seeing what you have to say about it!

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