Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hand Analysis: Jacks Early in MTT (part 2)

Back in Part 1 of this hand, we decided to flat call a MP open raiser on the very first hand of a $300 MTT holding J-J♠.  What happened after that is the big blind called our raise, as did the opener, and we went to the flop 3-way with us having position on both players. Here's the rest of the story:

The board comes out as 7-3♣-2. Pot is T190. The action is checked to us.

We bet T125 for value with our overpair, and the big blind calls us. The original opener folds. Pot is now T440.

Turn is the T♠. Again we value bet to T325. This time, however, the BB check-raises us to T980.

What do we do?

Well, let's think about this for a minute, via REDi*:

  • The BB called preflop against a MP opener and a LP cold-caller. His preflop range is things like all the small and middle pairs, plus a bunch of suited connectors and some randomish big cards, maybe even something as crazy as AK or KK+ that he got trick with and decided to slow play. Probably not, but you never know for certain.
  • On the flop, he check-called, so he could still have: non-setted pairs and is just peeling another card; he could have made a set; he could have overcards and doesn't believe us; or he could have draws or combo draws, such as 54, two hearts, or two overcards that are hearts.
  • On the turn he check-raises us. Remember, we know nothing about this opponent, so if we assume he's bluffing then we're basically just guessing. 
  • We can also probably rule out semi-bluff draws,as most ABC players raise their draws on the flop, not the turn.
  • We can rule out naked pairs less than ten, too, as we've now fired two barrels, he knows nothing about us, and we're projecting strength.
  • If we assume we're behind, we're now drawing to just two outs in the deck, which means we're a huge dog.
  • If we fold, our stack will be T2490, or 125 big blinds.
  • If we peel, looking for one of the Jacks or just trying to get to showdown, our stack will be T1835, or about 90 big blinds going into the turn.
  • We're not pot committed.
  • Villains actions are screaming at us that he has J-J♠ beat.
  • I'm guessing he flopped a set and gave us some rope to hang ourselves. 
  • It's early in the tournament, and we've not sunk too much into this pot.
  • Be a man. Live to fight another day. Fold.
  • Hollywood a bit.
  • If you want to build an image of someone who can lay down a hand like JJ, then show.
  • Otherwise (and in most cases) just slide your cards face down to the dealer... and watch this guy closely from here on out. 
This hand is a good reminder of why Phil Hellmuth likes to come to big tournaments late; the blinds are small and all manner of craziness and weirdo hands can get you into pot-committing trouble that are best avoided by simply sitting out and/or folding.

Perhaps another way to think of it is to recall what my old rock climbing partner of years ago, who used to say when we were thinking about some really hard crazy-ass route: "Courage and strength are naught without prudence, and a momentary lapse can destroy the happiness of a lifetime**" and then we'd usually make the laydown. Or not. Anyway...

Deep stack poker is as much about avoiding tricky spots as it is anything else. The tournament just started. Don't commit your stack unless you feel very strong about both your reads and equities. You've got time and chips to pick more certain battles; what's your hurry to get those chips in the middle on less-certain gambles?

All-in for now...
*As long-time readers of this blog know, REDi was developed by me for cash game play. I'm still experimenting and fine-tuning it for tournament play, and I'll admit it's not quite ready for prime-time use in deep-stack MTT play. That said, it probably gets you 90% of the way to making a right decision. One of my big goals over the next few months is to refine the system and find that last 10%...
**Actually, after years of climbing together, my partner's saying devolved into just "Courage and strength are naught without prunes" and this in turn devolved into just "Prunes!", which was our short-handed way of reminding each other that folding was better than doing something too risky.


  1. I think showing (in this case) is bad. You're saying I am weak/tight and others can take the pot away from me.

  2. Agree Memphis. A big leak in my game that Mister multi fixed a few years ago was me showing too much. The rules is now this: unless there's a damn good reason to show--don't!