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MTT interesting hand - Variance at work

edited August 2018 in Specific Hand Questions

UTG shoves her puny stack and I have ATo. I want to isolate her and play for just her stack. She is so short that's she should literally be shoving any 2 cards. I know I am light-years ahead of her range and I want her stack plus the blinds and antes.

Because there are so many players left to act, I raise on the large size but nothing nuts. Well, UTG+2 flats. Now isn't that interesting? Then SB shoves. This is getting less and less fun but I'm blocking AA and the pot odds are way too good to fold so I call. UTG+2 comes along for the ride.

I flop top 2, which is like a dream in case I was up against AK or AQ. I'm really hoping I'm up against JJ-KK and some random hand from the UTG short-stack. I don't want to see any more cards and give the UTG+2 player a chance to catch up so I 3/4 pot it. She folds and I get to see what I'm up against.

Wouldn't you know it, the SB has the 1 possible combo of AA and I'm toast. More than triple him up and my brilliant plan goes down the tubes. Oh the poker gods were having a good laugh at me this hand. The thing is, I was absolutely correct about the UTG player and still took a beating. I think it was the right move and just an unfortunate time to run into the 1 hand that can shove-over. I have an uncanny talent for doing this.

Anyone have comments on how I could possibly have lost more chips? LOL. Tournament poker is awesome.


  • highfive
    Congrats on learning to post a hand.)
    I disagree with the plays of three of the players.
    Harrison has AA & 17 bigs. Fist pump and ship it. Love those no brainers.

    Brooke is sitting on almost any two territory with 5.5 bigs but this is still a bad play. Merson rallied to win Wsop Main from 2.5 bigs. She is under pressure but I still wait for a K, A, any pair, or legit connector such as T9.

    @1warlock ATo isn't an open here in a deep cash game or deep tourney and certainly not a 3bet. Easy fold. This hand is an example of why, too many left to act. If raised, hero is behind almost always.
    There were 3 combos of AA at decision time not one. One caveat: big stacks have liberty to make aggro moves. Understandable but not good. This is a move for the button or the blinds. Snap call in the big blind.

    Nicole: my my my Nitty Nicole. This is a 4 bet to 1.2-1.5m all day.
    The big stack range is quite wide and you are holding the 3rd best hand ever created. Time to raise and call it off. On the bubble, raise and grrrr fold to a big stack shove. ICM implications rule there. She played with fear rather than rationality. Baaaad poker.

    As played warlock has to call the Harrison shove for such a smallish raise. The same for Nicole. Dont think a raise is possible since Harrison's shove was not a complete raise. If a raise was possible, Nitty Nicole should have done it here too.
    Do not prefer a lead. Any strong ace will cbet and then 2 pr can C/r which the strong ace has to call.
    Leading has merit bc any strong ace has to call. So Nicole wasted all those chips born from fear of raising against the big stack. All of this assumes warlock would fold to a 3x 4bet. He should but IDK if he would.)

    So the hand should have gone fold, fold. Nicole raise. Harrison shove. Nicole calls. Loses hand. No biggie. On to the next hand.

    BTW These cards are similar to the Blumstein final table hand. AA IS possible against ATo.)
    Relax warlock. Redline poker isn't for everyone. Ha
  • 1warlock

    Argh. @highfive , I see I have some 'splaining to do. This would never be a play in cash but it would never come up with someone sitting around with 5.5BB. At least I've never seen that at a table. I'll have to give some background to my thought process when I have a little more time later. It was a strange hand from start to finish and definitely was me being aggro. However, I still think this was the right play under the circumstances. Maybe @krista or @cupcake or some others would like to chime in so I can defend myself against all of you at once. That would be a time-saver for me :)

    I wonder if this type of hand would interest @SteveBlay for one of his breakdowns? Its an unusual spot so I'm not sure if it has broad applications but maybe could be generalized to fit push/fold strategies and big-stack dynamics in tournaments? Not sure why I'm asking to be publicly humiliated...

  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    Okey dokey - I have a little time to go through this in more detail. I appreciate your well thought out comments @highfive, as I usually do. In this case, I disagree with quite a lot of them, but that's what makes for good discussion. I definitely want pushback on what I say so that I can become a better decision-maker. So bring the heat and I'll try to defend my position or be forced to change it. Lets go through this 1 point at a time:

    1) "Brooke is sitting on almost any two territory with 5.5 bigs but this is still a bad play. … She is under pressure but I still wait for a K, A, any pair, or legit connector such as T9. " - I disagreed with this, on multiple levels, before I had a chance to do the math. By making this assertion, you forced me to check my initial assumptions and I'm glad you did. If I had holes in my understanding of push/fold play or of my hand's equity vs that range, it would be a good thing to find out before I made a mistake for real. Fortunately, I wasn't wrong :)

    a) At 5.5BB UTG, with antes in play, it is proper to shove literally any 2 cards. She cannot wait for anything as she is in the BB on the next hand and SB after that, assuming she survives the BB. Now I don't know a thing about this player as she was dropped on our table from somewhere else, I think the previous hand or maybe 1 before that. Therefore I had no read on whether she was tilting or not, but that wouldn't matter. She is almost out of options at this point and must look for any possible means to survive. So, she could shove her 5.67BB with any 2 cards or wait for the next hand where she would be put all-in by any open. She has no way of knowing what her next hand will be. You say she should wait but I'll show you why shoving with 5/3o is preferable to being put all-in with the next random hand.

    5.67BB does not carry much fold-equity with it, but it has some. We have to assign some probability greater than 0 that the shove gets through, even if that is only ~10-20% of the time. There are 90K chips (3BB) in the pot before she makes her decision. If she has a 10-20% chance of getting her shove through, that is a still a big deal as it would increase her stack by ~52%. Then she has some probability of winning the hand if called. Waiting for the next random hand, she gives up all fold-equity in return for the possibility of a stronger holding, albeit with fewer chips in play. OK, lets examine that.

    5/3o is indeed a low value hand - you'd need about an 88% range to include it so its basically trash. However, because equities run so close together preflop, her specific hand has about 33% equity vs a 50% range. Vs a 33% range, her specific hand still has close to 33% equity. So, she is going to get some % of her shoves through, plus she will win about 1/3rd of the hands she gets called by 1 person in if she shoves. If she waits, she loses any fold equity and she has no way of knowing what her next hand will be. Say she guesses it will be the exact middle of a 100% range, Q7o. Vs a 25% range (UTG+2) she would have about 36.7% equity, vs a 33% range (HJ) about 39% and against a 50% range (BTN) she has about 43.7%.

    So, what is the best decision by the numbers? The NASH charts say its a shove. But without looking at the charts, which do you think the better option is? Option A is having the possibility that your shove gets through and picks up some much-needed chips or, if its is called, you have a 1/3rd chance of more than doubling up. Option B is foregoing any chance of stealing the blinds and antes and only having at most a ~10% greater chance of winning the next hand, with a smaller pot. That increased probability assumes your hand improves to at least average, which you have no guarantee of. I think you can see that option A is the higher $EV play in her spot and at her stack depth, even with 7/2o. This is due to even the small fold-equity she has being more beneficial to her than the potential stronger equity of her next hand in a significantly smaller pot (HU). Equities run tightest together preflop, as you know, so waiting for a better hand doesn't give her as much extra advantage as most people assume it would. For instance, if she had T9s instead of 5/3o, her equities vs all the above ranges only increases by ~7%. This does not offset the 1.33BB fewer chips she could win in the next pot by virtue of having given up 1 ante and having her BB in the middle as opposed to someone else's. That 1.33BB represents nearly 24% of her current stack. She cannot afford to forego that opportunity just for the possibility of having a slightly better chance of winning the next hand.

    In almost every case where you are in a tight spot in a tournament, the advantage goes to the aggressor. She has exactly 1 chance to do this before having to play defense next hand, also with any 2 cards. There is really no hand 3 for her unless she wins 1.

    Well, this is a book and I haven't even finished point 1. I need to get a life :) Will resume in a bit.

  • krista


    i don't know i a rookie, despite all the post play math in-depth analysis ...

    anyone askin why you would re-raise an EP raise? with AT unsuited
    like why you in this pot at all?

  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    Yeah @krista ! I'm glad you asked this question as it helps me move into the next part of the decision making process.

    A few factors are at work here: My estimation of UTG's shoving range, my specific hand, my stack in relation to the other players at the table and my observations of the other players' reactions to my opens from previous hands. I only had two options here, fold or isolate. This is never a call, though I've seen people do that (like UTG+2 bot - SMH).

    I already explained why I thought UTG's range was 100%.

    My actual hand of ATo has ~63% equity vs a random hand (100% range). I needed less than 40% equity to make isolating her profitable. That means I could have done this with ATo+, A9s+, 77+ and almost all Broadway combos. I particularly like Ax because it makes it less likely she shoved AA or that anyone else has AA or another strong Ax hand that dominates me. Plus, even if she happened to have a real hand, like any pocket pair 22-AA, I still have the required equity, but just barely.

    I am the largest stack at the table by a large margin. That means I can knock anyone else out of the tournament but no one can knock me out. That carries with it some huge advantages, including the ability to take more risks. In this specific instance I was risking 1.8% of my stack. I did not raise larger because I knew the play was vulnerable and if a medium-stack 4-bet me, I could easily fold and have almost no impact on my tournament health. I was not going to play a big pot with this hand under any circumstances.

    I also based my decision on my observations of the other players, as everyone should do. As the largest stack, we can take 2 approaches. We can either go on cruise-control and be very conservative, knowing we will be laddering up the pay schedule. This is a safe and steady approach and you will make money doing it. The other approach is to apply maximum pressure to everyone else and vacuum up as many easy pots as humanly possible. I know people are afraid to play pots with me because I can cripple them or bust them out. I've observed that more than 50% of my opens have gotten through. Therefore I have been able to expand my ranges dramatically and still be profitable by virtue of all the pots I simply steal. Ordinarily I would never open ATo from EP. Because the table has had to tighten up against me I am able to open a whole lot wider than this. I can profitably open 25-30% of all hands from EP if I'm getting them through 50%+ of the time. More from later positions.

    The bots made an adjustment before the bubble broke and started playing back at me more. Then I noticed they got carried away and were 3-betting me very light. The problem was that they were 3-betting absolutely the wrong hands, like QJs on the BTN. As soon as I realized what hands they were 3-betting me with, I opened up my 4-bet range to include many more "bluffs". No hand is really a total bluff preflop but I'll use the term for convenience. To stay balanced, while still having enough hands to 4-bet with, I divided my opening range into quarters. I then paired my value hands with the appropriate number of bluff hands to include in my 4-bet range. Then I had my calling range in and out of position and finally the hands I had to fold. For example, in order to be able to 4-bet AA, KK, QQ and AK, I needed to add in hands like A4-5s, AJo, 88 and a few others. I could flat call with 99-JJ and fold 77-22. Once I made this adjustment, because the bots were selecting the wrong hands to 3-bet me with, I folded out everything other than their extreme value. There are so few super-premium hands that they had no play left other than to fold or bluff-shove for their tournament lives into a stack that could easily absorb the loss. Not a good play. They should have been taking more flops with those hands in position vs my wide range, not 3-betting with them. Better to 3-bet A3s vs my range than QJs, especially in position.They were setting chips on fire with this strategy as soon as I noticed and adjusted.

    All this is a long way of saying that the bots were treading carefully vs my regular opens. They were folding things like AJo. If they were playing that tight to a standard open, how much more range-restricted would they be from my UTG+1 3-bet? My thought was that they would fold all but JJ+ and AK and maybe even fold JJ. Aside from maybe JJ, there shouldn't have been a single hand they would cold-call me with. Their entire calling range should have also been their 4-bet range. I could snap-fold to any 4-bet knowing this. So this sets up a great situation for me to try and isolate. I know I'm way ahead of UTG's range, there's a lot of dead money in the pot and the chances of running into a big hand were very slim. I'm blocking 2 of the worst hands I could run into (AA and AK). Plus, my losses would be capped by planning not to play any big pots (because I'm folding to any 4-bet). My play was meant to isolate UTG, with a great chance to scoop up a nice pot while also avoiding playing any pots larger than my 3-bet size.

    I'll go into the cold-call by UTG+2 and the rest later. These 2 posts should explain why I agree with UTG's shove and provide a good explanation for why I would make this move with such a marginal hand. My exposure was minimal and the opportunity to attack the weakest range for a good sized pot presented itself. The safer play is surely to fold and let someone else have those chips. While I have such a big stack, my intention is to leverage that as best I can. I have my foot on the necks of the other players and I don't want to let them get a breath. I'm in a position to run deep and I think keeping controlled aggression up is the best way for me to make it there. Win or lose this pot, my continued aggression keeps everyone else on their heels. That's exactly how I want it to be.

    One final benefit that would exist in real tournaments but I'm not sure if it comes into play with the bots: the meta-game. @krista, if you were playing a tournament with someone and looked at your HUD to see they had A VPIP of 30+ and a PFR of 25+, how much credit would you give them when they opened? Probably a lot less than someone showing 20/15, right? Well, at some point I'll shift gears again and go back to tight. It would take your HUD quite a while to reflect that I've tightened up. Same with everyone else's. So now I'm going to have a bunch of orbits where I'm being called lighter but I've already shifted into tight-mode. I'll get a lot of extra value before anyone adjusts. By that time, I may have started to loosen up again. Changing gears is important and how you set that up is also important.

    Damn but I love this game. 1 seemingly silly hand can have a whole lot more to it than 1st suspected.

  • krista
    edited August 2018


    let me try without the math mumbo jumbo

    this is pre-flop

    ~ you get a shove by short stack UTG, granted that, but she could have waited has to have something
    ~ you UTG+1 , is what 7 players yet to act and you truly believe your lovely ATu has them all beat?
    ~ so at this point you up against 8 hands with A high
    ~ i been taught you EP you better have a powerhouse to enter the fray after any raise
    ~ guy behind you calls your 3bet ... no danger flag????
    ~ SB shoves, yes short stack, but need have something with those in the pot now, else he waits another hand shove?

    the guy behind you is the also big danger, what you think he has air? he called your 3bet, any pair, or AK, AQ, AJ beats you

    so at this point if you continue (wonder what you here in first place) you on a bluff

    ok so your plan is to pick up the short stack shoves and force out the other guy... to me ill advised and very gutsy
    but then isn't the move then to shove all-in??

    ~ you get super LUCKY flop (not deserved hahaha)

    forget the flop, you suck out 2 pair
    my question remains what you doin in that pot in first place?

    wait i have a question... assume the guy behind you isn't a bot but its highfive and he re-raises your 3 bet instead call .. now what you goin do with your lovely ATu???

  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    @krista said: "ok so your plan is to pick up the short stack shoves and force out the other guy... to me ill advised and very gutsy
    but then isn't the move then to shove all-in??"

    No, no , no, no. That would be over-committing to a very marginal hand. Why would I even consider that when any hand that could possibly call the 3-bet would also call the shove? Makes no sense. This way limited my exposure.

    As I laid out above, if UTG just happened to wake up with a real hand, I still had enough equity vs that range to make the play. You cannot assume the player has a monster when the situation calls for shoving any 2. That would be far too conservative. Of course the plan was to have everyone else fold but sometimes things don't go as planned.

    Absolutely the flat-call set off alarm bells for me but her range was capped at QQ and AQs by her flat. I could play most flops conservatively but because I have a great idea what I'm playing against, I can't get in that much trouble. The SB shove didn't matter much as it was for so little above my 3-bet that it didn't reopen the action. If it had, I would have been worried about UTG+2 squeezing if I flatted. As it stood, all she could do was fold or call behind me so it didn't matter. $395K or $520K is the same thing at this point.

    As I said, flop is a dream for me. I don't lead out if I only make 1 pair. Flopping top-2 is going to be good against UTG+2 always and I want her gone so I bet.

    I made a move that just happened to run into a few obstacles. I think you need to look for these types of spots and take calculated risks in them. I knew my total exposure was very low (under 2% of my stack) and I had a plan for how I would handle any action before I made the play. You seem to be stuck on my raise of the UTG shove. That was frankly the easiest decision for me because I knew that range was the absolute weakest at the table. Any time I am given the opportunity to attack the weakest range and have almost no downside, I'm going to. If I punt-off 500K chips in this spot, it doesn't matter much to me. There was no way I was losing more than that. I decided that I had a better than 50% chance of getting this play through and I didn't need odds that high for it to be profitable, short and longer term

    Just FYI, lets say I folded and UTG+2 raised to isolate with QQ. You would have thought that was a good play right? Well, she still would have run into AA and even if she hadn't, she would have lost to the 5/3o that made 2-pair. Calculated risks are necessary if you want to win or even run deep. If you aren't ever caught with your pants down, you likely aren't making enough moves. Don't go nuts with your whole stack but pick good spots to attack and don't be afraid to go for it. No one has ever won a poker tournament without running well at some point.

    GN. I'll pick up the rest tomorrow. Fun topic and I like that you are mad at me for doing such a stupid, stupid thing :) I posted this hand on purpose, knowing I'd be questioned over it. I'm ok with that because I want to be challenged and correct my play as necessary. I also know I had a very well-thought out reason for making the play I did. Now my assumptions could have been wrong or my execution may have been poor but this was not something I did on a whim, just hoping to get lucky. I can't worry about the results. My only worry was that my decision making was flawed and I wanted to examine it with the help of the community here. I can't always be the one picking apart other people's hands - I have to put mine out there for criticism and commentary as well.

    Last bit: My 63% equity vs UTG's range times the 90%+ I get the 3-bet through the table = 56.7% likelihood of picking up the pot. That's actually marginal with my 3-bet size but still profitable enough to take the shot with my stack size.

  • krista
    edited August 2018

    yes fun question claps

    she could have waited another round, i no think she must shove on any 2 cards, whatever she shoved on, she assumed it was as good as it gets in next few orbits
    you decided to take a shot at it based on logical factors of stack size, and depth of your stack fair enough
    i see your rationale

    difference is with 7 players yet to act... I would have called the original shove rather than 3bet, and then reevaluate who remains in the pot and with what aggression
    (but then again maybe that why I loose money most days smiles)

    ps. i never said it was stupid... just something I would have done differently
    if the Aces over holds ... Mike Sexton says ... aggression always right and what a brilliant maneuver !!

  • highfive
    @krista asks, " why you in this pot anyway?" twice.

    Yeah. What she said.
  • krista


    i been some reason nervous and no played for monies last two days, i guess i awaiting my poor luck get cards streak finish...
    so i just played an only $3.50 SNG 6 players... to see, i win was fun

    but final hand i heads up with 7k chips, bad guy has 1.7k ...
    i think of Warlock hand... cause bad guy shoves and i call with 6 8 suited

    laughs i sure my EV is likely close to even or less

    dumb move by math but what the heck
    i flop 2 pair against his A T laughs

    so i sure last time in a while, my account is plus... $12.21 over my $500 start hahaha

  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    @krista - you can do he math to find out. Wipe the dust off your ICMizer license and find out whether the call was correct or not. This way you will know for future similar situations.

    You said "she could have waited another round, i no think she must shove on any 2 cards, whatever she shoved on, she assumed it was as good as it gets in next few orbits you decided to take a shot at it based on logical factors of stack size, and depth of your stack fair enough"

    How is she going to wait a few more orbits with that stack and antes in play? She's done in the next 3 hands unless she wins at least 1 of the 1st 2. She's to the point where she can either shove or be forced to call any open with any 2 cards the next hand.

    I'm not going to do another long posting tonight. I've been told that unless I dial it back some, I'm going to have to become a dues-paying member of the Russian Novelists Guild :)

  • krista
    edited August 2018

    ohhhh warlock ... we LOVE your dissertations!

    looks what @highfive say... claps

    ICMIZER takes for ever enter in things... no sure i did it right 47% against any 2 cards?


  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    @krista said:
    ICMIZER takes for ever enter in things... no sure i did it right 47% against any 2 cards?

    I don't know what it says. If you give me stack sizes, blinds and antes and payout structure, I can run it for you. In order to make the assumption he'd shove any 2, we'd need the same information.

    I forgot - you can actually do these calculations here with their shove/fold utility. Maybe you would find that one easier to use than ICMizer? I keep forgetting about some of the utilities they offer here.

  • krista

    plus when i run ICMIZER... i get a "naughty girl illegal software" message from PokerStars hahaha

    final hand i heads up with 7,435 chips, bad guy has 1565 ...
    Blinds$60 / $120/ $15
    payout is top 2... $ 12.21 for first... prize pool $18.78

  • krista

    Hello kcorbee,

    We have noticed that recently you have used a poker calculator tool (namely: ‘ICMIZER‘) whilst running the software. Certain features of this tool cause it to be in violation of our Terms of Service:

    We prohibit any tool that computes advanced equity calculations, such as range vs range simulators, ICM or Nash Equilibrium-based programs. Tools that either analyse specific hand histories or allow the creation of a user-defined situation, as well as tools that run simulations or comparisons against player models, are prohibited whilst the client is open. That is, the calculation of the following features must all be restricted whilst the client is open:

    • a specific hand's equity vs a non-random range of hands
    • a range of hand's equity vs another range of hands
    • the distributed strength of a hand on all possible flop combinations
    • a Nash equilibrium solution of a specific scenario
    • the EV comparison of different player decisions
    • the ICM equity of specific tournament situations, except for the use in tournament deals
    • how a player model or AI engine would have played a particular hand or situation

    Please note, we realise that such features have a legitimate use for analysing your game, so they are permitted for educational purposes whilst the client is closed.

    Further information regarding our policies towards such pieces of software can be found on our website, available at:

    We realize that you probably were unaware of the forbidden nature of this program, and therefore, we will not take any of the stern reactions mentioned in our Terms of Service due to this detection. Instead, all we ask is that you don't use such prohibited programs on PokerStars again in the future. Further use of this tool when the PokerStars software is running will result in sterner action being taken on your account.

    Thank you for your cooperation.


    Stars Game Integrity

  • krista
    edited August 2018

    ekkk the PokerStars police!

    yah sure i could enter all the relevant data into the thing, get an answer and make a decision in the 40 seconds they give me?
    plus what they doing inside my computer?

    _Krista sticks tongue out at Poker Stars secret police _ :p

  • 1warlock
    edited August 2018

    You can't run it while playing - that's cheating because it will give you push/fold ranges. Its for off-table work. Close Pokerstars and run the numbers. I don't see a way to get push/fold ranges from the tools here. ICMizer is something you'll have to learn to use at some point. Might as well start now.

  • 1warlock

    Back to the hand: I 100% agree with you, @highfive that the UTG+2 player should have 4-bet me with QQ, if she had the same read I did on UTG shove and thought I could be isolating with a ton of hands. ATo isn't a great hand to begin with but facing a 4-bet, its in the muck instantly. Not even a close call, with or without the SB re-shoving. She loses the pot no matter what but keeping me in it was weak and risky. Maybe with AK sometimes?

    Leading large on that flop was the right move, IMO. The pot is already big enough for such a marginal hand but I crushed the flop. I wanted to deny equity to JJ and QQ and AQs if she flatted that. I had already ruled out KK and AK so those weren't issues for me. She had no choice but to fold her queens there. As you said, weak play. It doesn't matter that the final result would have been the same for her, only that she played a vulnerable monster hand extremely passively. I'm planning to resume play shortly and I guarantee you that I'll take advantage of that info.

    Good discussion. I agree that my play was more aggro than standard play but I'm still ok with the way I made the decision. I took a shot that I could afford to take. I was right vs the UTG but not just 1 but 2 players behind me woke up with big hands. It happens. I'm just loaning that guy the chips - I want them back with interest :)

  • cupcake

    As a member of the Russian Novelist Guild and Black Jack Team I can assure you that during our Poker Training Tournaments in Syberia we are trained to shove at every turn and get tatoos of stars on our knees. This is a very necessary move in knock-out Tournaments where fire arms are allowed.

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