Let It Go

I’m seated Under The Gun+2 (UTG+2) with $7,090 in chips. Antes are $30 and The Small and Big Blinds are $150/$300. Because The Big Blind is $300, I have a total of 24 big blinds (7090/300). I’m in a mixed stack situation because players have small, medium, and large stacks around the table. Today I won’t speculate about what can potentially happen until the action is on me. This is a realistic way to walk through the thought process behind the hand particularly as it relates to playing multiple tables at once.  


Player 322 raises to $600 from Under The Gun (UTG) and the action folds to me. Player 322’s raise is correct in that it is 2x the big blind of $300 which indicates that he may be a good player. A good player will typically raise with a wider range of hands (any two >7, any ace, suited connectors, any pocket pair), which is valuable information to be aware of later in the hand. We’ll need to learn more and see his next action to know for sure, however.

Because I have a medium stack of 24 big blinds, The Poker Model tags Qd-Ac as a call behind hand. A call behind hand is one in which I am facing a standard raise (2x-3x the big blind amount) and decide to just call; I do not raise or fold to the initial raise. This allows me to see a Flop and determine my next steps if no raises occur behind me. See the list of call behind hands here:

  • A-10, A-J, A-Q
  • K-J, K-Q
  • 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, J-J, Q-Q

Be aware that I have a medium stack in this example. With a smaller stack (<20 big blinds), I’d either fold or move all-in with A-Q. The general principle is to go all-in or fold with a small stack, but to call behind with a medium or large stack while holding A-Q. The reasoning behind this principle is that a call behind is too large of a percentage of your stack when you have <20 big blinds. A call behind is much more affordable with a medium to large stack and easier to get away from. Remember that your goal is to be all-in and dominating your opponent. Moving all-in with a short stack with A-Q puts you in a position to be called by A-10, A-J, K-Q, K-J, depending on table position. You are dominating these hands. There will be hands that you are dominated by, like A-K, K-K, and A-A, but in the longrun this is a winning play. If everyone folds, you will also win. Other hands that fit this parameter are J-J and Q-Q. According to The Poker Model, these hands should be call behind hands with a medium stack and all-in hands with a short stack, generally speaking for the same reasons.


Follow the flow of action here:

  • I call the raise of $600
  • Player 401 folds
  • Player 415 calls $600
  • Player 171 folds
  • Player 405 raises to $2,580
  • Player 131 folds
  • Player 346 folds
  • Player 322 (original raiser) folds

The action is back on me and I’m facing a large raise. The first thing I notice is that Player 405 raises about half of her stack (9 big blinds), leaving half behind (7 big blinds). This means that Player 405 is committing her whole stack to this hand. I know this because if I call, then there will be about $6,800 chips (23 big blinds) in the Pot. Player 405 would only have $2,400 (8 big blinds) left giving her overwhelming odds to put the additional $2,400 (8 big blinds) in with almost any two cards, regardless of the Flop. For example, let’s say I have A-Q and Player 405 is holding A-K and knows I have A-Q. If the Flop comes Q-10-2, then A-K should call for her last 8 big blinds, even though she’s aware that I have Top Pair on the board and is behind. The reason behind this call is that there will be 31 big blinds in The Pot (23 from earlier + an additional 8 from me when I put her all-in). So Player 405 only has to put in 8 big blinds to win 31 big blinds (3 : 1 odds). The odds of A-K beating A-Q on a Q-10-2 Flop are about 3:1 as well. Therefore, Player 405 will not lose money in the long run by making this call. If the money goes all-in Pre-Flop, then 405 should call for the same reasons.    

If Player 405 had just gone all-in instead of raise, then A-Q may be dominating some of her range. It would be more likely to be a worse hand, like AJ or KQ, because her bet would be much larger and much harder to call. Players tend to do this in hopes of getting all previous callers to fold, winning a nice Pot without a Flop, Turn, or River.

But the smaller 3-bet, leaving half of her stack behind is a tell that she wants a call. Her range is now closer to J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A, A-K, or A-Q. The only hands that A-Q is not dominated by here are J-J or A-Q. This situation is called a “race at best” because our best case scenario is being 50/50 when the cards are flipped. For all of these reasons, I must fold. Be aware of players 3-betting with weaker hands, hoping to take control of the hand Pre-Flop vs. players going all-in Pre-Flop hoping to get all others to fold.


I make the fold and the action moves to Player 415, who moves all-in. Although I’m out of the hand, this is an opportunity to test my theory. I’ll assume that Player 405 will call the all-in (because of the pot odds described above) and we’ll get to see the run out. I’m not too concerned with what Player 415 has, but I should make sure that Player 405 is somewhere in the ballpark of what I thought she had.


Player 415 flips over 7-7 and Player 405 flips Kh-Ah. I’ve made a good fold because I would have been only 30% to win against A-K. My goal is always to be 60% or better. It’s hard to speculate what Player 415 would have done if I called, but calling the all-in with 7-7 is very risky. According to The Poker Model, this was a bad play because 1) he called behind with <20 big blinds. Remember that it’s all-in or fold with <20 big blinds. 2) Player 415 is a “race at best” in this situation. It’s highly unlikely that Player 405 would be making this play with anything that 7-7 dominates (not 2-2 to 6-6 or A-2 to A-6). So Player 415 made this play hoping that Player 405 had two overs and not an overpair. Player 415 was lucky to be in a 50/50 race with A-K and not dominated. After The Flop, Turn, and River A-K won the Pot.

After folding for hours it takes a lot of discipline to fold again with a good hand. Making these folds, however, will keep you in tournaments longer and get you to an easier spot to move all-in. Remember that each hand is independent and you never know what two cards you’ll get next.


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