Final Tablez

You’ve done it! Played for an entire day. Dodged family and friends who wanted to spend time with you. Won enough hands to survive. You’ve made it to the final table! Everything you’ve learned up to this point will completely change! Oh wait, no it won’t; play pretty much the same way you have been all tournament long.


I’m on The Button with 49 big blinds holding Js-Kd. Blinds and antes are $800/$4,000/$8,000. The beauty of making decisions based on Poker Model strategy over “feel” allow me to treat every situation like it’s the first round of the tournament.


Action folds to Player 273, who raises about 2.5x the big blind, a standard raise. Player 273 has a large stack, but it will not affect my play. I’ll make moves based on my own two cards, not based on his stack size. If he had a smaller stack (<20 Big Blinds), then my range of good hands would widen and something like Top Pair could be good enough to put him all-in. Other posts dive deeper into this concept. Because Js-Ks is a call behind hand, I’m still interested in the hand and will not auto-fold.  I’ll need to wait until the action is on me to determine my next move.


Action folds to me. Do I call, fold, or raise? As mentioned above, Js-Kd is a call behind hand. This means that with one raise or more raises in front of me I can call as long as I have a medium stack or better (over 20 big blinds) and the raise is standard. A standard raise is 2-3x the Big Blind. I have 49 big blinds which is more than enough to make this call. Js-Kd, like all call behind hands, is too good to fold but too bad to raise. Other call behind hands generally in this position: 22-QQ, A10-AQ, KQ.  


I make the call in Phase #2 – Pre-Flop and the small and big blinds fold. The hand moves to Phase #3 – Flop and the flop comes 7c-10d-Jh, giving me Top Pair with a King kicker. Player 273 makes an average sized continuation bet. Is this flop good, bad, or mediocre for me? A good flop is one in which I’m ready and willing to go all-in. I want to be all-in when I’m likely the favorite. I’d need Two Pair or better to have that type of confidence in this hand. A bad flop is one in which I don’t have anything: 3rd pair or worse. I want to exit the hand or try to steal it if I have and opportunity, like making a continuation bet. This flop is mediocre for me because I have Top Pair. Some hands beat me and some do not that my opponent may have. My goal with a mediocre hand is to make it to the River and find out if I had the winning hand or not.

Facing the average sized bet and having a mediocre hand, I’ll call and start my journey to the River. I’d fold a bad hand and raise with a good one.


The Turn is the 5c and Player 273 checks to me. This card really didn’t change much in terms of what I have. Do I check or bet? Betting here can result in one of three outcomes:

  1. Player 273 folds and I win
  2. Player 273 calls and we go to the River
  3. Player 273 raises and I have to fold

Checking here takes us to the River right now. Recall that when you have a mediocre hand the goal is to get to the River. While there are upsides to winning the Pot right now by betting or getting called and winning a bigger pot on the River, they are risky because of the potential raise from Player 273 right now. The raise can be made with any two cards and will force me to fold a hand that may be the winner. For these reasons, I check.


The River is the Ac and Player 273 checks to me. This is not a good card for me because I no longer have Top Pair. Do I check or bet? Again, betting can result in one of three outcomes:

  1. Player 273 folds and I win
  2. Player 273 calls and we flip our cards
  3. Player 273 raises and I have to fold

Checking here forces us to flip our cards.


I check and Player 273 flips over 8c-Ad, beating me with a higher pair. “If you had just bet the Turn, then you would have won the Pot!”, some might say. This is true, it’s unlikely that Player 273 would have called a Turn bet with Ace High. But remember that I checked in order to avoid a raise. Also, if any card besides an Ace or 9 comes on the River, then I win, probably able to make a value bet as well.

I lost about $50,000 chips on this hand or as I like to look at it, 6 big blinds. I still have $345,653 chips left which equals 43 big blinds. The games have just begun.


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