Flip, Flop, Ya Don’t Stop

 

I’m in the Big Blind holding 2h-Qh with about 15 big blinds. Blinds and antes are at $2500/$12500/$25000 and there are 4 players left in the tournament. With under 20 big blinds I’m considered to be a short stack. I’ll be looking to get all of my chips in when the right spot shows itself. 2h-Qh is not a strong pre-Flop hand and I will fold to any raises.

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Player 122 unexpectedly calls the big blind amount instead of the more standard raise option. All of the other players fold and the action is on me. While I’m lucky to be able to check here and see a free flop, I’m skeptical of Player 122’s call. Many players will make this play with A-A, hoping to hide the strength of their hand. While this is a possibility, the chances of being dealt pocket aces is 1 in 221 or 0.5%. So I’ll check and determine if my hand is good, bad, or mediocre with my short stack based on the Flop.

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After my pre-Flop check, the Flop comes 9h-5h-8s and the action is on me. I’ve flopped a Flush Draw which falls into the mediocre Flop segment according to the Poker Model. With mediocre hands, I always check in an attempt to keep the pot small and see what my opponent does, even at a Final Table. If Player 122 bets, then I will raise all-in with my short stack. If he folds, then I’ll win a nice pot. If he calls, then I’ll leave myself with plenty of outs; it would not be an ideal scenario, but with a short stack I don’t have the luxury of calling and folding with my draw. If Player 122 checks behind me instead of betting, then I’ll see a free card.

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I check and Player 122 makes an average-sized bet of $36250.  If I had a medium or large stack size (greater than 20 big blinds), then I would simply call this bet. The call would get me to the Turn where I may hit my Flush. If I didn’t make the Flush on the Turn then I’d be able to call another bet and potentially catch my Flush on the River. As long as these calls do not put me under the 20 big blind threshold then I can fold on the River if I miss the draw.   

But with my short stack, I do not have the luxury to call and fold the hand later. I must be more aggressive and not call away chunks of my stack. With under 20 big blinds, post-Flop, holding a Flush Draw in this spot, moving all-in is the play. If my opponent folds, then I’ll win a good amount of chips. If he calls, then I’ll have a 33% chance of making my Flush. It’s also possible that one of my cards, a Queen or a 2, makes me the winner. While folding here would keep me alive in the tournament, it’s a very passive play and not recommended. Remember that we always want to play for first place. As mentioned above, just calling is bad with under 20 big blinds because I’d be giving up large percentages of my stack without really knowing if I’m ahead or behind. For these reasons, I’ll move all-in.

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I move all-in and Player 122 folds, making me the winner. This hand highlights the idea that your stack size plays a major role in the strength of your hand. I would not be moving all-in or even raising Player 122 with more chips. With my small stack, however, “I’m all-in”, as they say.

Brett

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