Hit or Miss

I’m on the Cutoff (CO) holding Ac-10h in level three of a multi-table tournament (mtt) with blinds at $30/$60. There is $25,000 in the prize pool and about a $5,000 first prize on a $55 buy-in. Stack sizes around the table are all large (+50 big blinds), except Player 96 who has a medium stack (20-50 big blinds). If the action folds around to me, I will raise 2x the big blind amount because A-10 is a qualifying hand with a large stack and no previous action. If Players call in front, then I will raise for the similar reasons. With one raise in front, I will call because A-10 qualifies as a call behind hand. Other call behind hands are A-J, A-Q, 22-QQ, K-Q, and K-J. With more than one raise in front I will fold because A-10 is not a premium hand. Premium hands are A-A, K-K, and A-K.  


Players 70 and 36 fold followed by calls from Players 96, 146, and 254. With only calls in front, A-10 is a hand that I will raise with. With no calls in front, I’d raise 2x the big blind. With one call in front I’d raise about 3x the big blind. With 2 calls in front I’d raise about 4x the big blind. There are 3 calls in front so I will raise about 5x the big blind. This raising methodology will make it harder for calling players to also call my raise, helping me isolate the hand. A smaller raise may be called by multiple players because it’s cheaper. I’d play this hand very differently with a short stack, either going all-in or folding with is not the case here. I don’t want to just call or raise some of my stack in that case with A-10 because I’d leave myself with few chips left if I had to fold later in the hand.


I raise to $275, which is approximately 5x the big blind of $60. All Players fold except Player 254 on my right, who calls. My raise worked well in that I’ve created isolation with one other Player and I’ll be last to act on the Flop. This isolation will give me a better chance of winning on the Flop if we both don’t improve. I’d expect him to check a bad hand, where I can make a continuation bet to win the Pot right there.


The Flop comes 4s-Qd-Qc and Player 254 checks. First, I must qualify my own hand as good, mediocre, or bad. A bad hand is defined as 3rd pair or worse on the board. I have Ace high in my hand which is considered bad. After making my pre-Flop raise with the action checking to me on the Flop, I must make a continuation bet with my bad hand in an effort to win the Pot right now. I expect Player 254 to fold because there are no draws and the board is paired; there are very few hands that this flop helped. My bet should be average-sized (⅓-⅔ pot).


I make an average-sized continuation bet and Player 254 calls. The Turn is the 6s and Player 254 checks to me. I now have to believe that Player 254 has something that beats my Ace high because there are no draws on the board. It’s likely that Player 254 has a four, queen, or pocket pair. I don’t want to bluff here, trying to get Player 254 to fold because better spots will arise later where I’ll have a good hand. For this reason I will check, essentially giving up on the hand.   


I check and the River is the 9d. Player 254 checks. I don’t need to win every pot. My option here is to check and accept defeat or attempt an extravagant bluff that will have a low rate of success. I choose to check and find a better spot in a future hand.


I check and Player 254 flips over 4d-10d. His pair of 4s beats my Ace high. I chose this hand because it provides a good example of making proper moves and knowing when to slow down. My pre-Flop raise worked in that it created isolation, while giving me the best position on the Flop. My continuation bet will win the pot in most cases on a 4-Q-Q board, but Player 254 got lucky and hit his 4, playing 10-4 pre-Flop. After recognizing Player 254 had a winning hand, I didn’t go down the risky path of bluffing. In poker, it’s always hit or miss, but today my opponent hit.


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