Getting Cute

A few levels have passed in this $25,000 guarantee tournament and the blinds are $75/$150. No, the winner is not guaranteed $25,000. $25,000 guarantee means that no matter how many entrants, the tournament will pay out at least $25,000 to the top 10% of the players. First place will be around $5,000. Not bad for a $55 buy-in.

I’m holding 3h-8c in the Small Blind and have $2,705 chips or about 18 big blinds. To calculate your big blinds divide your chips by 1 big blind amount (2,705/150 = approx. 18). After your big blind calculation, it’s easier to determine your stack size:

  • Short stack: <20 big blinds
  • Medium stack: 20-50 big blinds
  • Large stack: >50 big blinds

Knowing if you have a short, medium, or large stack will be crucial for you future decision making like when to go all-in, 3-bet, call behind, and more. I have a short stack.


The action folds around the table, leaving only the Big Blind and me in the hand. Recall that with a short stack I really don’t want to be losing chips and then folding, leaving myself with an even shorter stack. Usually it’s all-in or fold with under 20 big blinds. I have a few options:

Fold (walk): A walk is when the entire table folds to the Big Blind essentially giving him the Pot with no resistance. This play is made because players don’t want to lose anymore chips on the hand and can move on, keeping their stack as it was. I do not like this play, however, because the Big Blind can have any two cards and I’m in a position to take the Pot. I will walk with under 5 big blinds and bad hands like 8 high or worse.  

Raise: Raising is a good option with a medium or large stack. I can make a raise and then follow with a continuation bet if I flop a bad hand after a call from the big blind, keeping myself over the 20 big blind threshold. With a medium or large stack, I can afford to make this play and lose the Pot. This play is made because players can steal the blinds right now. I do not like this play right now, however, because I have a short stack and can’t afford to lose many more chips. If I’m safely above 20 big blinds, then I will  always raise in this situation if the action folds to me, applying pressure to the Big Blind.

Call: Calling is my favorite option because I have a short stack. While I’ll still be putting chips at risk with less than 20 big blinds, it’s much cheaper than if I raise. Players will not make this play because they leave themselves vulnerable to a raise from the Big Blind in which case they’d have to fold. I’m not worried about this happening because I can make this fold, only losing ½ a big blind on the hand. The opportunity to see a Flop and make a continuation bet, outweighs the downside of losing ½ of a big blind if I’m raised. I’m okay calling the blind and hoping to see a cheap Flop.


I call the blind and the Big Blind checks. The Flop is Jc-4s-Qc and the action is on me. I have a bad hand holding only 8 high, but am in position to make a continuation bet. Even though I have under 20 big blinds, I can make a very small bet here that gets the point across that I may be holding a good hand. The bet works the same way as if I had raised pre-flop, followed by a continuation bet on the flop. I make a minimum bet.

The reason I’m choosing to bend my 20 big blind rule here is that I am in the Small Blind and the action has folded to me. The big blind may be holding 9-2, 8-3, 8-4, or a plethora of other garbage hands. If I get the check behind me, then I’m giving myself the opportunity to Flop and good hand and potentially double up or take the pot with a continuation bet because I’m first to act. Also, I’ll only have to invest ½ of a big blind instead of the full amount because I’m in the Small Blind. I can bend my rule for these reasons.    


My cute continuation bet works in that the Big Blind folds. The same logic is applied here as any other continuation bet, even though the Pot is smaller. I didn’t raise pre-Flop, but I called with a weak hand because I have a short stack. My opponent chose to check, leaving the door open for me to make a small continuation bet and win the Pot with a bad hand. This is a unique situation in that we are blind vs. blind. In any other position outside of the blinds 3-8 would be an instant fold. It’s okay to get cute in this spot.


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