Up, Up & Away


I’m on the Big Blind holding 8h-8d with blinds at $50/$100. I have $2,675 in my stack which is about 26 big blinds, a medium stack according to The Poker Model. 8-8 has potential to be a playable hand depending on what previous action occurs. All other players at the table have over 20 big blinds so I can expect more min-raises and 3-bets than all-ins. Not to say that all-ins will not happen at this level, it’s just more likely that the deeper stacks will not be all-in pre-flop. I don’t need to analyze too much or make any calculations until the action is on me.


Follow the action:

  1. Under The Gun raises to $200
  2. Under The Gun +1 and Under The Gun +2 fold
  3. Cutoff +2, Cutoff +1, and Cutoff call
  4. Button and Small Blind fold

The action is now on me. Notice that there are four other players in the hand and only one previous raise. On the surface, I can assume that the player raising from Under the Gun has a stronger hand (although not always) and all of the callers behind have average hands because no 3-bets have occured. While it’s possible that some of the callers are slow playing a big hand, like A-A, it’s more likely that these players are looking to see a Flop. We should be aware, but not change our action solely on the chance that a player may be slow playing.  

Many players use the idea that the players in the hand are not very strong (except Under The Gun potentially) to justify making an all-in move here with 26 big blinds and 8-8 from the Big Blind. This play is made because they can win a large pot right now if all players fold. If they happened to be called, it’s possible that they will face two over cards where they will be 50/50 to win and double up. One cannot know the odds of being 50/50 here, however, as pocket pairs 9-9 through A-A are within the call range. Additional factors like stack size and aggressiveness of players in the pot will contribute to this as well. For example, an aggressive player with a big stack and 7-7 from Under The Gun may call this all-in, while most other players will fold 7-7.    

I don’t like risking my entire tournament by making an all-in move here. My goal is always to be all-in and dominating my opponent. If I had J-J or better, then it’s possible I’ll be called with 9-9 or 10-10 and be winning. With J-J, there are only 3 hands that dominate me (A-A, K-K, and Q-Q) but with 8-8 there are 6. This range is determined by The Poker Model all-in formula. For this reason, I will simply call the raise like all of the others and see a cheap Flop. My goal in making this call is to have the opportunity to make a good hand on the Flop, like a set of 8s (Three of a Kind). Although unlikely (about 12%), if I do flop a set I’ll stand to win a large pot. I can also flop mediocre hands, like open-ended straight draws, second pair, or an overpair and use blocker bets to make it to the River and flip my cards over. I expect to Flop a bad hand, like 3rd pair or worse, as this is the most likely outcome. My $100 investment with little to no risk, makes this call worth it. My stack will only drop by 1 big blind and I’ll have 25 big blinds instead of 26 big blinds, no biggie.


The Flop comes Ad-Kc-Js and the action is on me. I’ve flopped a bad hand (3rd pair or worse) and am out of position so I must check. The original raiser from Under The Gun bets, Cutoff +2 calls, and I must fold.

Even though I didn’t hit a homerun on this hand by putting my money in pre-flop and doubling up, I stayed in the tournament with little risk and was able to see a cheap flop with a playable hand. Many players will put all of their chips in here pre-flop and see their chips go up, up, and away.


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