I’m sitting on the Small Blind holding 10h-10c with blinds at $100/$200. I have $4,000 in my stack, or 20 big blinds. With 20 big blinds, I have a small stack and am looking to get all of my chips in pre-flop. My hope is that I’ll be called by an opponent with an inferior hand and double my chips. Remember that most decisions made in poker are based on an opponent’s range of hands. 10-10 should be dominating much of the range of others when all-in and called pre-flop with short stacks. Of course there will be hands that beat 10-10 that call as well, like J-J, Q-Q, and K-K. With a small stack, I’ll look for a spot where most outcomes will be in my favor, although I can never be certain I’m ahead unless I have A-A.
The action folds to the Cutoff+2, who moves all-in for $3,000 or 15 big blinds. The Cutoff+1, Cutoff, and Button fold and and the action is on me. According to The Poker Model, players will move all-in from The Cutoff+2 and 15 big blinds with any pocket pair, A9-AK, K-J, and K-Q. I’m pleased with this all-in because 10-10 is dominating or tied with most of his range. See below for the approximate odds:
- 10-10 (80%) vs. 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 (All 20%)
- 10-10 (70%) vs. A-9, A-10 (Both 30%)
- 10-10 (50%) vs. K-J, K-Q, A-J, A-Q, A-K (All 50%)
- 10-10 (20%) vs. J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A (All 80%)
Now it becomes clear that I should put all of my chips because I can expect to be dominating and in a good spot to win a big pot and knock out the Cutoff+2. I expect the Big Blind to fold and be isolated to the two of us because the likelihood of him having a big hand is low.
I move all-in for $4,000, hoping to be in a dominating position against the Cutoff+2. To my surprise, the Big Blind calls both of our all-ins. This is trouble for me as hands that would make this call with two all-ins in front are usually premium, like A-K, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, or A-A, most of which dominate my 10-10. I’m hoping that it’s A-K and I’m in a race situation. All action has occurred and it’s time to flip our cards and see the runout.
The Cutoff+2 flips over 8-8 and the Big Blind shows Q-Q. As expected, my 10-10 was beating the initial all-in of 15 big blinds from the Cutoff+2 before and losing to the all-in call after. The runnout does not improve my hand and I’m knocked out of the tournament. Although I’ve lost, this is a situation where I’ve made the correct poker play with the information presented to me. I cannot expect a player to have a big hand behind me in this spot because then I’d have to fold most of my hands, which I would lose value in the long run. I feel good that my play was correct, and comfortable with the fact that I lost to the player behind me, although disappointed to be knocked out of the tournament.
There really is no other way to play the hand with 10-10 here. I had a good spot where I was fairly confident that I’m ahead and got unlucky that the one player behind me picked up a big hand. I cannot prepare for the player behind hold such an unlikely hand and must play as if he is going to fold. I’ve made the right move before, and got unlucky after.