Thursday, December 10, 2009

Small Pairs Late in the Game

MrSmith commented that I folded sveral small pocket pairs in the Game 1 win posted a few days ago. Here is a recap of my reasoning.

Situation: On the bubble with 8 players remaining in a 3/45. The blinds are 400/800 with 50 ante putting 1600 in the pot. I get four playable hands in a row, but fold them all.

Hand 67

CO: Roland GTX (11111 in chips) M6.9

BTN: sergeant999 (5054 in chips) M3.1

SB: nano88 (4440 in chips) M2.8

BB: zendude (19499 in chips) M12.2

The hand folds to me holding 44. What should I do? People call light in these turbos. The btn and sb are very short stacked. They might try to fold itm, but they might gamble too. Any hand that calls me will be at least two overcards making it a 52/48 cointoss. Normally, I will gladly take this cEV+ situation especially since I have the btn and sb sufficiently covered. The problem is the bb chipleader who has twice my stack. Any limp or standard raise I make, he can respond with an all in shove with atc assuming (correctly) that I won’t risk my nice stack on the bubble. On the other hand, my stack is a bit too big for me to make an all in steal attempt. The risk is not worth the gain, espcially on the bubble. if my stack were shorter I would have shoved, but in this situation playing it safe seemed ok with such a marginal hand as 44.

Hand 68
MP2 Roland GTX (11061 in chips) M 6.9
CO: sergeant999 (5004 in chips) M3.1
BTN: nano88 (3990 in chips) M2.5
SB: zendude (20249 in chips) M12.7
BB: cjs_one1 (8256 in chips) M5.2

It folds to me again, but this time Im holding 33. The situation is identical to the hand above with a few exeptions. My hand is slightly weaker and my position is slightly worse. More importantly, three players left to act are short stacked and need to make a move. Plus, the sb is still chipleader and can afford to gamble. Once again folding seemed safest even though it is a slightly cEV+ situation.

Hand 69
This time I pick up QJo. This hand looks nice, but it isn’t. Playing hands like this out of position is a sure way to spew chips. Anyone calling is going to be ahead of you holding Ax, Kx or a pair. I’m shoving if short stacked in this situation, but not with a healthy stack. Fold every time regardless of the bubble.

hand 70

Finally I get delt 55, one of my favorite hands. Once again Im way out of position and get an UTG all in in my face. A clear fold once again.

In other situations you see me shoving Q9o utg – LOL! One move seems crazy and the other seems tight passive. Relative stack sizes and position and the action preceeding me allow me to set a playable hand range. In other words, early in the game and out of postion A9o is garbage getting folded 100% of the time (if Im playing...). Whereas with an M of 3 I’m shoving A9o utg and thrilled to have picked up such a strong hand. Finally, heads up A9o is so strong that I might even consider slowplaying it against an agressive player. We can’t blindly look at our cards but have to consider the whole situation.

I hope this made some sense MrSmith



  1. Have to agree with you again, Roland. This is getting monotonous! An M of 7 is very awkward. I think it was Harrington who pointed out that small pairs are great hands in the Green Zone (M of 20+) when you can flop a set and win a big pot and in the Red Zone (M < 5) when you just open shove with them but they lose some of their value in the Orange Zone (M 5-10) because they don't have the implied odds. Nice folds.

  2. Indeed, makes perfect sense. My aggro play with these hands in the "orange zone" has gotten me in trouble more times than I've gained over time. Tx for additional comments Benko. A flaw in my game can now be fixed, watch out guys!

  3. Thx! Hmm, perhaps I need to reread HoH again. I had forgotten the zone terms...