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Some Tournament Hands: Part II

by Gavin Griffin |  Published: Jan 22, 2014


Gavin GriffinLast time I talked about a hand in the first level of the WPT Regional tournament at the Commerce Casino in LA. I play these tournaments whenever I get the chance, especially when the buy-in is over $1,000. I don’t, however, make my living playing tournaments anymore, so it’s important for me to look at some interesting hands that I played from each tournament to make sure I’m playing optimally.

My Day 1 table had Matt Affleck, Dan Furnival, and Young Man. We started with 20,000 in chips and I won a decent pot early to get to around 24,000. I then played one really big pot with flush over flush and had around 50,000 150-300 blinds (50 ante)

The cutoff makes it 1,000. He’s been playing fairly tight and very rarely opening pots for a raise. I would say this is the third or fourth time he’s raised all day and we are in the fifth level. He had also been raising more than a standard tournament opening, often to 3.5 times [the big blind] or more. I was on his direct left with two red queens and made it 2,400. The effective stack is somewhere around 30,000. The flop is 9-4-2 with two clubs. The nine is not a club. He checks, I bet 2,600, he calls. The turn is the 6Diamond Suit, he checks, I bet 5,100, he calls. The river is the 9Diamond Suit, he bets 10,000, I call.

Like last week’s hand, I think this hand gets interesting on the river. I’ve put my opponent on a range of fives through jacks, not including sets, nines with a club draw, and overcards with a club draw. I don’t think he has a set because I’m pretty sure he’d raise the flop or turn with one, and I don’t think he has queens plus, because he seems like the type of guy who would always four-bet with K-K plus, and Q-Q is very unlikely, for obvious reasons. This again has us doing a very simple expected value (EV) calculation, but it’s important to do them to make sure we are analyzing these situations correctly. The more work we do on hands like this away from the table, the better we will be at doing them roughly at the table.

Going to the river, we put our opponent on a range of pairs fives through eights, tens, jacks, 9Club Suit 8Club Suit, 10Club Suit 9Club Suit, AClub Suit 9Club Suit, and AClub Suit JClub Suit plus. I think he’s likely to bet some of those pocket pairs and missed flush draws, but not all of them, and also bet his flush draws that contain a nine. Let’s say he bets sevens, eights, tens, jacks, 9Club Suit 8Club Suit, 10Club Suit 9Club Suit, AClub Suit 9Club Suit, and AClub Suit JClub Suit. PokerStove has us as a massive favorite, 89-to-10 against his betting range. We are also at nearly the top of our range, which probably looks like sevens plus, AClub Suit 10Club Suit plus, KClub Suit JClub Suit plus, QClub Suit JClub Suit. That range against our opponent’s has around 58 percent equity. Since we’re at the top of our range, we should consider raising, but what hands does he call with? Perhaps he calls with jacks and all nines. The pot before the river is 900 in blinds and antes plus 4,800 plus 5,200 plus 10,200 equals 21,100. He’s bet 10,000 making it 31,100. There are 28 total combinations of our opponent’s range and we lose to three of them. So, if we call, we win 31,100 25 in 28 times and lose 10,000 three in 28 times for a total EV of 27,768 minus 1,071 equals 26,697. If we raise his last 10,000, he folds 19 in 28 times and we win 31,100. He calls and wins three in 28 times and we lose 20,000. He calls and we win six in 28 times and we win 41,100. So, 31,100 * (19/28) plus 41,100 * (6/28) minus 20,000 *(3/28) equals 27,700. If our opponent calls with J-J, then we are showing more of a profit by raising all-in than by calling. If our opponent only calls half the time with J-J because, honestly, it would be a pretty bad call with that hand against most players’ river jamming range in this situation, that makes the EV 24,553 and lower than the EV of just calling. So, if we are against an opponent who we think will fold everything but a nine on the river, we should obviously just call, but if we think they’ll call with even one pair lower than ours (presuming they can’t have any pairs bigger than ours and we’re never bluffing them off a better hand), then we have a profitable shove.

So, we’ve looked at two heavily math influenced hand breakdowns. The good thing about this is we keep our math skills sharp away from the table. We don’t really expect to do exact range EV calculations at the table, more of a fudging of them really, but it’s good to know how and when to do them so we are prepared to make this type of analysis, however fuzzy, in game.

Next time we’re going to look at a more fluid game situation that is pretty player dependent but is one of the more fun hands I played all tournament. No Gamble, No Future. ♠

Gavin Griffin was the first poker player to capture a World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour title and has amassed nearly $5 million in lifetime tournament winnings. Griffin is sponsored by You can follow him on Twitter @NHGG