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The Vagaries of Hand-for-Hand

by Matt Matros |  Published: Oct 28, 2015


The hand-for-hand stage is everyone’s favorite and least favorite time in any poker tournament. Short stacks love it because they’ve almost reached the money, but they hate it because the stress of a possible bubble elimination looms over their every decision. Big stacks love it because they get to steal from scared short stacks with near impunity, but they hate it because each hand takes forever and rising blinds can quickly limit a big stack’s power. Whether we love it or hate it, I think it’s worth asking a more basic question about hand-for-hand play: when should we have it, and why? In poker tournaments, hand-for-hand play occurs at the money bubble to help clarify who gets paid and who doesn’t. Dealers are instructed to deal one hand at each table, and to wait for all tables to finish before dealing another hand. Most players assume (I certainly do) that ...

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