Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Preflop Decision -- Pocket Queens

You are down to 25 left out of 58 remaining in a $200 buyin knockout tournament in Atlantic City. Blinds, which rise every 20 minutes in this typically fast daily casino tournament are up 400-800 with a 100 ante about two hours in to the event. Right now the average stack is 26k, and you are sitting on around 34k after a couple of big pots have helped you to more than triple from the 10k starting stacks.

An old man with about 14k in chips leads out under the gun for 10k straight up. This utg open-raise is for approximately 12 big blinds, and I immediately looked to notice that it was for most of this utg player's stack as well.

The utg +1 player, one of the largest stacks remaining in the tournament with around 50k in chips, thinks for a while, seems to be agonizing before eventually just smooth calling the 10k raise.

After all that action, you look down in utg+2 position to find pocket Queens.

How do you act?

This happened to me recently in a live casino tournament and there was considerable disagreement after the fact on the best play.

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Blogger columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

Wow, talk about a tough one. I hate the indicators here, with a UTG betting 10k of 14k when he is obviously pot committed and then the UTG+1 big stack almost begging for a squeeze play.

I decide based on what I know of the UTG+1 and my situation. Assuming that the UTG+1 got his chips through competent play and not luck, I am happy folding here. Although I cant visualize myself in the tank for quite some time. With only 6 tables left and me above avg, I hate getting it all in pre-flop.

2:03 AM  
Blogger Sheffield said...

if UTG+1 had a better hand than you, why wouldn't he isolate to take out the short stack? and, provided he's a decent player, he should know enough to get out of your way if you shove.

even if you lose to the short stack, you'll still have >20BBs, which is enough to play with. maybe i'm overvaluing pocket pairs, but i say go big or go home.

2:38 AM  
Blogger John said...

I would push - it looks to me like UTG has a hand he doesn't know how to play well - AK, AQ, 99-JJ (he can obviously have KK or AA, however in my experience that is less likely because his raise size was so large). Regardless of his hand, his stack will not cripple you so it would be best to get it in against him.

I feel like UTG + 1 probably has a slightly weaker range because of your description of him agonizing over the decision. I think your push looks extremely strong to UTG + 1 since he knows you do not need to gamble in this spot, and he will likely fold AK a decent amount of the time(unless he has a monster and I'm an idiot - fairly likely).

Also, I don't think calling is a great option becuase it makes it difficult for the big stack to play anything less than optimally against you post.

2:52 AM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

Much of the data you've provided indicates you're behind. You need to read two people successfully.

I hate to fold, ever. But in this case, I guess I do.

Perhaps 10% I'll shove though.

Man, it's tough, even thinking as I type this. Still, survival is perhaps of exaggerated importance.

3:37 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

Obviously your concern is UTG+1. If you don't scare him off here, then he's sticking around until the turn at least.

So the question is, push or fold? UTG is committed, but does UTG+1 have the cards to call 24k to win 60k? Just about any A-rag gives him odds. K-rag is pretty close too. But an underpair or mid suited-connectors don't.

But A-rag and K-rag aren't getting a tanked call there. So it's either a suited connector, underpair, or really strong hand he's being tricky with. Knowing that any other strong hands will push over top here, he COULD be holding AA/KK and hoping to trap, or AK and be willing to race, knowing that he's got the chips to survive or bully on the flop if there are only calls.

It depends on your read on the player. Personally, I don't see a hand that's ahead here from him. UTG may be ahead of you or racing w/AK, or could be holding TT or JJ.

I think you're in tougher cards-wise against UTG than UTG+1 here, but could still be ahead of both.


If UTG+1 calls, then you can increase your stack to 40k or 84k here, depending on UTG. If UTG+1 folds, then you are HU with UTG, and can increase your stack to 50k. UTG could either be way behind, racing, or way ahead of you. Considering only 2 hands are ahead of you, I like the odds, and you can take the hit and still have chips to play with.

4:11 AM  
Blogger edgie212 said...

You'll often see someone online like UTG throwing a bet like that out there because he's prepping to shove the rest on the flop with something like AA, AK or KK. My guess is that he is fishing for some limpers and taking his chances that no one spikes a set or better pair on the flop. This puts QQ in an awkward position, one that in this position, you can wait for another opportunity. I don't feel the smooth call is much of a concern here...if he had a BIG hand he would have put UTG all-in immediately, so you have him beat, with something ranging anywhere from 1010 to AQ. Maybe even 99 or 88!

My vote is to let this go and wait for a better spot.

6:16 AM  
Blogger steeser said...

Put myself in UTG+1 position, and I have AA or KK....I probably would "seem to agonize" before eventually calling, or shoving. Live players also love to trap, and many fail to re-raise to isolate when the bet size and stacks dictate it.

I put UTG range at 88-AA, AQ+, and I have to put UTG+2 on a much tighter range (TT+ if you think he is kinda weak, QQ+ if you think he is good).


7:05 PM  

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