Approaching the Bubble With A♠A♣, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: You are in a multi-table tournament where blinds are 3,000/6,000 with a 6,000 big blind ante. There are 13 players left and 9 places paid. The action folds to you in the Cutoff with A♠A♣ and your raise to 15,000, the Button folds and both the Big Blind and Small Blind call. Your opponents check the Q♦J♥T♣ flop and action is on you. What do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are in the mid to late stages of a multi-table tournament. There are 13 players left and 9 places are paid with a fairly standard, top heavy payout structure. The blinds are 3,000/6,000 with a 6,000 big blind ante. We are dealt AsAc in the Cutoff six handed and preflop the action folds to us.
At this particular table, smaller raises are frequently being called in multiple spots. Even though making it 12,000 is normally a fairly standard raise in this spot, we decide to raise to 15,000 in the moment and get called by both the Small Blind and Big Blind.
The flop is QdJhTc and both players check. This is a very coordinated board that often connects with the Blinds’ calling ranges. The issue we are facing is that we only have 95,000 chips and the Small Blind only 41,000 chips and there is 51,000 in the pot.
With a stack to pot ratio of less than 2, an overpair to the board, and a potential draw to a straight we have a situation where we really aren’t deep enough to ever fold here. However, our hand is also quite vulnerable to many of the types of hands the Blinds would call with and in some cases we are even behind on this flop.
Continued below ...
If we were much deeper stacked there could be a case for playing this hand a little more cautiously, but at this stack depth we really have to go with our hand and we can still extract a lot of value from KQ/KJ/KT/T9s/Q9s/J9s type hands.
The Blinds are also quite likely to have reraised preflop with AK/QQ/JJ/TT so most of the hands where we are really crushed shouldn’t be in their range,aside from 98s and if they call really loose perhaps some K9s. When we are behind it’s often against two-pair hands where we will have 9 outs on the flop and often when we miss the turn we pick up 3 additional outs to improve to higher two-pair.
Normally we would continuation bet a little on the higher side here to protect our hand but with the Small Blind’s shorter stack we can bet 20,500. If the Small Blind were to shove it technically reopens the betting which would allow us to shove over the top should the Big Blind decide to call.
This sizing adjustment may seem minor, however it avoids the awkward situation of us betting 30,000 and the Small Blind shoving that can entice the Big Blind to call. In that case we would have no option other than to call and then face the additional potential complication of an eight, nine, or some other action killing card coming off on the turn that will make our decision even more difficult.
Bet sizing must be a critical area of focus in order to improve your game, and in this spot the precision of your bet sizing will make a huge difference.
Betting half the Small Blind’s stack is the best play.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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