J♦J♣ at the Final Table, what do you do here?

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You are dealt J♦J♣ in the Big Blind at the final table of a mid stakes online tournament with blinds at 5,000/10,000 and only 3 players. The Button folds, the Small Blind raises to 33,750 and you reraise to 100,000. The Small Blind goes all-in and action is back on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We are at the final table of a mid stakes online tournament with only 3 players left! We have the chip lead with nearly 775,000 chips while the other stacks are approximately 700,000 chips and 311,000 chips respectively.

We have position on the second biggest stack which puts us in a great spot. Since we have the Small Blind covered they are constantly under threat of busting out third before the shorter stack any time they play a pot with us. This gives us tremendous leverage making both floating and 3-betting light preflop great tools to accumulate chips in this spot.

If the Small Blind is adjusting appropriately they should be entering fewer pots with a narrower range in this situation and potentially 4-betting a bit lighter to try and take advantage of our likely wider 3-betting range.

We are dealt pocket jacks in the Big Blind and the Button folds. The Small Blind then raises to 33,750 and action is on us. We’re already in a situation where we are often 3-betting lighter than normal to exploit our chip advantage, so the fact that we have a top 5 starting hand in this spot is a huge bonus. Even though the Small Blind should be opening a bit narrower against us pocket jacks should still be well ahead of their starting range. We 3-bet to 100,000 and the Small Blind shoves all-in.

In situations like this it is often best to start by analyzing the best and worst case scenarios. The worst case scenario here is that our opponent is moving all-in with an extremely narrow range for this situation with hands such as TT+/AK. In that situation, we will be all-in for a slightly over 1.4 million chip pot with 43% equity. This means that on average we will end up with around 677,000 chips (the 73,000 we have Small Blind covered by plus 43% of the 1.4 million chip pot).

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Folding in this spot leaves us with 673,000 chips, so even in the worst case scenario we end up with a positive expectation of around 4,000 chips. This doesn’t tell the whole story because chips we win in tournaments are often worth less than chips we lose due to the way tournament payout structures work. In reality if we used ICM calculations here there is probably a slight real dollar loss. Doing these calculations in our head at the table would be quite difficult however we can estimate our equity is somewhere between 40-45% vs a narrow range with dead money in the pot.

Our best case scenario is that the Small Blind recognizes we are 3-betting light and their value 4-betting range goes up to something like 66+/AQ+ with some suited Ace-wheel cards. We’ll say A5s and A4s for our estimate. In that case our equity increases to a 58% favorite with dead money in the pot which is a tremendous situation for us.

So the best case scenario here is quite good and the worst case scenario isn’t all that bad as even when we lose we have over 7BBs to try and rebuild our stack. If we had some sort of specific read that we could just walk all over these two players with complete impunity and gain chips with relative ease we could make a case for passing this spot up and continuing to chip up without a big all-in confrontation. Absent that specific information however, this is just too good a spot for us to pass up.

Calling is the correct play.

How would you play it?
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