J♦J♣ at the Final Table, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: You are at a Tournament Final Table with 6 players left and everyone is in the money. Action folds to you in the Cutoff with a 30BB stack and you minraise with J♦J♣ . The Button, who is the chip leader with 70BBs, calls. Both of the Blinds fold and the flop comes 8♥5♠5♦. Action is on you, what do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: In this Tournament hand from a 6-handed final table we are in the Cutoff with a 30BB stack. The Button is the chip leader with 70BBs, there are two 50BBs stacks, and two short-stacked players left. The payout structure awards 20% of the total prize pool to 1st place, 14% to 2nd, 9% to 3rd, 6.7% to 4th, 5% to 5th, and 4% to 6th.
Action folds to us with pocket jacks in the Cutoff. We make a standard open at this point in the tournament of 2 big blinds (a minimum raise). The Button calls and everyone else folds. The flop is 8♥5♠5♦. This is a very interesting spot for us as we are 4th in chips with two players who are short-stacked still in play. This puts a significant amount of ICM pressure on us because any time we bust out before the short-stacks we lose out on fair amount of real money.
Because of this ICM pressure against a competent Button with 70BBs, we are heavily incentivized to check nearly our entire range out of position on most flops. Due to this, we want to have some relatively strong hands such as an overpair in our checking range to provide some balance.
We should take a passive, bluff catching line and keep our opponent’s range as wide as possible. This doesn’t mean we are folding much of the time postflop, however we should be less willing to build a big pot in this spot given our current stack position among the remaining players at the table.
Against very straightforward Villains there is some benefit to betting here and folding out hands like KQ or AT that have some reasonable amount of equity against us.
However, against competent players who are aware of ICM implications in these spots we rarely want to be betting, so even hands as strong as an overpair on this board are checked.
Checking is the best play.
How would you play it?
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