The Price is Right
Many times in tournament poker you'll face a situation
where the size of the pot forces you to call.
This term is called 'pot-stuck' and it generally
happens pre-flop. The key is knowing that this is the situation
and making the call, as one of the biggest mistakes
new players make in tournaments is throwing away bad
or marginal hands when they really have no choice
but to play them.
The first case is the doomed big blind, you are
forced to put up half or more of your chips in the big blind.
Somebody ends up putting in a raise that would
force you to go all-in. Here you really have no choice but
to get your money and hope for the best. Countless
times I've seen people fold away half their stack in this spot
and sit there waiting for a pair of aces to show
up and save them, the problem is, when you have next to no chips,
you need a lot more then one big hand to save
yourself, and letting yourself lose half your stack with no resistance
is a great way set yourself up for elimination.
I know you're thinking "What if I have 5-high?"
Well, that's just unfortunate but you still have to roll with it.
If you had something horrible like 7-2 offsuit
or 5-2, or the like, you still have about a 33% chance of winning.
It's not great odds, but let's say the blinds
are 500/1000 right now, you got 2000, you're the big blind and you
have to put up 1000, if you fold, the next hand
you'll again lose half your stack and have to put up 500 of the
1000 you have left. There's no promise your next
hand won't be horrible, and truly, odds are it will be bad.
Even if you win this hand, you'll only double
up your orginal stack to 2000, unless you face more then one
opponent, which gives you even less odds of winning
Take the chance when you still have some chips,
if you call with your horrible hand and win, now you got 4000 chips,
now you can do a little damage, now an all-in
by you means something, it can hurt players stacks. You can be a threat,
when you're just clinging to crumbs, anyone can
take you out by just deciding to pay what little you have left to take
a swipe at you. I've hand people calll me with
7 high because it was 'so cheap'. You never want to be all in and facing
elimination, it will happen often anyhow, but
the fewer times you face that, the better.
Now on the other hand, let's say you got a lot
of chips and you're the table bully, now and then while you're
muscling around the weak folks, you may run into
Let's say there is 6 people left, you have 12000
chips, blinds are 200/400. 2 people fold to you,
and you pick up 9-8 suited. Now you're the chip
leader, everyone else has less chips then you,
the blinds have small stacks, so you decide to
put some pressure on the table and make a standard raise
to 1200, three times the big blind. Everyone
folds, and the big blind goes all in for an additional 1200 more.
Now calling an all in with 9 high doesn't seem
very good, but we're pot stuck, our aggressive raising has put us
in a spot where we now have to call.
Let's look at the pot. There is our 1200, the 200 from the small blind,
and the 2400 from the big blind who's gone all
in, that's 3800 chips. It's only costing us 1200 to win 3800.
Even if we were dominated (Had our high cards
matching and our 2nd card was lower then the opponent's
second card) we'd be getting the right price
here. Do not count the 1200 you raised with at the start as part of
the price, that's already in the pot, and you
also can't abandon it, cause the pot is now giving excellent odds,
so we have to call, you may lose the majority
of the time, but you are still making the mathmatically correct play.
A lot of tournament poker isn't about your cards,
it's about the size of your stack compared to the blinds,
and the size of the pot compared to what you
need to call. When you're short on chips and desperate,
take a risk, when the pot is to big to fold,
put your money in and hope for the best.
Next time I'll talk about "M" one of the most
factors in tournament play.
You can reach Mike at
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