Big stack’s dilemma

Big stack’s dilemma

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Dear Dr Tom,

I’m on the bubble in a live a tournament and I’m one of the chip leaders with a stack of about 190k. It’s late and we’re playing down to the money – the rest of us will come back tomorrow to play for the title.

I re-raise the button’s opening raise from the big blind with J-10. He folds. The button moves to the next guy who open raises and I look down at pocket tens in the small blind and make the same re-raise as before. The button looks pissed of and says, “all-in.” Now, I’m 90% sure that I’m ahead and that the button is simply fed up with what he perceives as my bullying on the bubble. I get a count – it’s going to cost me 110k to call. The problem is, do I call because I think I’m ahead and risk a suckout, or do I fold the best hand in order to protect my chips and guarantee that I come back the next day as one of the chip leaders.


P.S. I folded…

Dear Neil

Why do you want to be one of the chip leaders? Be honest. Is it because you want to terrorise the table? Is it so you can choose your spots wisely? These are the reasons usually given. You’re 90% sure you’re favourite. If you want to terrorise the table, folding tens against a button re-steal is not a good start. If you want to choose your spots wisely this is a wise spot not to fold.

So be honest. Do you just like being a chip leader? Perhaps you like the attention. Perhaps you like the feeling of being far from elimination. Either way it’s a pleasurable state. But poker is not about pleasure. It’s about pain and profit. Pain when you’re sucked out on, profit when you’re not.

There’s no reason to fold here that has anything to do with expectation. If you have an opportunity to play poker with successful famous tournament players you will see them insta-calling in situations like this and taking the suckout with aplomb. You’ve set the button up to make a mistake – stick your chips in and take the edge you’ve made for yourself.


Tags: Tom Sambrook, Strategy,