I’m sure I’ve talked about hands in the past that are similar to the one I’m about to discuss today. But I keep on seeing this play and it’s so bad it warrants another airing.
We’re on the bubble with 4 players left, the blinds are fairly big (150-300) and the stacks are pretty equal (we all have between 2000-3000). The set up is like this:
Player 1 – 2000 chips – fold
Player 2 – Me – Button – 2400 chips – AK – Push all in.
Player 3 – SB (150) – 2600 chips – fold
Player 4 – BB (300) – 2000 chips – 22 – CALL!
I look down at a beautiful AK on the button and shove all in with glee. The big blind decides it would be a great idea to call off his whole stack with pocket deuces. Of course he wins. This is just a rank awful play yet you see it happen all the time. The big blind’s logic is probably “I have a pocket pair and therefore I am a favourite against any 2 unpaired cards”. And this is true – assuming I have unpaired cards. But exactly how much of a favourite can he actually be?
A whopping 53%! I could have shoved all in there with 43 offsuit and his win % is less than 52%. Risking it all on such a minuscule edge is just terrible.
You might think “well add in the blinds as well and the odds on his call are even better”. He’s betting 1700 to win a 4150 pot. Again, I would agree that this is true. Those are great odds (he’s a 53% favourite and the pot is giving him 4150/1700 odds, which is 2.44-1.) So yes, you’d make those bets all day long in a cash game. You’re getting nearly 6/4 about an 11/10 shot and you’ll get rich backing those in the long run. But two things.
First he could be wrong about the unpaired cards. After all he doesn’t actually know what I’m holding and I could have a pocket pair of my own that annihilates him.
Second, this is a tournament and not a cash game. He’s taking a 53% chance to move his stack up to 4150 (which will probably get him a win but doesn’t actually guarantee anything yet because I’m still alive, albeit in terrible shape). But the flip side is that there is a 47% chance of being eliminated. And this does guarantee a big fat zero prize money with 100% probability. With a pair of poxy twos!
It’s just so galling to see their cards when they make that call with a tiny pair. Because when it does happen you just KNOW that the board is going to blankety blank and that despite his appalling play, his hand is actually the favourite. The scenario I love most in that match up is when the board double pairs and ace high takes it down, like a board of JJ355. And THAT is all anyone calling his stack off with 22 deserves!
Perhaps the reason I get such a bee in my bonnet about this particular play is because on the bubble mistakes are so magnified and more costly so they stick in the mind more.
The deeper you get in tournaments, the more important your decisions are. In a cash game you know exactly how much a mistake costs you and just move on to the next hand. In a tournament you don’t know exactly how much it will have cost you. It could be 10 times as much and it can see you eliminated in one go.
So all the more reason to make the correct decision if you’re in a tournament.