Hand of the Week – Week 2

I was in two minds about including this hand in my “Hand of the Week” column.

It’s one I played myself and I’m a bit worried that if you read this it will lead you think that…..well… that I’m a massive bottler who is really crap at poker.

But I’m running with it anyway. What’s the point of only telling you about the hands where I look a hero or make some brilliant read (at this point resist the urge to ask “when does this EVER happen”)?

So here’s a hand that I played on 24th July in a $50 Double or Nothing Sit n Go on Paddy Power, warts and all. In this format of the game there are 6 players who stump up $50 each and three winners get $100 when the 4th placed player is knocked out. The remaining three get $100 regardless of the chip stacks and the game ends immediately the “bubble” boy is eliminated. It is in this position we find ourselves, on the bubble, although due to a couple of early eliminations we are only on the fifth level of play.

The Hand

Four players remain and I am on the button. Blinds are 75-150 and the chip counts are as follows.

UTG – 1280

Me – 3805

Small Blind – 2785

Big Blind – 1130

Player 1 folds under the gun and it’s my turn.  I’ve got KK. Nice.  I’d rather get KK when I’m desperate with 4 big blinds but I’m not complaining – I’ll take it when I’m the chip leader just the same.   In order that you can visualise the action more easily I’ve included the hand from the Hand Replayer in Holdem Manager.

The action is short and sweet. I min raise to 300 and the small blind shoves all in for 2785.  After 10 seconds thought I convince myself there is only one hand he can possibly do this with – AA.

And I fold. Yes, I fold.

(Before you jump on me I can assure you I’ve done worse! I’ve actually folded AA in one of these games before. I told you about it in a column in June 2010).

This is like the episode from Peep Show where the ultra cautious Mark Corrigan gets dealt three Kings in a game of 5 card stud – a monster hand. But laughably he folds it because he “can’t quite be sure someone doesn’t have a better hand”. The clueless Jezz ends up bluffing the hand with absolutely nothing and declares “all the reds” as he tables a mixture of uncoordinated hearts and diamonds, genuinely thinking he has a big hand.


I raise the minimum because I want to draw the big blind in. The idea is that he hits part of the flop and then decides he is pot committed to the 675 which is already in there and stacks off. I’m giving him 3.5-1 odds to call (150 more to play a 675 pot) which he will probably think is value. But unless he has an ace, he won’t be getting close to 3.5-1.

Now, the big question – why did I fold pocket Kings to the all in when I could call, win the hand and end the game there and then? Even if I lost the hand I would still be alive because I had my opponent covered. I could lose the hand and still have 1020 chips left.

Well there are two reasons. The first was that even if I wasn’t up against AA I could have still lost the hand. There’s no law to say KK can’t get cracked. In fact I get KK cracked every single day (and AA as well).  And being down to 1020 chips when I could stay on 3505 (by folding) prevents me from ending up in very poor shape.

Just to see this in numbers let us compare the ICM calculations before and after my fold.  The ICM, or “Independent Chip Model” calculates your theoretical share of the prize pool assuming the players are equally skilled.  This assumption is an obvious limitation but I like the model nevertheless (I won’t go into further detail here).

Starting share of the prize pool

UTG – $62.50

Me – $93.09

Small Blind – $87.78

Big Blind – $56.63

Share of the prize pool after I fold

UTG – $64.50

Me – $92.44

Small Blind – $91.23

Big Blind – $51.82

Notice that I give up virtually nothing by folding KK there, not even $1. What might appear to be a major mistake when you look at the strength of the hand (you laid down KK???) equates to a tiny difference in prize money.  I probably give as way as much when I decide to limp under the gun during level 2 with 44 and fold to a big raise.

But if I were to call and lose, I would be looking at this situation:

Share of the prize pool if I lose with KK

UTG – $73.62

Me – $64.62

Small Blind – $98.89

Big Blind – $62.86

I would be giving up about $30 if I called and lost and if, as suspected, I walked straight into AA I would be left feeling very stupid as well and very probably end up tilting like a goodun. It would be one of those “Doh – that was so obvious” moments that we poker players try to discipline ourselves to avoid.

The second reason was the identity of the player who shoved all in. Keryippp is a very, very good player and knows exactly what he is doing. He would have been aware that he didn’t need to smash all in and bust out while there were two short stacks in attendance with blinds that were still not that big. It would have been a huge waste.

On reflection I put him on 4 possible hands here – QQ,KK,AA or AK. Seeing as I was holding two of the Kings that makes AA and QQ a bit more likely from that range.  I would dearly love to know what he had there. I said in the chat box “guess what I folded there” but I didn’t get a reply.

So did I go on to finish in the prize money and was there happy ending to this story?

Was there hell! In fact there was a very unhappy ending. Due to a ridiculous series of all ins going against me at the wrong time I actually ended up busting out in 4th. Cuh!  Shit happens man. This was really depressing. It came in the middle of a big losing session as well. I must confess I lost it just a teeny bit and wished I could have gone back and made that call with KK!

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