Tourney background: it is a $65 buy-in at a local Midwestern state casino. Roughly 55 total entrants. Tournament is paying top 6 with 13 players remaining.

7 players at table blinds are 1k and 2k Hero has a stack of roughly 20k (middlish for table).

Hero 3rd to act

UTG and Villian (stack roughly 22k) calls 2k blind, UTG +1 folds, Hero is delt A8s (Spades) and calls. Others Fold to big blind (Short stacked about 5k) who checks.

Flop comes 10s, 7s, 4d

Big blind checks, Villian bets 2k, hero (has observed vilian to be loose aggressive, always raises preflop with face cards) raises to 6k total. Big blind calls for all-in. Villian re-raises all-in.

Heros thinking. Down to 12k with bb at 2k. Puts Villian on high pair maybe 10J possibly 89 strait draw. 32k in pot about a 36% chance at making the flush. Makes the call.

Villian Turns over 44. Turn 8h river 8d hero covered by about 1.8k and is eliminated in 12th (bb had a 10 and also was eliminated)

I was hoping for critiques in my play. In retrospect I believe calling on the flop was okay the raise on the flop was too aggressive (should have called for a cheap card). Thoughts? Thanks

3 Answers 3


I would go back a little further than the point you're asking about here. When the cards are being dealt out, your stack is ten big blinds, and the blinds are coming up fast. I think you're in territory where your only options are fold or open-shove, and you may not have the luxury of waiting for a better hand to come along.

Given the way the hand actually played out pre-flop, I think you could've handled the flop differently, too. All you really have is a draw (albeit a good draw). It's... questionable whether your ace is going to do you any good. I would just call the initial 2k raise and see what Big Blind does. If he raises, you can get out of the way with minimal damage. If he calls, you get to try to make your flush for cheap.

I'm reluctant to suggest even calling that 2k, because I feel like the blinds and your stack almost make you committed just by being involved here. But I think that might be the outcome biasing me.

  • Thank you for the input. I had not really considered moving to a, for lack of a better term, all-in or fold style until you mentioned it. It is unfortunate that many casinos use this rapidly increasing blind strategy. At 5k starting chips "average stack" with 13 players remaining is about 21k. This puts basically everyone in the situation you recommended. Do you think it would be better to wait for premium hands to move all-in preflop? Obviously the concern is slowly dwindling away waiting for better hands.
    – Chris
    Feb 10, 2015 at 2:39
  • Yeah, I don't like the rapidly increasing levels that many places offer, either. Makes the game a little less about skill and a little more about gambling. You can't wait for premium hands, because the blinds and antes will chip away at you faster than the premium hands show up (and there's no guarantee of action when they do). You gotta do some poker math and find out what kinds of hands are likely to hold up against wide-ish ranges of other hands (which I don't claim to be an expert in).
    – Pops
    Feb 10, 2015 at 4:51

I think Jon's and Pops' answers are both good, particularly Jon's sentiment that you're too short to play around here. I mostly just wanted to comment on your comment near the end of your question:

should have called for a cheap card

I think this is wrong. You were short at the start of the hand, and you're really short-stacked on this flop, with the pot size representing about a third of your stack. There's no such thing as a cheap card here. Every call you make is an increasingly substantial portion of your stack, and it also improves the odds other players are getting to stay in the pot, further decreasing your chance to win it. All-in or fold here. You would have had to flop something amazing here (like 999 or A99, perhaps) and had villain betting aggressively into you to make calling the best choice, IMO.

Pre-flop, with 10 bigs and A9s in your hand, I think this is definitely a push. You still have enough fold equity to drive out speculative callers, and your hand is strong enough that it will still perform okay heads up against a reasonable portion of what might call you. Plus you have a better chance to get heads up against someone and thereby increase your equity.


I like Pops answer a lot, especially when he points out that you should of shoved pre-flop with this hand. As the hand went you were eliminated and likely would of been no matter how you played it, since I think your villain would of likely been there with his pocket pair, but maybe not.

Tournaments are all about survival, and A-9 suited when your down to something about 6-7 M's (M is the cost of the round 1-2 is 3K a round) like you where, requires a push, not a call. When your short stacked you do not want to dribble away your chips making calls, you want to be pushing it getting blinds are getting doubled up. You quickly diminish the potency of your stack if you are making any calls at this point. You want to be looking for reasonable hands to get all in with or blinds to steal when the opportunity presents itself. You simply do not have the convenience of playing limping hands, or limping with any hand you might consider playing.

  • Great advice basically answers my comment on pops' answer. I'll definately add this methodology of thinking into my late stage game play.
    – Chris
    Feb 10, 2015 at 2:43
  • +1 for being explicit about not dribbling away chips on calls (although really, after you led off by complimenting my answer, how could I not upvote, eh?)
    – Pops
    Feb 10, 2015 at 4:43

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