I faced a situation the other day where in a 4-handed final table in a small stake Texas No limit holdem live tournament.

I honestly can't remember the action 100% but it was more or less in the following way:

I had roughly 25bb remaining in my stack, the average was around 30bb, it was only a 1 table home-tournament with a couple of re-buys but the stakes had gone up to this point.

UTG folds, I raise to 2.5bb with Q⋄ T♠, showing strength as I'd been carded for quite some time and I partly expect to pick the pot up right there. SB folds but BB re-raises to 5bb. I decide to call. Villain had roughly 30bb before the action.

Flop: 3♥ Q♣ 7♥, the pot is now 11bb

Villain checks, I check -- expecting a check-raise if I dare to raise my pair of queens as I'm putting my opponent on an over-pair in this case, having played against him before and knowing that he represented a very strong hand pre-flop, even though he could be bluffing but I was not putting my opponent on a bluff there. I wanted to draw to another Q or get Queens up and I'm not putting my opponent on the flush draw here, not even AK suited.

Turn: 3♥ Q♣ 7♥ Q♥, the pot is 11bb

Villain bets 7bb, the pot is now 18bb and I've got roughly 20bb remaining.

I know I've got the best hand, I'm putting my opponent on KK or AA but not suited AK.

If I had only made the call I'd have 13bb remaining on the river with a 25bb pot. I decide to push it all-in on the turn, happy to pick it up right there, but the villain calls.

Villain's cards: K♥ K♠

River: 3♥ Q♣ 7♥ Q♥ 6♥

I lost, obviously, which is not really the issue.

I'm just thinking if I should have just called on the turn or make the opponent pay for his draw like I did there? I understand that this is all depending on the situation but would you have somewhat played this differently, having made the assumptions I stated?

It should be noted that I was playing for everything or nothing, I didn't want the 3rd place, I was aiming for 1st and could settle for a bad-beat 2nd.

  • How many chips did the villain have in his stack at the beginning of the hand?
    – Jon
    Jan 5, 2016 at 17:31
  • I should have mentioned that, roughly 30bb.
    – Jonast92
    Jan 5, 2016 at 17:32
  • I would also include rather it was an online tournament or live.
    – Jon
    Jan 5, 2016 at 17:44
  • I think the play was fine and no matter how you varied it, the hand was going to play out the same way. A shove on the turn was prudent; the only things you had to fear was the flush draw or a higher set (or perhaps drawing to a full house. I'm sure you agree with discounting the possibility of V holding 45 for a straight as well as an already made full house) and you were right to deprive proper odds of drawing to those situations.
    – mah
    Jan 15, 2016 at 16:03

4 Answers 4


My initial reaction when reading this hand was that a push was the easy play. After thinking about it a little, I'm not sure that it's so clear. Make no mistake, a push is absolutely a good, profitable play, but maybe just calling is better for the following reason: given his range, (which btw, I think is too tight--you shouldn't ever totally discount other possibilities even if they are low probability), there are very few if any non-heart cards that could fall on the river to prevent your opponent from paying you off (maybe an ace if he has KK as in this hand).

By pushing and getting called, you have roughly a 20% chance of losing and 80% chance of doubling up. If you call, you'll still double up on most of the 80% of rivers that don't have a heart--although not all the time. But by calling you also leave yourself with 13bb's on the 20% of the time where a heart does come assuming that you fold.

That's an extreme simplification though. You may have some fold equity by pushing. He may check/fold some rivers or if he doesn't have a heart he may check and allow you to check behind on a heart river. In those situations you lose some value by not getting his chips in on the flop.

Even if a push is a better play in a chip EV perspective, it's not a lot better. In a cash game, the push would then still be the clear play. But with a tournament, the prospect of guaranteeing yourself a remaining stack might be worth the lost chip EV. In other words, the difference in value between having 13bb's and 0bb's is greater then the difference in lost chip value between calling and winning versus pushing and winning.

This is only true, though, if his range is as tight as you think it to be, the board (including non-heart rivers) is as unthreatening to his range as it is on this hand, and your stack is small enough compared to the pot that you'll basically always get called and win on a non-heart river.

  • I like this, but I do tend to think that there exists a kind of player that will only three-bet out of position if he has AA or KK. Jan 5, 2016 at 19:43
  • I agree and that's something that could be determined if Jonast92 has a lot of experience against this particular player. If that is the case, then I think calling is more-so the right play because how often is somebody with KK or AA folding to any non-heart river that doesn't give them trips, especially when the bet is only 13bb's to a 25bb pot? Again, maybe Jonast92 could know this player to be super-tight. If it truly is somebody who might fold the river, then pushing becomes a clear play. Jan 5, 2016 at 19:57

"Having made the assumption stated". You absolutely positively put him on AA or KK.

If you really put your opponent on AA or KK then you should have folded to the pre flop raise. If you really felt you needed trips or 2 pair to win the hand you should have folded to the 5 bb raise.

In that situation if you put your opponent on AA or KK then you were barely getting pot odds to call with QQ.

At that point you are getting pot odds of 8 : 2.5
You odds of winning the hand is only 86 : 13
You were getting 1/2 the odds you needed and you were going to face more bets

I think you should bet the flop like 1/2 the pot with top pair and a flush draw you don't have a piece of. If they raise you then you can put them AA or KK. I am just not buying that is the only hands they could be playing here.

Yes you should shove the turn. You are short stacked and you are only loosing to a flush draw or a bigger set draw. If they don't hit you probably cannot get any more value on the river. If they have a bigger Q you are dead but 4th queen is not likely.

As for you assumption. Really, made it to the final table 4 handed and on the button will only raise with AA KK? That is one tight player.

  • It was only 1 table to be fair and it's more about the timing and the position that made me put him on the hand he had and he's not a steal in position kind of player at this stage. But you're right that entering the pot was not the best decision but I was happy to check the flop this once and make decisions based on it, I felt that it would be likely that I'd be able to see 4 cards before further betting would be done and I was right about that in this specific case. Thank you for your input.
    – Jonast92
    Jan 5, 2016 at 18:43
  • No you were not likely to not see to not see bets on flop. You are very likely to get a continuation bet after he showed strength pre flop and in position. That flush draw is probably the only thing that slowed him down. So you were just plain not truthful about final table at a tournament? Just a table - still poorly played.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 5, 2016 at 19:10
  • 1
    After assuming that the opponent has AA or KK, the decision whether to call the re-raise preflop begs consideration of factors other than just pot-odds versus odds-of-winning. "Assuming" he knows the opponent has either AA or KK, he can play perfectly postflop, benefitting from implied odds when his hand does hit good and getting out cheaply when it doesn't. Whether or not AA and KK is reasonable range is another question and whether he can actually fold a pair of queens when needed is yet another. Jan 5, 2016 at 19:50
  • @Dr.DrfbagIII Really I put my opponent on AA KK and I am queen high, out of position, and less the double the pot behind and I am going to get the best of them by hitting a magic cards and get them to commit all of double the pot? OP got his dream hand, all in, and stacked. It does not get worse than that. You have the other factors - 20 behind - show me a positive EV.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 5, 2016 at 20:32
  • @Frisbee This might actually be a fold situation but all I'm saying is that's there's a little more to consider than simply pot-odds versus odds-of-winning, especially IF you have a firm idea of the opponent's range. Folding leaves you with 22.5 big blinds. Calling leaves you with 20 big blinds and the potential for more IF you truly know his range and play accordingly. The potential to bluff on a scary board could be worth something against the right opponent. Seeing you fold to such a small re-raise could embolden the rest of the table to try and run you over, etc. Jan 5, 2016 at 20:59

You should ask a tougher question.

The play was perfect, you put him accurately on a range of hands that made it prudent for you to check behind him on the flop, and you got all in when you had the best of it, with a push that would put your opponent in the chip and a chair position if he lost. You would rather have a call here from your opponent, but only if he calls all you got to bet. If he folds it is just fine, your tournament precedes after that hand. But doubling up at this point, is worth the risk you took.

I would also ask what the average chip stack was at the table. Four handed and you and this opponent had the vast majority of chips, you should not of played the hand at all. If the tournament only played three spots you should not of become involved in the hand.

Let me clarify what I am getting at in the italic. He made a good play pre-flop. He raised the hand, which is what you simply do with almost every hand you play at a four handed final table. Even with marginal hands. The thing that happened is that he was re-raised.

At this point there are a lot more things to consider. The play has gone wrong. He has not succeeded in taking the blinds, which would be the A plan, and part two taking a little more with a follow up bet, is no longer likely to happen.

Generally speaking he should call, the villain made a huge mistake by making his raise to small. If your going to reopen the action with pocket kings, you should make an assumption that you dominate and raise enough to pick up the dead money, something like three to five times the original bettors raise, or you should not raise at all and trap your player on the flop. In a tournament I would prefer to make a big reraise with Kings, in a cash game out of position I would lean a little more toward calling depending on the raiser and the field.

Hero generally has a calling hand here, he is getting a little over three to one on his call, the call is not crippling to his stack and he has position. However there are reasons to fold at this point also. The amount he has invested is small and his hand against a raise from a tight player is at best perilous to his tournament life. His hand of Queen-Ten is no better then 5-7 against the rank one hand he suspected the player had. He needs a strong flop, two pair, three of a kind or straight, or a straight draw and hope he does not have to waste to many chips missing it. Then hero gets to bust a player and go merrily on his way to win the tournament.

But those kind of flops do not happen very often. What happens more often is what did happen, one pair, top pair on the flop is hit, the queen in our hero's case or the flop is missed entirely. If a hand that hits is still unplayable after the flop, I have base argument to muck the hand before the flop. Or in other words I need compelling reasons not to muck the hand before the flop.

In the case in question there might of been enough reasons, mainly the low price compared to the stack, a little overlay and position. However, if any of the following conditions had been true I would of let Q-10 go when re-raised.

If the Villain had made more then a doubling raise I fold.

If my stack was much smaller, I fold.

The longer the tournament rounds, the more I would tend to fold here.

If the villain was anything more then tight weak I would fold.

Being in position at a low price with a hand that needs help is not a bad thing. But if it is going to cost you, and you are going to be able to find better spots, it is often better to let this hand go. The real negative about playing this particular hand is that the villain is going to be able to bust the hero out much more often then he is going to go broke in the situation.

  • Thank you for your answer, I've figured out already that I probably shouldn't have entered the pot there in the first place, and normally I wouldn't, but that's a decision I don't regret against the kind of players I was facing and the stakes I was playing. I'm most concerned with the way I played it after the flop was dealt and I guess it was the right play like you're stating. Thank you for your input concerning the points missing in my question.
    – Jonast92
    Jan 5, 2016 at 18:36

PREFLOP: call.

Standard, too "deep".

FLOP: check.


TURN: shove.

Honestly I don't think he is gonna check/pushing flop with FD that much, so he almost never has flash on turn, he probably has FD on turn with 1/2 overcards or pure bluff with random heart, your stack is too short this is not cash game, just PUSH.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.