Wednesday, March 21, 2012

To Shove or not to Shove . . .

. . . that is the question.  And here is the full scenario:

Live tournament.  165 runners . . . 90 remain.  Blinds are $400 / $800 and the chip average is $18,000.  Hero's stack is just slightly above average, at $20,000.  Several players have recently been moved to the table.

Hero is dealt AQ in middle position.  After three early limpers, Hero calls $800.  It folds around to the button.  Button has just been relocated to the table.  He is apparently a regular as several players at the table know him.  He "looks" like he knows what his doing (demeanor, etc), and he has a well-above-average chip stack (probably $60,000 or so).   Button pops it to $4,100.  It folds around to Hero, who flats.

Flop comes down 773 rainbow.  Pot is $11,800.  Hero checks to the raiser, who fires $5,000.

This seems like a fairly easy C-Bet from a villain with position and a big stack.  What is the move here?  Does Hero: 

(A)  FOLD and kick himself for getting tricky preflop with AQ?
(B)  CALL and put half his stack in the middle, out of position, with A-high; or
(C)  SHOVE and put Villain to the test

Option B seems like a non-starter.  The limp-call with AQ out of position pre-flop was bad enough.  No reason to compound the poor play with a second bad decision on the flop. 

Option A seems weak.  It's quite likely Hero has the best hand at this point.  Yet, Hero can certainly get away from the hand and still have plenty of chips left to put to use in a better spot.

Option C feels like a good move.  Chances are near zero that Villain actually connected with this flop.  It's certainly possible that Villain woke up with a premium hand on the button (QQ+ or AK); but it's also likely that Villain was using his big stack and position to make a move.  A shove of $10,000 on top has some fold equity; and aside from a legitimate pocket pair, what else can Villain call with?

So  . . . what's the right play in this spot?


  1. Sorry, but I'm liking (A). The flop missed you. You can't be as sure as you are that the V has nothing. Why make a move here at this point in the tournament? Later, or in a more desperate situation, you might want to shove. Here, where you have plenty of chips, get out cheaply and ask yourself why you didn't raise pre-flop with AQ.

  2. @ Rob . . . That's actually what I did. I felt like a sucker donking off nearly 1/4 of my stack, only to fold to what was likely a standard C-Bet on a dry board (well, I guess I actually was a sucker, so . . . ); but I also couldn't see putting my tournament on the line in that spot.

  3. hero raises the limpers preflop rather than limpin behind

    limp/call 1/4 of ur stack oop is not the play you wana be making with AQ


  4. I agree across the board here. With Rob: At least some type of raise would have been in order. There is plenty of time left to make a move. If I am going to possibly go out of a tournament, I do not want to do it by making a decision with basically no hand against a guy I haven't seen enough of to get a read on. With Fboy: Yep -- limp/call for a bunch of chips oop with A-Q not good. With Pete: You did the right thing in getting out without depleting your stack any further

    I have done this type of thing too many times myself -- trying to get in cheap to see a flop and then getting put in a difficult position. It is one of my many tournament leaks. lol

    So ... what was the aftermath of the move? How did things play out? Once you saw how the villain played do you think a shove might have made him fold

  5. Got moved shortly after hand. Ended up cashing 12th, so no harm no foul. But hand just stood out in my mind the next day....

  6. Just found your blog by searching for Charles Town poker rules... I think you screwed up the hand pre-flop. Your flat looks super strong to begin with. Big stack can be raising semi-wide here, looking to push you off of the hand. If you were to, say, limp / shove pre-flop, I think you have:
    a. A TON of fold equity vs. hands that you're 50/50 with
    b. Don't know the type of player, but presumably ahead of a lot of his range
    c. No worse than chopping all hand combos excluding AK, AA, KK, QQ... even against QQ, you're a 30% dog (not great, but still equity)

    Ultimately, I think a limp / shove PF is the best move here.

    That notwithstanding, you're facing a 33% pot bet to your assumed 25% equity. It's a crappy position that you put yourself in. With that awful flop, there isn't much you can represent, other than the slow-played overpairs / pairs. I have to believe if I'm the villain, that you're limp / shoving all good pairs PF. I'm giving you no credibility here if you shove over my 5k cbet. Either I'm sitting there with KQ, Ax, etc., or I have a PP - likely JJ-. I'm calling with my JJ- hands and folding almost everything but AK (because I can afford to call more liberally with my "hunch" hands due to my 60k stack). Therefore, I think I call the flop bet for 5k and shove the turn (if he checks) or fold the turn (if he bets all in). I know it sounds awful, but I think you're repping pretty strong by flatting twice.

    Fortunately, given the analysis, I don't play tourneys and only play 100BB+ cash games, so I don't find myself in these types of spots... like... ever..., so take my analysis with a grain of salt.

  7. Just re-read; didn't realize that you're out of position. This is a shove / fold on the flop. All pairs are calling you and hands that you crush are obv but not necessarily always folding (he's deep enough that he can donk off some of his stack getting hero-ish with Ax hands). I say go for it; shove. If he has any pairs lower than 77, you're running better than your two overcards; the board can double-pair and net you the pot as well.