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Poker Strategy | Tournaments Strategy

How Would You Play This Hand – Bodog, NLHE Tournament, $4000 Guarantee

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Bodog Poker runs a daily $44+4 double-stack tournament at 3:30pm EST. You receive 3000 starting chips and the blind levels increase every 10 minutes. Today’s tournament had a $800 overlay. It was short 19 players. This is common with many of Bodog’s guaranteed prize pool tournaments.

71 players played in today’s 4k guaranteed NLHE tournament. 90 players were needed to meet the $4000 guarantee. The top 9 finishers got paid with 1st place receiving $1200, 2nd place paying $800 and the 3rd place finisher won $480.

I like this tournament for a few reasons:

The field is relatively small.

The structure is very good, antes don’t come in until the 10th level (150/300/25) and there’s an overlay.

They were short 19 players to meet the guaranteed payout.

My general philosophy when I register to play a low buy-in tournament is to gamble early and try to double up. When I say “gamble”, I don’t mean I’m trying to take a coin flip with 300 big blinds. I try to get into multi-way pots with good drawing hands such as Ace-suited, pocket pairs, connectors, gapped connectors, any two Broadway cards, etc. If I can hit the flop hard, I have a shot at doubling up. I try not to risk too many chips while doing this. The blinds are low in the early levels of a double-stacked tournament so, I don’t mind risking some chips to try and get lucky.

Another reason I like playing low buy-in tournaments is they usually have many players who are unable to fold a pair or a draw even if it costs them their entire stack. You can expect some opportunities in the first hour when these players are shipping chips around.

Less than five minutes into this tournament, I get involved in a big pot.

Here are the starting stacks going into this hand:

Hero (SB) ($3005.00)
BB: ($3050.00)
UTG: ($2980.00)
UTG+1: ($2840.00)
UTG+2: ($3175.00)
MP1: ($3000.00)
MP2: ($2930.00)
CO: ($2985.00)
BTN: ($3100.00)

The Blinds are 10/20 and I pickup {A-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} in the small blind.

How would you play this hand?

A player limps UTG and action folds around to a player in middle position (MP1) who makes a standard 3.5x pre-flop raise. I call and the player in the big blind calls, as well as the UTG limper.

Flop comes: {2-Spades}{8-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} (pot 140)

I check. The player in the big blind bets 80, the UTG limper calls and the pre-flop raiser in MP1 folds. The pot is now 300.

I flopped an inside (gutshot) straight draw with an over card and backdoor (runner, runner) nut flush draw. The pre-flop raiser folds after whiffing the flop and the UTG player who limp/called the pre-flop raiser calls the bet from the player sitting in the big blind.

Isn’t this interesting? The UTG player limp/calls pre-flop then calls the flop bet on a raggedy flop.

When I see a player limp/call a pre-flop raise from early position, it usually means a small pocket pair or drawing hand like a suited connector. You will occasionally see players limp with big pocket pairs like A-A/K-K. But, generally players with those hands will re-raise a pre-flop raiser in late position. A bad player might limp/call a pre-flop raise from early position with A-A/K-K in a multi-way pot which is not a good idea especially at these blind levels.

I didn’t flop much but, my implied odds are huge. If I hit my inside straight draw, I have a good opportunity to stack someone with a well disguised hand. I felt like the player UTG was slow playing a monster. I called off 80 more chips into the 300 pot hoping to get lucky. If I miss, it’s an easy fold without losing much. Remember, the blinds are only 10/20 at this point.

The turn brings: {3-Spades}

I hit my card on the turn giving me a “wheel” (Ace thru 5 straight). I check, the big blind bets 220, and the player UTG min-reraises 440.

My read is correct. The player UTG has a huge hand. I put him on a set (3 of a kind) and now it’s time to get paid. I shove all-in. The player in the big blind folds and UTG instantly calls. I just have to fade the board pairing.

The river is: {J-Spades}

What do you think he had?

Results: 5840 pot
Hero showed {A-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} (straight {A-Diamonds}{2-Spades}{3-Spades}{5-Diamonds})
UTG mucked {2-Hearts}{2-Clubs} (three of a kind {2-Hearts}{2-Clubs}{2-Spades})

I more than doubled up five minutes into this tournament because I was willing to risk a few chips to try and get lucky. I don’t recommend chasing inside straight draws often. But when the pots are small due to the low blind levels early in a tournament and the stacks are deep, it can be worth a gamble.

Good luck at the tables!

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