A guest post – from comments made by Jack – updated 5/20/09

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This post has been updated with additional comments from Jack – See below:

On May 13th, I wrote a post titled, “How not to play pocket Aces and why do I hear chips clinking when I am not in a hand?” which was about how I played, or rather, misplayed a pair of pocket Aces.

Today I received a comment that was terrific and to the point and so well written that I wanted to share these comments with you.

The comments were written by Jack, a friend of Paul Ellis aka @CoolWhipFlea, whose blog, Pablos Place, is one I read often and is on my blogroll

Here are Jack’s comments, Thank you Jack.


I think maybe the problem with this hand was the min raise preflop. You’re pretty much giving the BB the easiest call of his life at the start of a SnG when the blinds are small. Even with the call I think you could have escaped the hand (hypothetically…). Consider that the pot when the flop came was only 135 chips (60+60+15SB)…. then the villain shoved in 345 chips, a suspiciously large overbet. I think maybe you could have folded there because the pot size, bet size ratio was so off and suspicious.

Basically though, the small raise preflop against the big blind ruins any reads you can have post flop because realistically he can call the additional 30 chips with almost any two cards. Because his range is so wide he could have just as easily had AQ, KQ, KK, TT, JJ, A8 (all hands that hit the flop well, but you beat with AA) and your call could have been correct on the flop. But again, you have no idea because your raise was so small.

I think the most straight forward way to play your hand would be a 3-4XBB raise when it was folded to you, so instead of a raise to 60, a raise to 90 or 120. Why?

1) Because if you get callers, you’re getting more value out of your hand (bigger pot size). 3-4xBB is small enough that people will still call you with worse hands, but large enough that it allows you to begin building a big pot that you can win (as opposed to a small pot.)

2) You narrow their range. On a 68Q board after a standard (really 3-4BB is pretty bread and butter online) raise the only logical hands that will have you beat on the flop are 66, 88, and QQ. The only 2pair you’ll be seeing is MAYBE Q8s or something but in most cases you can eliminate 2 pairs completely because Q6 is so weak and Q8s is really a bad call preflop IMO. He would be forced to fold his 68o and the suckout would have never occurred. If he is a bad player he still might have called, but you can rest easy knowing you got your money in good and you played the hand correctly.

Consider the fact that QQ would likely 3bet you preflop and you can narrow his range even further by thinking “Ok, if he had QQ he would have likely reraised me preflop, and since he didn’t chances are he doesn’t have QQ.”
Anyways, compare the two ways you could have played the hand and I think it becomes obvious which one is better.

If you raise what you did (min raise) then the hand goes.

You: raise to 60
Villain: “Ok, 68 isn’t a great hand, but if I hit the flop, I’ll probably stack him if he has a good hand. If I don’t, it’s an easy fold and I still have a ton of chips. Because it’s only 30 more into a 95 chip pot, I’ll call”
Villain: “Wow 2 pair! I probably won’t make much money on this hand because the pot is small, but if he has a good overpair, I bet I can overbet the pot and get called light, maybe even reraised! I’ll raise to 345 and pray for a call”
You: ??? Well I guess I have to hope he doesn’t have QQ, All in.
Villain gets paid

The same hand if you raised to 4XBB
You: raise to 120
Villain: 68o? I have to call 90 more chips into a 165 chip pot? That’s a big chunk of my stack.. if the flop doesn’t hit, and it probably won’t, then I’m just throwing away chips by calling. I guess I’ll have to fold.
Villain folds

OR (unlikely)

You: Raise to 120
Villain: I am a fish. 86o is such a good hand. Call
Flop: 86Q
Villain: Yay my fish call worked! Bet 345
You: Well his range of hands that beat me is pretty much 88,66, maybe if he’s loose Q8s. But wouldn’t he try and slowplay a set like most people do at these stakes? KK, QQ, and maybe JJ would have probably reraised me preflop. I beat AQ, KQ, QTs, JQ, 87s…. all hands that he could easily have. Hmm… and it’s an overbet to the pot…. maybe this guy is just a fish with random cards?

And then you make whatever decision you want based off that. Personally, if I was in your spot after raising 4xBB and he called, I would probably stack off with AA after his 345 raise. There are so many hands you beat in his calling range, that 9 out of 10 times you’ll be making the correct choice. Which means that over time you’ll be making the +EV choice. Add to the fact that I think he folds 68o almost all the time to a 4xBB raise, the fact that he will hit a flop like that (one that beats you) less that 17% of the time, and you can stack off with AA almost everytime on that kind of board and your profit level will fly up.

You won’t have to blame the hand on yourself or feel bad about it. It’s just a fish getting lucky, and you’re ready to go to the next SnG.

This is just my analysis of the hand, but I think many other players would agree with the logic. I think minraising is never good preflop (unless you are trying to induce some kind of tilt shove from your opponent) and you should focus on making 3-4xBB your standard raise everytime. It’s big enough to allow you to build a pot and fold out the crappiest hands, but small enough that you can get away from the hand if put into a marginal spot.

I am Paul’s friend Jack by the way. I was just bored and reading your blog (which I found through his blog) and thought this post was interesting enough to post a big essay of my thoughts. Hahah. Good to meet you and I hope something I said was useful or interesting. GL at the tables —-

Jack made additional comments which somehow did not show up – I have added them here.

To extend my specific advice about this hand to a more general poker theory, so you can apply it in other places, is this.

The hand was hard to play because you were too cautious. By not wanting to get into a bad situation preflop, you put yourself into an awful awful situation post flop (I am basing this off your previous blog about letting go of aces preflop in some tournaments.) Often when playing poker, being selectively aggressive will make choices on later streets much more clean cut.

Suckouts happen, but if you are playing with a proper bankroll and solid overall play they shouldn’t matter. You’re aggressive play will profit on the long run, with patience and proper discretion. Aggression will always help you narrow ranges and make good choices. I feel like playing more passively just puts poker players into such marginal spots…

I know this is just my opinion, but the more concepts you have in your head while playing, the better your going to play. Even if you don’t want to follow my advice, I think it’s good to consider when playing a hand.

ALSO, I know you probably don’t play shorthanded, but when you are thinking about the game, watch this video.


Honestly, I think it’s going to help your decision making and help you understand other people’s decision making in the future.

http://www.donkeytest.com/school.html. That page has 5 training videos that help out quite a bit imo. Even if you don’t like them, they are interesting to think about. GL! Sorry for leaving two comments, I just really needed to comment fully on the topic.


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