Pocket JJ final table

Strategy & Advice by oldguy Posted

This hand has been bothering me a bit from a few weeks ago and was looking to get some opinions on my play and strategy.

Final table 10 players left and paying top 6. $250 buy in seniors tourney, approx. $3,300 1st place. Blinds are $1,500/$3,000 with a $500 ante. Have played around the table twice and 2 players eliminated, down to 8 and I haven't come close to being in position with or without a hand to do anything. No big deal as I have around $97K which is about average. No really short stacks and no huge stacks. I'm in the SB and it's folded around to the cutoff and he raises to 8K. Not much of a read on this guy but he doesn't seem overly aggressive or passive but he has position, has just won a big hand and is the chip leader. I look down at JJ and call. Flop comes 3 rags, unsuited, unconnected. I check he bets $13K (which I 90% expected). What do I do? Raise, fold, all in? Should I have raised preflop? Fold preflop (seems crazy)? Obviously things didn't end well (those are always the hands that bother us but that we also learn from) but I'd love to get some input before I tell the rest of my tale. Thanks.


  1. @zzjitterzz Preflop I would call and bet out if it comes rags. Since he is not overly aggressive, I do think that you have to give him credit for a reasonable hand. So on the flop you beat high cards, which puts you in a modified form of the "way ahead or way behind" situation.

  2. I would 3 bet to about $17K. If he came back over the top then he is representing a monster. You have to respect that he has position on you and probably have to fold since you do not have a read on him. Pocket Jacks is tough because a variety of hands can beat you. But he could have had AK or AQ. You could have called his bet and see one more card.

  3. Okay, as I am reading it. Their are 8 players, the blinds are 1500/3000 with a 500 ante. That means, there is 8500 in the pot before any cards are dealt -- 500x8 for the antes, plus the blinds. So, the original poster has an "m" of just over 11 (for those that don't know "m" is a measure of how many orbits that you can play before being blinded out). That's really close to the danger zone of 10. Under an m of 10, you really want to be first in and you are pretty much shoving any time you play a hand. The original poster says that it is about average, so there are a lot of stacks that are near that danger zone. And we near the bubble -- with 6 places paying out and 8 left.

    Because of those dynamics, I think 3 betting preflop is a mistake, unless you just shove it in there. Face it, we don't have enough chips to 3 bet and lose a pot. If we do, we are either out of the tournament or in push or fold mode. Our opponent is the chip leader. So, he can call a small 3 bet after raising and not be risking a significant portion of his chips. He is also somewhat more likely to be opening light, especially from late position. He could be "riding his rush" or just using his chips to try to bully the mid-size stacks near the bubble. But, in either case, he is more likely than anyone else to be opening light.

    There is 16,500 in the pot when it gets to us; so, I like just shoving there. It's a hard call for our opponent, even with a hand like A-K or A-Q that is a coin flip because our shove is so strong and it would cost him a big portion of his stack. So, unless the opponent has QQ, KK or AA, a shove probably takes the pot right there. That's fine for us, it gets us a couple of orbits extra, which is nice near the bubble. It also might slow the chip leader down a little bit, which is not a bad thing for us either, since he is in a spot to steal our blinds relentlessly if he chooses to do so.

    If I don't shove, then I like calling preflop and donk betting around 12,000-15,000 on a safe flop. Our call donk bet could be an overpair like we actually have, but it could also be a hand that really smashed the flop. And I think that the call and donk bet line gets a lot more folds from hands like A-Q, A-K or K-Q than a small preflop 3 bet does. So, it is a lot more likely to win us the pot than that 3 bet, without risking significantly more chips. But, if we just call and then donk bet and get raised, we have no choice but to fold.

    Sorry to say this, but I think the original poster took about the worst possible line. He put himself in a position where he has to call off a fairly big share of his stack with no real idea where he is in the hand. That said, I hope that this is a good learning experience.


  4. Great comments guys and I appreciate it. After reading all comments I think the best route would have been 3 betting preflop to see where I was at. If the opener goes all in I can get away from the hand losing about $17K which leaves me with 80K and an M of just under 10. Still not the desperation zone and I can pick another spot to make a small or big play depending.

    Having said that, this is what I did...my thought process after the flop was that he has A anything. Maybe a big A but in all likelihood any A raises there and regardless as we all know only 3 hands beat me and probably 3 hands pay me off, 10 10, 99 and an A rag that hit top pair which I think was an 8. So I shove and I was right he had A anything. Unfortunately the A anything was AA...whoops and I'm out. IMO my mistake was playing passively the whole time and never finding out how strong he was. I probably win in that scenario 8 out of 10 times but that doesn't mean it would be the optimal play. As everyone has pointed out I could have avoided getting felted by either 3 betting preflop or leading out after the flop to find out where I was. Rookie mistake by a non rookie. Thanks for the input.

  5. I don't think you did anything all that wrong. Perhaps the fact that it's a senior tournament would make you play differently but you can't fold all the time in these tourneys with escalating blinds.

  6. Try to do better with reads in general I'd say - trying to gather how often he's opening and such. In general were avoiding the big stack, but our hands too strong for that -- both options - 3betting or calling are viable here.

    I think my standard vs. CO open is going to be to 3bet here and depending on how aggressive they are consider folding or getting it in vs. a 4bet. If most are relatively tight I'd consider folding if they did 4bet, but once we 3bet (say to around 22-24k), I' might just overshove the flop .. say if we made it 24k, there's at least 50k in there and we have somewhere around 74k left. I think I just overshove the flop when it comes low cards since he's almost always re-raise getting it in pre with AA, or KK.. He could still have QQ, but there's many many more combinations of things like AK, AQ, or TT, etc that could call the 3bet here which we're ahead of. Don't mind pricing him out with overs and taking down a sizable pot now, or letting him call off with a weaker pair..

  7. @dacoach1122 The initial raiser is never folding ANY of his opening range in position vs. a vritual min raise 3bet here. I'd make it bigger or simply shove pre. We allow him to see a flop everytime this way...

  8. @oldguy ya, a reraise pre and you would of found out where you were at once he 4bets... at least it doesn't cost the full stack if you can get away at that point. There's of course plenty of other hands in his range that he's raising with there, just unfortunate you caught the strongest part of his range...