PAHWM: Bovada $7 Triple Up SNG

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My first go at one of these, so please bear with me. Thought I'd write this one up and get some thoughts.

For my regular poker fix, I enjoy the $7 Triple Ups on Bovada. They're low stress and don't take too long, and I can get one in after the kids are in bed.

Blinds are 50/100. I'm sitting UTG+1 with 2360, currently second in a seven-handed game. Big stack has 4313, small stack at the table has 1078.

Cards are dealt. UTG folds. Hero looks down at:
:kc::qd:
 

upNdown

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Why is it called triple up? Do the top 3 each get $21?
 

BGinGA

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My first go at one of these, so please bear with me. Thought I'd write this one up and get some thoughts.

For my regular poker fix, I enjoy the $7 Triple Ups on Bovada. They're low stress and don't take too long, and I can get one in after the kids are in bed.

Blinds are 50/100. I'm sitting UTG+1 with 2360, currently second in a seven-handed game. Big stack has 4313, small stack at the table has 1078.

Cards are dealt. UTG folds. Hero looks down at:
:kc::qd:
Depends a lot on the other players and the current table dynamics. KQo isn't that great of a hand when you will likely be playing oop with 5 players left to act, unless they are all a bunch of nits.

So if the table is doing a lot of raising (especially from late position), I'm folding as 2nd chip leader and waiting for a better spot.

And if the table is pretty passive with a lot of limping, I'd probably just call and see if I can smash the flop, folding to any raise (which likely means business under those circumstances).

But if most of the table is folding to pre-flop aggression (especially from early-to-middle position), then I'd pop a raise to 250-300 or so.
 

Legend5555

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What are the stacks sizes and positions of those stacks? Is there an ante? This is all super relevant info. Satellite style tournaments and SNGs have much different strategy than regular ones.
 
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The table had been a bit tight, and (I believe) I’d established an image as a competent player who makes moves, but does so with reason and in a deliberate manner – not a nit, but not a maniac. Willing to bet, but always showing down winners up to that point in the game. There wasn’t a lot of raising and re-raising pre-flop up to this point in the game, and there was actually a fair amount of open limping in earlier hands (not from me), even from UTG. We also hadn’t reached the point where anyone had jammed on any pre-flop open, so I was not very concerned about that at this point.

Legend, I definitely appreciate how a tournament with this kind of payout structure has its own strategy (as mentioned, basically like a satellite), and that at some point chip accumulation becomes less important than chip preservation. At least that’s my take on it. Would love to hear any insights you may have. At this point, stacks were:

UTG: 1078
UTG+1 (Hero): 2360
Highjack: 1807
Cutoff: 1243
Button: 1314
SB: 1385
BB: 4313

Given that we were seven-handed, the table image I believe I’d established for myself in the game so far, and table dynamics (did not fear a re-raise if I were to raise), I did decide to open UTG+1 with a 3x BB bet … so I opened for 300. My thinking was this would get one caller, maybe two at the most, and we’d see a flop at that price. I did read the table correctly, and had one caller, the button.

We head to the flop heads up against the button. No real reads on the button at this point.

:ks::jd::6c:

Hero is first to act.
 

FDLmold

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Pot is 750
Hero first to act has about 2000
Villain has about 1000

Tempted to bet 1000, but I don’t see button calling with a worse hand, so I bet small, like 250 and hope to take it down.
 

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I am turning over a new leaf and no longer trying to maximize VPIP. I have a satellite ticket to a $1500 WSOP event whenever that opens up, so maybe it’s time to actually play good poker.

Pre I don’t love the spot and with ICM I think I’m opening <25% with this holding and it’s always a minraise. 80 fold / 20 raise to 2bb.

This flop hits us and so we should cbet high freq at small sizing. Pot is 850ish, effective stacks 1070. 250 sets up a turn situation with around .7 SPR effective, so that’s going to be our only bet size. KQo is nearly 100% cbet at that sizing.
Lead for 250.
 

Legend5555

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Yeah, with our stack and the leader in the BB, I don't think this is a mandatory open. And given that most stacks are in the 10bb range, any open over minimum is kind of spewy. Are you going to fold to a jam from any of the short stacks? If so, opening to 300 is just wasting chips.

As played, either bet small and jam turn. Or just jam flop. I like bet small more as it gives him a way to make a worse decision. Jamming has the benefit of protecting your stack more if he has a straight draw or an A. Given that the button called off about 25% of his stack pre, he might just be playing fit or fold, or MAYBE trapping. But at this level, people do all sorts of horrendous pre flop play. No matter what, you are going to get the money in by the turn at the latest.
 

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Wow, with 4 people at 10-13 BB, I think I might have folded here, out of position.
As played, I’m probably checking here - happy to check jam unless I’ve got a read on the button that tells me I shouldn’t.
 
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@Legend5555,

If you’re going to raise, why just raise minimum? I’ve read a lot that says if you’re raising early, it’s a good idea to raise a bit more than you may from late position. I think you’re likely to end up with 2 callers with a min raise in this case. Once the button calls, I think BB has to defend (with the big stack) with any halfway decent hand, right?

In this case, I probably would fold to a jam. However, we hadn’t reached the point that people were jamming on open raises, so I wasn’t too concerned, though we are getting to the point it could easily happen.

The cost of folding to a jam isn’t 300, it’s really only 100 once you decide you want to open and are deciding between a min raise and 3xBB raise. Of course, this speaks to the decision to play these cards to begin with.
 

Legend5555

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@Legend5555,

If you’re going to raise, why just raise minimum? I’ve read a lot that says if you’re raising early, it’s a good idea to raise a bit more than you may from late position. I think you’re likely to end up with 2 callers with a min raise in this case. Once the button calls, I think BB has to defend (with the big stack) with any halfway decent hand, right?

In this case, I probably would fold to a jam. However, we hadn’t reached the point that people were jamming on open raises, so I wasn’t too concerned, though we are getting to the point it could easily happen.

The cost of folding to a jam isn’t 300, it’s really only 100 once you decide you want to open and are deciding between a min raise and 3xBB raise. Of course, this speaks to the decision to play these cards to begin with.
It's a tournament specific thing. And here are the reasons:

1. When there are stacks behind you whose only realistic play is to jam or fold, then you are risking less by raising small the times you have to fold to the jam. And if you are only raising hands that can call a jam, you are probably raising too tight.

2. With shorter stacks, you don't need to build the pot as much preflop to be able to get all in before the river.

3. While you are giving players better immediate odds, short stacks mean that implied odds are MUCH less. So people can't call as loose pre. For example, it's a big losing play to call with small pairs and suited connectors when the stacks are short.

4. You put the SB and BB into an annoying spot where they feel compelled to defend some very marginal hands while you have position. Where they may have just folded to a larger raise. Now some might rather have the fold, but long term you make more chips by playing stronger hands vs weaker ones when you have position than just winning the blinds.
 
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I can understand those reasons, and they do make sense.

My thought making the bet 3x instead of 2x was because I did prefer to play heads-up versus multiple opponents, and I thought this was the better route to achieve that. It does kind of seem part of your reasoning may be more suited to a cash game though? I definitely agree you want to play more hands in position against weaker hands, and cash games should be treated together as part of one big session and not as distinct sessions, while each tournament is distinct. So when I think long-term, does that still hold given that tournaments are individual events and the goal is simply to maximize that individual tournament without regard to rolling over results? So, I sort of intuit this advice is better suited to cash games and not tournaments as much. Maybe there is no distinction on this? So I’m not disagreeing with you, just wondering if that point you’re making is equally valuable in a tournament setting as it is a cash game setting?

Let’s keep the hand going.

I check the flop. The thinking here is that if I bet, I won’t get called by any worse hand and maybe I can get him to take a stab at the pot. Basically, I figured my best chance to get additional chips on this flop was to check and allow him to bet. I think my hand is ahead nearly all of the time here, so I want to bait him into using his position to stab at the pot after a check on the flop. I’m thinking he has a few jacks in his range that could make a bet. I think he could even have a few worse kings, but not many. I don’t really expect many bluffs. The plan if he bets to jam all in.

So, Hero checks.

Villain bets 410, making the pot 1160. Villain has about 600 behind.

At this point, is my thinking correct that the only play here is to jam on him? There’s no other play, is there? No reason to call, because either way, the rest is going in on the turn from either me or him.
 

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I’d say so.
if I’m the villain, and I made that bet, it’s because I want a jam or a call. But maybe the villain is an idiot. Or maybe he’s strongbut you’re ahead.
mans from the button, he’s actually got food equity - he’s got another orbit to hope for a hand.
I jam
 

Legend5555

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My thought making the bet 3x instead of 2x was because I did prefer to play heads-up versus multiple opponents, and I thought this was the better route to achieve that. It does kind of seem part of your reasoning may be more suited to a cash game though? I definitely agree you want to play more hands in position against weaker hands, and cash games should be treated together as part of one big session and not as distinct sessions, while each tournament is distinct. So when I think long-term, does that still hold given that tournaments are individual events and the goal is simply to maximize that individual tournament without regard to rolling over results? So, I sort of intuit this advice is better suited to cash games and not tournaments as much. Maybe there is no distinction on this? So I’m not disagreeing with you, just wondering if that point you’re making is equally valuable in a tournament setting as it is a cash game setting?
A golden rule in tournament poker:

The less chips you have, the more valuable they are to you.

And the more they need to be protected. It becomes so easy to get pot committed on small stacks, that any pot you enter has the potential to be your last. So you can't just splash around. Which is why small raises often do (and in theory should) get the job done.

And no to your cash game example. In cash games stacks are generally deeper, so you raise bigger pre to ensure the pots are bigger to get your value. Because all you care about in cash games theoretically is maximizing value. In tournaments you have to balance value with preserving your stack.

And blinds in a cash game are at best a recommendation. I've seen 1/3 games where the standard open is $20. Often the standard open and stack sizes are a better indicator of game size. Plus, people don't have to fear going broke in cash games.

But since people do have to fear going broke in a tournament, people should be playing a bit tighter especially around any pay jump. Long term holds true no matter what game style you are playing. Tournament poker is still poker, you just make adjustments to your variance tolerance since going broke is a problem.

As with all things in poker, everything depends. If you feel like the people you play against are going to call significantly more to a 2x raise than a 3x raise, then you certainly can take that into consideration. And you can always try sizes in-between. But when stacks are short, even a min raise can threaten a players entire stack.

As an example this guy calling your 3x raise with only 13bb is really quite bad. Because now on the flop if he misses and folds he just wasted 25% of his stack. Whereas if he just jammed pre, he either wins 4.5bb right then and there, or he gets to see all 5 cards and not get bluffed out and double up. And even just a 2x raise should be puttting him to that decision. The difference between doubling up from 13bb to 26bb and 10bb to 20bb is massive and not only for him, but for you. Because the shorter a person is when they double up through you, the more YOU still have left.

Just realize, that the more you risk the more often you will have to call shoves and you will lose more when you can't call a shove. Keep in mind that people don't want to go broke to a bigger stack when other players are shorter stacked or equal stacked to them. This means that people shouldn't be defending in positions outside of the BB very much.

I could go on and on. But I've rambled enough. ;)
 
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Thanks for the explanation. That does make sense. One thing I’ve come to realize is that chips I lose are chips I can’t bet - so I do try to preserve chips because I want to be able to bet them later in bigger pots, or to apply greater pressure. And I think perhaps I am undervaluing that extra BB that I am committing by going 3x instead of 2 or 2.5. I suppose I also fancy my chances to win the pot against one villain versus multiple, and perhaps I value that more than I should as well.

So, I have a pretty clear jam here on villain’s bet it seems. And that’s what I do.

Villain calls and shows pocket sixes. His hand holds up, and takes down the pot, leaving me with a bit more than 1,000 chips, and putting me squarely in push fold territory, as blinds were soon jumping to the next level. I did not survive to cash the SNG.

So, any overall thoughts on this hand, and how I played it? I know it isn’t the most exciting hand, and it kind of seems like this result was always going to be the result, given the cards.

I have had good success playing these $7 Triple Ups, and have consistently been growing my bankroll. I don’t keep a spreadsheet or use any tracking software, but I would say that I am cashing in at least fifty percent of these to date (going back a few months after moving up from the $3 Triple UPS).

I am trying to take my game to the next level with study and discussion, so I appreciate the feedback from everyone here.
 

Legend5555

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As for the hand. You flopped TP 2nd kicker. Not sure how much better you needed to flop to get it all in on these stack sizes. Jam!

As to the check, I'm not a huge fan. Betting small gives him a chance to jam on you for all the monies with a draw or worse hand. Often if he has nothing, he is just going to check when checked too or fold when bet into to preserve his stack. If he has anything he is going to get it in no matter what.
 

Legend5555

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Thanks for the explanation. That does make sense. One thing I’ve come to realize is that chips I lose are chips I can’t bet - so I do try to preserve chips because I want to be able to bet them later in bigger pots, or to apply greater pressure. And I think perhaps I am undervaluing that extra BB that I am committing by going 3x instead of 2 or 2.5. I suppose I also fancy my chances to win the pot against one villain versus multiple, and perhaps I value that more than I should as well.

So, I have a pretty clear jam here on villain’s bet it seems. And that’s what I do.

Villain calls and shows pocket sixes. His hand holds up, and takes down the pot, leaving me with a bit more than 1,000 chips, and putting me squarely in push fold territory, as blinds were soon jumping to the next level. I did not survive to cash the SNG.

So, any overall thoughts on this hand, and how I played it? I know it isn’t the most exciting hand, and it kind of seems like this result was always going to be the result, given the cards.

I have had good success playing these $7 Triple Ups, and have consistently been growing my bankroll. I don’t keep a spreadsheet or use any tracking software, but I would say that I am cashing in at least fifty percent of these to date (going back a few months after moving up from the $3 Triple UPS).

I am trying to take my game to the next level with study and discussion, so I appreciate the feedback from everyone here.
The only arguable decision on this hand is whether to even play the hand pre flop or not given the tournament structure, stack sizes, and positions of the players.

Once you raise and get that flop, everything is pretty automatic.

Your opponent actually has an interesting decision with the 66 here pre flop. In a normal tournament before or after the bubble, when pay jumps aren't that crucial, this is a pretty easy jam. Though, I can see arguments for just folding it too. In this structure, I think it's actually pretty close between jamming and folding.

Calling is by far the worst play. He is going to miss like 85% of the time and just have to fold now having wasted almost 25% of his stack.
 
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I agree ultimately the question is do I play this hand or not. I felt good playing it given table dynamics at the time, though perhaps I can optimize my raise sizing.

I was surprised to see the pocket sixes, too. I honestly didn’t even consider it. I think if I were in his shoes I probably would’ve folded. It did work out for him, but like you said, seems to be a pretty bad play.
 

Legend5555

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I agree ultimately the question is do I play this hand or not. I felt good playing it given table dynamics at the time, though perhaps I can optimize my raise sizing.

I was surprised to see the pocket sixes, too. I honestly didn’t even consider it. I think if I were in his shoes I probably would’ve folded. It did work out for him, but like you said, seems to be a pretty bad play.
Would you have called if he jammed pre flop? If no, then you probably should not have played the hand.
 
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I do not think that I would have called a jam pre-flop.

But how do you balance that with what was said earlier that if you are only raising hands you’d call a jam with, you’re raising too tightly?

In these tournaments (all really, but it seems compounded in this SNG format), we get the point where people start jamming on opens. We hadn’t gotten there yet. I tend to change my strategy a bit once I see this starting to happen at the table and consider more closely my opens. But I have had a lot of success applying pressure in this way, and while I think folding to a jam is never what you want to do, I think I make more money with these plays than I lose when I have to fold. That’s just an anecdotal observation, though.
 

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In the button shoes, my strategy will depend on how squeeze happy the blinds are. If they are competent, I have no flat range and am folding or jamming. 66 with 15 bb I’m going 40 jam / 60 fold / 0 call.

However, you said the blinds are not squeezing. And given your missed flop cbet (it’s pretty bad) its possible you have made other postflop mistakes in prior hands. A flat here is more and more tempting.
 

Legend5555

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But how do you balance that with what was said earlier that if you are only raising hands you’d call a jam with, you’re raising too tightly?
Carefully. It seems weird I know. But in truth, you should probably be calling more often than not against a stack that short. But once they start getting to 15bb+, you have to be a little more careful. But if you're never raising a hand you can't call a shove with, then people can easily play back at you by never shoving over your raise without strong hands.
 
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In the button shoes, my strategy will depend on how squeeze happy the blinds are. If they are competent, I have no flat range and am folding or jamming. 66 with 15 bb I’m going 40 jam / 60 fold / 0 call.

However, you said the blinds are not squeezing. And given your missed flop cbet (it’s pretty bad) its possible you have made other postflop mistakes in prior hands. A flat here is more and more tempting.

How bad would you rate not c-betting this flop? My thought was that a bet would simply induce a fold, and I’d potentially win more chips by checking one street and seeing if he caught a piece of the flop, or maybe even bluff. I see a TON of bluffs at this level. Betting 1000 to win 200 for example. I’ve been picking them off regularly.

Would you c-bet 100% of the time? Trapping there always the wrong play?
 

BGinGA

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Checking the flop in this case will often invoke a short-stack shove from a player with pretty much any pocket pair (hitting a set or not), any pair or two pair, any kind of draw, and maybe even with just ace-high -- figuring you missed (or was afraid of the K) and he can just collect the pot. That's a fair amount of the time, and you're only losing to sets, the rare two-pair, or a mistakenly-played slow-played AA or AK.

I would tend to bet small on the flop, but don't consider a check to be a huge mistake.
 
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