Preflop question with JJ

Strategy & Advice by illinikris Posted

This hand occurred at a recent tournament. We're in the fourth or fifth level, blinds 200-400. I've been the tightest player at the table, haven't seen many cards and haven't yet won a pot. I have about 8,000 of my beginning 10,000 chips. I'm in middle position and get dealt JJ, by far the best hand I've seen in two hours of play. I open raise to 1,000. Player to my left, V1, who's short, goes all in for 3,500. Three players later, V2 (who I think was a blind, but not sure) raises to 6,000. (Chip totals are approximate.) He's a middle aged guy, has played some pots and seems decent; in other words, not a young crazy agro or the table captain. He has an above average stack but is not the chip leader. I'm not worried about V1, I know he's shoving with any pocket pair or broadway cards. But what about V2s 4-bet? What's he representing? Do I call (or raise), essentially, if not actually, committing my entire stack? Or fold? Your thoughts and analysis are appreciated.


  1. First off, calling is the worst choice. If you call, you are committing your stack. So, your choices are push or fold.

    I'll be honest, my initial reaction was shove. Then, I started typing and went back into my conservative, nitty shell and said "fold". But, that nitty thinking is slightly wrong based on pot odds and really wrong based on the non-pot odds thinking below.

    Pot odds thinking:
    I think your range for V1 (the short stack) is reasonable at any pair or any 2 broadway cards; you might add any suited ace to that range, but what you put him on is reasonable. So, the pot odds part of out thinking should be a two part question:
    A) What is the range for V2 to 4 bet over an open position raise and a short stack shove?
    B) Are we getting the correct price to re-shove against that range?

    You've said V2 seems like a decent player with an above-average stack and is middle aged. I'm going to assume he is not spazzing out with a weak holding and that he is putting the short stack on a similar range range to what you did. If that's true, he's probably re-raising with hands that are approximately a flip with the short stack - which would be any pair and any broadway cards. But, most people (myself included) don't evaluate hand ranges that effectively on the fly and are at least a bit hesitant to call a shove in a 3 way pot and be a coin flip. So, since he is middle aged and not crazy aggressive, I think it's reasonable to give him a bit tighter range than that.
    So, for V2's range, I'd go with pairs 10s or higher, plus AK, AQ, and maybe KQ.

    Assuming V2 is the big blind, then the pot is currently 10,700 -- of which 8,200 is the main pot and 2,500 is V2's four bet. We have 7,000 left after our initial bet and it is 5,000 back to us -- 2,500 to call V1's all in which goes into the main pot, plus an additional 2,500 to call V2's four bet.

    So, if we win both the main pot and the side pot, then we are risking 7,000 to win 19,700 (the current pot, plus our 7,000, plus 2,000 more to V2 to call our shove). Given that is it just barely correct to shove. We are putting in about 35% of the money and, running the odds, we are about 38% to win it all given the ranges above.

    Non-pot odds thinking:
    If we fold, we have 5000 chips left and are really close to the danger zone where it is push or fold. Therefore, folding now means that in the near future we will have to shove and, if called, will most likely be in a coin flip to double up.

    But if we shove now, then we are already in a coin flip for the side pot which nearly doubles us up. We are a 49 to 51 underdog against V2's four bet range from above -- pairs 10s or higher, plus AK, AQ, and KQ. And there is a chance that we can get a comfortable stack of 19,700 if we win both the main pot and the side pot. In other words, we are getting a really nice overlay on our coin flip if we shove now that we won't be getting if fold now and take a coin flip later.

    So, shove!


  2. Thanks, Dave for your excellent analysis. But to clarify, if I fold I'll have 7,000 chips remaining, not 5,000, should that change your thinking. I'll post the results once I give people time to comment.

  3. @illinikris yeah I saw that, couldn't edit it.

  4. It doesn't change my thinking. 7000 chips is still under 20 big blinds. so getting into danger zone.

  5. I think it's a fold. As Dap says, you may have to shove relatively soon, anyway. But if you're first in with a shove, you can add the fold equity to your odds. I hate being in a 3-way pot with JJ, even if one of the three is a short stack push.

  6. there is a lot more information that we are missing vs what you have explained, so with that caveat, if the 2nd guy is tight and not a great player, you have to put him on a smaller, better range of hands.

    the most important thing to think about here, is does he want you in the hand or out of the hand? if he good, he puts the guy on the same thing and also puts you on a good hand, so that makes his hand range even smaller. if he's not good, then he doesn't care what you have, and just wants you out of the hand. if he's really good, he could not have a hand that beats you (and knows it) but he does know he can probably beat the all in guy, so he bets trying to get you out of the hand and heads up with the little guy who he can beat. or, he's making it just a small enough bet for you to shove / call thinking you have fold equity.

    it really comes down to how good a player is he, how good does he think you think he is or is he not even capable of that level of thought? could be a squeeze play, could be a sophisticated odds play to get you in, or he could be a moron.

    being that you started with 20 BB's, you are technically still in the area where you can make some plays and stand loosing some chips, so the pre-flop bet is alright. but, not knowing what the rest of in information is and knowing that other know you haven't played any hands (unless they are level 3, in which case they are now using that against you - ohhh psychology), they probably have you beat here. folding you still have 17BB or so, plenty enough, you aren't in trouble until you fall under 10BB. also depends on size of field and how many left and where the money is.

    i'ld fold here with JJ the majority of the time (nothing is set in stone!)

    good luck!

  7. Here's what happened. My inner nit won out and I folded. V1 showed 77, not an unexpected hand. V2 showed AQ. This very much surprised me, I expected an overpair to my JJ. It also very much irritated me when, as the cards played out, my JJ would have held.

    A big part of my decision making is the tight image I know I project, and to some extent cultivate. In my experience players don't want to tangle with me because I'm only playing premium hands (wink wink), which I use to my advantage as the blinds rise and the pots grow. But my buddy, who plays many more tournaments than I do, says I should absolutely have stayed in the hand, that people now raise with a much wider range of hands than even a few years ago. I also recognize that one of my weaknesses is my inclination to give the aggressor credit for a superior hand, and that I probably fold in situations where I shouldn't. Anyway, without being results oriented, I think I'm comfortable with my fold and believe the AQ 4-bet was reckless, or perhaps a misguided squeeze play. What do you think of the AQ 4-bet?

  8. linikris tHats what I was alluding to. I believe he put you on a good hand, he was thinking of hoping 99 through kk. His bet wasn't because he thought he had the best hand, if was to get you to fold and get him heads up against the other guy. This is a squeeze play intended to do exactly what it did. Sometimes you call there sometimes you don't, depends on other factors. As you continued playing, I would be more likely to call there because they saw you fold. You don't want to get predictable. Cash game I would call a lot more often.

    As to his play, it worked how he wanted it to. Just remember he will do that next time amd lower your hands slightly. Aq is not a good hand there with deep attacks. Short stacked is a great play. If you are playing on the west coast Aq is more common in that spot, in the Midwest it's typically ak or better

  9. IlliniKris & Shadow Poker -- I didn't factor in the squeeze possibility to my initial thinking. If I had, I'd have been even more inclined to re-shove, because it means his range could be even a little wider than the initial range that I gave V2. That means our equity against his whole range is a little better.

  10. Unless you're committed to an all in, u have to fold. No way in hell you flat call that bet. 7000 left is plenty for a decent fight. Technically he's representing a big hand like AK or better. JJ is honestly one of worst out of position hands. Unless you're big stack. Furthermore, if it wasn't a bounty tourney, let it go. You got the information you needed. See the flop and prepare for your next hand, and thank him for the read he gave you.

  11. snap fold