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Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume II Copyright 2010 by Eric Lynch, Jon Turner, and Jon

n Van Fleet Published by Dimat Enterprises, Inc.


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the author. Cover Illustration: Craig Ditman Cover photo of Eric Lynch and Jon Turner courtesy of Cardplayer.com Book Design and Graphics: Andrew and Eva Kuczynski ISBN 978-0984143443

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About the Authors Eric Rizen Lynch


Eric Rizen Lynch is recognized as one of the top tournament players in the world in both live and Internet play. In just three years at the World Series of Poker, he has eight cashes, including a 2nd and 3rd place finish. He finished 26th in the 2006 main event, winning $494,000, his biggest prize so far. His lifetime total for cash finishes in live tournaments is a little shy of $1 million. Online, Eric has over 50 wins, made 300 final tables, and has won over $1.5 million. In 2007, he won one of the major Sunday tournaments for a prize of $156K. Eric writes a popular blog found at www.rizenpoker.com. Jon PearlJammer Turner Well-known for his online prowess, Jon PearlJammer Turner, who also plays online under the name PearlJammed, actually got his start playing live games in Raleigh, NC, and then later in Las Vegas. He won the 2007 and 2008 Internet Player of the Year award, tracked by www.InternetPokerRankings.com, after a 3rd place finish in 2006. Over the last couple of years, PearlJammer has amassed an impressive online resume: He has over 200 wins, made over 1,000 final tables, and won almost $4 million. In 2009, he placed second in one of the biggest online tournaments of the year taking home a cash prize of $527,000. He continues to put up strong results online although he is focusing more on live tournaments and cash games than online tournaments these days.

Jon Apestyles Van Fleet


Jon Apestyles Van Fleet started playing professionally in 2004 after graduating from college, and quickly moved up the ranks in the online poker world. Jon finished 2009 ranked 5th at www.InternetPokerRankings.com and 5th at www.PocketFives.com. He is a twotime winner of PocketFives Triple Crown award. Jon has made close to $3 million playing in tournaments online, including over 500 final tables and 85 wins. His biggest online cash to date is $135K when he finished 2nd in a major Sunday tournament.

About Dimat Enterprises, Inc.


Our Mission
To publish todays best poker books and grow the game we all love.

Our Pledge To Our Customers: Dimat is committed to the publication of outstanding poker books that combine cutting-edge content and strategy with clear instruction from todays leading players. To Our Authors: Dimat treats our authors with respect and professionalism, providing top-notch publishing services while offering some of the best royalty rates in the industry. Cover, paper quality, readability, and graphics are expertly handled to make your book shine. Our Cause A portion of Dimat Enterprises proceeds is donated to Colombianitos, a unique charity founded in Atlanta, Georgia which seeks to improve the lives of underprivileged children in Colombia. Dimats founder, Matthew Hilger, encourages you to sponsor a child or support the charity by visiting www.colombianitos.org. With a budget of less than $1 million annually, you can make a difference! Dimat has raised over $75,000 to date.

Our Books
Texas Holdem Odds and Probabilities: Limit, No-Limit, and Tournament Strategies, by Matthew Hilger, published in 2006. The Poker Mindset: Essential Attitudes for Poker Success, by Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger, published in 2007. Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time: Volume I , by Eric Rizen Lynch, Jon PearlJammer Turner, and Jon Apestyles

Van Fleet, June 2008.


Internet Texas Holdem New Expanded Edition, by Matthew Hilger, January 2009. Advanced PotLimit Omaha: Small Ball and ShortHanded Play, by Jeff Hwang, June 2009. The World Poker Travel Guide, by Tanya Peck, January 2010. Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time: Volume II , by Eric

Rizen Lynch, Jon PearlJammer Turner, and Jon Apestyles Van Fleet, February 2010.
Upcoming

Advanced PotLimit Omaha Volume II: LAG Play and ShortHanded Workbook, by Jeff Hwang, Fall 2010.
Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time: Volume III , by Eric Rizen Lynch, Jon Pearl Jammer Turner, and Jon Apestyles

Van Fleet, Fall 2010.


Tournament Endgame Strategy, by Tony Guerrera and Matthew Hilger, 2010.

Foreign Translations

Publishers interested in foreign translation rights may contact Dimat Enterprises at pokerbooks.InternetTexasHoldem.com. Spanish www.PokerBonosGratis.com
La Mentalidad del Jugador de Pker Como Ganar Torneos de Poker de Mano en Mano Volumen I Conceptos Avanzados de Omaha con Lmite del Bote Texas Holdem Oddsy Probabilidades Italian - www.dgs3-editrice.it/ Internet - Vincere I Tornei di Poker (Winning Poker Tournaments) The Poker Mindset Texas Holdem Oddsy Probabilit French www.microapp.com La psychologie du Poker Texas Holdem Coteset Probabilits German www.sharkbooks.de Das Poker Mindset Fortgeschrittenes PotLimit Omaha (Advanced PotLimit Omaha) Erfolg bei Pokerturnieren (Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time)

About Dimat Online, Inc.


Dimat Online, Inc. develops websites focused on poker strategy, content, and media. Its flagship site, www.InternetTexasHoldem.com, supports the books published by Dimat Enterprises. www.InternetTexasHoldem.com, commonly known as ITH, receives thousands of daily visitors and contains a wide variety of information and resources including: Forum A free poker discussion group where you can ask our authors questions about their books. Site Reviews and Bonuses A comprehensive analysis and evaluation of the major online poker sites and their most lucrative deposit bonuses. The Poker Nutz Newsletter Our newsletter keeps you up-to-date with upcoming Dimat Enterprises publications, new articles published by ITH, the best online poker bonuses, and other events of interest for the ITH community. Poker Odds Calculator The ITH poker odds calculator is unique in that it calculates odds against both random hands and ranges of hands. Strategy Articles Unique articles written by some of the top online players in the world. www.InternetPokerRankings.com, commonly known as IPR, is the first website dedicated to an objective ranking system of Internet players. Players are ranked based on money finishes in all of the major online tournaments. In 2008, IPR introduced the first ranking system for international players. www.pokerwonks.com. The biggest and best collection of poker blogs on the net, including Matthews blog, Poker and Life. All poker bloggers are invited to submit their blogs. www.PokerBonosGratis.com, Offers Spanish translations of Dimat poker books as well as various Spanish articles by Matthew Hilger.

Acknowledgments
Eric Lynch I would like to thank my coauthors, Jon Turner and Jon Van Fleet, and my publisher Matthew Hilger, of Dimat Enterprises, for their dedication and patience in putting this volume together. It was much more difficult than I think we all envisioned, but Im very proud of the end product. I would also like, once again, to thank my wife and family. Without their support, neither the book nor my career as a poker player would be possible. Jon Turner I wish to thank my parents and all of my family. They continue to support my passion for poker, even though only a few of them have ever played our great game. Thanks to my friends in and out of poker, from whom I have learned and continue to learn so much. My sincerest thanks to my girlfriend, Tracey, who convinced me to take on this project and helped me stay motivated throughout the process. Lastly, thank you to everyone who has personally expressed their appreciation for the first volume (as well as the constructive criticism!); you all help motivate me to write and to work to improve my game! The beauty of poker is that even the very best players always have so much to learn. They are the best because they understand this concept and work the hardest to learn from every hand they play, discuss, or read about. My hope is that that you do not take the hand examples here as gospel, telling you how to best play specific hands in specific situations. Instead, I hope you learn how better to think about the situations in which you find yourself,and how best to figure things out independently. Jon Van Fleet Id like to thank Stephen Chidwick, who generously gave his time to help edit my section and co-write Hand 27, even though hes a really busy guy and online poker superstar. Thanks to Clint Coffee for his thorough and precise edits that made a world of difference. Id also like to thank my Dad, the Geez, for going over all of my math stuff and reviewing my section. Also, I forgot to thank my parents in Volume I. They have always supported me in anything I wanted to do and raised me in a great home. Id like to give a shout out to anyone who has ever given me hand advice and helped me improve my game including the coauthors of this book. I feel blessed every day to have met the brilliant poker minds that I have and great friends in the poker community. Everything I know about poker is just an accumulation of other peoples ideas and advice; I feel lucky to be standing on the shoulders of giants. Anyway, thanks to all of my friends and fans who have purchased this book and will probably use it against me at the table! Matthew Hilger I would like to thank several people who contributed to putting this book together: Neil and Susan Myers for style and copyediting as well as cover copy. Andrew and Eva Kuczynski for typesetting and design. Craig Ditman for the cover design and artwork. Chris Platt for feedback on the text. Also, thanks to all of the members of the Forum at www.InternetTexasHoldem.com for supporting and motivating me, and for continuing to help me improve my game.

Table of Contents
Foreword Introduction Jon PearlJammer Turner Eric Rizen Lynch Jon Apestyles Van Fleet Glossary

Foreword
by Matthew Hilger Are you ready to take your game to an entirely new level?This book lays bare the inner workings of three of the brightest minds in poker today: Eric Rizen Lynch, Jon PearlJammer Turner, and Jon Apestyles Van Fleet. These pages will reveal exactly how three of the worlds best poker players analyze and dissect a poker hand from start to finish. What makes this book different from any other poker tournament book? First, you would be hard-pressed to find three poker players with more tournament experience under their belts. Aprofessional playing only in live tournaments might play 100 tournaments per year. These guys often play that many online tournaments in a week! Collectively, they have played in over 50,000 tournaments, have made over 1,800 final tables, have logged over 300 major wins, and have cashed for more than ten million dollars! Second, and most important, this book is about how to play a poker hand. Theory and concepts are fundamental to becoming a good poker player, and there are many books that teach these, enabling you to establish a foundation of solid theoretical knowledge. Once you have established this foundation, you need to be able to put these theories into practice. This book guides you along the path to tournament success by putting you, as it were, inside the minds of some of the worlds best players. You will see exactly how they analyze not only a hand, but a whole poker scenario. The inspiration for the format of this book is Middle Limit Hold em, by Jim Brier and Bob Ciaffone, a book which contains hundreds of hand examples to illustrate how theory meets practice. I believe strongly in this format as a way of teaching and learning poker. For it to be successful, you need players with extensive experience. But experience alone doesnt make you a great teacher and author. What separates these experts from other good players is that all three of them are able to accurately describe their decision-making processes, articulating exactly how they think through individual hands. The Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time series is a unique addition to poker literature. Players who read and study this series (Volume III will be released later in 2010) will save themselves time, money, and years of frustration by learning from the wisdom of consistently successful tournament professionals.

Introduction: How this Book Was Created and What it Will Do for You
by Matthew Hilger Hopefully you have already read Volume I and know something of the history of how this book was put together. For those who havent, Ill briefly describe how this series got started and then discuss Volume II and how it differs from Volume I. Finally, Ill talk a little about Volume III, to be published in 2010. Back in 2007, I first contacted Eric Rizen Lynch about a potential book project. I had read an article by Rizen titled Beyond Harrington and was most impressed with his clear writing style, and how he described new ideas and concepts. A book from primarily online tournament players seemed like a good fit for my publishing company. Contacting Eric resulted in a fruitful meeting of minds, and this series began to take shape. As Eric and I brainstormed the project, we discussed other potential coauthors for the book. Erics first suggestion was Jon PearlJammer Turner. I then asked PearlJammer and Rizen each to create a short-list of other players who would be suitable coauthors. To my delight, the same player topped both their lists: Jon Apestyles Van Fleet. One of the great benefits of this book is to see three different styles of play. All three players are able to adapt to specific table and tournament situations, and they all have multiple gears but its safe to say that PearlJammer has a more conservative approach to the game, while Apestyles is usually looking for the aggressive line of action unless there are specific situations that dictate otherwise. Rizen likely falls somewhere in between. Beyond their styles of play, youll find differences in their thinking processes and writing styles which make each of the three sections in this book unique. For those who havent read Volume I, it covered hands up until the money bubble. Most of the hands in that Volume were individual hands selected from various tournaments. The one exception was Apestyles, who had part of his section devoted to 24 hands from the same tournament on the bubble. Volume II focuses on hands in the money all the way down to heads-up play. This volume takes a different approach than Volume I: In this volume, each author has selected one specific tournament and has discussed all of the key hands in it. When youre deep in a tournament, it is vital to know as much as possible about your opponents playing styles. By each picking a single tournament, the authors are able to show how their perception of their opponents governs their decisions. One section that was particularly popular in Volume I featured 20 Collaborative Hands in which I selected hands Id played, and all three authors commented on how they would play the hand. This clearly showed how three top players might arrive at different conclusions based on their personal playing styles. That section was so popular, weve decided to devote Volume III to collaborative hands. All of the hands selected will be from tournaments where our hero is in the money, because how you play at this stage is critical to being a successful tournament player. We promise not to take so long between Volumes this time, and plan on releasing Volume III later in 2010. Working with these top players has been a tremendous boost to my own game. Since Ive started working with them, I have won two tournaments within a year with over 3,500 entrants each (one with 10,000 entrants). One of those wins was in a 750K guaranteed tournament for a prize of $132K. There is no doubt that theyve helped me take my tournament play to the next level. Can this book guarantee the same results for you? Unfortunately there can be no guarantees, but theres no doubt in my mind that if you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced player, your game will greatly benefit from the poker wisdom offered here. These three players are the cream of the crop. They are the best of the best. How often does one get the chance to be coached by a top poker expert? Reading and studying this book is like attending a poker tournament master class. Remember, poker is a fun game, but it is more fun when you win. Can you think of a better way to become a winner than by studying how the best in the world play?

Setup: I have made the money in a $100 rebuy tournament. 27 spots paid, and there are about 25 players left. First place pays $22,526, and 19th 27thpay $514. I have been the chip leader (most of the time) since the field dropped to 40 players. I have capitalized on a (preconceived) tight image with most of the players in this field in order to pick good resteal spots to accumulate chips as the bubble has approached. Wielding such a big stack, I have opened up my game more than usual and have been more than willing to race when necessary. I am familiar with four of my seven opponents at this table, Seats 1, 3, 6, and 7. I know all of these players to be strong, experienced tournament players who are vying for first place, unafraid of busting out. Unless I see otherwise, I can safely assume they will all practice such common tactics of strong online MTTplayers as not raise-folding stacks of twenty big blinds or less and recognizing profitable resteal situations. Thus I will assume I have no fold equity when they open-raise with a stack of fewer than twenty big blinds. I will also avoid open-raising hands from late position with which I am not willing to call an all-in from those in the 12 20 big blind range. The importance of these concepts (deep in MTTs) when your table is full of tough opponents cannot be overestimated.

Preflop (4,000): I am in the big blind with a strongsuited connector. The action is folded to Seat 9, who minraises to 3,200. Seats 1, 2, and 3 fold. With 7,200 now in the pot, I have 4.5-to-1 pot odds to see a flop. Seat 9s minimum raise with a thirteen big blind stack sets off some alarm bells. If I knew him to be a strong player, I would probably throw my hand away even with such good pot odds. I would assume that a strong opponent making such an inviting raise with such a small stack would be begging for action with a superpremium hand. In late position with 15 big blinds or less, I personally will open shove any hand that I feel is worth playing in order to maximize my fold equity and not give away the strength of my hand. However, against an unknown opponent, this minimum raise could indicate a hand with which he is hesitant to invest too many chips preflop, or he could be begging for action with a monster. Although I am not looking to play pots out of position or call raises at this stage, my assumption that my opponent is a weak player and the 4.5-to-1 pot odds he offers me persuade me to see the flop. I call 1,600 and take the flop heads up.

Flop (8,800): I flop an openended straight draw. With 8,800 in the pot and my opponent only having about 18K remaining, this seems like the perfect time to apply pressure with my draw and put him to a decision. I could lead out into him for approximately half the pot and call if he shoves, or I could just open shove, putting him to a decision right now and maximizing my fold equity. Many opponents would view a lead-out bet here as an obvious draw or a cheap attempt to steal the pot. After all, if I had a strong hand, I would let my opponent put more chips into the pot before I attacked, would I not? Note that if he only had about one potsized bet remaining, I would bet out strongly here to maximize my fold equitywere I to check, he would probably move all-in or at least clearly commit himself with a continuation-bet.

I feel my opponent will continuation-bet almost 100% of the time in this spot. If I can checkraise him, I will pick up more chips when he folds than if I fire out, and my hand will likely appear stronger to him than if I just lead out at the flop. If he shoves all-in as a continuation bet, I will fold, as I would assume that he has at least a pair of 9s, leaving me drawing to 8 outs and without quite the right odds to call. However, I expect a small bet from him most of the time here, an amount that hopefully does not pot commit him. I check, and my opponent bets 3,600. I am very happy that he still appears not to be committed to the pot. I checkraise to 22,400, enough to put him all-in. He quickly folds.

Setup: While I folded a few hands, my shortstacked opponent from the previous hand lost a race to bust. The blinds have increased, putting more pressure on the short stacks.

Preflop (4,750): Im dealt a strong hand in the hijack, one I would certainly open-raise if the action is folded to me. However, Seat 3, a strong player, open-raises to 5,500. I could make a good case for threebetting here to 14 15K, coldcalling my opponents raise, or folding. My initial instinct is to threebet, as I planned to play the hand if folded to me, and my opponent is capable of opening with a fairly wide range. However, with 30 big blinds, my opponent has a very good fourbet shoving stack. I also expect that before he decided to open, he took into account that I will threebet him fairly often. A-J is not quite strong enough for me to call against a 30 big blind fourbet shove unless I have very good reason to believe that my opponent may shove light. Having said this, Seat 3 likely perceives me as tight, so he probably would not shove light over my threebet too often. However, I still have the opponents behind me to worry about. If I were to threebet, I would end up in a bind if anyone behind me woke up with a big hand. I would be getting the right price to call off against a shove from Seat 5, 6, or 7, and I would certainly be in bad shape. Although I am not usually very concerned with the rest of my opponents when considering whether or not to threebet a midlate position opener (especially when I have a very big stack), they are worth considering. This is especially true when several are strong players who are aware that with such a big stack, I may be threebetting light. All of these factors, along with how I feel my image is perceived at the moment and long-term, should be considered in deciding whether or not to threebet in situations like this when they happen. After making a close decision not to threebet, I should consider coldcalling, as I can use my positional advantage and big stack to play profitably postflop. I do not like to call raises very often at this stage of tournaments, as doing so may put me in difficult postflop spots. I could not imagine flopping top pair and finding a fold, but I do not expect my opponent to stack off often postflop with worse hands on A high or J high boards. Therefore, reverse implied odds play very much against me in this spot. With several strong opponents left to act, I could easily be squeezed out of the pot as well. Although I would probably threebet or call against a weak opponent here, against Seat 3, a strong opponent, folding seems like the best option, albeit a close decision. I fold, and the rest of the table follows suit. Seat 3 wins.

Setup: Ten hands have passed where I had unplayable hands and no worthwhile spots to steal. My table is now sixhanded, as Seat 3 busted Seat 1, winning a standard A-Qs vs. 99 coin flip.

Preflop (4,500): J-To is a fairly standard opening hand on the button, especially for a big stack, and the action folds around to me. Before I open, however, I should notice the stacks in the blinds, especially the strong player in the big blind. The small blind is not much of a concern, as I do not expect him to shove in 26 big blinds often, and if he does, I would have an easy fold. However, the big blind only has 16 big blinds and is very capable of reshoving light. He is well aware that I should be raising a very wide range on the button with a big stack, and I would expect him to reshove any pair, any ace, any broadway hand, and some other strongsuited hands. I do not want to take J-To up against that range. My positional advantage is also virtually nonexistent, as I dont expect the blinds will ever flat-call my raise. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, I would rather open with J-To from under-the-gun or any other position at this table other than the button, given the stack sizes of my opponents. I choose to fold. The small blind folds, giving the big blind a walk.

Setup: This is two hands following the hand previously described, and we remain sixhanded, nearing a table break to go down to 2 tables and 18 players left in the tournament.

Preflop (4,500): Im dealt Q-Jo in the hijack, also under-the-gun +1 at this shorthanded table. Although it is a similar hand to the J-To from the previous hand, I should get more credit from this position, Q-J plays slightly better against a wide reshoving range, and the blinds are shortstacked enough that I am prepared to call if either of them reshoves. Therefore I make my standard opening raise of a little less than two-and-a-half times the big blind. The action folds to Seat 2 in the big blind, who shoves for 18,846. There is now 26,221 in the pot, and it is 13,971 for me to call. Pot odds of slightly less than 2:1 and my big stack make this an automatic call, which I was already prepared to do before I even raised. I call, my opponent shows 9 9, and were off to the races. The board runs out 8 4 2 K 8 and I lose the race.

Setup: This is two hands following the previous hand, and we are still sixhanded. Seat 2 doubled through Seat 3 in the previous hand, winning a postflop race with AA vs. a pair and a flush draw.

Preflop (4,500): The table folds to Seat 7, who shoves all-in from the cutoff for 11.5 big blinds. The action then folds to me in the big blind with A-Jo. Seat 7 is a strong player who should be openshoving a fairly wide range with his short stack. In his shoes, I would be shoving any pair, any ace, any broadway hand, K-7s+, Q-8s+, J-7s+, T-7s+, 9-8s, 8-7s, as well as all but the weakest of those hands offsuit. I expect my opponent to have a similar range in this spot, perhaps even wider, making A-Jo a straightforward call from the big blind, regardless of my stack size1. I call, and my opponent flips up K T. The board runs out 8 5 5 4 3 and I win a 60/40, eliminating a tough opponent in the process.

Setup: After busting Seat 7 with A-J, the tournament broke down to two tables with 18 players remaining. Seat 1 is a solid highstakes online professional on the tight-aggressive side. Seats 2, 3, and 4 are unknown to me. Seat 5 is Seat 5 from my previous table, with whom I have little experience but who seems to be on the tight side. Seat 7 is a very aggressive online professional who can be quite unpredictable and tough, but can also spew chips at times. Seat 8 is Seat 6 from my previous table, a solid, aggressive professional who has been stuck with a stack of less than twenty big blinds for a while, waiting for a good spot. Seat 9 is unknown to me.

Preflop (5,250): The action folds to Seat 5, who raises to 5,025. In the next seat with 77, I am in a difficult spot. Calling to set-mine is out of the question. 10-to-1 implied odds are not nearly enough to set-mine at this stage of a tournament, especially with five players left to act who could squeeze me out of the pot. My hand may seem too strong to fold to a single raise, but if I threebet, I am essentially spewing chips. A standard threebet to approximately 14K would leave me with just under 2-to-1 odds to call a fourbet shove from Seat 5. I would not want to take 77 against an unknowns fourbet shoving range from this position, especially since he seems to be on the tight side; yet threebetting would commit me to calling his shove, hoping to see A-K or A-Q. I would win the pot preflop some of the time so long as no one behind me wakes up with a big hand; however, I would estimate that this relatively tight player raising a 25 bigblind stack at a full table will be fourbet shoving about 65% of the time. I must weigh the risk of likely getting 50K chips in as a big underdog vs. picking up 10K an estimated 30% of the time (65% of the time Seat 5 fourbet shoves, and 5% of the time someone behind me fourbets and I have to fold). I do not believe threebetting is worth the risk in this particular spot, so I fold my hand. Everyone behind me folds, and Seat 5 wins the pot.

Setup: One full orbit later at the table, and there has been little action. All hands have been won preflop by a single raise except one hand in which Seat 1 won the pot by threebetting Seat 9s raise. My only fold worth noting was K-Jo under-the-gun. I would have open raised in middle-to-late position, but unless I am on a money bubble where I can run over the table with a big stack, I am usually folding K-Jo in early position. The blinds are up, making stealing more valuable, but I must be aware of the four stacks in the 10 20 big blind range, who should all be looking to threebet all-in over others opening raises.

Preflop (6,300): The action folds to me with A-7o in middle position. Although my hand does not play well postflop, it is definitely good enough for a steal in this position with my stack. Before I raise, however, I should look at the stacks behind me. Seats 7 and 8 are capable of reshoving over my opening raises with a very wide range. Seat 2 has a perfect reshove stack and the advantage of being in the big blind with no one else left to act should he face a single raise. Less worrisome, but worth noting, is Seat 9 with a strong stack on the button. His stack and the button put him in an excellent resteal position against me, and if he chose to flat-call or resteal, I would not want to play my hand out of position postflop. All in all, many factors make this an undesirable spot from which to steal, even though my hand strength is reasonable enough. I fold. The rest of the table folds around to Seat 2, who gets a walk.

Setup: Three hands have passed since the previous hand. In between, I folded J-8s and K-Ts in early position for the same reasons as the A-7o fold, especially with Seats 9 and 1 in late position. In the last hand, Seat 3 lost a coin flip with A-K to Seat 2s QQ. The table is now eight-handed.

Preflop (5,000): The action folds around to Seat 5 in the small blind, who raises almost three times the big blind to 7,050. I am in the big blind with a mediocre hand that is playable only because it is suited, I have position, and I am facing a raise from the small blind, to which one can never give too much credit. My opponents relatively large raise size at this stage of the tournament (almost all players at the table are making it about two-and-a-half times the big blind or less) can be attributed to the fact that he is in the small blind, forced to play out-of-position postflop if I give him action. I like his raise size; in fact, I always raise to three times the big blind from the small blind at this stage of the tournament if I want to raise and our stacks are not such that a shove is in order. Because my opponent is willing to raise out of position, and he should know that I will reshove here with a relatively wide range, I believe that he is prepared to call a shove. Therefore, shoving is out of the question. Calling to play the pot in position is reasonable, but I do not think it is necessary with a hand that may get me into trouble if I flop top pair. I could not fold top pair on the flop given my opponents stack size, and yet if I managed to get all-in on a Q or 8 high flop, I would expect my opponent to have a dominating hand most of the time. I would be hoping to flop a flush draw, straight draw, or top pair and win the pot without showdown, thus I feel the reverse implied odds of playing this hand do not make it worthwhile. I fold, and Seat 5 wins.

Setup: This is ten hands after the previous hand. I have not seen any playable hands or good resteal spots. Chips have been traded around with mostly preflop raises taking down pots, a couple of successful threebets, and only one flop seen, where Seat 5 raised preflop but did not continuation bet. He gave up to a bet on the turn from Seat 9. The blinds and antes are up.

Preflop (7,000): The action folds around to Seat 4, who raises from the hijack to 6,300. Seat 5 folds to me on the button with A-Qo. If I were in Seat 4s shoes, I would not open raise with a 17 big blind stack unless I were committed to going all the way with the hand. Thus I usually assume that any strong opponent would be committed for all of his chips with this raise. However, Seat 4 is an unknown who may be willing to raise-fold this hand. Nonetheless, even if I know that Seat 4 is calling with his entire opening range here, I am still going to threebet my A-Q, willing to play for his stack. A-Q is too strong a hand in this position to consider folding, yet I would much prefer to apply pressure now in lieu of flat-calling and trying to play postflop. Because the stacks behind me in the blinds are both below 20 big blinds, I am certainly willing to play my A-Q for their stacks as well. A threebet to approximately 17K would be reasonable and preferable if either of the blinds was deepstacked, but because there is no player left in the hand who can hurt me too much, I would rather apply the maximum pressure and shove all-in. I threebet shove for 182,448, and everyone folds.

Setup: Four hands have passed since the hand previously described. I considered stealing with 8 5 in the last hand, but I chose to hold off, due to my position and Seats 7 and 8 behind me with good reshove stacks.

Preflop (7,000): I am under-the-gun with a mediocre holding, which I would usually fold from early position at an eight-handed table. However, several factors lead me to go against my normal play and raise in this instance. For one, it has been a very long time since I open raised a pot, 32 hands to be exact, only the first two of which were at my old table! Even though many players assume big stacks to be loose-aggressive, I should have developed a very tight image that I can take advantage of in spots like this. Being under-the-gun, my raise should get even more credit, and Seats 7 and 8 should need a huge hand to reshove, probably 99+ or A-Q+. These factors combined make this a good enough spot in which to steal with a marginal hand. I raise my standard amount at this levela little less than two-and-a-half times the big blindto 6,750. The action folds around to the big blind, who calls.

Flop (17,700): My opponent checks. I flopped top two pair, but there is a possible straight and flush on the board. With 17,700 in the pot, facing only one opponent with about 52K left, I am certainly willing to play for his stack now. However, there are plenty of cards that could hit the turn, an A, Q, T, or club, that would give me cause for concern and probably kill any potential action from weaker hands. This is about the worst possible board on which to slowplay top two pair. Although I usually like to make my continuation-bets a little less than half of the pot, I should bet a little more than this due to how easily my hands value could be destroyed by numerous turn cards. I do not want to bet too strong, however, as I do not want to discourage my opponent from making a move with the naked ace of clubs or a Jx Tc type hand. I bet 9,750, a little more than half the pot, knowing that if my opponent reshoves, I will call. My opponent folds, and I win the pot.

Setup: This is three hands after the previous hand. The blinds have increased, putting 5 of my 7 opponents below the 20 big blind threshold. In the last hand, Seat 1 opened for a small raise to 6,575, and Seat 7 called from the big blind. They ended up checking it down and Seat 7 showed 55 to beat Seat 1s unimproved A-9o. I find it interesting that with only 17 big blinds, Seat 7 chose to play 55 in this fashion. Normally I would expect him or most any strong, aggressive player to reshove preflop with his hand, maximizing fold equity against a player who is likely stealing light. This hand illustrates that Seat 7 is playing conservatively at the moment, not looking to take a marginally +EV gamble, but instead waiting for a really good spot before getting in his money.

Preflop (8,300): The action folds around to me on the button with Q-Jo, a relatively good starting hand for my position. If my opponents were both below 15 big blinds, I would just move all-in, putting maximum pressure on them and not giving them the illusion of fold equity that they might have if I put in a standard raise. Note that I would never put in a standard raise and then fold to a shove if they had such stacks; however, I would rather apply the pressure myself than allow them to reshove a hand like 33 or K-T and have to call off with my marginal hand. In this particular spot, Seat 7 has 17 big blinds and Seat 8 has 12.5 big blinds. Note the difference between this hand and Hand 3, where I had J-To on the button. There, the blinds had 26 and 16 big blinds respectively, and I did not want to get involved against those stacks with such a marginal hand. Here, however, I am up against smaller stacks with a somewhat stronger hand. If I raise my standard amount of 7,875 and Seat 8 reshoves, I will be getting 1.6-to-1 odds to call the all-in (8,300 + 7,875 + 38,949 = 55,124 55,124 34,474 = 1.6). Although these are not the 2-to-1 odds I would like to get in order to call a shortstacks all-in with a marginal hand, given our positions, these odds are strong enough to call. If Seat 7 reshoves, I will be getting 1.44-to-1, not quite strong enough, even though he should be shoving a relatively wide range. I never make these sorts of exact calculations in the heat of the moment, yet I do estimate the odds and determine whether or not I would call a shove from either player before making the initial raise. Generally speaking, I should never raise the button here unless I am willing to call a shove from a stack of 15 big blinds or less. > One last consideration that leads me to a raise in this spot is Seat 7s conservative play with 55 in the last hand. I now believe that he will need a stronger hand to reshove than I would have thought before witnessing that hand. Therefore I am confident in my decision not to call a shove from him, but surely to call one from Seat 8. I raise to 7,875, and both blinds fold.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (8,300): The action folds to me in the cutoff with a strong hand given my position. Before raising, as always with shortstacks behind me, I must know whose all-in reshove I would call. Although he has been playing more conservatively than usual, I would certainly call a reshove from Seat 7 as he could reshove any pair, any suited ace, or A-8o+, K-J+, and probably some strong suited connectors like J-Ts or T-9s. Note that he may make some of these lighter reshoves believing he has fold equity as I could be raising a very wide range in this spot. My actual hand, A-Jo, is well ahead of the range that I need to open here. I would, of course, make a trivial call from a shove from Seat 8 as well. He is less likely to reshove a hand like J-Ts since he should not believe that he has much fold equity here. However, he may reshove hands as light as A-2s or A-8o since he could very well be ahead, and down to 12 big blinds, he needs to take a stand soon. I raise to 7,875, Seat 7 folds, but Seat 8 reshoves all-in for 38,549. Seat 9 folds. I make the automatic call, knowing I would do so before I even raised. Seat 8 shows 4 4, and were off to the races. The board runs out T 6 5 4 4, and my opponent wins with quad fours, a bit of overkill.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (8,300): Seat 2 limps in under-the-gun. The action folds to me in late position with a speculative hand. Seat 2s limp surprises me since it is rare for anyone to limp into a pot at this stage of a highstakes tournament online, especially a player with 19 big blinds. He could be trapping with a big pair, or he may be trying to see a cheap flop with a marginal hand like a low pocket pair or a strongsuited connector. It is tough to assign him any particular range because the play is so unusual at this stage. It can be tempting with a big stack to assume limpers are weak and isolate them, especially with a hand like A-9s with some postflop value. However, I usually find it best in spots like this not to underestimate my opponents. Thus with a suited ace in late position, I am content to limp behind in hopes of seeing a cheap flop in position, looking to hit big with a hand that plays well in multiway pots. I limp in for 3,400. Seats 7, 8, and 9 fold, the big blind checks, and we take the flop 3-handed.

Flop (15,100): I flop the nut flush draw on a relatively uncoordinated board. Seat 1 checks and Seat 2 leads out for 13,600, almost a potsized bet, leaving himself with about 47.5K. My hand is too strong to consider folding, as I likely have 12 outs (3 aces + 9 clubs), and there is an off chance that I could actually be ahead of Seat 2 if he has something like K J or is simply on a bluff. I could call this bet, hoping to get paid off if I hit and willing to make a play at the pot if I miss and Seat 2 seems to give up on it. However, this seems like a better spot for a semibluff raise than a call. By raising, I take control of the hand and likely push Seat 1 off of anything weaker than two pair. More importantly, Seat 2 could be using the implied strength of his early position limp to try to take down the pot with a low pocket pair, or an unimproved broadway hand like A-K, A-J, A-T, or K-J. A raise would surely push him off any of these hands. If Seat 2 moves all-in, I will have a clear call with my strong draw. I see some players make the mistake of shoving all-in in my spot. A smaller raise serves the same purpose against Seat 2, but it also saves me my stack if Seat 1 happens to wake up with a monster. I raise to 29,750 on the semibluff, hoping to win the pot now, but committing me to call Seat 2s all-in. To my surprise, Seat 1 reraises to 62,550! Seat 1 then calls all-in for his remaining 47,505. The action is back on me. There is now 168,505 in the pot, and it is 32,800 for me to call, giving me 5.1-to-1 immediate odds on my draw. Knowing Seat 1 to be on the relatively conservative side, I would not expect him to make this raise with a pair and a flush draw or a combo draw like 8 6 when he is essentially risking his entire big stack against me. He is much more likely to have flopped two pair or a set of 7s or 5s. In fact, his hand is essentially face up. Although at this point I should discount an ace or even the 7 as a possible out, I still have 8 outs to the nuts. The good pot odds and even better implied odds make a fold out of the question. Attempting a reshove here would be suicidal, as I do not believe that I could ever get Seat 1 off of two pair or better. If I miss my flush, I expect Seat 1 to move all-in on the turn, betting me off of my draw, however, the immediate odds he is giving me are too good to pass up. I call 32,800.

Turn (201,305): Gin! I have made the nuts! Seat 2 is all-in already, and Seat 1 and I are left to play for the side pot. Seat 1 checks. I have about 109K left, and Seat 1 has about 101K left. With over 200K in the pot, I do not want to mess around with a bet of approximately half my stack. The pot is already huge, and winning it would give me a dominating chip lead over the field. I move all-in, putting Seat 1 to a decision for his stack. He quickly folds what was likely two pair (I expect to him have at least considered calling with a set). Seat 2 shows A Q and is drawing dead. The river is the inconsequential 8, and I win the pot, boosting me to a big chip lead. Seat 1 informed me later that he held bottom two pair. He made a mistake allowing me to draw to the flush so cheaply. His raise size on the flop appears to have been designed to put Seat 2 all-in with little consideration of my hand. He should not have afforded me such a cheap turn card with a hand as vulnerable as bottom two pair.

Setup: This is four hands after the previous hand. Since that hand, I raised with A J under-the-gun, taking down the blinds and antes. I also got a walk on my big blind. The table is now seven-handed, as Seat 2 busted when I hit my flush.

Preflop (7,900): The action folds to me in the small blind. The big blind has 15 big blinds left after posting. If he had about 18 30 big blinds, I would raise three times the big blind with K-Jo as I like to raise a little more than my standard from the small blind since I will be out of position for the rest of the hand. If he had a big stack, I would likely limp in, as I would not want to build the pot out of position. However, with his stack as it is, I prefer to just shove all-in, applying maximum pressure. This is the most unexploitable play from this position given his stack size. I will shove in here with everything from about 8-6s+, 9-8o+ to AA. It is not always optimal to just open shove all of these hands, but against a strong opponent, so long as I am consistent, I believe it to be the best option. I shove all-in, and Seat 7 folds.

Setup: Five hands have passed since the previous hand. I folded A-3s once from the button when Seat 1 opened from early position. It was a reasonable threebet steal attempt opportunity, but given Seat 1s conservative nature and his early position raise, I chose to pass on it. Seat 7 then shoved all-in over the top, and Seat 1 folded. I also opened with KK in middle position, but I only won the blinds

and antes.

Preflop (7,900): Seat 8 opens in early position to 7,250. The action folds around to me in the big blind with suited-connectors. Seat 8s raise is barely more than a minimum raise, and with such a strong stack and reasonable implied odds, I choose to call and see a flop. If Seat 8 had 20 big blinds or less, or I had about 30 big blinds or less, I would fold this hand, but given the stack sizes and my disguised hands strength, it is marginally worth speculating. I call 3,850 and take the flop heads up out of position.

Flop (19,000): I completely whiff the flop and check to my opponent as I usually would, whether I hit or not. My opponent checks behind.

Turn (19,000): I hit the turn, but with three diamonds and two overs on the board, my hand has very little value. Moreover, my opponent may have checked behind a hand like A-K, A-T, K-Q, QQ, JJ, with or without a diamond, on the flop for pot control. Yet I would not expect him to fold any of these hands to a single bet on the turn. If I were to lead out it would be as a bluff, hoping my opponent held a small pocket pair, a hand like A-Q without a diamond, or complete air, and would fold to my bet. However, he would likely have continuation bet with hands like small pairs or air on the flop, as he would want to use his position advantage to try to end the hand quickly. Therefore I expect him to show up with a semi-strong hand that he checked for pot control much more often than a weak hand. I take the safe route and check, intending to fold to a bet. My opponent again checks behind.

River (19,000): My situation does not look any better on the river. With four diamonds on the board, if I bet, I would expect to be called if my opponent has any diamond. He may even call with as weak a single pair as JJ or A-T if he suspects that I am bluffing. After all, he has shown weakness twice, and I have the stack where I can easily afford to bluff. It is because he is a strong player and I expect him to take all of this into consideration that I am better off not taking a shot at the pot. I check, hoping on the off-chance that my opponent will check and I will show the best hand. I am not planning to call if he bets. My opponent checks behind and shows 9 9 to win with a flush.

Setup: This hand is twenty-three hands after the hand previously described. Seat 7 was moved to balance the tables, and most pots have been won by a preflop raise or a raise and an all-in reshove. I stole the blinds once with K-Jo under-the-gun and once with 22 from early position. The blinds have increased to 2,000 4,000. With most of my opponents just below twenty big blinds, I have to be more selective about open-raising as they should be looking for good spots to reshove all-in. Thus even though I have a very big stack, it is my opponents stacks, not my own, that most influence my hand selection.

Preflop (9,000): Even though I am being selective about my opening range, I am not going to open fold a pocket pair with my current stack. I would raise this hand from any position, but it is actually more appealing to steal with it from under-the-gun than it would be from the button. My under-the-gun raise should get a lot more respect than a button raise, a very important factor given the good reshove stacks behind me. Note that if I had a stronger handsuch as A-Q+ or 88+against my opponentsreshove range, I would rather open from late position. With those hands, I would hope to induce a shove from a relatively short stacked opponent who may come over-the-top with a low pocket pair, A-x, any broadway hand or even a strong suited-connector. However, with a low pocket pair myself, I would much rather pick up the blinds and antes than get any action. I raise to 9,475, and my opponents all fold.

Setup: It is four hands after the hand previously described. A player busted at the other table, so we are down to eleven players remaining in the tournament. The final table bubble is one of the most important stages of every tournament in which to raise the level of aggression, since the payouts begin to increase substantially once the final table is reached. While I would like to have been playing more aggressively, using the bubble to my advantage, strong players at my table with good reshove stacks curbed my aggression. However, as we get even closer to the final table, I am looking to become more aggressive as the added incentive of immediate survival should factor into my opponents decisions in every hand. I have noticed in particular that Seat 1 has only reraised once preflop, at the 1,200/2,400 level, since we made the money. He may just be very card dead, but he appears to be letting the final table bubble influence him more than it should. Seat 8 is the only other strong player known to me at the table. Despite several reshove stacks at the table, it seems that I should be opening up my game more than I have been.

Preflop (9,000): As the final table approaches and I sense that I should be taking more advantage of the bubble, I am looking for any spot I can find to steal. My actual hand makes little difference in this spot, as I doubt that any opponent will flat-call, but the value of A-x is simply that it makes it a little less likely that my opponent is holding an ace. I am still a little leery with several good reshove stacks behind me, but now that we are down to eleven players, it is time to take more advantage of the bubble. I do not believe that Seats 9 or 1 will reshove light here, given the bubble, my reads on these particular opponents, and the minimal fold equity they appear to have. Thus if either of them shoves, I will give them credit for a relatively strong hand and fold. I raise my standard amount to 9,475, and my opponents all fold.

Setup: Two hands have passed since the previous hand. I picked up AA under-the-gun in the last hand but unfortunately got no action on my raise. With eleven players left, we remain two eliminations away from the final table.

Preflop (9,000): Seat 9 raises to 12,000, and the rest of the table folds to me in the big blind. With only twelve-and-a-half big blinds to begin the hand, I would be shocked if Seat 9 were not willing to go all the way with anything with which he open raises. Most strong players would open shove any hand that they chose to play with his stack to disguise the strength of their hand and polarize their range, but since he is an unknown player, I am not surprised by his three-timesthe-bigblind raise in lieu of a shove. Nonetheless, calling to take the flop out-of-position against an opponent who should be very strong is not an option. I could move all-in, using the bubble and my stack to put my opponent to the test; however, this appears to be a mistake for several reasons. Since he open raised with such a small stack, I should not have any fold equity if he is even halfway competent. My hand clearly should not fare well against his range. Lastly, I am the chip leader, and he raised into my big blind, which should indicate even more strength than a raise from any other position. All in all, this becomes a clear fold. I would probably only continue here with a hand as strong as 77+ or A-J+, any of which I would reshove all-in preflop. I fold, and Seat 9 wins the pot.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one. Preflop (9,000): The action folds around to Seat 5, who opens to 9,955 on the button. I have a marginally strong broadway hand on the small blind. Note that if Seat 5 had less than 20 big blinds, I would fold without much thought, since I would usually assume that he would not be opening from the button with that stack unless he was willing to go all the way. However, he has 26 big blinds, making this a spot in which its worth considering a resteal. Flat-calling is out of the question, as I do not want to play this hand postflop out of position or give the strong player in the big blind the chance to squeeze. Folding is reasonable, since I should be somewhat leery of his willingness to raise from the button with this size stack on the bubble when he should know that both players in the blinds are likely to play back at him. Threebetting to about 27K with the intention of folding to a fourbet shove is another option. Normally, if I were to threebet this button raise from the small blind, I would make it about 32 to 35K, a little larger than my in-position threebet size because I would not want my opponent to decide to take the flop with position. However, that size would commit me to call a fourbet shove, and I do not want to commit myself with this hand! Because we are on a bubble, I feel that a smaller reraise accomplishes the same goal since my opponent is very unlikely to call at this stage. He should be much more inclined to either fourbet shove or fold. In retrospect, because of the bubble and my stack, I believe I probably should have threebet to 27K. However, at the time, I convinced myself that he should be willing to play for his stack and likely fourbet shove, so I chose to fold. The big blind also folded, and Seat 5 won the pot.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one. The blinds have increased to 2,500 5,000 with a 600 ante, putting added pressure on the short stacks. The increase also makes every steal slightly more valuable.

Preflop (11,100): The action folds to me on the button with a reasonable hand but certainly not one with which I would want any action. However, with my big stack and the final table looming, I want to take every shot at the blinds that I can. If I raise to my standard of 12,475, I would have to fold to a shove from Seat 8. If Seat 9 were to shove, my decision would be very close. The pot would be laying me about 1.7-to-1 to call, which would be reasonable enough given my stack, if I felt he would shove a fairly wide range. However, since he is an unknown player, and we are on a relatively large final table bubble, I expect him to play tight and probably fold hands as strong as K-T, Q-J or A-7 which stronger players, unconcerned with the bubble would shove. From an EV perspective, the decision is very close.2 However, I lean towards folding for one important reason. With such a large stack, it is in my best interest to keep the bubble alive as long as possible since the added pressure allows me to abuse the situation and keep adding to my stack with very little risk. Note that I would normally not raise the button facing these stacks in the blinds, knowing that I will not call a reshove from either player. However, my increased fold equity given the bubble situation invites me to raise virtually any two cards in this spot. I raise to 12,475, and both blinds fold.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one. Eleven players remain.

Preflop (11,100): Seat 4 folds, and Seat 5 opens for 11,295. Since I have been very aggressive lately, and my opponents likely know that I am abusing the bubble, A-Q appears even stronger than usual. I am certainly willing to play for any of my opponents stacks behind me. Seat 5 is the only player with enough chips to give me a moment to consider the situation. Because he has more than twenty big blinds, he should be able to raise and fold. However, the reshove stacks behind him and me with position on him should cause him to fold many hands he might otherwise raise. In his shoes, with his stack, I would be very hesitant to open raise any hand with which I would not be willing to call off my entire stack. Nevertheless, he is an unknown to me, and I do not expect him to think on this level. I also know that even if he is as strong as A-Q or JJ, he may be unwilling to call off his entire stack on the final table bubble. Therefore, with a hand as strong as A-Q, I must put pressure on him by reraising. Instead of a standard threebet to about 29K here, I prefer to shove allin; this may get him to fold some hands like A-Q or JJ 88 with which he may fourbet shove if I were to threebet small. Note that if he were a strong, well-known, highstakes player, I would not expect him to fold hands as strong as JJ or TT, or perhaps even smaller pairs to my shove. However, I have much greater fold equity in this spot against an unknown player. If I get called, I know that I am likely to be up against AA, KK, QQ, or A-K, however, with my stack, it is well worth the risk to pick up the 22,395 currently in the pot. I shove all-in, and all my opponents fold.

Setup: This is three hands following the previous hand. I decided not to steal with 4-3o and K-5s in early position, although I certainly could have attempted steals at this juncture with either. I have just been moved to the other table, as they lost a player and the tables had to be balanced. We are now down to ten players, on the absolute bubble of the final table. I am extremely familiar with Seats 2 and 4 at my new table, both very strong, highly skilled tournament players. My experience tells me Seat 2 is on the loose-aggressive side while Seat 4 is on the tight-aggressive side, but both players are very capable of mixing it up and adjusting to their opponents. I am not at all familiar with Seats 1 or 8. I have the overall chip lead, but I am no longer in a dominant position as I was on the other table. However, I am fortunate to have been moved to the left of both strong players.

Preflop (10,500): The action folds around to Seat 2, who opens for 12,999 on the button. Seat 4 folds, and the action is on me with a strong, suited onegapper. Because we are on the final table bubble, restealing with this hand would be perfectly reasonable. If I made the play, I would threebet to approximately 38K and fold to a fourbet shove. However, I am hesitant to make this move in my first hand at a new table. My opponent is loose-aggressive, and certainly not afraid to risk his stack on the final table bubble to pick up a healthy pot. He should also be well aware when he raises the button into the two chip leaders that either of us may play back at him. Since I expect him to be thinking ahead, he may already be prepared to fourbet shove a threebet from either of us. On the other hand, because he understands that both of us in the blinds are tight-aggressive players and also aware of the same factors, he may be thinking on that next level and feel confident in stealing! This sort of back and forth and next-level thinking can lead to some very tricky situations like this one. I decide that it is probably not worth risking a threebet, but my hand is too strong to fold given our stacks. I call 7,999 and take the flop heads up out of position.

Flop (31,498): I whiff the flop and check to my opponent as I would do on virtually any flop. My opponent checks behind.

Turn (31,498): My opponent showed weakness on the flop, tempting me to lead out on many turn cards here. Unfortunately the Q on the turn makes it very hard for me to represent a hand. I would expect my opponent to call a bet here with as little as ace high or perhaps even weaker hands. Against a weak opponent, on this bubble, I would lead out most of the time; however against this player, I believe a lead to be hopeless. I doubt he has air, as he would probably have continuation-bet the flop if he whiffed with a hand like 87s. Even if he chose to check air on the flop, he may either float or raise if I bet the turn. I would fold to a raise, although there is a case for threebet shoving, as he is unlikely to raise on the turn with any hand that could call a shove. If he called, I would certainly have to give up on any non J or 9 on the river, and I may end up paying off a big value bet if I hit and he has me beat.

Lastly, there is a case for leading out here and leading again for about half the pot on the river if he calls. However, that line looks like a bluff to many thinking opponents. I would be relying on my image to make such a play, but the final table bubble is usually not the best time to rely on my image, as Im likely to be read as doing so. I check, and my opponent bets 14,999. I do have two more options to try to win the pot. I could checkraise and bluff the river if called, but this line often looks like a bluffjust like leading the turn and riverto a thinking opponent. The last option is floating out of position and leading out on the river. This may be the least obvious as a bluff, but he is likely to pick this off with a hand with any showdown value, since he would expect me to checkraise or lead the turn with a Q. The turn card pairing the queen makes this pot extremely difficult to pick up against a looseaggressive opponent, especially on the bubble. I exhaust my options and fold.

Setup: This is two hands after the previous hand. I folded 9-4o from the small blind to another raise from Seat 2. We are still playing hand-forhand with ten players remaining.

Preflop (10,500): The action folds to me on the button with a relatively strong hand given my position and the bubble. If either Seat 2 or Seat 4 had raised, it would have been a very good threebetting spot in position. Yet the action folded to me, and I have the two unknowns in the blinds behind me. If they each had at least about 13 big blinds or more, I could justify raising in this spot with any two cards. However, the big blind is very shortstacked, and raising commits me to call an all-in reshove from him, which he should feel committed enough to make with a wide range. Therefore, I need a hand with at least marginal showdown value to make this raise since I will be committed to calling an all-in from the big blind should he pushprobably any pair, any ace, K-7+, Q-8+, J-9+, or 8-7s+. My hand is well within this range, making it a trivial button steal given the bubble situation. I raise to 12,475, and both blinds fold.

Setup: Seat 1 at the other table busted in tenth place, sending the rest of us to the final table. Three hands have been played at the final table, with Seat 7 moving all-in the first, Seat 2 successfully stealing the second, and Seat 6 moving all-in the third. All hands were won preflop. Seats 1, 2, 4, and 8 from my previous table remain in the same seats at the final table. Seat 3 is the strong player who was in Seat 8 at the table before that one, and Seats 6, 7, and 9 are the weaker unknowns who were in Seats 7, 4, and 5 respectively at it. I am extremely lucky to have all three strong, highstakes players on my direct right at the final table! Now that we have reached the final table, the pay jumps become a lot more meaningful. I do not expect the strong players to be worried in the least about moving up the ladder. Yet some of the weaker players may be noticeably concerned about moving up, especially once we are down to about four players and the jumps become much more substantial. The payouts are as follows:

Preflop (12,900): The action folds to Seat 1, who moves all-in from the cutoff for 28,990. The remaining players fold to me. There is 41,890 in the pot, and it would cost me an additional 23,990 to make the call, pot odds of 1.75-to-1. Given Seat 1s desperate short stack of less than six big blinds, pot odds of 1.75-to-1, and no one left to act behind me, I have an easy call with Q-J. In fact, I would make this call with an approximate range of any ace, any king, Q-6+, J-7+, T-7+, 9-7+, 8-7, and maybe even a little weaker. I call, and my opponent shows K 5. The board runs out 8 5 4 J 4. I win the pot and eliminate Seat 1 in ninth place.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (12,300): The action folds to me in the small blind with a complete piece of cheese. My opponent is the shortest stack with 9 big blinds left after posting. I could limp in, hoping to see a flop, but my opponent should use it as an opportunity to push all-in with any two cards, and I could not call. There is a small chance that he might fear that I am trapping by limping and check behind. But even then, I would be counting on being able to push him off of his hand on the flop with a bet as I would have to lead out on any flop as that would likely be my only chance at winning the hand. Limping is way too weak and out of the question. Putting pressure on my opponent by raising is a much better play than limping. I would not want to make a standard raise as I would commit myself to call if he shoved all-in. I am better off forcing him to a decision for all of his chips by shoving all-in. I believe that he is a weak player, and he probably would not risk his stack with too weak of a hand. He will likely call with any pair, any ace, K-7+, Q-8+, and J-9+, but perhaps even a little bit weaker. This is an estimated range of 35% of his hands. So 65% of the time, I should win the pot preflop. Plugging this range for him and my hand into pokerstove, J-2o will win 30.765% of the time when called. So 65% of the time I will profit 12,300, and 35% of the time I will lose, on average, 14,982for an average profit of 2,751 from shoving3. Folding my hand is my last and probably best option. My opponent may call with a wider range than the one I assigned, making my shove less profitable. His stack is of no danger to me at the moment, and keeping him around may even increase my fold equity against other short stacked opponents on subsequent steals since they would be more reluctant to bust with a shorter stack still at the table. Giving him a walk should also lend more credibility to my future steals, especially against him in similar blind vs. blind spots. Nonetheless, I choose in the heat of the moment to move all-in, and my opponent calls with K 4, a hand that I mistakenly figured into his folding range. The board runs out Q T J Q 2, and I lucksack my way to an even bigger chip stack, eliminating my opponent in eighth place. This hand demonstrates how decisions can be vastly different based on the hand ranges that you assign to your opponent. Given the range of hands I estimated above (35% calling), it was a marginal decision to shove. However, my opponent had a much wider calling range than expected. Given this new information, we might assign a calling range of any pair, any ace, and king, any Q-x suited, Q-5+, any J-x suited, J-9+, T-8+ suited, 9-7+ suited, 8-6+ suited, and 7-6 suited. This represents approximately 50% of his hands. J-2o wins this battle 32.765% of the time. So now, 50% of the time I will take down the pot of 12,300, and 50% of the time I will lose, on average, 12,914, for a net loss of 614. With an increased calling range, a marginal shove can easily become a fold. Understand also, especially deep in tournaments, that chips gained do not have as much value as chips lost. For this reason, you generally only want to play in profitable situations, not marginal ones.

Setup: This is two hands after the previous one. I folded Q-8o to a raise from Seat 4 in the hand between.

Preflop (11,700): Seat 9 folds, Seat 2 raises to 12,999, and the rest of the table folds to me on the button. I could make a reasonable case for calling, threebetting, or even folding. Yet given that an aggressive player is raising, my chip stack, my position, and most importantly, final table dynamics, mean that I can easily dismiss folding as the worst option. Calling would be reasonable, as it will be difficult for my opponent to fire many shells postflop out of position since he is currently third in chips and losing a decent-sized pot would drastically affect his chip position. Once my opponent shows weakness postflop, I should be able to take the pot away whether I hit or not. Although it is a reasonable option, there are several potential pitfalls to flat-calling here. First, I open the door for one of the blinds to squeeze with an all-in reshove, which I do not want to face with K-Qo. They should be hesitant to make a play, given that the raise came from early position; on the other hand, they are probably aware by this point that Seat 2 opens with a very wide range and my flat-call should not appear very strong. Even if I do get to take the flop heads up in position, I will be up against a strong opponent who may not let me get away with stealing the pot if he makes a good read. Threebetting here with the intention of folding to a fourbet is the strongest option, especially given the table dynamics. My opponent is currently in third place with almost forty big blinds. I do not expect him to get out of line with a fourbet reraise or shove unless he happens to be extremely strong here. He probably needs JJ+ or A-K to reshove, although he might take a chance that I am restealing and shove with TT, 99, or A-Q. Given the circumstances, it is probably profitable for me to threebet here with any two cards, but having a hand as strong as K-Q is good back up just in case Seat 7 wakes up with a hand and shoves his short stack in, which I would be committed to call. Note that I can almost completely discount Seat 2 calling a reasonably sized threebet here with his stack size, as he would not want to play an inflated pot out of position. If he does so, alarm bells should be ringing that he may be trapping with AA or KK! My relatively tight image also contributes to getting away with this resteal a much higher percentage of the time than someone he would perceive to be a maniac could manage. I raise to 35,775, a little less than 3x his bet, and the blinds and Seat 2 all fold.

Setup: This is three hands after the previous one. I stole the blinds from the cutoff with A-Jo, and then I open folded Q-To from the hijack because I had been so active. Seat 7 shoved all-in and won that hand uncontested.

Preflop (11,700): Seat 4 raises under-the-gun to 12,444. The action is on me in the next seat with the same hand with which I just threebet another strong opponent. However, the circumstances here are very different: I am facing a much deeper-stacked opponent who may play back at me without a strong hand or flat-call me, although it would be unlikely since a reraise from my position usually indicates a very strong hand. I perceive Seat 4 to be much tighter than Seat 2, so I am in more danger of running into a big hand than in the previous hand. Most importantly, I have the entire table to get by if I threebet here, so there is a much higher chance of running into a hand than before. If I end up threebet folding or having to show this hand for any reason, it may destroy my tight image at this table, making it much more difficult for me to pick up chips without showdown later on. Although a threebet here would have a decent success rate because it would look so strong, I do not believe it is worth the risk, especially given that I just threebet a few hands before. I fold. The action folds around to Seat 2 in the cutoff, who threebets to 37,999. The rest of the table and Seat 4 all fold. Seat 2 wins.

Setup: Three hands have passed, and I have folded 9-5o, 9-6o, and 4-3s. The blinds and antes have increased, putting added pressure on the short stacks. Before the blinds increased, Seat 7 open raised from early position with a fifteen big blind stack and folded to Seat 9s reshove. This hand enforced my belief of Seat 7 as a weak player, as it is not optimal to open raise any hand with such a short stack unless you are willing to call off the rest of your chips.

Preflop (14,250): Seat 9 opens under-the-gun for 15,252. The action folds to me on the button. I am once again in good position with a fairly strong hand and an opportunity to threebet resteal. However, several factors make this a far different situation than the one in which I recently threebet Seat 2. Seat 9 is open raising in early position, and its his second straight raise (I folded 4-3s to his previous raise, and he won the blinds uncontested), two strong indicators that he has a legitimately strong hand. Also, because he has just over twenty big blinds, he is not a prime resteal target since threebet folding here would be awkward, as I would be getting close to the proper odds to call a fourbet shove. I certainly do not want to commit 160,000 chips with K-J! I fold, and Seat 7 shoves his short stack all-in. Seat 9 calls with 9-9, and Seat 7 shows A 8. Seat 9s hand holds up, and Seat 7 is eliminated in seventh place.

Setup: This is 17 hands after the hand previously described. In between, I folded the following hands with a few exceptions: K-7o, J-6o, 6-3o, A-Qs (raised, won the pot uncontested), Q-5o, Q-4o, 6-3s, Q-4o, A-6s (raised, won the pot uncontested), 9-3o, 8-3o, 6-5o, 8-4o, T5s, T-3o, and 8-3o. This is the first hand since the increase of the blinds and antes. Seats 3 and 8 are now extremely short stacked. Seat 2 just threebet and folded to Seat 9s fourbet shove in the previous hand, and is thus left with only 16 big blinds.

Preflop (18,000): The action folds to Seat 2 who raises to 19,999. The rest of the table folds to me in the big blind. I am in a tough spot with a somewhat strong hand facing a raise from a strong player with an awkward 16 big blind stack. I do not believe that Seat 2 would open raise here and fold to a shove, as I know that I would not do so with his stack. With 16 big blinds, I believe he has a little time to wait for a hand worth committing himself with, and thus he would choose to fold mediocre hands like K-J, A-9, or low pocket pairs. Thus I feel his range should be approximately 66+, A-T+, and K-Q. I also expect him to open shove with the weaker end of this range to discourage action (or perhaps even fold it), further narrowing his range here to 99+ and A-J+. However, I am unsure of this latter point, and of course of his precise range (it may include such hands as the smallest pairs and slightly weaker A-x hands), and there is an ever-so-slight chance that he is willing to raise and fold here, thus widely increasing his range. Because I expect Seat 2 to be strong here, and thus do not see him folding to a reraise, I do not want to reshove with K-Qo. Nonetheless, facing a small raise, and partly invested in the big blind, I am tempted to call and see a cheap flop. This is a definite mistake! Once I decide not to reshove, I should fold the hand instead of trying to play it postflop. By calling, I invest more chips to see a flop out of position against a strong player who I believe has a very big hand. My hand is difficult to play postflop unless I flop precisely top pair or better or if it comes J-T-x or all diamonds or hearts, and I can checkraise all-in with my draw. Even when I do hit a pair without an Ace on board, I am likely to win a small pot or lose a big pot, since he probably has me beaten if he likes his hand enough

to stack off. Unfortunately, I make what is, in hindsight, a clear mistake and call to see the flop heads up.

Flop (49,998): I whiff the flop and expect my opponent to likely shove over the top of any bet, so I check, praying for an unlikely check behind. My opponent bets 29,999, and I fold.

Setup: Seven hands have passed since the previous one. I folded 8-5o, 9-4o, 8-6o, Q-5o, J-3s, and J-5o. Seat 2 had further increased his stack to 22 big blinds, but he lost a race to Seat 3 in the previous hand when his 44 was outrun by A-Ts.

Preflop (18,000): Seat 9 folds, and Seat 2 raises to 19,999. The action folds to me in the small blind, and I am in a similar spot to that which I just had with K-Qo. Seat 2 has 15 big blinds, that awkward stack with which he is probably not open raising mediocre hands like low pocket pairs, K-J, or A-9. In fact, since he is in slightly earlier position and now has 15 instead of 16 big blinds, I think him more likely to shove all-in with the weaker end of his range, A-J, A-T, K-Q, and low pocket pairs, or perhaps just fold these marginal hands given the precise situation. If my hand were one notch weaker (A-T), I would have an easy decision to fold. If it were one notch stronger (A-Q), I would have an easy reshove given his stack size and the situation. However, my A-Js puts me in a very borderline situation. Because I am suited, the big blind is shortstacked, and I had probably made a mistake against the same opponent by calling with K-Q, I decide to reshove all-in. However, again, in hindsight, this is clearly a mistake. I should realize how strong his range should be and that he should never fold to a reraise given his stack size and throw my hand into the muck! Nonetheless, I shove all-in, and he quickly calls with A Q. The board runs out A 8 6 J 9, giving me an ugly come-from-behind victory, increasing my chip lead, and eliminating a very tough opponent in the process. Note that by playing this hand, I risked losing the chip lead if I lost. Preserving the lead can be very important in future situations and yet another reason why I should have thought more about the hand and made the fold!

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (17,000): Seat 3 folds, and Seat 4 raises to 17,988. I have just increased my chip lead to a very healthy margin, and I want to really begin using my stack. I also notice that Seat 4 is raising into the blinds of the two weakest players at the table. Since the table is now five-handed, I expect Seat 4 to pick up his aggression. I also expect that he views me as tight and not likely to threebet him lightly. The short stacks at the table should help make him extremely hesitant to play a big pot preflop with me or to play back at me without a monster. All of these reasons make him a prime target to threebet in position, regardless of the strength of my hand. In case Seat 4 flat calls or Seat 8 wakes up with a hand with which to call off his stack, I will only make this play with a hand that at least has marginal postflop value (I would not threebet here with a hand like T-3o), but I expect to take down the pot preflop the vast majority of the time. Seat 4 will probably fold anything worse than 99 or A-Q and may even toss the weakest of those into the muck given his chip position. I raise to 49,750, approximately three times the size of his bet, and the blinds and Seat 4 all fold.

Setup: This is three hands after the previous one. I folded 8-3o and 5-4o, but there was significant action. Seat 8 actually raised and folded to Seat 3 in one hand (an astoundingly bad play given his stack) and then shoved all-in with 9-8s the following hand, only to run

into Seat 3s QQ. We are now fourhanded, and I have a decent-sized chip lead; however, there are no longer any true short stacks at the table. The shortest, Seat 3, has about 25 big blinds and has proven to be a strong shortstack player. Seat 4 is a very well-known, tough opponent, but I still have position on him three out of four hands. Seat 9 is a bit of a wild card, but I have not seen him make any noteworthy mistakes. It is always best not to underestimate your opponents until they prove to you otherwise.

Preflop (16,000): Seat 9 folds, and Seat 3 raises to 17,225 from the button. Seat 4 folds, and the action is on me. With a weak suited Ace in the big blind, I could make an argument here for reshoving all-in, threebetting, calling, or even folding! Against his 25 big blind stack, threebetting becomes awkward. If I were to raise to approximately 50,000, I would expect him to virtually never flat-call. I believe he would reshove all-in with a wide enough range that calling his shove would be reasonable. However, the thought of calling off 25 big blinds, investing one-third of my stack preflop with A-6s, does not sound appealing. If his stack were bigger, I could more reasonably threebet and fold to a fourbet, but as it stands, this option is marginal at best. I would rather reshove all-in and put him to a decision for all his chips than give him the option of fourbet shoving on me, but this option seems unwarranted at the moment. I could fold, but that seems too weak given his position and the size of his raise. Calling is reasonable, but I am not going to hit the flop strongly enough to play profitably out of position postflop with these stacks often enough to justify the call. I would much rather call with a hand like T-9s that is much easier to play postflop and much less likely to be dominated when I hit. All in all, even though it appears weak, folding is probably the best option; however, it is a close decision, and in this instance, I choose to call.

Flop (42,450): I whiff the flop and check to my opponent as I would do on most any board. My opponent checks behind.

Turn (42,450): This card is rather inconsequential and leading out would be reasonable, but I feel that my opponent may be playing pot control with 2ndpair or even weaker and would be unlikely to fold to a single bullet. I essentially give up on the pot by checking, though; basically hoping my opponent checks behind and I get to a very cheap showdown. However, he bets 24,000. With no pair, no draw, and no good reason to believe that I could push my opponent off his hand, I surrender the pot and fold.

Setup:Three hands have passed in which I folded K-2o, 3-2o, and 9-8o.

Preflop (16,000): Seat 9 raises under-the-gun to 18,995. The action folds to me in the big blind. With another somewhat weak suited Ace, I am in a similar spot to the one I just faced. However, several factors are different, making this a much easier spot to threebet. Most importantly, I am up against a weaker opponent whom I believe will not fourbet me with near the frequency that Seat 3 would. Secondly, fourhanded, players should be raising approximately the same range of hands from both under-the-gun and the button, however, threebetting an under-the-gun raiser appears much stronger than threebetting a button raiser. Lastly, because Seat 9 has almost 30 big blinds in lieu of Seat 3s 25 big blinds in the previous hand, I will be able to easily get away from my hand if he reshoves all-in. I threebet to 49,750, and Seat 9 folds.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (16,000): The action folds to me in the small blind. Although raising in this spot would be reasonable, especially with the chip lead, I generally prefer to keep blind versus blind pots small when I am out-of-position. I would rather play the hand postflop, looking to extract maximum value if I hit or to pick up the pot cheaply if I miss but my opponent shows weakness. Also, by limping in, if my opponent raises small, I can call with hands like this that play well postflop, whereas if I were to raise and he reraised, I would have to invest too much to make the call. I limp in for 4,000, and Seat 9 checks.

Flop (20,000): I completely whiff the flop, and although I will stab at many small blind versus blind pots, I do not like the texture of the flop for a bet. I would expect my opponent to defend with an extremely wide range on this board, certainly with bottom pair or one of many draws. Note that on a flop such as A-J-5, or K-J-5, I would lead out as my opponent would have a hard time defending with bottom pair on those boards. He would also be a lot less likely to have hit top pair or picked up a straight draw since he probably would have raised with many of those hands. I check, and my opponent checks behind.

Turn (20,000): This turn card should not have helped my opponent, and since he has shown weakness, I expect a strong success rate with a stab at the pot. My hand has no showdown value, and with the chip lead, I should not be handing over free pots to anyone. Betting the turn is usually better than waiting until the river in these spots as it is much tougher for players to make hero calls on the turn than the river simply because of the potential that they may face another, bigger bet on the river. I lead out for 11,750, a little more

than half of the pot. My opponent folds.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (16,000): Seat 4 opens under-the-gun for 17,888. I am next to act with a suited onegapper that, given our chip stacks and my positional advantage, I find worth playing. I could make a reasonable case for threebetting, but I have threebet several times in recent hands, and this type of hand plays well in multiway pots, so I do not mind encouraging the blinds to defend. I will have position throughout the hand, and I am certainly willing to make a play at the pot if I miss the flop. On the downside, by flat calling, I open the door for either of the blinds to squeeze. I expect them to only make this play with very strong hands, though, based on each of them having over 25 big blinds and not making any squeeze plays at the final table to this point. I call. Seat 9 folds, but Seat 3 seizes the opportunity to squeeze all-in for 220,873. Seat 4 folds, and I fold.

Setup: Two hands have passed since the previous one. I folded 8-2o, and I got a walk in the big blind with Q-To.

Preflop (16,000): The action folds to me in the small blind as it did in the previous orbit. Unlike my T-8s from the previous orbit, Q-5o has very little postflop potential. If my opponent were very deep stacked or a very strong player, I would probably give him a walk. However, this opponent has not shown a tendency to play back at me, and with my chip stack, I should be applying pressure, so a raise is in order. From the small blind, I generally like to raise three times the big blind as I want to discourage action since I will be out of position throughout the hand. I raise to 24,000 and my opponent folds.

Setup: This is six hands after the previous one. I folded 8-6o, Q-7o, K-2o, K-8s, and 5-4o. There has been no significant action, but Seat 4 has been the most active, picking up three of the five pots. The blinds increased on this hand, reducing Seat 9 to a 20 bigblind stack.

Preflop (19,000): I pick up a decent enough hand under-the-gun to take a shot at the pot. I raise to 24,750, Seats 9 and 3 fold, but Seat 4, my strongest opponent, defends from the big blind.

Flop (58,500): The flop is rather dry, and my opponent checks to me. He should expect me to continuation-bet the vast majority of my range; with such a strong hand, I am in a prime spot to do so. He will have a hard time folding any pair on this board, may go broke on the flop with top pair, and may even play back at me with air, assuming that I missed the flop the majority of the time. I bet 29,750, about half the size of the pot. My opponent checkraises to 88,985! Having now invested almost one third of his stack in the pot, and given the texture of the board, I expect him to be willing to go all the way with his hand, most likely either top pair or a big flush draw. With a set, I would expect him to either flat-call or checkraise smaller to encourage action, and it is virtually impossible for him to have two pair on this board. Note that even if I were somewhat worried about a set here, given our chip stacks and the strength of my hand, folding would not be an option. Simply calling in position, hoping my opponent will put me all-in on the turn, is an option; however, this play makes my hand appear extremely strong. If I shove, my opponent may feel like I am trying to push him off of his hand with a draw or a weaker hand. Forcing him to either commit his chips now or fold also does not give him the opportunity to be scared into giving up his hand if a heart hits the turn. I shove, and my opponent calls with Q J. The turn and river come 6, 2, and my hand holds up. I eliminate Seat 4, whom I considered to be my toughest opponent, and greatly increase my chip lead going into threehanded play!

Setup: Two hands have passed since the previous one. I got a walk with 8-2s and folded 8-6o to Seat 3s button raise. Play is now threehanded, and the chip stack sizes now become more of a factor than ever. Since I have a large chip lead and my opponents have relatively similar short stacks, they are essentially playing for second place. This fact only changes when one of them at least doubles his stack. I am not sure how much the payout increases will affect my opponents play, although I do not expect Seat 3 to be worried about the differences in prize money. Nonetheless, with such a large chip lead, I should be applying pressure to my opponents, looking to gradually bleed them down, especially since they each know that the other is one hand away from elimination.

Preflop (18,000): My opponents have good reshove stacks, so raising hands on the button that I will fold to either players reshove is not generally optimal. However, given the current dynamic, I expect a much stronger success rate than usual with a steal in this spot. I raise to 24,750. Unfortunately, Seat 9 moves all-in for 189,850, striking an early blow against my plan to run over both my opponents, especially Seat 9, threehanded. I fold.

Setup: I folded 5-3o from the big blind to a raise from Seat 3. This is the hand that followed.

Preflop Preflop (18,000): Seat 3 raises from the button to 20,000. With a strong hand that does not play very well postflop, especially out of position, calling is not an option. I could threebet to approximately 60,000, planning to call a fourbet shove from Seat 3. However, given the strength of my hand preflop, but marginal postflop strength, I prefer to apply the maximum pressure now and shove all-in. If either opponent had more than 30 big blinds, I would rather threebet than move all-in, but with these stack sizes, it is best to just shove. I shove all-in, and both opponents fold.

Setup: This is three hands after the previous one. I stole the blinds with 7-6s from the button and got a walk with T-8o.

Preflop (18,000): I am dealt a hand in the small blind with which I want to see a flop, but I do not want to play for Seat 9s stack preflop. Based on how active I have been preflop, threehanded, he should give me no credit for a hand and thus could reshove with a very wide range if I were to raise. Despite this, raising would be a strong play given the threehanded table dynamics. Shoving all-in here would actually be a reasonable play as well. I would not usually recommend open shoving into a 21-big-blind stack, but given the pay jump between third and second place, plus my read on Seat 9 being a fairly weak player (and thus probably not calling as lightly as he should), shoving would be fine, perhaps even optimal. Limping in on his big blind, however, has allowed me to see cheap flops in the past and make small, successful stabs when I had air. Even though raising or shoving would probably be better plays, I choose to take the conservative route and limp in. Seat 9 raises to 26,520. With his 20 bigblind stack, I do not expect him to raise and fold to a shove, nor do I want to play a larger pot preflop out-of-position with a marginal hand. This becomes an easy fold, even to a small raise, and it is even clearer now why I should have raised myself, shoved all-in, or possibly even folded instead of limping in.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop(18,000): I am dealt a relatively strong hand on the button, especially for threehanded play and the current table dynamics. Both of my opponents have 22 big blinds, prime reshoving stacks, and I will be more than willing to call if either of them reshoves my button raise. I expect A-J to fare very well against their ranges, especially since I have raised every button during threehanded play! I raise to 24,750. Seat 9 shoves all-in for 219,600. I already know before raising the button that I will call if either player shoves, so I call. Seat 9 shows A K, a much stronger hand than I expected to see. Fortune is smiling on me in this tournament, however, as the board runs out Q J 6 7 3. I eliminate Seat 9 in third place.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one. With Seat 9s elimination, I am heads up against a strong, but very shortstacked, player in Seat 3. Although I have a dominant chip lead, my opponent has 21 big blinds, a little bit of room to maneuver. If he were to double up only twice, he would have the chip lead! If the blinds were higher, I would be ready to shove in almost any two cards, applying pressure and very willing to gamble to try to end the match quickly. However, with a very good structure (the average stack is now almost 70 big blinds), I do not want to make a big mistake that lets my opponent back into the match.

Preflop (17,000): My opponent raises to 22,750, consistent with his small raises throughout the final table and indicative of his willingness and desire to play postflop poker. I have a very small, suited onegapper in the big blind. I do not want to risk reshoving allin, as I have no evidence yet, (even heads up), that my opponent is willing to raise and fold with a 21-big-blind stack. Therefore it is rather likely that a shove would be met with a call. A threebet to about three times his raise would probably be met with an all-in fourbet. Folding would be fine, as there is not much merit to playing this sort of hand out of position against a strong opponent, with a 21-big-blind stack. However it is enticing to call his extremely small raise with a hand that has the potential to become strong on the flop. Also, I do not want to let him win the first heads-up pot so easily with such a small raise. Although it is marginal at best, I call.

Flop (47,100): First to act, I check to the raiser as I have done throughout the tournament. I may change this strategy as the heads-up match progresses, but for now, I do not want to start leading out when my opponent expects me to check to him. I will fold if my opponent bets, as I do not want to call to chase the low end of a gutshot, and a checkraise would only work if my opponent has complete air. With his stack, if he has any piece of the board or a draw, I would expect him to move all-in over my checkraise. My opponent opts to check behind.

Turn (47,100): I expected that my opponent would generally bet with any piece of the board on the flop (and also bet a bit less often with air). Since he checked, and the turn fit well with the texture of the flop, I can expect him to be pushed off of his hand much of the time. I can easily represent having hit the flop since I normally check the flop when I hit or miss. Unless my opponent has a straight, top pair, or an openended straight draw with the J, a bluff here is likely to succeed. I bet a meager 22,750, since I would certainly bet small here if I actually had a straight and wanted action. My opponent moves all-in for 186,099, perhaps having a very strong hand himself, or perhaps correctly sensing weakness on my part. I fold, of course. He knew that I probably would not call an all-in on this board unless I had a straight (or if I made a hero call with a set, two pair, or a hand like J-T, gambling that it is good with the chance of improving). He also probably suspected that I would be leading out bluffing at this board much more often than I would truly have a hand with which I could call. Of course, he may actually have had a very strong hand himself and hoped to get called.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (17,000): Many very good players argue that you should raise the button 100% of the time heads up, as your positional advantage will often make up for the strength of your hand. Playing this style also makes it much easier to get action when you do have a big hand, as your opponent will realize that you could literally have any two cards. There are many strong arguments for using this aggressive style, and I will do so in some circumstances, depending on the strength of my opponent and stack sizes. In this spot, however, I am up against a strong opponent who I will not be able to run over. More importantly, his relatively short stack of 25 big blinds makes him likely to reshove all-in with a wide range. If he chooses to call and see a flop, he has a great stack for reshoving all-in over the top of a continuation-bet which I will feel compelled to make on most flops with such a weak hand. I fold, preferring not to get involved with a hand this weak.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (17,000): My opponent limps in from the small blind. I do not want to build a pot preflop with a relatively weak hand out of position, so I check my option.

Flop (22,000): I completely whiff the flop and check to my opponent. He bets 11,750. My opponent is likely betting any two cards with which he limped in this spot, however, the pot is very small, I have no piece, and it seems reckless to make a play at this pot. I fold.

Setup: Three hands have passed since the previous one. In the first, I gave my opponent a walk with Q-5o. He then raised to 24,560, and I folded J-6o from the big blind. In the last hand, I raised J-8o to 24,750 from the button, and he folded his big blind. I had given him a walk with two very weak hands to begin heads-up play, but I raised the third one, as it would not be prudent to continue that trend for long.

Preflop (17,000): My opponent limps in from the small blind. Although I just raised with the same hand from the button, I certainly do not want to build a pot out of position with it, so I check my option.

Flop (22,000): I flop top pair but continue my heads-up trend of checking to my opponent postflop out of position. My opponent bets the minimum, 10,000. I should have the best hand the vast majority of the time in this spot, since my opponent is likely to make this bet with any two cards. A lot of the time with top pair and a weak kicker, I will just call his bet because I do not expect to get much value out of a raise (I expect him to fold the worst hand and call or reraise with the best hand). However, a couple of factors make raising the better option in this spot. First, since he has been winning most of the pots heads up, he may feel that I am getting frustrated and making a play at the pot with a checkraise over such a weak bet. Therefore, he may not give me any credit for a hand. Second, the board is draw heavy, and I do not want to let him take a very cheap turn card in position. I checkraise to 38,750. If he reraises, I plan to take my chances and go with my hand. If he calls, he likely either has a T or a draw, and I will proceed very carefully if a turn card hits that is likely to help him. He folds, and I win the pot.

Setup: There have been three uneventful hands since the previous one. I raised A-7o from the button, and my opponent folded. I folded J-2s from the big blind to his raise to 23,456. I gave my opponent a walk with Q-5o.

Preflop (17,000): My opponent raises the button to 23,456. A-Q is a very strong hand heads up, and I am happy to play for my opponents 26 bigblind stack. If I had reshoved preflop once or twice so far in the heads-up match, I would do the same right now. However, since I have not yet made this play, I much prefer making a small reraise, hoping that my opponent will make a mistake and reshove all-in with a weaker hand. If he flat-calls and I miss the flop, I will be in an awkward spot, but I doubt that such a strong opponent will just call with many hands given his stack size. I expect him to either move all-in or fold. If he shoves, I will gladly call, although I will often be in a race against a pocket pair, and it is possible, though unlikely, that I am beaten. I reraise to 69,750, and my opponent folds.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (17,000): I again have a strong hand considering the situation. I raise my standard 24,750 from the button, willing to move all-in if my opponent reraises or call if he shoves. He instead makes the call.

Flop (51,500): Not only do I miss the flop, but it is very coordinated, a terrible flop! My opponent checks. I do not want to continuation bet on such a coordinated board when I have some showdown value with A high. If I had a hand like Q-9 or J-T in this spot, I would usually continuation bet since my hand would have very little showdown value if we were to check it all the way down. I check behind.

Turn (51,500): Bingo! I hit and am now likely to have the best hand. My opponent checks again. I should bet my hand for value, even though I would not welcome a checkraise. My hand is relatively strong heads up, and there are plenty of draws on the board, so I do not want to give a free card. Also, my opponent probably expects me to represent pairing the A, whether or not it really helped me. Thus he may be inclined to call with any pair. I bet 29,750. My opponent calls.

River (111,000): My opponent checks. This is a relatively good card for me, as none of the draws hit, and my opponent could not have improved unless he called with bottom pair. I am very confident that I had the best hand on the turn or my opponent would have raised. Since my opponent may be suspicious that I am representing the Aand it is unlikely for me to have improved on the river, a value bet has a very good chance of being paid off. My opponent has about 185K left. I do not want to go all-in, as my opponent is unlikely to make a big hero call for almost double the pot. However, I also do not want to bet too small, making it fairly obvious that I am going for value. I settle on a little less than twothirds of the pot, 68,750. My opponent goes into the tank, but eventually makes the call with K J! Clearly a hero call, but it is somewhat reasonable, as I would not have bet anything weaker than a pair of Aces for value, but my bluffing range should be relatively large.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one. With 11.5 big blinds, my opponent is now very shortstacked, and will probably be in push/fold mode.

Preflop (17,000): Surprisingly, my opponent limps in from the button. Very suspicious that he may be trapping with a huge hand, I gladly check my option.

Flop (22,000): I whiff the flop and check to my opponent. He checks behind.

Turn (22,000): With my opponent having limped a very small stack, I am quite concerned that he may have a big hand even though he checked behind on the flop. Thus it seems imprudent for me to take a stab at the pot. I check to my opponent. He bets 12,250, and I fold.

Setup: Two hands have passed since the previous one. I gave my opponent a walk with 7-4o, and then he gave me a walk (I held 9-8s).

Preflop (17,000): With a monster on the button and my opponent only having 12.5 big blinds, I want to get action. However, I do not want to limp in and let my opponent out-flop me. My opponent should expect me to be shoving a wide range into him, so I am likely to get called by any pair, any A-x, K-Q, K-J, and probably even lighter. I shove, and he folds.

Setup: Nine relatively uneventful hands have passed since the previous one. I folded 7-3o to my opponents shove, I shoved Q-Ts (he folded), I got a walk with 7-3o, I shoved A-Jo (he folded), I folded 6-2o to his shove, I gave him a walk with J-2o, I got a walk with T-3o, I gave him a walk with J-4o, and I folded J-4o to his shove. The blinds and antes just increased before his last shove, and he is still shortstacked with 10.5 big blinds.

Preflop (21,000): With a monster on the button, some players may be tempted to limp in, hoping their opponents will shove with a weak hand (something with which they would not have called a shove). This play would be reasonable, or even preferable, if I had been playing relatively passively heads up. Yet since I have been aggressive and expect my opponent to give little credit to a shove, I prefer to keep up the pressure. Besides, a limp would be extremely suspicious and may even cause him to check some marginal hands like K9 with which he would probably snap-call a shove. Therefore, as I have been doing with every playable hand recently, I shove all-in. My opponent makes an easy call with A K, and were off to the races. The board comes K 6 4 9 3, and my opponent wins the race.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one. My opponent now has 21.5 big blinds, considerably more room to maneuver than the 10 13 bigblind stack that he had been stuck with for about 15 hands.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent raises to 27,805. It would be reasonable to call and play a small pot out of position with J-To, however, I feel that I let him control the action a bit too much when he had a 20 30 big blind stack early in the match. I also believe that he is probably raising a wide range since he finally has a more comfortable stack and probably feels like he can raise and fold. Nonetheless, I am a little leery of reshoving, as I have not had many opportunities to put him to a test with this stack size throughout the match. I go with my gut that he will not call, and I reshove all-in. It should be noted that this shove may have been influenced by a little frustration from losing the race in the previous hand, but it is certainly a reasonable move given my opponents stack size. My opponent folds.

Setup: On my button, I raised QQ to 28,750, and my opponent folded. This is the hand that followed.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent limps in from the small blind. With 18 big blinds, he has an awkward stack with which he probably does not want to raise and fold. I expect him to occasionally limp in, as now, with a monster to trap, but much more often with a marginal hand that he wishes to play but not commit himself to the pot. I have a small pocket pair that will not play well postflop unless, of course, I hit a set. I could raise three times the big blind, planning to call if he reshoves. However, I do not want to get into an awkward spot postflop if he chooses to call in position. Given my opponents stack size and the 27K now in the pot, shoving all-in is the safest, most reasonable play. I expect my opponent to fold the vast majority of the time, and usually only call if he is trapping with a monster. Even though I do not expect to get called and be in a race (he would probably open raise hands like strong A-x hands or middle pocket pairs), shoving here is still a much better play than checking or raising a standard amount. I shove, and my opponent folds.

Setup: Two hands have passed since the previous one. I gave my opponent a walk with 7-2o, and my opponent gave me a walk (I had A-Jo). My opponent has about 16.5 big blinds.

Preflop (21,000): If my opponent were below 15 big blinds, I would shove all-in with this hand. If he had more than 20 big blinds, a raise or limp would be fine. However, when he has this awkward stack size of 15 20 big blinds, marginal hands become difficult to play. He can profitably reshove with a very wide range if I put in a small raise, and I could not call. Yet open folding marginal hands like this heads up in position seems too weak. When both raising and folding seem like mistakes, many good players choose to gamble on the aggressive side by shoving, but I will often take the conservative approach and limp. If my opponent seems to be taking advantage of my limps after several hands, I must adjust. In most heads-up matches though, my opponents stack will not be in this big blind range for long, so adjusting will not be necessary. I limp, and my opponent checks his option.

Flop (27,000): My opponent checks. I hit middle pair with a gutshot straight draw. I could certainly bet, but a checkraise would put me in a bind. I would not want to invest too much on the flop; however, I would hate to have to give up my hand. Checking behind gives me a free card and underrepresents my hand. Betting would be fine, but I choose to check behind.

Turn (27,000): My opponent leads out for the minimum, 12,000. I could call or raise, but folding is out of the question. The downside of the way I have played my hand is that Im not sure where I am. The upside, however, is that Ive kept the pot small in a marginal situation, and I can see the river cheaply. I am likely ahead, and even if I do not improve, if my opponent checks the river, I may be able to value bet and get called by worse. I call.

River (51,000): My opponent checks. The flush draw hit, but it is extremely unlikely that he would have hit the flush and checked. I also do not expect him to have an A, as he probably would have shoved any A when I limped preflop. It is much more likely that he already had a pair, but I do not expect him to have a 9 as he probably would have bet stronger on the turn on a somewhat drawheavy board. Therefore I expect him to have an 8 (unlikely, as there are only 2 8s left in the deck), or a 5 or 4. He has looked me up very lightly before, and I could easily sell that I missed one of many straight draws and must bet to win the hand. Although it is very marginal, I believe I may be able to get some value out of my hand. If he folds, it is better than winning the pot at a free showdown where he will

see my hand. I bet 29,750, expecting him to fold but hoping to get called by a worse hand. He calls, shows J 9, and wins the pot. Unfortunately, my attempt at a very thin value bet backfired. I could have shown down the hand for free. Although I would have given up information by checking, I would have made up for it with a free look at his hand. This bet was extremely marginal, and certainly can be argued to be a mistake.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent raises to 25,555. Back to over 20 big blinds, my opponent makes a standard, albeit very small, raise. With a weak suited ace, I could certainly reshove all-in. My hand is similar in value to the J-To with which I recently reshoved in an almost identical spot. While shoving would be fine, calling in this spot is reasonable as well and will let me underrepresent my hand if I hit. I call.

Flop (54,110): I whiff the flop and check to my opponent as I have consistently done in similar spots throughout the match. My opponent checks behind.

Turn (54,110): I could take a stab at the pot or I could check, hoping to get to a cheap showdown with A high. Because similar stabs have not worked in this match, and I loathe my positional disadvantage, I choose to check. My opponent again checks behind.

River (54,110): My opponent has shown weakness twice, but given the way the hand has played out, it is difficult for me to represent a real hand by betting the river. I do have a reasonable chance of winning at showdown, however, if my opponent checks behind. I check, but he bets 36,000. I consider making a hero call as my opponent may be betting the river because he has no showdown value. However, he could easily be value betting a J or any pocket pair as he should be fairly sure that I do not have much at this point. I may call a random player here, but my opponent is savvy enough to value bet hands as weak as 55 or A-3 here. I fold.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (21,000): My opponents stack is back above 20 big blinds, allowing me to open up my raising range to hands with which I am not willing to call a reshove. This hand is plenty strong enough to raise, although limping would be reasonable as well. I raise to 28,750. My opponent reshoves all-in, and I fold.

Setup: Two hands have passed since the previous one. I folded T-5o to my opponents button raise to 25,555, then raised pocket fours to 28,750 from the button, and my opponent folded.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent limps in from the button. I am happy to take a free flop with a marginal hand. I check my option.

Flop (27,000): I miss the flop and check to my opponent. He bets 13,255. With no piece of the board and no draw, I choose to let my opponent take it down rather than make a play at a small pot. I fold.

Setup: On my button, I raised A-9o to 28,750 and my opponent folded. This is the following hand.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent raises to 26,565. My opponent has 26 big blinds, and I have a relatively strong hand heads up. Reshoving all-in would be perfectly reasonable; however, if I were to double up my opponent right now, we would be almost even stacked! If he had about 22 or fewer big blinds, I would certainly reshove, but I prefer just calling against his chip stack. I call.

Flop (56,130): I hit the flop, but I check to my opponent as I have done on every flop out of position heads up. I want to act the same when I hit the flop as I have been when missing flops, especially since I expect my opponent to continuation-bet on this board. My opponent bets 29,999. Calling here is the natural play, as I have a strong hand on this flop, but I am likely either well ahead or well behind. If the flush draw hits and my opponent has it, I am probably going to pay him off, as my hand will still be too strong to fold. I feel that calling here is a mistake, though. It gives away that I probably have an A or 9, as most opponents would expect me to raise with a flush draw given the chip stacks and the size of the pot. My opponent would probably not put any more chips in the pot unless he has me beat if I call. If I raise small, however, I give my opponent the opportunity to make a mistake. If he has a weaker Ace, he will have a hard time folding it, and we will likely get all the money in (it would end up a chopped pot about half the time, but I would be a heavy favorite). If he has a flush draw, we will likely get all the money in on the flop, and I will be a 2-to-1 favorite. Least likely, but also possible: if he feels that I may be making a move, he may decide to float or reraise, building a pot where he is drawing almost dead. The big disadvantage to raising is that I am deciding now to go all the way with my hand, and if I am behind, I will double up my opponent unless I suck out. However, if I just call, and my opponent has me beaten, he will probably get all his money in by the river, and I will double him up anyway. Note that if we were both deepstacked, I would probably just call here, as I would be behind much too often if all the money went in! I raise to 69,750, and my opponent folds.

Setup: I raised 8-6s to 28,750 from the button, and my opponent folded. This is the hand that followed.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent limps in. I have a relatively strong hand in the big blind, and my opponent has 20 big blinds. Shoving here would be a very marginal play, but not a big mistake. If I raise a standard three times the big blind and my opponent calls, I will have built a pot out of position with a fairly weak hand. If my opponent reshoves, I will have to fold. I prefer to take the flop with a very underrepresented hand. I check my option.

Flop (27,000): I flop top pair with a relatively good kicker, considering the situation. I check as usual in this spot, ready to checkraise, and more than willing to go all-in if my opponent comes over the top. My opponent disappoints me by checking behind.

Turn (27,000): I now have top two pair with the option of checking, looking to checkraise again, or leading out myself. Because my opponent has checked behind in similar spots before, and I now desperately want to build a bigger pot, I should definitely lead out. I bet 15,750a little more than half of the pot. My opponent calls.

River (58,500): This seems like a rather harmless river card, as my opponent is unlikely to have called with bottom pair on the turn. Betting seems like the obvious line, but the decision as to whether to bet or check is actually rather interesting on this board. If I felt strongly that my opponent had a Q or even a J, I would lead out with a strong bet, expecting to get paid off. However, he could have a wide variety of hands in this spot, and it makes much more sense to check against most of them. It is not very likely that my opponent has a Q. He probably would not have checked top pair on the flop or just called with it on the turn, if he had checked it once. It is much more likely that he has a J than a Q, however, there are only two Qs and two Js left in the deck, so neither of these are strong possibilities. He may have called with an 8 or perhaps even a 6 on the turn. There are three 8s and two 6s left in the deck, and it would be reasonable for him to call with either of them on the turn, as I could be betting a very wide range. Also note that there were several possible open ended straight draws and a flush draw that all missed on the river. Checking allows my opponent to bluff with one of many missed draws or certainly to bet with a 6 for value. If I were to bet, he would

fold all missed draws and raise me with a 6, putting me in a very difficult situation. By checking, if my opponent makes a weak looking bet that looks like he has Q or maybe even a J, I can raise and perhaps get paid off, since my unorthodox play may tempt him to make the call. The only strong argument for betting is that he may pay off a bet with a J or an 8, which he might check behind if given the opportunity. I check, and my opponent bets 58,500, the full size of the pot! Although I hoped to induce a bet out of him, I did not want him to bet so strongly. This bet size is out of character for my opponent and sets off alarm bells on this particular board. I doubt that he would choose to bluff for such a large amount. I am very concerned that he has me beaten, but my hand is too strong to fold. If he had bet smaller, around 20 30K, I would have raised. I do not want to raise such a large bet though, as I will only get called by a better hand. I call, and my opponent shows T 6 to win the pot with trip sixes.

Setup: On my button, I raised K-Qo to 28,750, and my opponent folded. This is the following hand.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent raises to 25,555. Folding this hand would probably be the best play, but it is arguably strong enough to defend, as my opponent has been raising most buttons with a 25+ big blind stack. I call.

Flop (54,110): I check, keeping in line with my standard play heads up. My opponent bets 28,888. Although I have a gutshot and one over card, calling out of position would be very weak. I could checkraise, but because my opponent just rivered me for a relatively large pot, I am worried that he may think I am on tilt and much less likely to have a hand than I usually would be. For this very reason, I probably should have leaned even more towards folding preflop. I fold.

Setup: I folded 8-2o from my button. This is the hand that followed.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent limps in, and with a complete trash hand, I check my option.

Flop (27,000): I flop top pair with a crummy kicker on a rather raggedy board. When I flopped top pair with Q-Js in an unraised pot a few hands prior, I hoped to checkraise and get all the money in on the flop. The situation with this hand is very different. My opponent now has almost 30 big blinds as opposed to 20 in the other hand, and my kicker is absolutely worthless. These factors make me much less willing to play a big pot and much more inclined to play potcontrol. I check as usual in this spot, but if my opponent bets, I plan just to call rather than raise. He checks behind.

Turn (27,000): The turn pairs the 8, but is unlikely that the card hit my opponent. With only two 8s left in the deck, the odds of him having one and having checked it on the flop are extremely low. Leading out to protect my hand would be reasonable; however, I choose to check for several reasons: If I show weakness twice, I expect my opponent to try to take advantage of this, whether or not he has any piece of the board. He would expect me to bet to protect my hand if I had any piece with two flush draws and a straight draw present. Therefore he is very likely to bet to win the pot if he has air and to bet to protect his own hand if he has any piece, even bottom pair. I check, expecting to induce a bet out of him. He surprises and disappoints me by checking behind.

River (27,000): Betting at this point would be ludicrous. One of the flush draws hit, and my opponent would need to have a pair below 9s and the desire to make a hero call in a very small pot for my bet to have any value. I doubt my opponent limped in with an A, and probably not even a K. By checking a third time, I may induce a bluff from him if he cannot win the pot at showdown. I check. My opponent bets 14,567. I doubt my opponent would value bet any hand worse than mine, and it is certainly possible that he hit the K or a backdoor flush. Nonetheless, I must call here, as I have underrepresented my hand on all three streets and it is very likely that he would stab at the pot if he could not win at showdown. I call and win the pot as my opponent shows 7 2 for air.

Setup: Two uneventful hands have passed since the previous one. I raised the button to 28,750 with K-4s, and my opponent folded. He then raised the button to 27,777, and I folded 4-2o.

Preflop (21,000): With a weak but playable hand heads up in position, I raise the button to my standard 28,750. My opponent calls for only the second time in the entire match.

Flop (60,500): I whiff the flop, and my opponent checks to me. Perhaps I should check behind, since he has defended from the big blind so rarely and may have a big hand or at least not give up easily. Nonetheless, I have no pair and no draw, and a continuation-bet may be my only, or at least best, chance at winning the pot. I bet 34,750, a little more than half the pot. My opponent checkraises to 84,000. I have little reason to suspect my opponent of making a play since he has defended so rarely, and it would be very expensive to test him here, so I fold.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one. I have noticed that my opponent seems to be limping in from his button with an extremely wide range as evidenced by exposing 7-2s at the last showdown. He is probably taking advantage of his position and noticing that I have not been raising from the big blind, even with reasonably strong hands like Q-Js. This passivity is a result of not having been dealt any very strong hands in the big blind when he has limped, playing carefully according to his stack size, and a respect for my opponents skill as I have chosen not to play bigger pots than necessary out of position. However, I observe that he is limping (where he does not raise) in with virtually 100% of his range. I will have to adjust my preflop play if he comes back much more, but for now, I should just be careful not to give up too easily postflop, since he is limping in with a lot of garbage.

Preflop (21,000): My opponent limps in from the small blind. Dealt a reasonably strong hand, I could raise, but I would be in an awkward spot if he were to reraise. If he called my raise, I would be in a tough spot postflop as my hand would be difficult to play well after the flop against his calling range. It would be fine to raise, but checking is also good as it underrepresents my hand, and I will not be looking to play a big pot unless I hit a set. I check.

Flop (27,000): I check to my opponent as Ive been doing in this situation throughout the match. He checks behind.

Turn (27,000): I probably have the best hand, but a 9 on the river would kill it, and any over card is potential trouble. By leading out now, I expect to take the pot down but may actually get called by a worse hand if my opponent hit the 4. If he has me beaten, he will at least call. I may have to make a tough decision on the river, but this would be the last stab I would take at the pot. I bet 15,750slightly more than I would bet if I were in positionbecause of this disadvantage. My opponent folds.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (21,000): Because my opponent now has a stack of more than 30 big blinds, suited connectors and one-, two-, and even threegappers have much more postflop value than they did when he had a smaller stack. Limping would be reasonable, but since I have been raising almost every button lately, I choose to continue with this aggression and raise to my standard 28,750. My opponent calls.

Flop (60,500): My opponent checks. I flopped a double gutshot straight draw, but my hand is very weak, as I only have one overcard and the board is three-flushed. Instead of continuation-betting on a somewhat dangerous board, and perhaps getting checkraised off of my draw, I choose to check behind and take a free card. I check.

Turn (60,500): My opponent leads out for 36,000. Although technically I still have a two-way straight draw, it is extremely weak on this board. Calling would put me in a very awkward spot on the river, where I will probably end up with T high, and a bluff would most likely get picked off. I am much better off giving up the pot and avoiding this situation. I fold.

Setup: This is four hands after the one previously described. I folded J-2o from the big blind to my opponents raise to 27,777. I raised the button to my standard 28,750 with Q-5o, and my opponent folded. Surprisingly, he gave me a walk in the last hand (I held 9-7s).

Preflop (21,000): Even with a weak suited twogapper, my hand is easily strong enough to play in position. I raise to 28,750. My opponent calls as he, understandably, seems to have opened up his calling range as his stack has grown.

Flop (60,500): My opponent checks. I flopped bottom pair with a very weak kicker. Although I hit a piece, it is not the piece that I am looking for with this sort of hand. I would much rather have flopped a flush draw or straight draw. I could bet, but I would have to fold to a checkraise, and my opponent has not been giving up easily in raised pots. I would prefer to take a free card, hoping to improve, but also prepared to bet on most turns if my opponent checks again. I check.

Turn (60,500): My opponent leads out for 36,000. This card is basically a brick, and my opponent led out on the turn in the previous raised pot. Although I am certainly concerned that I may be beaten, I am not ready to give this pot up to one bet. I call.

River (132,500): My opponent checks. The flush draw hit, but it is unlikely that he would have hit the flush and checked. He may have checked a Q, 8, or a 6 with a better kicker than mine for pot control. He may also have missed a straight draw or just given up on the pot after betting the turn with air. I have showdown value but certainly not enough to value bet. I check behind, and my opponent shows A 8 to win the pot.

Setup: Three hands have passed since the one previously described. I folded 8-5o from the big blind to my opponents raise to 27,777. I raised to 28,750 with A-Qo from the button, and my opponent folded. He then gave me another walk (I had K-7o). Even though I still hold a substantial chip lead, my opponent now has almost 40 big blinds and is very much back in the game. In fact, one double here by my opponent and our positions will be reversed.

Preflop (21,000): I continue my aggressive button play by raising to 28,750 with a marginal hand. Note that although T-5s is a rather weak hand at first glance, there is a little bit of added, hidden value to it because every possible straight contains a T or a 5. My opponent reraises to 72,000. This is the first time that my opponent has reraised from the big blind preflop since he has had a stack with which he could do so, but not commit himself. I suspect that he may be making a play because I have been raising every button lately and have just shown down 6-3s. If I were to make a very small reraise to about 160,000, I would basically commit myself to calling a shove from him as I would be getting over 2 to 1 on a call. Any bigger reraise would unequivocally commit me to call a shove, and thus if I felt it was worth making a play, shoving all-in myself would probably be the best move. Reraising or reshoving seems too risky, but for some reason, I do not feel like giving up on this pot. I decide that if I call, it should appear very strong to my opponent, and he should fear a trap. I expect him to give me a chance to take the pot away on most flops. I call. In hindsight, this play seems rather absurd given that my opponent had not reraised me preflop in a while. My call may also have looked like a tilt call (as it likely was) and thus it would be very difficult and risky for me to sell strength postflop!

Flop(147,000): My opponent bets 60,000, an unusually small amount given the size of the pot. I like his bet size if he has the monster he is representing, as it may induce me to make a play or even float him in position. I also like the bet size if he was restealing and has air as he saves valuable chips if I move all-in on him. He does not have to worry about letting me draw too cheaply, as there are no flush or straight draws on this flop. Simply put, my opponent made an excellent bet given the stack sizes, the board, and the situation. Floating (calling) this flop is tempting, as it would be the best way to represent having the Q, but I choose not to because I believe my

opponent may be begging for action with his bet size. It is certainly possible, of course, that he may be weak and using the small bet size to convince me that he wants action. Nonetheless, I feel that I am better off ditching my trashy hand before I dig myself into an even deeper hole. I fold.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the one just described. The blinds and antes have increased, reducing my opponent to only 33 big blinds even though his quantity of chips is the highest its been throughout the heads-up battle.

Preflop (28,000): My opponent limps in from the button. Happy to see a free flop with a weak hand, I check my option.

Flop (36,000): I check as I always do out of position post flop. My opponent checks behind.

Turn (36,000): I hit the best card I could hope for; however, there is little value in betting my hand. Betting would protect my hand against one of several gutshots or a potential overcard hitting. Yet there is much more value in checking, hoping to induce a bluff out of my opponent. I check, and my opponent bets 17,999. It is very unlikely that my opponent has an A, as I would expect him to raise preflop with any A. I also expect that he would check a T, looking to value bet it on the river since there wouldnt be much value in betting it now. His bet appears like a rather obvious bluff, but there is no value in raising him here, as he would call with everything that beats me and fold all bluffs. I call.

River (71,998): This river changes nothing unless my opponent has precisely 55. There is no value in betting my hand, but it should be noted that I do not expect my opponent to take another stab at the pot with the air that I assume he has. If he were to bet the river, I would be very concerned that he had limped in with a weak A or was making a good value bet with a T with a better kicker than mine. I would have a tough decision as to whether or not I should call, but I would probably fold, given that I have not caught him in any outof-line, double-barrel bluffs throughout the match. I check, and my opponent checks behind, mucking 5 4.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (28,000): With a relatively strong hand heads up, I raise the button to 38,750. My opponent calls.

Flop (81,500): For the first time in a while, I hit a flop! My opponent checks. With top pair and an openended straight draw, the only card that I really do not want to see hit is a Q, making any A or 9 a straight. Most of the time, heads up, the decision to continuation-bet in this spot would be easy and certainly reasonable. However, because of recent history where Ive been checking behind many flops after raising preflop, I choose to disguise my hand and check.

Turn (81,500): My opponent checks. I have the nuts, but there are two possible flush draws out. This is not a spot to slowplay. My opponent may have two pair or a flush draw and call a bet. He may also decide that I am unlikely to have the straight and make a play at me. I bet 42,750 and my opponent calls.

River (167,000): My opponent checks. One of the flush draws hits, but I expect my opponent to have led out if he hit the draw. My hand is too strong to check. The only question is how much to bet. I could bet a very small amount, hoping to get a call from two pair; however, this bet screams Value bet! Instead, I prefer to bet about two-thirds of the pot, making it look like I may be trying to represent the straight. I expect my opponent will probably fold to either bet, but the larger bet actually may induce a hero call more often and obviously get me paid more substantially. I bet 94,750, and my opponent goes into the tank. He asks, two pair no good? Although his chat is not proof that he had two pair, it is very likely. Nonetheless, he makes the laydown, and I win the pot.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (28,000): My opponent raises to 36,750. If he had 30+ big blinds, I would certainly make the call with a low-suited connector. However, his 25 bigblind stack makes playing this hand questionable. Nonetheless, I make the call.

Flop (77,500): I completely whiff the flop and check to my opponent. He continuation-bets 42,500, a little more than half the pot. I probably should have checkraised my opponent on a flop with air at least once by this point in the match, but with the worst hand possible, I give up on this one and fold.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (28,000): I continue my aggression from the button and raise to 38,750 with a marginal hand. My opponent calls.

Flop (81,500): My opponent surprises me by leading out for 41,999. This is the first time heads up that either of us has called a raise from the big blind and then led out on the flop. If I had a backdoor flush draw with my gutshot, I may be tempted to float in position. However, I am unlikely to get paid off if a 6 hits, and my opponent may have hit this board hard enough that hitting a Q or 7 could cause me to lose more chips. I could take the aggressive route and raise, but my opponent probably recognizes that on this board my raise would likely either be a bluff or a semibluff. Only in the unlikely event that I flopped a straight or at least two pair would I have a made hand strong enough to raise for value. I expect my opponent is prepared to come over the top for all his chips, probably with a hand like 6-5 or a flush draw with overcards if I raise. I fold.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (28,000): My opponent raises to 36,500. I have a terrible hand that I would normally throw in the muck without a second thought. However, my opponent has just over 30 big blinds, and I feel that he may be riding some momentum, looking to steal a lot of pots. Just in the last two hands, he has continuation-bet where he was checking much of the time throughout the match, and he has led out into me after calling my preflop raise. I have not played back at him much, and I do not want him to feel like he can run me over. Since he now has over 30 big blinds, he should need a fairly strong hand to play back at me with a fourbet, and I do not expect him to flat-call a reraise. Also, my image should be tight enough for a threebet resteal to have a high rate of success. I threebet to 88,750, and my opponent folds. Note that with his stack size, threebetting with air is better than threebetting with a hand that actually has postflop value. If I had a hand with reasonable value like Q-Js, I would usually prefer to call and see a flop given his stack size. If I threebet with it, I would be risking having to fold it to a fourbet; whereas, with air, I am simply taking a one-time stab at the pot and will gladly release my hand if reraised.

Setup: I folded 6-2o from the button, giving my opponent a walk. This is the following hand.

Preflop (28,000): My opponent limps in from the button. With rags in the big blind, I check my option.

Flop (36,000): I whiff the flop and check to my opponent. He checks behind.

Turn (36,000): I again check to my opponent, as it is difficult to represent anything on this board in my spot. My opponent again checks behind.

River (36,000): With T high, I certainly do not expect to be able to win at showdown. If I check and my opponent has a weaker hand than mine, he is likely to bluff, whereas he would probably check behind K high or J high. Therefore, by checking, I am giving up the pot. I havent seen my opponent check down many unraised pots in position in similar spots throughout the match, so I do not expect he has a hand strong enough to call a bet or value bet himself. If I bet though, I doubt he can call, and with my image at this point in the match, he probably would not expect me to lead out with a bluff on this river. I bet 23,750, and my opponent folds.

Setup: Three uneventful hands have passed since the one last described. I raised T-2s to 38,750 from the button, and my opponent folded. My opponent raised to 37,500 from the button, and I folded T-8o. I raised J-7o to 38,750 from the button, and my opponent folded.

Preflop (28,000): My opponent limps in from the button. With another trash hand in the big blind, I check my option.

Flop (28,000): I whiff the flop and check to my opponent. He bets 18,000. Again with no piece of the flop and no draw, I elect to fold, giving up another small pot.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the previous one.

Preflop (28,000): I continue my aggression from the button by raising to 38,750 with very small suited connectors. My opponent calls.

Flop (81,500): My opponent checks. I flop a flush draw, but on a paired board where it has less value. I could check behind and take a free shot at my draw; however, my hand has very little value by the river unless I make the flush. Otherwise I can only win by hitting a 3 or 2 and counting on it beating my opponent. With two Qs on the board and my opponents current stack size, there is an interesting dynamic to this hand that makes betting the better option, by far. First of all, if I bet, my opponent may defend with a wide range or even checkraise bluff, as he would probably expect me to only bet with a Q or as a bluff. If he does just call, he will probably check to me on the turn, and I can take a free river card if I miss my draw. If I hit my draw on the turn or the river, I will probably win a much larger pot than I would if I hit the draw after checking the flop. Of course I may just win the pot outright with a continuation bet, a fine result, as I only have 3 high at the moment. If I bet and he checkraises, I will threebet all-in, or at least reraise, committing myself, as that will appear stronger. If my opponent does not have a Q or the dreaded, but unlikely, higher flush draw, he will be forced to fold. I bet 39,750, inviting a checkraise that I can threebet. My opponent, however, just calls.

Turn (161,000): My opponent checks. I whiff the turn and am stuck with 3 high. I could bet again, representing the Q, but its a tough sell. My opponent probably expects me to check behind 100% of my range unless I have the Q. He will be very suspicious that I am making a move with air if I bet the turn. Moreover, he may be trapping with the Q and checkraise the turn, probably pricing me out of my draw. I check, content to take a free shot at the flush in a big pot.

River (161,000): Bingo! My opponent checks. I hit the flush and have an easy value bet. I am not concerned about my opponent having a higher flush, since I expect that he would have either checkraised the flop with a flush draw or led out on the river after hitting it. I could also be beaten by a full house, but I seriously doubt that he would risk giving me a free showdown with a hand that strong. The only question is how much to bet. I expect that my opponent called on the flop with either a 4, a middle pocket pair, or perhaps a Q. If he called with a Q, he could have checked the turn, looking to checkraise, and then checked the river playing potcontrol on the off chance that I hit the flush. Nonetheless, I assume his most likely hand is a 4 or a pocket pair like 77 or 66. I bet 97,750, almost two-thirds of the pot, hoping for a crying call. In hindsight, I probably should have bet around 65 70K as it is unlikely that my opponent would have a strong enough hand to call the bet I made. My opponent shocks me by checkraising all-in, an additional 264,661! My initial reaction is frustration because I expect that my opponent has likely trapped me with a full house or a stronger flush. I go into the time bank and really think it through. On one hand, I find it difficult to believe that he could be value shoving with a worse hand than mine. Perhaps if he floated me with precisely J-T and hit runner-runner straight, he might choose to shove it for value. Although it is somewhat likely that he floated on the flop with air, for it to be with this exact hand is extremely unlikely. Perhaps he might checkshove Q-x for value, but I would expect him to just call with a Q at this point unless he has a full house. It is much more likely that he has a higher flush or a full house and decided to trap me on the river, expecting me to value bet a wide range, hoping that I hit a lower flush. He would also get value out of me by checking if I had air. He should expect me to put him on a 4, and thus likely bluff with air since I could represent the K, Q, 9, or flush, and it would be hard for him to call. With these thoughts, folding seems the most reasonable. On the other hand, I would have expected my aggressive opponent to either lead out or checkraise the flop with a Q or a flush draw, looking to build the pot with a Q or take it down immediately with a flush draw. Of course, if he did play the Q or flush draw in this manner on the flop, I expect he would have led out for value on the river with either hand (or checkcalled with Q-x). Therefore I find it somewhat difficult to believe that he has either a flush or full house. I also know he is capable of making this play with air, especially if he doesnt think I have a hand strong enough to call. Lastly, the pot is now 621,161, and it costs me 264,661 to call, so I only have to be right 1 in 2.35 times to make this call profitable. If I call and lose, my opponent will have a decent chip lead on me, but I will still be very much in the game. If I call and win, obviously, it

is all over. If I fold, I will still have the chip lead, but only by about 200K, and my opponent will have the momentum. It is always a difficult decision in any hand when you value bet the river, looking to get called, but your opponent surprises you by coming over the top. In this instance, the pot odds, my opponents ability to make this play as a bluff, and my not believing that he would usually play a Q or a flush in this manner all lead me to make the call. I call, and my opponent shows A 6 for complete air. I win the pot and the tournament!

Setup: The money bubble just burst in a nightly, $150 buy-in tournament, with a $65K guarantee. Players who have cashed have won at least $285. First place pays $16,250, second $10,075, third $7,475, and ninth pays $747.50. There are five tables (45 players) left in the tournament at this point. My table was very active on the bubble with only Seats 4 and 5 stalling to make the money. The very active nature of my table meant that I was unable to abuse the bubble. Seat 8 is a very well known online professional player who is known for playing upwards of twenty tables at once. His game revolves largely around a push-or-fold mentality. He loves to squeeze and resteal. The two shorter stacks will probably be anxious to double up or bust out now that theyve cashed. I am sitting on just over 20 big blinds, a perfect stack with which to resteal. This type of stack is perfect because you have enough chips to use the stack like a weapon against those opponents who are either raising from a position of weakness, or simply raising too many hands in general. When successful, you can increase your stack considerably. However, I dont have a stack large enough to see many flops since I will be committing a fairly significant portion of my stack to the pot preflop, and, therefore, not leaving myself enough room to play much postflop poker.

Preflop (3,150): A-J is a great resteal hand, although Ill definitely want to see how the action unfolds before making any decisions. One mistake many players make at this stage of the tournament is that they see a hand like A-J and decide theyre ready to go all-in before the action gets to them. Lets say there is a raise and a reraise in front of them and they still move all-in, despite the fact that they are probably dominated. In this case, the action is folded to the big stack in the small blind, who makes a minimum raise to 2,400. This is an easy situation, as I probably have the best hand, may even get called by a worse hand like A-T, A-9, or K-Q, and there are more than enough chips in the middle to make just taking this pot down here a solid play. I reraise all-in for 26,311 and the small blind folds. I make a note to myself that Seat 1 is capable of making a minimum raise and then fold to pressure.

Setup: This is two hands after Hand 1. The big blind in this hand is one of the short stacks. Last hand he shoved and picked up some chips.

Preflop (3,150): This is normally a very playable button hand. However, I dont often play it as a resteal hand, except against aggressive players who will open with a very wide range of hands, and fold all but their premium hands to a resteal. The action is folded to me. Since the player in the big blind has a short stack, and the money bubble just burst, he may be anxious to get his chips in lighter than normal. The small blind has a good resteal stack as well. If I had a bigger stack (35,000 or more), I would raise here and be willing to get it all-in with the big blind and fold to the small blind. With my current chip stack, however, I cannot raise here and fold to the big blind if he goes all-in. If I do get all-in with him and lose, it will take me down to 17,000 chips, which will take away most of my restealing ability, a crucial loss at this stage in the tournament. If I had significantly fewer chips (around 15,000 or less) I would just push all-in. My stack is awkward for this spot, so I lean toward folding, as it is very important that I maintain resteal fold equity. I fold. The small blind raises to 3,500 and takes down the pot when the big blind folds.

Setup: Last hand the two short stacks in Seats 4 and 5 went all-in against each other in the blinds and the bigger of the two (in this hand, the button) won. This has eliminated some of the double up or bust out and go to sleep mentality at the table, now that everyone has a reasonable number of chips. I still have a lot of good restealing stacks at the table, but with the shorter stacks out of the way, I should be able to open up my game a bit and steal more.

Preflop (2,400): 5-4s isnt a super-playable hand with stacks this shallow, but it can be a good steal hand since it is well concealed and it can flop a lot of draws that will allow you to comfortably move allin. I would fold to a raise in front of me (restealing is an option if I can identify someone who will fold frequently, but I dont have that read on anyone at the table yet). In this case, it is folded to me and I open raise to 2,888 chips. If someone goes all-in, I will have to fold. However, everyone at the table folds and I take down the pot. Regarding preflop raise sizes, my overall philosophy is to keep my raise sizes consistent to ensure that I dont give away information about my hand. I try to raise the least amount that will still get respect from those players behind me. Alittle less than 2.5 times the blind generally works at this stage of the tournament. Note that the total pot is 3,150 so I actually make a profit if I successfully steal the blinds 50% of the time (and this doesnt even take into account my postflop equity when called).

600/1,200 Blinds, 150 Ante

Setup: This hand immediately follows Hand 3. This is the sixth hand since the bubble burst, and Ive won two of them, one with a resteal and one with an open raise where everyone folded. This is not yet enough to give me a loose image, but I need to stay aware of how active I am.

Preflop (3,000): I am in the hijack seat for the second hand in a row because the blind busted a few hands ago, resulting in a dead button. K-Js is actually a good resteal hand, although none of the players on my right have proven to be particularly active. It is folded to me, and K-Js is more than good enough to open. Ill be in a precarious position if reraised, but I dont mind taking a flop with this hand. I raise to 2,888 and its folded to the big blind, who reraises to 9,999. Both of us started the hand with around 30,000 chips, so if I were to call this reraise, I would be putting in one third of my initial stack. Even if I flop a king or a jack, I can hardly get my chips in with confidence, as I could be dominated. The player in the big blind hasnt shown much aggression. It is prudent to fold given my stack size. Even though I am in position, the postflop play could prove to be very tricky, and the big blind has given me no reason to think he is reraising lightly. I fold and the big blind wins the pot.

Setup: I skipped three uneventful hands where there were simple raises and everyone folded. I dont have any additional reads, and the stacks are more or less the same as before. I remember that the last time I opened, I was reraised and I folded. Some players who see you fold to a reraise a few times will try to take advantage of this, and resteal from you more often.

Preflop (3,000): Suited aces can make great resteal hands. They arent often ahead when called, but they are rarely huge underdogs either, usually having more than 30% equity in the pot. You will even occasionally be called by K-Q and be ahead, although a vast majority of the equity in restealing with these hands comes from the times people fold, not from the times they call when youre ahead. Seat 8 is the well-known online professional who mostly plays an all-in-orfold game. Thus if I resteal from him, he will happily call me down with hands like 33 and K-Q in addition to many of the hands that beat me. So I need to reraise him for value rather than as a resteal or semibluff. The action is folded to Seat 7, who makes a minimum raise to 2,400. Minimum raises at this point in the tournament are very odd. They can be extreme strength trying to entice someone to reraise their implied weakness, or they can be cheap steal attempts. In this instance I get to find out rather quickly, as Seat 8 makes it 3,750, another extremely small raise! If the raise were to only 3,600 it could be an accidental raise (or misclickwhich happens when someone accidentally clicks on the raise button, resulting in a minimum raise). Knowing that this player likes to play an all-in or fold game leads me to believe he is extremely strong here or has some sort of

read from prior play. Either way, I must fold my suited ace. The action is folded to the initial raiser, who also folds, despite the incredible odds he is getting. I make a note that Seat 7s minimum raises could signal weakness and also that he is capable of folding to extremely small reraises preflop. The fact that he is capable of folding for such a low price is knowledge I may later be able to exploit as a steal.

Setup: Six hands have gone by with nothing eventful happening other than steals and a couple of minor blind battles that havent resulted in showdowns. The table remains the same, except for Seat 4, who is getting short again. My stack has shrunk a little and a lot of the other mid stacks have grown. The good news is that all of the players in the 30-big-blind range are excellent opponents against whom to resteal, and I can inflict considerable damage to their stacks. They are still deepstacked enough to be reluctant to gamble. Lets run some quick numbers to show why 30-big-blind stacks are good stacks to threebet against. 30 big blinds is a stack size of 36,000. Assume an opponent with a 30-big-blind stack raises 2.5 times the big blind to 3,000. If I reraise to 8,000, he is in a difficult situation. He can only fourbet by committing his entire stack, and he knows I am basically pot-committed. It is also a difficult stack size with which to see a flop, since hell be calling off almost 25% of his stack. His stack size is also big enough that he can raise and fold and still not feel committed to the pot, as his raise represents less than 10% of his stack. So I effectively put his tournament life on the line by threebetting him, and should therefore expect opponents to fold very frequently under these conditions.

Preflop (3,000): A-Q under-the-gun with 20 big blinds is a difficult hand to play well: Its strong enough to warrant a raise, but since I am raising from a position of strength, the only way I am likely to get significant action is from an opponent with a very strong hand. If I get called, its very likely I will have to play out of position postflop. Unfortunately, Im going to miss the flop two thirds of the time, and a raise plus a flop continuation bet is likely to commit one third of my stack or more. Still, A-Q is too strong to fold here, so I will raise and reevaluate the situation if I get any action. I raise to 2,888 and everyone else folds.

Setup: Two hands have passed since Hand 6. The blinds have increased, significantly diminishing my resteal fold equity. With blinds this high, if someone raises to 4,000 and I push all-in, they will need to call about 20,000 more to win 32,000, giving them about 1.6 to 1 pot odds. I have some fold equity giving them those pot odds, but not nearly as much as I would with 600/1,200 blinds. Most of my reraises now will probably be because I feel I have the best hand, or because I feel I have a good hand in a spot where there is a lot of dead money in the pot. The new, higher blinds put additional pressure on the short stacks in Seats 4 and 6. They are getting extremely shortstacked, and will be more likely to make all-in moves. Seat 9 also recently busted Seat 8 in a somewhat standard (A-K versus TT) all-in situation.

Preflop (3,800): 4-2s is a pretty terrible hand, even on the button. If I had a different stack size, I would definitely consider playing it for a steal, or if I had a significant read on the big blind indicating he folded way too often. In this case, though, Seat 7 raises to 4,600 and Seat 4 in the big blind is the only caller.

Flop (11,400): As I stated before, the big blind is shortstacked and will probably move all-in soon. The big blind checks, Seat 7 bets 6,000, and the big blind checkraises all-in for 14,036. Seat 7 calls the extra 8,036. The big blind shows A 7 and Seat 7 shows T 9. Before giving the result, I note that there is significant information to garner here: First, Seat 7 raised with T-9o from early position. This probably means this player is either an early position stealer, or just likes to pick on shortstacked big blinds. I dont really know which one, but its very important to make a note of it. If, in the future, there is a raise in early position by Seat 7 and I have a hand like 77 or 88, then this type of observation can turn a marginal decision into a much easier one, since I know hes capable of stealing in early position. Also, he called the checkraise all-in unimproved on the flop. This means he understands (or at least thinks he understands) the concept of pot odds. I can use this to my advantage by either getting it all-in with my good hands if he is pot committed or not stealing or semibluffing against him when I give good odds because I know he is willing to call light, if he feels committed. As for the big blind, (should he survive this hand), I know he is capable of making some light calls (A-7s versus an early-position raiser with his size stack is usually a bad thing, although he could have had a read). Hes also capable of checkraising all-in with only ace high and very little fold equity on a low, paired flop. Knowing this will allow me to make better decisions against him by not continuation betting as bluffs on the flop as much. The turn is the J, and the river the T. Seat 7 hits his ten on the river and the big blind is eliminated. Unfortunately, I am now moved to a new table, but with only 36 players left, my note taking could still prove quite valuable, as I am likely to run into the player in Seat 7 again at some point.

Setup: We are now down to three tables, and this is the second hand at my new table. The only player with whom I am familiar is Seat 5, a well-known European player who plays a very aggressive style. This table has significantly more short stacks than the prior one, with Seats 3, 6, 7, and 9 all being very short. Ill be watching the table to see how they react. Most of them have more than ten big blinds. With stacks of this size, many players will start open pushing a greater range of hands. The table may consolidate fairly quickly, or it may present opportunities to steal if they all play too close to the vest.

Preflop (4,200): Low-to mid-pocket pairs are really tricky hands with my stack size and position. I lack a sufficient number of chips to be able to resteal effectively with them, and pocket treys isnt really ahead of anything. If the action is folded to me, I could make a case for going all-in, as there is 4,200 in the middle and 24,823 in my stack (there is a 200 ante, which is why this is slightly less than my stack size listed in the table). That represents a nearly 17% increase to my stack should everyone fold. If I had more knowledge of how the shorter stacks play (for example, are they folding too often?), then this would be an easier push. It is also my first hand here, however, so I should get a lot of credit from the table. Annette Obrestad, WSOP Europe 2008 winner, once told me that your first push (referring to both open pushes and resteals) should be with garbage, as your opponents will usually give you too much credit, and subsequent pushes should be more selective, as they begin to doubt you more and more with each push. I agree with heralthough its no fun when your first push runs into aces! In this case though, Seat 9 raises to 4,800, and with very little resteal fold equity, I am forced to fold. The button is the only caller, and takes a flop.

Flop (13,800): This is a very benign flop. Seat 9 checks, and the button bets 7,200. Seat 9 checkraises all-in to 19,266, and the button folds. I note that Seat 9 is capable of checkraising all-in rather than making a continuation bet. Without a showdown we dont know his holding, but it could be anything from an overpair to a big ace (A-K, A-Q) to something like K Q. The important information to glean from this hand is that if this player checks to me in a situation where most players might continuation bet, especially with a stack where he can believably checkraise all-in, then I should not automatically bet.

Setup: One hand has passed between this hand and the last, and the table setup is largely the same. Seat 5 is the aggressive European player and Seat 9 in the big blind is the player from the last hand who checkraised all-in on the flop.

Preflop (4,200): At this point in the tournament, I am very happy to get all of my money in the middle with A-K. I would prefer to get this hand in the blinds or late position, where I am much more likely to have a raiser before me so that I can reraise or be the initial raiser where my opponents wont give me much credit. I cant control that, though. I feel that I still have too many chips to just open push and I dont want to discourage action, even though my hand could become very tricky to play out of position postflop. Seat 1 folds and I raise to 3,888; everyone else at the table folds.

Setup: One hand has passed. All of the pots at my new table have been taken down preflop, usually by the initial raiser, with the exception of the one hand where Seat 9 checkraised all-in on the flop. I should be able to take advantage of the tighter-than-normal play at this table to accumulate some chips.

Preflop (4,200): Suited aces normally make great restealing hands, but I dont have as much fold equity as I would like. I would prefer to have 20 big blinds, which would give me considerably more folding equity. That being said, my action will be largely determined by the action before me. All players fold to the button, who raises to 4,200. The small blind folds and Im faced with a decision. If my opponent has a typical button opening range, hes probably raising about 31% of his hands. This includes all aces, all pairs, any two broadway cards, and some random suited connector-type hands.4 Lets assume I reraise all-in and dont have any reads. Astandard player will call me with a range like pocket pairs of 5s or better, A-7s or better, A-9 or better, and K-Q both suited and off suit. This is obviously an inexact science, but is probably a somewhat accurate range. That range represents 12.4% of his hands. If he raises with 31% of his hands and calls with 12.4% then he will be folding to my reraise 60% of the time and calling 40% of the time. My stack is 26,623 (remember, stacks shown in the table graphics are the amounts prior to the blinds and antes being posted) and there is 8,400 in the pot. The 60% of the time he folds, I will have 35,023. The other 40% of the time he calls, I will be all-in. The pot is 59,046 and I will have 35.56% equity given his calling range. So on average, I will end up with 20,996 (35.56% x 59,046 = 20,996). When you combine the two (60% of 35,023 plus 40% of 20,996) you get an average ending stack of 29,412 chips, an increase of 2,989 chips, about an 11.2% increase to our starting stack. That sort of edge is too great to pass up. Also note that if he starts calling with more hands, they will (statistically) be hands of which Im ahead, or very low pairs that are a coin flip against me. So even if he calls with a wider range, my showdown equity would increase and the play would remain profitable. The last thing to note is that of the 40% of the time he calls, I will lose approximately 64.44%. Thus by making this play, about 26% (40% of 64.44%) of the time, I will be out of the tournament. As you can see from the calculations above, resteals can be very profitable tools, but when I make this play, I will be on the rail roughly 1 in 4 times. I must make it selectively or I will bust out too often. I reraise all-in and the button folds. Please note that I am not making these exact calculationson the spot, but by doing a lot of work away from the table. This gives me a very solid sense of where I stand when similar situations arise at the table.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the A 6 resteal.

Preflop (4,200): Like suited aces, low-to mid-pocket pairs make really good restealing hands that hold up pretty well in shorter stacked all-in situations. As in the previous hand, the action is folded to the button, who raises to 4,800. Assuming this player has a similar raising and calling range, I actually have a better resteal situation than before, as my equity in the pot when called jumps from 36% to 42%. I must be careful, though. I just shoved all-in, and each successive time I shove, my opponents will call me with wider and wider ranges, assuming (often correctly) that I am pushing all-in rather light. It is very important to be aware of my own activity, as the point of restealing is to exploit the fact that most opponents will raise with a much wider range than theyll call a reraise with. The more I resteal, the more that gap is going to narrow, as my opponents will either open fewer hands, call with more hands, or some combination of the two. 55 is strong enough here that I simply must push over the top, as my edge is too large. However, I will definitely be much more cautious in hand selection for the next orbit or two to buy some goodwill at the table. I push all-in for 34,823 and both remaining players fold.

Setup: One hand has passed since the 5-5 resteal.

Preflop (4,200): I was planning on playing with more caution to buy some goodwill at the table, but plans are subject to change when you pick up a solid hand. I will, of course, raise if the action is folded to me, but whenever I plan on entering a pot, it is prudent to look at my opponents stacks to get some idea of what I might do in the event of a reraise. In this hand, the button is short stacked enough that I would have to call. I know that the aggressive European player in the big blind is capable of restealing with a very wide range, so I would have to call him. The small blind is a bit of an unknown. If he were to reraise, I would have to reevaluate, but with my current loose table image, I would have a difficult time folding my hand to a single reraiser. I raise to 3,888 and everyone folds.

Setup: Nearly two orbits have passed since the last hand. The vast majority of the pots have been taken down with a simple preflop raise. Two players were short, went all-in, and were called. They both lost and were eliminated. Unfortunately, I havent gained any significant information from the hands, as the callers had premium holdings. The Aggressive European Player busted one of those players, and has started to ramp up his table aggression as his stack has grown to the table chip lead. The blinds have also increased, putting me back into a firm resteal range with my stack size of nearly 19 times the big blind. During the two orbits, I was dealt complete garbage with the exception of K-To twice. Both times, the pot was opened before I had a chance to act from early position, making them both easy folds.

Preflop (4,750): A-T is a solid hand in the big blind, and depending on how the action proceeds, I will often defend with it. In this case, the Aggressive European Player in Seat 5 raises to 4,850. As I mentioned in the setup, he has been opening many more pots lately. He is not a great resteal target for me, as I know he has a very good understanding of short stack poker, and his calling range for my resteal will be fairly wide. Yet considering how much he has started loosening up his raising standards, A-T really becomes more of a value reraise than a straight steal, as I am significantly ahead of his opening range. Reraising also sends a message that I am not afraid of confronting him. If this has the desired effect of slowing him down, then I will be given the opportunity to open more pots myself. I reraise all-in for 37,023 and he quickly folds.

Setup: Five hands have passed since I reraised with A-T. All of the subsequent pots were taken down with a simple raise. Two new players have filled the empty seats at the table. I have no reads on either player, but the small blind is now the tables chip leader. It is important to always be aware of how the table dynamics change as players are eliminated and replaced by players with different stack sizes and playing styles. Preflop (5,250): The action is folded to me. Small pocket pairs are really tough hands to play when youre short stacked late in tournaments. I will often fold them in early position with less than 25 big blinds, as they are difficult to play profitably postflop and out of position. In late position, Ill tend to play them more, depending on several factors, including my stack size and opponents skill. Looking at the players remaining to act, I have a known aggressive player with chips, and a new player in the small blind with a big stack. This precise spot really screams fold, as it is quite likely that I will face a very tough decision, but instead I decide to raise to 4,888. The player to my immediate left in Seat 3 goes all-in, and the action is folded to me. My raise has now gotten me into a bit of a bind and I must consider several factors in determining whether to call or fold. The main consideration is whether or not I am getting the right price to call, based on the range of hands on which Ive put my opponent. Ive been quite active at the table without showing down any hands, so it stands to reason that my opponent probably thinks I am opening with a fairly wide range. Given that his chip stack is only 12 big blinds, its doubtful hes on a pure steal, as he doesnt have much fold equity against me. I will assign a somewhat looser range of 22+, A-9s+, K-Js+, A-T+, K-Q, with which I think he may shove. There is a reasonable chance hes folding hands like 22-33, but I leave them in his range to account for the occasional bluff-type hand, or the possibility that he might push with any ace here. Ranges are an inexact science, but there is almost always some chance my opponent is bluffing or overvaluing hands that I wouldnt put in his range. I have 42% equity against this range. The pot is 33,068 chips, and I must call 19,042 more chips. I need 36.6% equity to make this a break-even call. Clearly, I have a bit of a margin for error in my range estimate for the call to still be profitable. The other consideration is more strategic. How do things change if I call and lose? What if I call and win? What if I fold? If I call and lose, I will be left with about 9 big blinds, and stuck in shortstack push/fold mode. I will lose the opportunity to wait for hands and I will also lose any resteal fold equity. If I call and win, I will have over 70,000 chips and be in a good position to make a deep run in this tournament. Lastly, if I simply fold, I will have around 38,000 left, which still gives me time to pick and choose my spots and preserves fold equity. This particular decision is a very close one. At the time, I knew I had made a mistake opening with 44 in the first place, and I believe I let that affect my decision somewhat, as I decided to call. I think calling is okay, but it is very high variance. In hindsight, I would lean toward the more conservative play of folding to conserve my stack and the power the stack gives me to continue to resteal. This hand illustrates the importance of paying attention to your opponents, and the likely scenarios that will unfold before you open a pot. In this case, I was in a situation where (given my image and the aggressive players with big stacks behind me) it was highly probable I would be played back at. I did call, and my opponent showed J J. The board ran out 8 8 T Q J giving him a full house and the pot.

Setup: This is two hands after the 44 all-in hand. I am in a very unenviable position. I am short stacked, the blinds are about to hit me in two hands, and I have a loose image that is likely to get my all-ins called by a wider-than-normal range. If the next two hands I get are particularly bad, I am prepared to let the blinds go through me and look for a decent spot to shove in the next orbit.

Preflop (5,250): The action folds to me. This hand isnt great, but it isnt particularly bad, either. While I was content to wait through the blinds if I didnt get any hands, K-T is in roughly the top 15% of hands. I may or may not get a stronger hand in the next 11 hands before the big blind hits me a second timean event that would cripple my stack. In this case I must move all-in, as Ill have to accumulate chips before I get so low that I will have to win multiple pots just to get a playable stack in the tournament. I know Im likely to get called and will probably be behind. However, I am willing to take that risk now for the chance to get back up to 20 big blinds, rather than wait until later when the double up will only take me to 15-16 big blinds. I move all-in for 17,943 and Seat 6 calls. He shows 9 9, and were off to the races. The board runs out 8 7 A K 2, and I win the coin flip. It is very important to note here that if I had simply folded the 44 from the last hand, I would be in the exact same position as I am now after winning this coin flipbut with no risk of being out of the tournament, as I would have folded the K-To with the larger stack. I am fortunate enough to be given a second chance, albeit with a very loose image now.

Setup: Fortune again smiles upon me. My table breaks immediately after my double up and I move to a new table with only one player, Seat 4, from my previous table. This allows me to resetmy image and, hopefully, gain more opportunities to accumulate chips without hands than I would have had at the previous table. I have no significant reads on the table except that the opponent to my direct left is a very good player who plays a push/fold game. He almost never takes flops and loves to resteal all-in with almost reckless abandon. This is the third hand at my new table. The blinds have increased, leaving me closer to a 15-big-blind stack. My stack size is now bordering on small, which makes restealing more difficult. If I attempt a resteal, I wont get the folding frequency that I would prefer, as my opponent would be getting about 1.5 to 1 to call. I still have some folding equity, but I must choose my opportunities very carefully generally only against a player raising with a wide range (likely in late position) and whose stack would be crippled if he should call and lose.

Preflop(5,700) Qs Jh: Restealing becomes a moot point now, as the action is folded to me. My read on the player in the big blind is that he will likely shove over a standard raise with a super-wide range of hands. Q-J might be slightly ahead of that range, but not enough to encourage that sort of action. Pushing all-in may be a bit larger than your normal push/fold stack, but my opponent will be forced to fold many hands that he would probably threebet. This gets some hands (like K-7) which are slightly ahead of me to fold, as well as some hands (like T-9s) against which Im only a slight favorite. Nonetheless, he will still call me with a very wide range. He probably isnt folding any hand that is ahead of me except for some weak A-x and K-x hands. If I were to make a standard raise, he would reraise allin anyway with all of the hands with which he will call an allin push. In this particular hand, going all-in is actually a lower variance play than raise/calling. By pushing, I avoid some marginal all-in situations compared to the raise/call strategy, and I add over 11% to my stack when my opponent folds. I push all-in for 37,586 and the big blind folds. Showing this mathematically, if I were to make a standard raise and call an all-in based on my read that he was reraising super wide (ex. Range 22+, A2s+, K2s+, Q8s+, J8s+, T8s+, 97s+, 86s+, 76s, 65s, A2o+, K5o+, QTo+, JTo+, T9o), it makes up 39.1% hands. So 60.9% of the time I would win the blinds and antes, and the other 39.1% of the time I would have 44.5% equity in the pot. (.609)5,700 + (.391)((.445)(39,386)-(.555)(36,286)) 3,471 + (.391)(17,527-20,139) 3,471 + (.391)(-2,612) 3,471 1,021 EV = 2,450 Note that I will also be out of the tournament 21.7% of the time this way (39.1% of 55.5%). The second option is pushing while assuming my opponent will call an all-in with a tighter range than he would threebet with: 44+, A2s+, K8s+, QTs+, JTs, A7o+, KTo+, QTo+, and JTo (22.8% of hands). Pushing increases my expected value, as I will win the blinds and antes 77.2% of the time and have 40.7% equity when he calls.

(.772)5,700 + (.228)((.407)(39,386)-(.593)(36,286)) 4,400 + (.228)(16,030 21,518) 4,400 + (.228)(-5,488) 4,400 1,251 EV = 3,149 Pushing not only shows a higher profit, but it also reduces my likelihood of being knocked out of the tournament to only 13.5% of the time (22.8% of 59.3%). There is a third option here, raise/folding, which is similar to scenario 1, although I just lose my raise amount (approx. 3x minus the posted small blind, so 2.5x or 6,000). (.609)5,700 + (.391)-6,000 3,471 2,346 EV = 1,125 Although this play has positive expectation, it is by far the lowest expectation option against this player, but it does mean that I cannot be eliminated. In contrast, heres how the results would change if the big blind were a more tight/passive player who would reraise all-in (and never resteal) with exactly the same range with which he would call. The range Im using for this player is 77+, ATs+, KTs+, QJs, ATo+, KJo+, and QJo (12.4% of hands). Since his range is the same for both the first scenario (where he goes all-in over my raise and I call) and the second scenario (where I push all-in), I can use the same calculations for both. This only works because his range for pushing and calling are precisely the same. When I move all-in, my equity is 33.2% against his range. (.876)5,700 + (.124)((.332)(39,386) (.668)(36,286)) 4,993 + (.124)(13,076 24,239) 4,993 + (.124)(-11,163) 4,993 1,384 EV = 3,609 Against this player this would also mean I would be out of the tournament 8.2% of the time (12.4% of 66.8%). I have good expected value here; however, raising 3x and then folding to this player has an even better expected value: (.876)5,700 + (.124)(-6,000) 4,993 744 EV = 4,249 This option gives me better expected value, and also no chance of being knocked out. There are a couple of important things to learn from this sort of analysis away from the table: The first is that against very aggressive players who are willing to push with a very wide range, it can often be more profitable and lower variance to just take the play away from them by pushing all-in yourself, rather than giving them the chance to push over your raise in a shorter-stacked (less than 20 big blinds) situation. The second is that against tighter, less creative opponents who are going to play more straightforwardly against you, raising and folding if they push all-in can be better than just pushing all-in yourself. In order to choose the optimal play, its very important to have an idea of how aggressive your opponent is and how he might react in these situations.

Setup: An orbit has passed since I shoved with Q-J. There has been one all-in at the table and one player busted, but the rest of the pots were taken down preflop with a single raise.

Preflop (5,700): Unsuited aces with bad kickers are very poor hands to play deep in a tournament with a 20-big-blind stack. I will almost always fold if there is any action in front of me. However, the action is folded to me in the small blind. I am deeper stacked than I was in the Q-J hand, making moving all-in less appealing than before, since winning the blinds and antes will mean a smaller percentage increase in my stack. Also, while A-5 is a statistically better hand than Q-J, Q-J actually plays better against the range of hands with which the big blind will be calling. The reason for this is that the big blind will be calling with many aces and small/medium pairs that will dominate A-5, but only be small favorites over Q-J. My stack is a little too deep to push all-in here, but my hand is too strong to fold. Since I know this player is very likely to force me into a very tough decision by going all-in with a wide variety of hands over a raise, I decide just to call. I am deep enough that that he could still just push all-in, but by calling, I insure there is less money in the pot for him to steal, making the riskversus-reward ratio much worse. I also have enough chips that if I just call and he makes a standard raise to 7,200, I could potentially reraise all-in. While I probably wouldnt do that with this hand, my opponent knows I am capable of doing so, and that I dont often limp in the small blind. This should prevent my limp from being easily exploitable, since I have the sort of stack that my opponent knows I may limp/reraise with. I call and the big blind checks.

Flop (6,900): I hit middle pair, which is a very good heads-up hand on a pretty dry board. I need to make a small bet to protect my hand and hopefully take the pot down right here. If I am called, I can reevaluate the situation on the turn. If I am raised, I will probably be forced to fold, even though I know my opponent is capable of raising with a worse hand than mine. The fact that my opponent knows I may have been going for a limp/reraise preflop will probably discourage him from making too many plays at me, as I could have a big hand. Against a player who is not sophisticated enough to know that I might be going for a limp/reraise here, I would have just raised this hand preflop and folded to a reraise. I bet 3,600 and my opponent folds.

Setup: This hand is right after the A-5 hand.

Preflop (5,700): 5-2 is a terrible hand, and I fold when the action comes to me. The small blind though, who is the very good all-in player, pushes for 50,400 and the big blind calls 32,855. The small blind shows 8 6 and the big blind shows A T. The board runs out J 8 A 6 3, giving the all-in player two pair and the pot. This confirms my read that the all-in player is playing very aggressive all-in poker, even with a 50K stack, and now has even more chips directly to my left for me to worry about.

Setup: Just a few uneventful hands have passed. Were still in a very precarious position at the table with many big stacks and a very aggressive all-in player to my left.

Preflop (5,700): With a very strong hand and around 20 big blinds, I am more than prepared to get all my chips in the middle against the aggressive player on my left, and, most likely, the other big stacks, too. The action is folded to me, and I raise to 5,888. Much to my dismay, everyone folds to the big blind, who flat calls. I get to play the pot in position, but with TT, I will often face overcards on the flop that will make things tricky.

Flop (15,076): Lucky for me I hit a great flop! Even better, the big blind starts by betting into me for 7,200. Most of the time, when players call out of the blinds preflop and then lead into you instead of checkraising, it signifies some sort of draw or weak made hand. Some of the more sophisticated players will also do this with a 7, but if my opponent has a 7, Im going to get all my chips in the middle no matter what. I must therefore concern myself only with the draws and weak made hands. A weak made hand on this flop consists of a ten, 22-66, or 88/99, and since I have two of the tens, it is very unlikely that hes leading with a ten. Most of the time, he is probably leading out with a flush or straight draw. So with a virtual lock on the hand, it makes sense to just call behind him and hope he hits his draw so I can extract all of his chips. I call the 7,200.

Turn (29,476): Unfortunately, neither draw comes in, and my opponent checks. The situation hasnt changed much, though. If hes playing a 7 very tricky, hes still going to get all his chips in the middle before the end of this hand, so its more important to extract maximum value from the draws. In a case like this, when he does have a ten with a weak kicker, I might be costing myself chips by not betting, but that makes up a tiny part of his range. I could consider making a small bet here, trying to entice him to call a small bet with some of his draws or maybe even push all-in as a bluff! If I had a read on the player that he was more aggressive, this would be an attractive option, but I do not, and since many players are able to read through a small bet here as an obvious value bet with a big hand, I check behind.

River (29,476): Unfortunately, all the draws missed. My opponent leads into me for a very weak bet of 9,600. It appears he is trying to turn his missed draw into a bluff after I checked behind on the turn. It is very unlikely that I will get paid off, but with such a huge hand I must raise. With my stack size, it makes more sense to just push all-in than to make a smaller raise, as my remaining stack is smaller than the pot. My opponent folds, and I feel like I really couldnt have gotten much more from the hand.

Setup: The last couple of hands have been taken down with a preflop raise. After the TT hand, I now have around 25 big blinds and some breathing room. I am still in a very precarious table position, though, with all the big stacks on my left. The tournament is now down to two tables. Seat 7 has been moved to a new table, to keep the tables balanced as players bust out.

Preflop (5,400): This is the type of hand in which Id love to see a cheap flop. The table has been fairly passive, and for the third time since I was moved here, the action is folded to me in the small blind. I have more chips than before, so I could contemplate a raise, but the player in the big blind loves to shove all-in, and I would really like to take a flop with this hand. Against many other opponents, I would raise here, but against this opponent I would rather just call and keep the pot small so he doesnt feel inclined to reraise me. This will be the second time in a row Im limping in this position, so the threat of my limp/reraising him is diminished. I limp in, and he checks behind.

Flop (6,600) Td 9s 6c: I flop top pair, an inside straight draw, and a back door flush drawa very good flop for me. My hand is vulnerable, so I dont want to give a free card. Also, since my straight draw would put a 4 straight on the board, it isnt very likely Ill be able to win a big pot if I hit, since it should scare my opponent. Im going to be in a very bad spot if he raises me, but the flop is favorable, and I do not want to give a free card. I bet 4,000, and he folds.

Setup: In the last 6 hands, Ive won two pots raising with A-Jo and 7-2s preflop trying to take advantage of the overall tightness of the table. No one has played back at me so far, and I have taken down the blinds each time. The blinds have increased to 1,500-3,000 with a 400 ante.

Preflop (6,900): Pocket sevens is a strong hand at this point in the tournament, but Ill have to assess what to do based on the action in front of me. In fact, the action is folded to Seat 8, who opens with a minimum raise to 6,000. Seat 8 started the hand with just over 55K in chips, roughly 18 big blinds. Minimum raises from shorter stacks can be difficult to play against. Sometimes theyll be slow playing a monster and other times theyre simply trying to leave themselves room to fold. Smooth calling behind him is not a very good play. First, it does nothing to help me define his hand, and his stack is too shallow to play for set value. Also, I have a very good all-in player acting behind me who is quite capable of threebetting, putting me in an awkward spot.

Making a small reraise here is by far the best play because of my previous read that this player is capable of minimum raising as a steal/ bluff. This read makes me believe his range includes both super weak steal-type hands, as well as monsters (QQ+/A-K) that my 77 is in real trouble against. It turns my sevens into a bluff the vast majority of the time. However, a small reraise accomplishes two goals: It forces Seat 8 to define his hand and it prevents me from having to make marginal decisions postflop when the small blind squeezes and I call. I reraise to 16,888, and everyone folds. Note that these stack sizes allow me to threebet without committing myself. If my opponents stack were a little smaller, this hand would play differently, as I would now be forced to call an all-in fourbet from my opponent.

Setup: This is five hands later. There has been little action at the table and all pots have been won preflop.

Preflop (6,900): The action folds to Seat 6 who goes all-in for 24,844. The button folds, and the action is on me. I already have 1,500 in the pot, so it costs 23,344 to call, and the pot is 31,744. I have to be roughly 42% against his all-in range to make this a break-even call; anything above that starts to show a profit. If Seat 6 is a reasonably good player, he should understand that with less than nine big blinds he should be pushing a very wide range. A reasonably good player versed in shortstack play would probably push a range like any ace, any two broadway cards, any pair, K9o+, K7s+, 97s+, 87s+, and in some cases just random cards, especially if he or she viewed the big blind as a tight player. My read on the big blind is that he is a very good all-in player who would typically call with a wide range in this situation; however, I am unsure if Seat 6 has this same read. I have roughly 50% equity against the range Ive estimated, so this is a profitable situation against the all-in player. However, I need to consider the possibility that the big blind will wake up with a premium hand. A premium hand of TT+ and A-Q+ represents 3.8% of all hands5. Even if he does call, I still have some equity with my A-8, although I would obviously be a big dog. Additionally, if Seat 6 is not versed in shortstack play and only pushing solid hands, this is a very clear fold. This is a risky play and one that in hindsight, is probably a bit too risky for the reward it presents. It can be tricky to do all of these calculations at the table, however; you have to play based on experience, then do work after the fact to see if you were correct. All of these factors combined means I probably should have folded, but in the heat of the moment I push all-in for 87,874 to isolate, and the big blind folds. Seat 6 shows A T, the board runs out 7 4 2 5 9, and I lose the pot to ace ten high. My read on the player could have been wrong here, or I could just be unlucky that he happened to have a hand closer to the top of his all-in range. Ill keep watching the table to see if I get any more information in case I am presented with a similar situation against this player in the future.

Setup: It is a few orbits later and the blinds have increased to 2,000-4,000 with 500 ante. Most of the pots have been taken down with a single raise preflop, although Seat 6 did win another all-in when he had QQ vs. A-K in a pretty standard all-in preflop situation. I have managed to take down several pots preflop with a single raise and no callers with A-Jo, A-5s, KK, K-9o, and K-5s.

Preflop (9,000): I obviously have a very weak hand, but I am including it more for the reads it gives us on the players who do go to showdown. The action is folded to Seat 4 on the button, who raises 2.5 times the big blind to 10,000. The small blind folds, but the big blind defends by calling.

Flop (25,000): This is the type of flop I would really expect the button to try and continuation bet even if he missed, but both players check the flop.

Turn (25,000): There are two flush draws out, so I would think that if either player had an ace, or even a queen, they would try and protect their respective hands, but again both players check.

River (25,000): This completes the heart draw from the flop. The big blind bets out 12,000 chips, just under half the pot, and the button smooth calls the 12,000. The big blind shows A 9 for a flopped pair of aces and the button shows K J for the nut flush and absolute nuts on that board. This one is a real head scratcher. The big blind never tried to protect his top pair by betting, and the button never bet his flush draw, despite having taken the lead preflop and having a very favorable flop with both the heart draw and the straight draw. The most absurd part of this hand, though, is that the button just calls behind on the river with the absolute nuts!!! Perhaps he misread the board or miss-clicked. Regardless, my read on both of these players now is that they are extremely passive. Note that the big blind in this hand is the same player I called with A-8 in a previous hand. Now, knowing how passively he plays, I can safely say that my read was wrong and that call was a bad play. I will adjust my play in the future.

Setup: This is shortly after the last hand. Again, nothing significant has happened since last time, with all pots being taken down preflop, usually with a single raise. The blinds have increased once again.

Preflop (11,100): I would never fold the third best hand in poker preflop with these stack sizes at this stage of the tournament. Seat 5 raises to 12,500 from under-the-gun, and the rest of the table folds to me. The table is shorthanded; nonetheless, Seat 5 has raised from a premium position and hasnt shown the ability to be particularly tricky yet. Smooth calling here with these stacks could make my post flop play difficult, as an ace or a king will flop around one third of the time. The best play here is just to push all-in, so I shove for 75,730. The action is folded to Seat 5, who uses his time bank for a while before eventually folding.

Setup: We are now at the final table. Between the last hand and this one I managed to win two pots preflop with A-Js and 7-2o when I raised and everyone else folded.

The payouts for the final table are as follows:

The payout curve is very steep, meaning that there will be a lot of pressure on the shorter stacks, who wont want to bust in ninth. The table setup is fairly good for me. I have the aggressive European player and the very good all-in player to my right, and one of the two passive players from my last table will be in the big blind when Im on the button. With the exception of Seat 2, most of the stacks to my left are fairly small, and therefore good candidates to potentially steal their blinds. Lastly, I have Seat 6, the other passive player from my previous table, on my right. I can call or reraise in position against him, but if I get any action at all from him, I can safely shut down unless I have a strong hand.

Preflop (12,900): A premium pair is always good, but especially in late position, as my opponents are unlikely to give me very much credit for a decent hand, and may play back at me with light values. The action is folded to me, and I make a small raise to 11,888. Seat 9 reraises me to 32,000 from the button, and the blinds fold. I know nothing about this opponents play at this point, but I do know that since I raised from a common steal position, he could very well be playing back at me light, or have a relatively strong hand like TT or 99 that he easily thinks is the best hand. At this point, much like the last hand, there is no reason to be tricky and risk an A or K flopping. I just push it all-in for 111,030 and Seat 9 folds, netting me a nice pot. An added benefit is that it might make him think twice about playing back at me in the future.

Setup: This hand immediately follows the last. Its worth noting that when I fourbet Seat 9 all-in during the last hand, he typed two things into the chat box - IM GONNA GET YOU RIZEN and U WOKE UPWITH AHAND. This tells me that Seat 9 thinks I am playing very aggressively and may have been playing back at me somewhat light. More importantly, most of the time when someone goes out of their way to let me know theyre gonna get [me], it actually means I should be attacking them more often. They will often try to verbally dissuade you from stealing from them because they lack the courage to actually play back at you. Agood player in a similar situation would say nothing, but would likely reraise the very next time I opened the pot. Its certainly possible that he could follow through on his silly threat, but the more likely scenario is that hes blowing hot air my way because hell let me steal from him any time I want until he actually picks up a hand.

Preflop (12,900): This is, quite obviously, a terrible hand, and the reason Ive included it has more to do with the other players involved in the pot than with me. The action folds to the very passive player in Seat 6 who raises to 15,000. Seat 7 calls and everyone else folds.

Flop (42,900): This is a fairly dry flop. The very passive player continuation bets 20,000, just under half the pot, and Seat 7 calls.

Turn (82,900): This card really shouldnt change much in terms of who is ahead and who is behind. Both players check.

River (82,900): Now theres a potential back door flush. The very passive player checks and Seat 7 bets 20,000, or not even one quarter of the pot, and the very passive player calls. Seat 7 shows J J for a flopped set and turned full house, while the very passive player shows 2 2 for two pair. I included this hand because it gives me some very important insight for future hands. The very passive player seems to overvalue pairs preflop, something many players do. This information could be critical in the future because it adds some value to hands like 77 and 88 when playing against his range. Once you get below around 30 big blinds, you really should start considering tossing some of your poorer pocket pairs, particularly in early position. They can be valuable as resteal hands and from late position, but once you get below 30 big blinds, the implied odds value of flopping a set goes down drastically. I will often even open fold pairs as strong as 77 from early position once my stack is less than 30 big blinds. More importantly though, this hand finally gives us a good read on Seat 7, who played this hand like an extreme version of the classic slow player. He called preflop with JJ, which is probably understandable given their relative positions and Seat 6s passive nature. However, once he flopped a monster, he just called on a dry flop, checked when filling up on the turn, and then bet not even one quarter of the pot on the river. Players like this can be very easy to play against, as they typically love to slow play all their big hands. So in the future, if Seat 7 raises me on the flop or makes a three quarters pot bet on a J-J-4 flop, I could use that opportunity to play back at him because he would often be slow playing a monster hand. Obviously this doesnt work against all players, but it will frequently work against your poorer slowplaying opponents who dont extract maximum value from their monster hands.

Setup: This is just two hands after the last. Seat 4 was given a walk in one of the hands. The blinds have increased, so I now have a 25 big blind stack. Seats 1 and 3 are getting dangerously short and I expect Seat 5 to start exercising his all-in game very, very soon.

Preflop (15,750): 7-7 is a strong hand, although tricky to play in early position with only 25 big blinds. Seat 6, the very passive player who overvalues pairs, makes a standard raise for him to 18,000. I would consider playing this pot in a later position, knowing that he could easily be on a lower pair or overcards. Since he is opening under-the-gun though, I am in a precarious position. If I flat call, I will be calling off over 10% of my stack. If several more players call behind me, I increase my chances of winning a big pot but have very little chance of winning without flopping a set. Worse yet, if theres a reraise behind me, Ill almost certainly have to fold. Given the aggressive nature of some of the players to act behind me, this is an important consideration. In addition, there are some short stacks behind me who Id have to call due to pot odds, if they threebet all-in, and Seat 6 folds. Id rather not be put in that situation. I fold, and the action folds around to the small blind, who cold calls 15,000 more. The big blind folds, and two players see the flop.

Flop (48,750): Without a 7, this would have been one of the better flops for my hand. Seat 4 checks and the passive player in Seat 6 bets the full pot, or 48,750. In the last hand, he bet just under half the pot with 22 as a continuation bet, which leads me to believe that he has something stronger than an underpair this time. However, his bet is also quite large, given that its about half of his remaining stack. It appears as if he wants Seat 4 to fold. However Seat 4 goes all-in! Seat 6 quickly calls and shows A T for two overcards and a gutshot straight draw. Seat 4 shows J J for an overpair. The turn and river are the K and the 9 and Seat 6 is eliminated. My read on Seat 6 being a passive player may have been wrong, as he played the last two hands in a fairly aggressive manner for a passive player. Now the good, aggressive European player has a lot of chips and will be a very tough opponent from here onward.

Setup: About ten hands have passed since Hand 27. During this time, I went through the blinds twice without any playable hands or situations. There was an all-in preflop confrontation that busted Seat 1 out of the tournament in a fairly standard pair-versus-overcards situation. The aggressive European player in Seat 4 has been asserting his dominance over the table, making my life very difficult. He is opening nearly every pot before I act, and I have had very few opportunities to resteal against him. Most of the other players have been slowly bleeding chips, except for Seats 2 and 3, who added a little to their respective stacks during the last orbit.

Preflop (14,250): Pocket nines is a very good hand, especially on the button. There is a good chance that if Seat 4 enters this pot, I will be using this as a chance to go all-in over him. Much to my dismay, however, Seat 4 folds and Seat 5, who is the very good all-in player, raises to 62,750 leaving only 8,143 chips behind. Seat 7 folds and the action is on me. Im really not sure if this is a misclick, or somehow designed to look stronger than just going all-in, but with a hand like 99 versus his stack, I have to think Im way ahead despite the odd action. Since were playing online, it is likely the player attempted to go all-in but did it too quickly and didnt move the slider all the way over. I push all-in for 126,980 to isolate, and the action is folded to the raiser, who calls the additional 8,143. He shows 8 4 for a complete bluff. The board runs out T 7 2 T Q, and I take down the pot. The very dangerous Seat 5 is out of the tournament. Additionally, I now have a healthy stack of chips and position on the chip leader. This will allow me to start selectively playing back at him in hope of slowing him down. If I can slow him down so that he folds more frequently preflop, then I will have more opportunities to raise before the flop.

Setup: The blinds have increased and about one orbit of play has gone by. Seat 4 has very successfully opened about half the pots over the last several orbits. If I want a chance to win this tournament, Im going to have to confront him at some pointotherwise hell run over the table. I may be third in chips, but the blinds are coming around faster and faster at this point. In only five orbits, or 30 hands, my stack will be cut in half, so trying to wait for a premium hand is a mistake.

Preflop (18,000): Suited broadway cards make great restealing hands. Although youre rarely ahead when called, theyre seldom big dogs unless you are up against AA or KK. When you combine the fold equity you get on a reraise with the equity value in a showdown, restealing with suited broadway cards can be quite profitable. The action folds to Seat 4, who makes his usual raise to 18,500. Seat 7 folds, and Im left with a decision. K-Qs is very likely ahead of Seat 4s range. If I just push all-in here, it is highly unlikely that Seat 4 will call me. When he does, hell probably have me crushed with a very good hand. If I just make a standard reraise, Seat 4 may think he has fold equity. If he pushes all-in, this will put tremendous pressure on me, since his range is still wide. If I decide not to push all-in, I must size my raise carefully, because he is also capable of calling me preflop with the intention of taking it away on the flop. I opt to use the rule of 3. That is, if I raise to about one third of my stack preflop and he decides to flat call me, Ill have a pot size bet left to shove in on the flop. This makes it impossible for him to try to take the pot away on the flop, and occasionally hell even call and fold with Ace high on the flopa big mistake since hes ahead. Raising this amount, however, also means Im committed to the pot. If he reraises all-in, Ill be getting better than 2-to1 odds to call with a hand that should have much more than 33% equity versus his shoving range. Going all-in here is the lower variance play, as it forces him to fold much more often. Reraising here is higher variance, because he is perfectly capable of going all-in with a wide range; when he does that and I win, I will have moved a gigantic chunk of his chip stack into my chip stack and given myself a huge boost. I will be in good shape to win the tournament with the chip lead and position on the better players at the table. I raise to 69,500. The action folds back to Seat 4, and, as feared, he pushes all-in. Although I will rarely ever be ahead, I call for 130,123 more, as planned when I committed myself. Seat 4 shows A 8. The fact that he shows up with such a weak hand in this spot validates my read. I am actually in decent shape with 44% equity in the pot. The board runs out 6 6 3 K 4 and I hit that beautiful king on the turn to win the pot and establish a position of dominance at the table. This hand demonstrates a key concept: the value of moving chips from a good players stack to your own. The actual play might have a negative expectation from a pure chip stand point as opposed to just going all-in preflop, but my chances of winning the tournament have just increased exponentially. One factor I often take into account when making marginal decisions is how the table conditions might change based on various outcomes of my play. In this case, I am now presented with an excellent table situation. Of course, when my opponent pushes, 56% of the time I will bust out in sixth place. I could have played conservatively and probably guaranteed myself a third or fourth place finish. But the value in this play is that I am now in good shape to win, and overall, I took a long-term winning line based on the prize structure.

Setup: One hand has passed, and Seat 4 doubled up Seat 9. At this point, my table image is becoming quite aggressive, but due to the steep payout structure, everyone is reluctant to bust, as theyll earn another $1,000+ once another players busts out. In these situations, many players become too passive, waiting for premium hands before putting their tournament life on the line. With this in mind, I can pretty much open any two cards every time the aggressive Seat 4 and shortstacked Seat 7 are not involved in a hand.

Preflop (18,000): 6-6 is a solid hand at this point. However, as I pointed out before, I will open with any two cards in any pot in which Seats 4 and 7 arent involved until one of the other players shows the willingness to play back at me, or until the shortstacked Seat 7 is gone. I am in a dream situation right now, with both of those players acting before me on every pot. Seats 4 and 7 fold, and I make a small raise to 19,888. As I anticipated, everyone else folds.

Setup: Another hand has passed. Everyone is waiting for Seat 7 to bust, so now is the time to take advantage of the tight play.

Preflop (18,000): A-Ks is a very strong hand at this point in the tournament. I make my standard raise to 19,888. The action is folded to Seat 2, who cold calls my raise. Seat 7 then goes all-in from the big blind for his last 76,394. Given Seat 7s short stack, he could have a wide range of hands, and my play to reshove all-in with A-Ks is fairly obvious. However, I think its worth evaluating this situation for the times where my hand is more marginal. Seat 7 should have a pretty good hand to move all-in in this precise spot. First, given that Seat 2 has called, theres a chance he could move up in the money by folding and hoping that Seat 2 busts. Second, given the size of the pot and his stack size, Seat 7 is probably aware of the fact that he would rarely get us both to fold. I expect Seat 7 will have a strong hand, but he certainly doesnt need a super premium hand like AA or KK to make this move. He has shown that he likes to slowplay, so he might actually only call with a premium pair to try and trap. Even if I didnt have A-K (as I do here), I would still isolate almost 100% of the time, given the fact that Im getting better than 2-to-1 odds with all the dead money in the pot. The only exceptions would be if I were not paying attention to Seat 7s stack and made a light under-the-gun steal, or perhaps with AA, where I would flat call, hoping to entice Seat 2 to come along as well. As it is, my play with A-Ks is fairly standard, and I just move all-in to try to get Seat 2 to fold with all that dead money in the pot. Seat 2 folds and Seat 7 shows Q Q. The board comes out J 9 3 8 4 and Seat 7 takes the pot. Even though I would much rather have won this pot, all is not lost. When most of the players remaining have similar stack sizes with this type of price structure, many play too passively and tight, reluctant to risk their tournament lives when they may move up in the prize pool just by letting others bust out. The one exception is Seat 4, who is very aggressive. This situation presents me with many future stealing opportunities.

Setup: This is three hands after Hand 31; no significant change in chip stacks or reads.

Preflop (18,000): K-Js is a reasonable hand sixhanded, and I may play it a variety of ways depending on the action before me. All fold to Seat 4, who raises to 18,500. Seat 7 folds, and its my turn to act. I could reraise here, as Im probably ahead of my opponents opening range; however, Seat 4 is more than capable of four-betting all-in with a wide range of hands, putting me in a very tricky spot. Given that the rest of the players behind me are quite passive and very unlikely to try to squeeze if I call, taking a flop in position gives me the best chance of extracting value from my hand and simultaneously applying maximum pressure to my opponent. Although my opponent is aggressive, I can call and play postflop in position. With our respective stack sizes, it will be tough for him to just stick all his chips in the middle if he misses the flop. I call and everyone else folds.

Flop (55,000): This isnt an ideal flop for me, but the advantage of position is being able to see my opponent act first. He checks. On this sort of coordinated board with a flush draw, checking is like waving the white flag. I can pretty comfortably bet any hand here, knowing that hell fold most of the time, as he most likely would have protected any sort of real hand on this flop with a bet. He may go for a checkraise all-in with some sort of draw, but since my hand is only king high, it will be an easy fold for me. I bet 30,000, just over half the pot, and Seat 4 folds.

Setup: Three hands have passed, and surprisingly, Seat 7 has been using his new-found chips to win several decent pots without showing anything down. If he keeps acting aggressively, I may have to use my position and chip advantage to slow him down a little and reassert my position at the table. For now, however, he may just have had a run of cards.

Preflop (18,000): Hopefully, my image at this point in the tournament will pay off and I can get a lesser hand to get a lot of chips in the middle against me. Seat 3 raises to 24,000 and the action folds to me. Seat 3 has put nearly 25% of his chips in the middle preflop, when he could have pushed all-in. Why is that? Most players would just go allin. He could be leaving himself room to fold, but occasionally this also represents a big hand that wants some action. I have no particular reads on this player other than the fact that he has been fairly quiet up until now. This is a pretty easy play, given the fact Im holding A-Ks, but if I had a more marginal hand like A-J, it would be much more difficult. I go all-in and Seat 3 folds. This is the sign of a very weak player. There are only six players left in the tournament, and his stack will be cut in half by the blinds and antes over the next 18 hands. You simply cant afford to blow 25% of your stack on a steal attempt and then fold. These types of stack sizes often give weak players problems late in a tournament. They want to wait for a good hand, but they dont have the time to do so. There really are only three choices: either commit to the pot and hope to steal the blinds, get lucky when called, or keep waiting for a better hand while the blinds and antes eat away at your stack. With his stack size, you should either go all-in or raise with the full intention of calling all-in. Alternatively, he could just fold with the intention of moving all-in over the next two orbits. At any rate, it is a fairly weak play, and Ill see if I can exploit his reluctance to play for the rest of his chips in the future.

Setup: Nearly three orbits have passed since the last hand. Seat 4 picked up nearly 50% of the last 18 hands with just a single raise preflop a trend I cannot allow to continue for much longer. Despite Seat 4s aggressiveness, I did find a few spots to take down my own pots with Q-7o, 6-2s, and J-5s by picking on Seat 3 and Seat 9s big blinds.

Preflop (21,000): Pocket treys is not a great hand with these stacks, as were not really deep enough to try flopping sets, since many of my opponents are too short stacked to offer the proper odds. My stack is also too big to just push it all-in preflop. The action folds to Seat 7, who raises to 20,000. This is a minimum raise at the new blind level. Seat 7 is a tricky/slow player, and under different circumstances, I might well believe this represents a big hand. However, notice that both blinds have very short stacks. When players make a smaller-than-normal raise against short stacks in the blinds, they could be leaving themselves room to fold should one of the blinds push. This is a great spot to reraise Seat 7, as he may have been leaving himself room to fold to those short stacks. I can apply tons more pressure with a reraise; not only am I raising him, but he risks busting out in sixth place when he began this hand third in chips. A reraise gives me a ton of leverage, as Im effectively telling my opponent that hed better be prepared to play for his whole stack. The beauty of this play is that Im obviously not ready to play for stacks with 3-3, but he doesnt know that. If hes playing tricky with a big hand, I have enough chips to reraise and fold to him. Also, if this player remembers me calling Seat 4 in a similar situation with K-Qs versus his A-8s, he is very unlikely to try and fourbet bluff me here because he should know Im capable of calling pretty light. I raise to 58,888, which in hindsight is probably more than I needed to raise to accomplish the same task. A raise to something like 52,500 probably gets the same result, but we save over 6,000 chips the times he goes all-in. Both blinds and Seat 7 fold.

Setup: It has been a few orbits since the last hand. Seat 2 knocked out Seat 9 in a blind-versus-blind confrontation, with JJ against K-T where they were all-in preflop. Seat 3 then doubled through Seat 2 with 77 versus A-6 in another blind-versus-blind all-in confrontation. We are now five-handed with Seat 3 tripling up. My opponents stacks are slowly increasing, but the situation is more or less the same, with me having the chip lead, Seat 4 in second, and playing very aggressively, and the others playing passively except when theyre dealt a big hand.

Preflop (20,000): I fold. Seat 2 raises to 27,000 and the aggressive Seat 4 reraises to 66,000. Seat 7 folds and Seat 2 fourbets all-in for 130,771. Seat 4 is reluctantly committed to calling 64,771 more, getting better than 3-to-1 pot odds. Seat 2 shows A K and Seat 4 shows Q 2. Seat 4 was obviously playing his stack and the payout jump, which I think is a good play in many circumstances, but becomes more questionable with Seat 2 only having 13 big blinds. There is a reason they run the five cards, and the board comes 9 7 4 7 2, busting Seat 2 with a brutal river card. We are now fourhanded. This will create a very interesting dynamic going forward, as Seat 4 and I have roughly even chip stacks, while Seats 3 and 7 will both be reluctant to be the fourth-place finisher with the looming pay jump of nearly $2K.

Setup: Three hands have passed. I have picked up the blinds once raising with A-6o UTG as a steal. Now that we are fourhanded, there is an interesting dynamic in that Seat 4 and I are the biggest stacks and Seats 3 and 7 are both relatively short and probably reluctant to bust before the other. With Seat 4 and I across from one another, there will probably be a battle to see which one us can establish table dominance.

Preflop (19,000): A-9o is a reasonably strong starting hand when fourhanded. All fold to Seat 4, who raises to 25,000 from the button. I can make a strong case for a reraise here, but I know this is a very aggressive player who would be more than willing to fourbet me very light. Rather than turn my hand into a bluff where he will either fold or fourbet much of the time, I decide my best opportunity is to see the flop. Note that my play in this hand is opponent specific. It is risky going to battle against another deepstacked opponent with a relatively weak hand out of position, especially when there are two short stacks at the table. In this situation, I am very comfortable playing postflop against this particular opponent, even out of position. This is much better than getting into a drawn out 3-and fourbet war with him preflop, particularly with a hand in which Im going to be dominated most of the time if I get action. Against other opponents, I might threebet if he was rather tight, and I might fold against players with whom I would be uncomfortable playing postflop if I wasnt familiar with their playing style.

Flop (59,000): This is a terrible flop for me. I dont particularly like making a pure bluff on monotone boards, out of position, against players who are sophisticated enough to think I would do this with a dry A; particularly this deep stacked against an aggressive opponent. Given the flush draws, he is more likely to call a potential bluff down with a relatively weak pair, or if he has a high-flush draw. I check, Seat 4 bets 32,000, and I decide to give up on the small pot and fold.

Setup: This immediately follows Hand 36. Seat 4 is starting to pull away. As he builds his chip lead, the pressure I can apply to him diminishes. I need to remain within striking distance to really be able to take advantage of the shorter stacks. Should Seat 4 pull away, I will no longer be able to threaten his stack and will be stuck in the awkward position of having too large a stack to want to risk busting in fourth, but not a big enough stack to truly threaten him.

Preflop (19,000): T-2s is obviously not the best hand in the world, but given the chip stacks, I will be playing most every hand that I can when Seat 4 folds in front of me, simply to maintain pressure on the short stacks. Both Seats 4 and 7 fold, I raise to 30,000, and the big blind folds.

Setup: The blinds have risen again, and a few orbits have passed. Seat 4 and I are taking turns stealing from the shorter stacks. I have managed to pick up pots with K-Jo, A-9o, and Q-9o since the last hand. With the blinds up, the short stacks are going to get desperate fairly soon, so I expect chips to start flying around a bit more.

Preflop (24,000): Any pair is a big hand fourhanded. Low pairs are pretty tough to play deep stacked against Seat 4, but being in position helps. Seat 7 folds. I raise to 28,888. Should Seat 4 threebet me, I will strongly consider four-betting him because I think hell be threebetting much lighter than normal, given the current tournament and stack dynamics. However, before he gets the chance, Seat 3 goes all-in. Seat 3 is short enough that the call is automatic. I call 129,142 more into a 204,918 pot. The small blind shows K 9 for a race. The board runs out A Q 7 4 A and the pocket sixes hold up. It is worth noting that even though I feel this call is obvious with pocket sixes, if I call and lose, it will drastically alter the table/stack dynamics and put me in a position where I have to play far more defensively. On the other hand, if I win, it becomes a threehanded contest, with me the chip leader.

Setup: This hand immediately follows Hand 38. With this table setup, I plan on opening a lot of pots. Seat 4 is very aggressive, so he may play back at me often. If he does so, I will adjust, but for now I plan on pushing the pace until I have a reason not to.

Preflop (22,500): This is a huge hand threehanded, and even bigger considering that Seat 4 should recognize how wide my range is here. I open to 28,888 and unfortunately, both players fold.

Setup: I have won the last two pots uncontested with K-9s and A-6s, and thus far my plan of pushing the pace is working well. I will continue to be aggressive until the table dynamics change or we are heads up.

Preflop (22,500): Q-To is certainly strong enough to open threehanded. The big blind is down to less than five big blinds so hes going to have to pick a spot soon. Given his short stack, I might actually fold hands like 76s since he is likely going to call rather light, but QTo is more than strong enough. I raise to 28,888 and Seat 4 folds. The big blind raises to 45,776 which is an exact minimum raise. This kind of minimum raise often indicates a lot of strength, but his stack is so short that unless I can pin him down to only doing this with queens or better, the price is just too good to fold. I put him allin and he calls. He shows K Q, which I dont like to see because it dominates me, but it demonstrates that his range was more than wide enough to justify putting him all-in for the rest of his chips. The board comes out A 8 K 8 3 and Im not fortunate enough to draw out on him. Its important to stay positive in a tournament, and I just look at Seat 8s survival as an opportunity to chip away at Seat 4 as he will not want to bust out before Seat 7.

Setup: I doubled up the short stack, but its not the end of the world. While I would rather be heads-up with a chip lead, having the short stack at the table potentially gives me more time to exploit the threehanded dynamics where Seat 4 does not want to bust before Seat 7. I cannot really afford to double up Seat 7 again, but doing this once is not too bad, and could actually lead to greater chip accumulation.

Preflop (22,500): Any A-x is a potentially playable when threehanded. The button raises the minimum to 24,000. Seat 7 folds. I could reraise here, but the minimum raise is a bit unusual from this player, and I dont really know what it means yet. I dont know if hes scared and looking to lose the minimum if I reraise, or if he is strong and trying to induce action. I decide to call.

Flop (58,500): I flop bottom pair. On this flop, it is reasonable to expect bottom pair to be the best hand. I could checkraise here, but given the flop texture and the aggressive nature of my opponent, I think checkraising would make me vulnerable to reraises on this board. My opponent could easily have a flush draw, straight draw, or an overpair. Most likely I have the best hand, and there are plenty of turn cards that could scare my opponent giving me other potential opportunities to win the pot on a later street. I decide to check and my opponent bets 32,000. I call.

Turn (122,500): I could lead at this card, as its probably a scare card for my opponent. However, my opponent also knows its scary for me and may view my bet as defensive and raise me to try to take the pot away. A king is a really good card for my opponent to be two barrelling with, as a bluff. I decide to check with the intention of checkraising, figuring my opponent will be betting at this card often, with it missing him far more frequently than it helps him. I check, and, unfortunately, he checks.

River (122,500): I only have a pair of deuces. The fact that my opponent didnt bet the turn as I had expected indicates he holds a hand that he felt couldnt stand a checkraise. This probably includes some flush and/or straight draws, vulnerable connectors (that paired) like 9-8, 8-7, 8-6 as well as 77-44 or even A-8 or A-3. Given that an 8 fell on the river, it makes all of the combinations of hands with 8s in them less likely (but not impossible), since there are only two 8s left in the deck. With just a pair of deuces, I beat all his bluff hands and lose to all his made hands. If I bet, Ill only be called by those hands that beat me and hell fold his missed draws (although he may occasionally bluff-raise with them, but that creates another dilemma altogether with just a pair of deuces). I check. He bets 52,000. The bet is pretty small in relation to the pot. Getting over 3-to-1 pot odds means that I only need the best hand here 25% of the time, or less. I feel as if he could easily be bluffing a missed draw here one time in four, so I call. He tables 9 8 and I muck. Seeing that he made a rather small river value bet with a hand that is nearly the nuts in this situation is something I may be able to use later. He may mix his value bets and bluffs well, but many players fall into the trap of always betting small with big hands and betting big with more moderate hands. This may allow me to make a better river decision later on. Also, note that he minraised the button preflop with a good suited connector. Next time Im faced with this, I dont have to be quite as worried about him being tricky, so I can threebet him preflop with a wider range if I choose to.

Setup: Four hands have passed with Seat 4 starting to pull back ahead of the pack by stealing three pots while I managed to pick up the fourth stealing with Q-4o. He has been playing very aggressively now that he has the chip lead, and Seat 7 still seems to be trying to wait things out.

Preflop (22,500): A-8o is pretty strong threehanded, certainly worthy of a button raise. I make it 28,888, the small blind reraises to 68,800, and Seat 7 folds. At this point, I really feel like Seat 4 has a super - wide range and is playing the situation and his stack. Having an ace in my hand does make it a little tougher for him to have a big ace or aces through card removal. If I can take his 68,800 chips and move them into my stack it will create a much more favorable scenario if we stay threehanded, as Seat 4 and I will be just about even. Given that I think Seat 4 is probably reraising with about 40% of his hands (which is roughly 44+, A2s+, K2s+, Q4s+, J7s+, T7s+, 97s+, 87s, A3o+, K7o+, Q8o+, J8o+, T9o) and can probably only call if I push allin with about 10% of his hands (roughly 44+, ATs+, KQs, ATo+, KQo), hell be folding 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time, my A-8o will have 34.22% equity versus his range. If I push, 75% of the time I will net +83,800 chips. 25% of the time I will be all-in, 34.22% of that will show a net of +497,206 and 65.78% of that will show a net of -483,706. If you work out the mathematics, the chip expectation for this play is as follows: (.75)83,800 + (.25)((.3422)(497,206) + (.6578)(-483,706)) 62,850 + (.25)(170,144 318,182) 62,850 + (.25)(-148,038) 62,850 37,009 +25,841 So the play has a positive expectation of 25,841 chips (if my read on his ranges is correct) versus a -30,388 expectation for folding. The net difference is 56,229. If he threebets with a wider range or calls with narrower one, my profit would go up. Conversely, if he threebets with narrower range or calls with a wider one, my profit goes down significantly. I believe the 56,229 net difference here is too many chips to pass up, even if roughly 16.45% of the time (the 65.8% of the 25% of the time he calls) I will be out of the tournament. It is also important to observe that this play should slow my opponent in Seat 4 down, and stop him from continually making plays against me until Seat 7 busts out. So not only does this play have a positive expectation in and of itself, but it also serves the purpose of preventing Seat 4 from abusing the current situation. I push, and he folds rather quickly.

Setup: Four hands have passed, with Seat 4 taking one pot and Seat 7 winning two of the others. I stole one set of blinds with Q-2o. I thought my play from before might slow Seat 4 down but hes kept his foot on the accelerator. Now that Seat 7 is getting super low, a confrontation is inevitable. If Seat 4 doubles him up, then well be back to even and I can start to apply more pressure. If he busts Seat 7, Im perfectly comfortable going into heads-up play as a slight underdog in chip counts.

Preflop (22,500): 9-7o is a pretty weak hand. Seat 7 open limps with his short stack. Considering hes a tricky/slow player, I feel like he is limping with a pretty big hand, and that Seat 4 is a good enough player to recognize this. With that in mind I think I can complete without too much fear of Seat 4 raising me out of the pot unless he has a legitimately strong hand. Im getting really good pot odds, and while my implied odds arent super deep, given how short Seat 7 is, Im only calling 6K with 34,500 in the pot. Seat 7 has 34,352 remaining after posting the ante and limping. Since the rest will almost certainly be going in post flop, I am getting over 10:1 implied pot odds here provided I get to see the flop. I do complete, but the big blind minraises to 24,000. I really like the big blinds minimum raise in this situation. By raising the minimum, it will be a full raise if Seat 7 pushes. If I try and call, Seat 4 can then push over the top of me. If he were to raise to 36,000 instead, then if Seat 7 went all-in I could flat call and Seat 4 would have to flat call as well, since the raise wouldnt be big enough to re-open the action. Seat 7 does push, I fold, Seat 4 calls, and Seat 7 shows K J and Seat 4 shows A J. Even though I got raised out of the pot, the fact that Seat 4 shows up with A-Jo here confirms my read that he wouldnt raise unless he had a legitimately strong hand. Seat 7s play here with K J is a little out of character, given my read that he should really only be doing this with big hands. Seat 7 really shouldnt be encouraging this type of action with just K J, and should have open pushed. The board runs out A 6 Q 9 T and Seat 7 doubles through, making a straight on the river.

Setup: After doubling up the short stack, my stack and Seat 4s stack are much closer to even again. Also, I am assuming that Seat 7 will go back into his shell now that he has a few chips, hoping one of us busts before he does. Two hands have passed, and Ive folded such gems at 9-2o and 9-3o. Seat 4 won one set of blinds and Seat 7 won the other.

Preflop (22,500): A-Js is very strong threehanded. Seat 7 folds the button, as expected. I raise to 36,000 and the big blind raises to 102,000. This time his threebet is blind versus blind and not button versus small blind. In theory, he should be threebetting a little wider in this situation, but after having been shoved on before, hes probably tightened his threebet range a little bit, and if he has adjusted correctly, loosened his calling range somewhat as well. So for the purposes of the math, I assume that instead of threebetting 40% of his hands, he will now be threebetting the top 33% of his hands (or roughly 55+, A2s+, K4s+, Q6s+, J7s+, T8s+, 98s, A5o+, K8o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o). For calling a fourbet all-in, I put him on a slightly wider range than before, (roughly 44+, A9s+, KJs+, A9o+, KQo) his top 12.5% of hands. A-Js will be a 49% underdog against that range when called. If I fold, my net loss on this hand is -37,500. When I push, I will net +105,000 67% of the time when he folds. The other 33% of the time, I net +515,006 49% of the time when my hand wins, and net -513,506 51% of the time when my hand loses. (.67)105,000 + (.33)((.49)515,006 + (.51)(-513,506)) 70,350 + (.33)((252,353 - 261,888)) 70,350 + (.33)(-9,535) 70,350 + -3,147 + 67,203 So pushing here has a net chip increase of +67,203, while I lose 37,500 when I fold, for a net difference of 104,703 chips for pushing versus folding. Even though Ill be out of the tournament 16.8% of the time, this is far too profitable a situation to pass up. I push, and, after thinking for a while, Seat 4 folds.

Setup: The blinds are up again, which theoretically increases the speed at which Seat 7 gets the rest of his chips in the middle. Also, Im starting to pull away from Seat 4. This should enable me to increase the pressure and accumulate chips until Seat 7 decides to make his stand. One hand has passed, which Seat 4 won and I folded 8-4o.

Preflop (30,000): T-9o is okay threehanded, but certainly nothing spectacular. Seat 4 makes a minimum raise to 32,000, on the button. Every time Ive seen Seat 4 make a standard raise and its gone to showdown, hes shown down hands like A-T and K-J. The only hand with which hes minraised was a suited connector. I could definitely threebet him here, knowing that his range includes a lot of connectors, but given the current table dynamics, I feel he would fourbet me with an extremely wide range, as he has before. I decide to call and use my knowledge of his preflop raising range (medium-strength hands like suited connectors) to potentially outplay him post flop, should I miss. I call the 16,000.

Flop (78,000): This is precisely the type of flop Im looking for. Since his range includes many mid-strength suited connectors and small-to-medium pocket pairs, this flop, with its two big cards, is a great one to checkraise. If I am correct about his range, it is extremely unlikely he can continue with the hand unless he happens to have flopped the flush or a set of fives. I check with the intention of checkraising, but he checks behind.

Turn (78,000): I have a medium-strength flush with my 9. At this point, trying to outplay Seat 4 becomes less important than trying to get to showdown, where I can extract some value from lesser hands. I decide to check again, hoping to induce a bluff from my opponent. Unfortunately, he also checks behind.

River (78,000): Now Im almost sure I have the best hand, so I decide to go ahead and make an approximately half-potsized value bet he can pay off with any hand with showdown value. I bet 40,000 and he calls the 40,000. I show my 9 and he mucks 7 6, making a pair on the river. He indeed held suited connectors preflop, just as I reasoned he would based upon my observation of his previous play.

Setup: I have really started to put some distance between myself and Seat 4, and Seat 7 is getting desperately low. Seat 4 would be making a big mistake to make a play at me before Seat 7 busts, so I plan on hitting the accelerator very hard until Seat 7 either busts or doubles up again. In the four hands since Hand 45, I stole two sets of blinds with A-6o and K-8o and Seat 4 stole the other two with me folding 9-4s and K-7o.

Preflop (30,000): My cards are poor but irrelevant, given the tournament situation. I would raise any two cards and decide to make a minimum raise to 32,000. However, against solid opponents, I would fold in this spot. Asolid opponent whos getting over 2-to-1 pot odds in the big blind would certainly call, and my hand is a 1.5 -to-1 dog against a random hand. However, this opponent has basically blinded his stack down to an M of 2 by trying to wait for a good hand. I probably still have some fold equity, as I expect that he will fold all of his trash hands. I continue to apply pressure, and raise. Seat 4 folds and Seat 7 makes a minimum reraise to 48,000 leaving only 5,704 behind. I have no intention of folding getting these odds but rather than move in preflop I decide to just call. Im not going to fold on a future street, but if theres even a very small chance that Seat 7 might decide to fold somewhere in the hand, I might as well save the chips for that possibility. Essentially, were all-in preflop here.

Flop (110,000): This is a pretty poor flop for me, but getting these odds I have to call any bet. There is still a chance that any 6 or 5 would give me the best hand and I also have backdoor straight opportunities. He goes all-in for his last 5,704, and I call. He shows A 9, so my cards are actually fairly live. The turn is the 3 and the river the Q, and I double him up.

Setup: Despite doubling up Seat 7 on the last hand, I still have a sizable lead over Seat 4. I will continue applying pressure to both players. This hand immediately follows hand 46.

Preflop (30,000): Pocket kings are a monster threehanded, and with a little luck someone will play back at me. Seat 4 folds and I expect Seat 7 to give me a walk here since he just doubled up, but much to my surprise, he shoves all-in! I quickly call, and he shows J J for a threehanded cooler. The board runs out 9 8 7 A 5 and Seat 7 is eliminated in third place.

Setup: I am now heads up against the aggressive European pro! Things change a lot once you get to heads-up play. The dynamics of having a short stack (threehanded) remaining in the tournament are gone. Also, some of the reads I was getting during threehanded play may no longer apply. For example, his minimum raises when threehanded generally indicated suited connectors, but he might raise the minimum with all hands now that were heads up. Early on in heads-up play, there is often a bit of a feeling out process with neither player wanting to play big pots, but I will see how he

plays and attempt to adapt. My 2-to-1 chip advantage is obviously a big help. However, if he doubles up just one time, our situation will be reversed. We are three hands into heads-up play. I picked up the blinds with A-Jo first hand on the button, got a walk in the big blind with 8-4o the next hand, and gave him a walk with 7-2o in the third.

Preflop (28,000): Q-7o is not a strong hand, but hand values frequently change in heads-up play. Seat 4 makes a minimum raise to 32,000. I would often muck Q-7o against a standard raise, but I decide to make the call, as I am getting such a good price to see a flop. Also, I want to use the opportunity to get a feel for his postflop play.

Flop (68,000): I check and Seat 4 bets 41,000, a little over half, but not quite two thirds the pot. Bet size tells are the most common online tell, so I make a mental note of his first bet size heads up and muck my hand.

Setup: It is still early in heads-up play and I havent had a chance to get any real reads yet beyond what I saw earlier in the final table. Two hands have passed since the Q-7o hand: I won both, raising 8-7o on the button and stealing the blinds, then getting a walk with QJo in the big blind.

Preflop (28,000): I will often play or raise any two suited cards heads up in position. Since this player is very aggressive, I decide to see how he will react if I limp. I prefer to minimize the amount I am putting in the pot, rather than risk my opponent reraising. I often like to try limping into a pot early in heads-up play to see how my opponent will react. This lets me know if Ill be able to see a lot of small pots in position, or if my opponent will tend to attack when I limp. I complete for 8,000 and Seat 4 checks.

Flop (36,000): He can have any two cards here. I limped, so Im representing a somewhat weak range that might hit this board, but my opponent is very aggressive and can easily represent a 5 also. Additionally, there are many hands that he might play on this board,

such as straight and flush draws and even overcards. He knows that a lot of turn cards will scare me even if I do have a hand. He checks and I decide to check behind and reevaluate on the turn.

Turn (36,000): I didnt really represent an ace, since I made no raise preflop, but neither has he. He checks and I decide to go ahead and take a stab at the pot and bet 20,000. He thinks for a bit and calls.

River (76,000): This is an interesting river card. In his mind, it is even less likely that I have an ace now, as there are two aces on the board and I didnt raise preflop. If he had a 5 in his hand, I am fairly confident that he would have checkraised the turn given his aggressive nature. Much to my surprise, he bets 16,000 into me. Thats a really small bet giving me almost 6-to-1 pot odds to call. Thinking back, he did make a small river bet in an earlier hand when he had trip 8s after minraising the button with 8-7s. What strong hands can he have here, though? If he had a 5 or 44, hed probably raise on the turn. I suppose he could have a really weak ace, but with only two left in the deck its not very likely. The most likely scenario is that he has a 4 in his hand that had showdown value on the turn but got counterfeited on the river, although he could have a busted draw as well. Since Im getting almost 6 to 1 to call, I really just need to find one scenario where he might be bluffing to justify a call, and it seems quite plausible that hes making a bluff with a counterfeited 4. I call 16,000, he shows 9 4 for a counterfeited pair of 4s, and I win the pot.

Setup: Three hands have passed. I lost the first with K-To in the big blind when Seat 4 minimumraised, I called, and folded to a continuation bet on a Q-6-7 rainbow flop. The second I lost when I raised to 46,000 on the button with Q-7o, Seat 4 threebet me to 122,222, and I folded. The third I lost with Q-6o when Seat 4 made a minimum raise on the button and I folded preflop.

Preflop (28,000): J-Ts is a strong hand heads up. I raise to 46,000 and Seat 4 reraises me to 112,000. I have a hand that flops very well, Im getting a pretty good price for a call here, and I will have position throughout the hand. Also, given the size the pot will be in relation to the stacks, Seat 4 will most likely be c-betting all or most of his remaining chips on the flop, which means my implied odds go up, since I can reasonably expect him to put more chips in postflop. I call 66,000.

Flop (228,000): Wow! I flop two overcards, a gut shot straight draw, and a flush draw. This is a monster flop for me and about as good as I can hope for postflop without actually having a made hand. Seat 4 goes all-in for 360,290. Thats quite an overbet to the pot, and most probably means that he doesnt really want a call. It is likely that he has some sort of made hand, but cant really bet and then fold. I am only in big trouble here if he has a bigger flush draw or a set, but even then Im not in terrible shape (although if he showed me 99, I would have to fold here). I call and he flips over 8 8, which takes away some of my gut shot straight outs. Even so, Im actually a 57% favorite on this hand on the flop. The turn is the Q, which gives me even more outs, and the river is the 2, making my flush. I win the tournament!

Setup: This tournament is a $30K guaranteed, six-max event with a $100 buy-in. The bubble has recently burst, so Im in the money. The winner gets $7,776, and the tournament pays to 36 places. Im discussing this particular tournament for three reasons: First, the remaining players are highly representative of the opponents youll face in most online tournaments. Second, this tournament will show you how to adjust your game to defeat different playing styles. Also, 6-max tournaments allow for more creativity, more hands played, and more chances to exploit weak opposition. Im the big stack at the table and have a very aggressive image. On the bubble, I was raising around 30-35 percent of my hands preflop and threebetting frequently. Given my image, and the fact that my opponents at the table have relatively small stacks of between 20-30 big blinds (or 7-15 M), Ill be forced to play more tightly. This is because the bubble has burst, and players are more likely to take a stand with marginal holdings as they are guaranteed to make some money. Typically, a player with a stack size of 15-30 big blinds is likelier to threebet-push with weaker holdings. This is because he increases his stack significantly (between 10-25 percent) just by picking up the blinds, antes, and your raise if you fold. The larger your stack, the more often your opponent needs to fold to make a resteal profitable since youre risking more for the same amount of gain. However, with fewer than 15 big blinds, your opponent will be getting a very good price to call your reshove, regardless of his hand strength, and he will do so too often to make restealing light with 10-15 big blinds a consistently profitable play. Therefore 15-30 big blind stacks are the optimal size for reraising all-in with a wide range, which is why I call them reshove stacks. I know from past experience that Seat 1 and Seat 2 are solid, professional players. Seat 5 plays well, but is too tight-passive and calls too much. Seats 3 and 6 are unknown, but they appear to be playing poorly. For now Im playing pretty tight too, but Ill keep adjusting to the dynamics of the table as the tournament progresses.

Preflop (1,800): Im in the hijack seat and I hold a strong pocket pair. Given my aggressive image and the stack sizes, Id rarely fold to a single opponent. I might fold to Seat 5, depending on his raise size and timing, but I plan on calling everyone else if they push all-in. I decide to raise to a little less than 2.5 times the big blind, hoping to induce a light reshove from a player behind me. I raise to 1,875 and Seat 1 goes all-in for 19,247 chips from the small blind. I have to call 17,272 for the 22,422 chips in the pot, giving me roughly 1.3:1 pot odds. This means I need approximately 43.5 percent equity against his hand range. I am unsure of his exact range, but I approximate it to be 55+, A-To+, A-9s+, Q-Jo+, J-Ts+, although he could be shoving as tight as 77+, A-Jo+, A-Ts+, K-Qs+ or as loose as 22+, A-x+, J-To+, and maybe other suited connectors. However, 99 has 46 percent equity against even the tightest range, and is a 52 percent favorite against his most probable range (given my loose image). Therefore, this is a straightforward call against almost anyone. I call with 99 and win the race against A-K on a 4 6 7 4 6 board. I win a 39,694 pot.

Setup: Im currently the table chip leader and in the top 3 of the 34 players remaining in the tournament. With a huge chip stack, I feel slightly more comfortable bullying the table.

Preflop (1,800): Seat 3 raises to 2,400 on the button. Usually Q-Jo isnt that great of a hand when the pot has been raised. However, Ive noticed this particular player makes some errors I can capitalize on. First, he raises too often. My PokerTracker stats have him raising 30 percent of his hands preflopand hes probably raising more than that on the button. His raise is too large given his relatively small stack size in relation to the blinds. I have also witnessed him raise to three times the big blind with a similar stack size (under 20 big blinds) and then fold to a threebet from another player. With this in mind, I opt to reraise rather than fold, which is my standard play versus a random player in this situation. I assume hes going to go all-in with approximately 22+, A-5s+, K-Js+, A-8o+, and K-Qo (which is 15.5 percent of hands), since bad players tend to overvalue aces and pairs. If hes raising over 30 percent of the time and only calling 15.5 percent of all hands, then hes folding around half the time, if not more. For this play to break even against the specified range, I need him to fold only 41.5 percent of the time. To find this figure, you can use the following formula.

However, the big blind does occasionally wake up with a hand and go all-in as well, so I need a higher success rate (which I have by a decent margin). I assume the big blind is willing to go all-in around 6 percent of the time with A-Js+, A-Qo+, and 99+. The best reraise size for me here would accomplish two things: (1) effectively put the original raiser all-in, leaving him a potsized flop bet behind if he calls and (2) allow me to fold if the big blind goes all-in for 27,655. I decide to reraise to 5,000, raising 2,600 more than his raise of 2,400. This way I can fold to Seat 5s all-in and if Seat 3 just calls preflop, there will be 11,400 in the pot while Seat 3 will have 10,381 behind so I can jam every flop. Due to pot odds Im obviously calling if he goes all-in, even though I have 35-40 percent equity versus his range as explained above. In summary, when picking spots to resteal, you have to expect your opponent to fold a high percentage of the time and its best to choose hands that have a reasonable amount of equity versus their calling range rather than total junk. Also, you must factor in the number of players behind you and their stack sizes when you resteal. I reraise to 5,000 total and both players fold. I gain 4,200 chips. I discuss detailed math in a lot of hands like this in my section. I obviously dont do these calculations during actual play, but doing the math afterwards on key hands enables me to make better estimates while playing. The more you do the math, the better youll be able to adjust the different parameters during actual play to make the best decisions.

Setup: Ive folded for an entire orbit, either being dealt junk hands or facing all-ins ahead of me. Play is now five-handed (Seat 5 was moved to balance tables), and I have a dominant chip lead over the rest of the table. Despite my chip lead, Im playing relatively tight since everyone is so short and likely to take a stand.

Preflop (1,700): Im in the small blind, and a seemingly tight player in Seat 1 (I dont have many hands of his in PokerTracker) raises to 2,400 from the hijack seat. I figure his opening range is around A-9s+, A-To, K-Jo+, K-Ts, and 55+. Although this is a tight opening range, A-Qo still figures to be the best hand the majority of the time, so I rule out folding. Calling with the intention of playing very aggressively postflop isnt a terrible option if you know your opponent is the kind of player who makes continuation bets a lot, because you can checkraise all-in over his bet on almost every board. However, as Im out of position and dont know his postflop tendencies, it will be difficult to play optimally postflop. Raising will negate the positional disadvantage by giving me the postflop initiative or I may take down the pot preflop. Therefore, the only real decision is whether to make a 5K-6K raise or just go all-in. Either way Im committed to playing for all of Seat 1s chips: If I make a small raise and he calls, Im putting him all-in every flop, and if he goes all-in preflop Im calling. Hell probably go all-in preflop with A-Jo or A-Ts+, 88+ or he may be even looser, given my current aggressive image. Im slightly behind that range, but he folds often enough to my threebet to make this a very profitable play. I choose to raise to 5,700, hoping to give an impression of fold equity to an inexperienced player. He goes all-in for his remaining chips and I call the remaining 10,452. He tables K K and Im a 72-to-28 dog. However, luck is on my side tonight and I spike an ace on a 6 9 2 A 5 board winning a 33,404 pot. Admittedly, Ive been running extremely well so far but you need luck to win a MTT.

Setup: Ive been moved to a new table and Im playing five-handed with opponents who are all unknown to me. Ive folded junk hands for one orbit, choosing not to get too out of line until I have a better understanding of how everyone plays. Twenty-two players are left, and Im in a very comfortable position with a big chip lead over the rest of the table. The table dynamics are now very different from those at my last table. There, everyone was shortstacked. This meant the key plays were all preflop. At this table, there is only one short stack, so now there might be some postflop play too.

Preflop (1,700): I raise to 1,875 from the cutoff. The big blind has a good-sized stack to reshove, but my hand has a lot of value and is definitely strong enough to make a raise. I dont know the player in the big blind, and have no reason to believe hes (correctly) going to be reshoving a large range. The small blind calls and the big blind folds.

Flop (5,050): Ive flopped middle pair. The small blind checks. I believe my hand is likely to be better than my opponents. It would be reasonable to assume that JJ+ or A-K would choose to reraise preflop the majority of the time, so I can eliminate those hands from his range. The only hands that I think he would call with preflop that beat me are K-Q, K-J, K-Ts, Q-J, and 44 and this is a small part of his entire range. However, just because Im ahead doesnt mean I should bet. The purpose of a bet is to either make a worse hand call (betting for value) or a better hand fold (bluffing). I dont think a bet would accomplish either in this instance. It is possible that he has a hand like TT-55 or J-9s and would call a bet on the flop, but those hands will probably only call one bet, and they only have 2 or 3 outs to improve to a better hand on the turn. Therefore, I dont lose much value by waiting for the turn to bet. Its more likely that my opponent either has a hand which is much better than mine, or missed the flop completely with a hand like A-9 or 8-7s. Against these hands its better to check the flop and either induce a bluff on later streets or give him a chance to improve to a hand with which hell call, but thats still worse than mine. If my opponent has a draw like Q-T, A-T, T-9, etc., I make a small mistake by checking and giving him a free card to improve. However there are no possible flush draws and only two overcards to my pair that can come, and anyway, either card gives me a straight draw. The board is safe enough to check with my decent-but-vulnerable hand and reevaluate on the turn.

Turn (5,050): The small blind checks. The turn doesnt really change anything. The only hands that were behind and improved to ahead

of me are 4-x hands, none of which I expect him to have called with preflop. When he checks, I can narrow his range further, since he would almost certainly bet the turn with K-J, 44, A-K and probably K-Q, leaving a minimal number of hands that beat me. This leaves mid-strength made hands that are worse than mine, such as mid pairs, J-9s, drawing hands like Q-T, and hands that have completely missed the board and have little chance of improving to a hand better than mine. Contrary to my flop decision, I feel its correct to bet in this situation. I am fairly sure I have the best hand at this point. Also, if he was on a total bluff, he wouldve interpreted my flop check as weakness and bet the turn. This weights his range towards draws and made hands that I beat, making a bet for value the best choice. I bet 3,000 and my opponent folds.

Setup: Two hands later, not much has changed. I still dont have reliable reads on my opponents other than Seat 3 fast-playing AA preflop with 20 big blinds and Seat 6 being aggressive and capable of bluffing.

Preflop (1,700): Seat 2 raises to three times the big blind (2,400), Seat 3 calls from the small blind, and I have pocket nines in the big blind. Apair of nines is way ahead of any reasonable button opening range and should be around break-even versus his estimated fourbet all-in range (55+, K-Q+, A-T+) with close to 20 big blinds. Ive already seen Seat 3 reraise AA preflop with a short stack, so I assume hes rarely trapping with a big hand when he calls a short stacks raise from the small blind. Are-raise is clearly best here. Even ignoring the times they both fold preflop, Im able to play for stacks here against Seat 2, since Im approximately 50/50 against his range, and theres already added money in the pot. If Seat 2 folds and Seat 3 goes all-in it would be a tough decision, but his history of fast playing AA preflop makes calling best, since his range is probably stubborn middle pairs and broadway hands rather than big pairs. When you include the times both players will fold and I pick up 6,100 chips uncontested, its pretty easy to see why this play is very profitable. Earlier, I made a smaller reraise, but here I decide to make a larger raise, because the pot is bigger and I would rather not give Seat 3 the correct odds to call. I raise to 8,000, Seat 2 goes all-in for 16,086 total, and Seat 3 folds. Seat 2 has pocket sixes. My hand holds up on a 4 K 7 4 Q board and I take down the 35,072 pot, making me the tournament chip leader with a 119,000 chip stack!

Setup: A couple of hands later, play is fourhanded. There are 19 left. Nineteenth place plays $259 and eighteenth pays $324. However, I dont expect most players consider this small difference to be important. The blinds just increased, shortening everyones stacks a bit. I still have a comfortable chip lead (around 60 M and 118 big blinds). Seat 3 is playing very loosely and passively open-limping often and checkcalling or check-folding a lot of flops. I believe hes the kind of player who overvalues tournament life and doesnt want to play for his whole stack. Every player at the table is over 30 big blinds deep. This allows me to run over the table, since not many players threebet-jam light with over 30 big blinds.

Preflop (2,000): Seat 3 limps. My hand isnt very strong, but I have position on a weak player who I feel I can outplay postflop. Isolating weak players in position is a key tactic in no-limit holdem it lets me exploit a players weaknesses. There is more money in the pot because he limped, so a larger raise than normal is necessary. Generally, when I raise after limpers, I raise whatever my standard raise is (2.2 times-3.5 times) + 1 big blind for every caller in the pot. I raise to 3,331 from the button, both blinds fold, but Seat 3 calls.

Flop (8,662): I flop a draw to the third best flush and an inside straight draw. Seat 3 bets the minimum; 1,000 chips into a 8,662 pot. A tiny bet from a weak player usually indicates a weak made hand, a small pair, or a flush draw/combo draw trying to see the turn cheaply. He also could have a flopped a flush, or a set of 4s or 8s and be goading me into a raise with a small bet, but I find that less likely, since most players (unless they hold the nut flush) would bet bigger to protect their hands on such a draw heavy board. Every fish plays a little bit differently, and Im not totally sure what this off-tempo, minimum bet is meant to accomplish. However, judging by his generally weak and passive play, I choose to raise his bet. If he calls, I have flush-draw outs and a gutshot versus pairs and sets, and can reassess my hand strength based on his actions on the turn. If he goes all-in, it would probably mean that Im dominated by a higher flush draw or a made flush, and I can safely fold. I raise 6.5 times the size of his bet, but still only twothirds of the pot, making my riskversus-reward ratio low. I raise to 6,595 and he quickly folds. I win a 10,662 pot.

Setup: There are still 19 left, and were fourhanded. Not much has changed from the previous hand. My image is still very aggressive, but so far no one has played back at me.

Preflop (2,000): The action is folded to me in the small blind with an ace rag hand. A-4o actually has around 57 percent equity against a random hand, so its definitely worth considering a raise. However, the big blind has a stack of around 15M (30 big blinds) and my hand isnt strong enough to play for his entire stack, since it plays very poorly against his approximate threebet range. My plan here, and against most players, is to raise, but fold to a reraise. I generally make a bigger raise from the small blind than from other spots, since the big blind is getting such a good price to call and has position for the remainder of the hand. Thus, I opt to raise three times the big blind to 3,000. In retrospect, I think it mightve been optimal to raise slightly less, maybe to around 2,700 or 2,800. Asmaller raise wouldve made it awkward to resteal light given his stack size. Generally, when people go all-in over a raise, anything more than 10 times the raise is considered an over-shove. I raise to 3,000 and the big blind calls.

Flop (6,250): This coordinated flop is one of the worst possible flops for my hand. It gives me no pair and no draw, and the flop hits many hands with which players would call a raise from the big blind. The J and the T hit both high and middle straight draws, theres a flush draw, and he hits the flop with Q-J, J-9, J-8, T-9, T-8, etc. Even if he was calling 100 percent of hands preflop (hes not) on this board, A-4o only has 46 percent equity against a random hand. All of these factors make for a straightforward checkand-fold-to-a-bet scenario, especially blind-versus-blind, when players are much more likely to call multiple bets or raise flops with marginal holdings. Its important to note that some players believe you should always be aggressive. They make the mistake of making a continuation bet on every flop after raising preflop, even if the board is quite coordinated. If you make a continuation bet every time, your better opponents will exploit this tendency. Also, if your opponents see you check only one flop, your future continuation bets will have greater credibility. With all this in mind, its a good time to show my opponents Im not betting everything. I check and he quickly fires out 3,850. I fold.

Setup: There are now 18 (three sixhanded tables) left in the tournament. Were all guaranteed $324, and the next pay jump is $65 ($389 total), when fifteen players remain. I havent seen any well-known online pros at my table yet, which is always a good sign. Nobody has made any awful plays, except for Seat 2, the inexperienced player whom I isolated earlier. I assume the table is fairly green and decide to continue playing an aggressive game until my opponents choose to fight back.

Preflop (2,250): I have a suited ace in the hijack seat and havent met much resistance, so I decide the best play is to raise. Two of the four players still to act have 27K stacks. They could easily move allin over a raise of three times the big blind. Therefore, I decide to make my standard raise at this level, 2,250 chips, or 2.25 times the big blind, which is also the size of the pot preflop. As a pure steal, this raise only has to work 50 percent of the time for it to be a break even play. I raise to 2,250 and Seat 6 reraises from the button to 6,800, leaving himself 26,155 behind. Before making what seems like an obvious play (fold, in this instance), I like to weigh the merits of all my options before taking action. His raise size is almost exactly three times my raise, and he has put about one-fifth of his stack in the middle. My read on this player is that he is tight-aggressive, but capable of making moves. He probably knows who I am, and has noticed how often I open-raise preflop. He could definitely be threebetting light in this spot, with the intention of folding; but just how often is he folding compared to threebetting for value, with the intention of calling an all-in? His threebet call range is probably something like 77+ A-J+ (7.2 percent of hands). A-6s plays terribly against such a tight range, having only about 30 percent equity. In fact, 9-8s has more equity against that range (33 percent) than A-6s. He would need to fold around 46 percent of the time for a fourbet to break even when holding A-6s. Therefore, he would have to be reraising in this spot over 15 percent of the time so as to be folding more than 50% of the time. I have no reason to believe that hes threebetting this frequently, so its likely that he isnt folding often enough for a shove to be profitable. If I did feel that he would fold most of the time, I would rather shove as a bluff with a middle-suited connector rather than an A-x hand. I fold, losing my raise of 2,250. Seat 6 wins the 6,750 pot.

Setup: Eighteen players remain. As I said earlier, Im extremely happy about my table draw because I dont recognize my opponents names. I decide to look up the players stats at my table to get a better idea of their tournament results 6. Seat 6 has been the strongest player at the table as he uses selective aggression preflop, and plays well postflop. By comparison, the other players at the table are weak. Sure enough, the stats show that the only winning opponent at my table is Seat 6. Seat 2 is a small losing player with a high average buy-in and an average finish of 52/100 (52/100 means that, on average, this player beats out only 48% of the field in any given tournament). Seat 3 hasnt played many tournaments, and his play shows his inexperience. Seat 4 doesnt have a large sample size but has a very small average buy-in and an average finish of 47/100. Seat 1 is a small loser in over 1,900 tournaments with an average finish of 54/100. From this information, I can infer that Seats 2 and 5 are probably both too loose early in tournaments (and possibly later) since their average finish is poor. A winning players average finish is usually between 39/100 and 45/100. I can also infer that Seat 5, with his low average buy-in, will probably be playing scared and be easy to run over. Uncovering information about your opponents is never a bad thing, but be sure not to infer too much from your opponents profitability stats, especially their ROI, since one good scoreor lack thereofcan have a big impact on ROI. I see no reason to alter my game plan of playing aggressively with the intention of gaining chips and avoiding showdowns. I will alter this strategy if my opponents begin to play back at me more often.

Preflop (2,250): I am dealt a suited ace under-thegun. Folding is probably the best play at a tough table, or earlier in the tournament with deeper stacks and no antes. However, that is not the case here. My opponents are weak and there are lots of chips I can win preflop. Also, Seat 6 just threebet me, so it is less probable hell threebet me without the goods so soon after his last threebet. Some players will threebet light multiple times in a row, but not many are at that level. I opt to raise 2,250 again, Seat 5 calls behind me, and Seat 3 calls from the big blind.

Flop (8,000): I miss the flop completely, but both my opponents probably have too. I figure Seat 3 is calling my small raise with about 70 to 80 percent of his hands, if not 100 percent. Hes the type of player who overestimates his odds in a multiway pot preflop, and will call a small raise with any two cards from the big blind. Seat 5, as we mentioned earlier, is probably scared money. Im unsure of what hes calling with preflop in this spot because I havent played many hands against him. With this in mind, I make a smallish (around half the pot) bet of 4,500. Neither player is likely to continue without at least some piece of this board, regardless of bet-sizing. Its hard to gauge how each of these players will react to bet-sizing since I havent played with them

much. This bet has to work a little less than one in three times to be profitable, and I estimate my true success rate is much higher than that. A smaller bet of around 3,000 might even accomplish the same objective. A pot sized bet is totally unnecessary and would have to work 50 percent of the time to be profitable as a bluff. Some may argue that a potsized bet has more fold equity against some players and may succeed in getting hands like J-T or 9-x to fold. However I believe that the average player is more likely to go all-in with those hands over a potsized bet from an aggressive player rather than call because theres more money in the pot. Optimal bet-sizing is very important in multi-table tournaments where stacks are shallow. I like to make continuation bets into two opponents on a dry board because the likelihood of either of them making a play at me is low, as they both have to worry about the other player in the hand, and my hand looks even stronger when I bet into two opponents. I bet 4,500 into an 8,000 pot and both players fold. I win an 8,000 pot.

Setup: Acouple of hands later, not much has changed. There are still 18 players left. Seat 1 raised once to three times the big blind and everyone folded.

Preflop (2,250): Seat 3 on the button limps and Im in the small blind. Im getting more than 6 to 1 on a call preflop from the small blind, and the big blind will most likely check. I fold. This is fairly basic preflop strategy, but I see plenty of decent players making the mistake of calling in this situation. Im out of position and stacks are shallow. Yes, youll occasionally make straights, full houses, trips, and two pair, but your opponent will not pay you off often enough for calling to be profitable. 3-2o is a very bad hand, and can only make one nut straight. Also, folding here gives the impression of tightness. I fold preflop. Seat 5 raises, Seat 3 shoves, and Seat 5 folds. I note that Seat 3 will seemingly limp premium hands, which also means that his raises may indicate more vulnerable hands.

Setup: There are still 18 players left in the tournament. I raised twice last orbit, winning both pots preflop. Seat 3 sarcastically remarked that I seemed to be getting a lot of hands. Im not sure how I should interpret that. Some players verbalize their frustrations because theyre ready to take a stand, while others do so with the hope that Ill back off so they can resume their usual weak-passive game. I mainly think Seat 3 will be more likely to trap, so Ill be wary of small raises and limp reraises.

Preflop (2,250): Seat 3, the least experienced player at the table, calls from the small blind. I could raise here, but a check seems preferable because Ive seen him limp and reraise in the previous hand, and hes clearly growing tired of my aggressive play. From what Ive witnessed, hes a level 1 player who isnt thinking very deeply. I assume hell call me light and play back frequently, so Im going to alter my play for this hand in a small pot. I check.

Flop (2,750): This is a dry and fairly uncoordinated board. There are only two possible openended straight draws. Seat 3 checks. Regardless of whether or not this player considers me to be too aggressive, a bet is probably the best play, since its very unlikely he has hit this board. Also, even if my king high is best, there is value in inducing him to fold hands (like J-T) that have six outs. Checking is also a good play. My king high could easily be the best hand, and my opponent might checkraise with air if I bet. People often go crazy in blind-versus-blind situations, so I tend to bluff less in them and value bet more. Checking here in a small pot also helps create a tighter image so that I can take a big pot later. I opt to check, although in hindsight, a bet might have been better.

Turn (2,750): The Q falling brings an overcard to the board and makes a heart flush draw possible. Seat 3 checks to me again. If I bet here, he will fold if he has nothing, so a minimum bet is in order. If he folds, I probably already had the best hand, but at least I wont have to call a river bluff. Plus, a bet forces out hands that surely have some decent equity against my K-high. I opt to make a small bet and see how he reacts to it. I bet the minimum and Seat 3 folds. I win a 2,750 pot.

Setup: There are 16 players left and play at my table is five-handed. Two players from my table were knocked out by Seat 2. There is a $65 pay jump between sixteenth and fifteenth place. I havent been very active for the last two orbits because I just havent had any good opportunities, and everyone else has been getting hands. Seat 5 was just moved to the table, and I have no information on him.

Preflop (2,550): Im in the hijack (under-the-gun in five-handed play) and have a premium starting hand. I raise to 2,831, around 2.5 times the big blind (it also happens to be a raise size of one of every chip denomination from 1,000 to 1 a stupid thing I do for fun). Seat 5 goes all-in for 29,812. Seat 1, with 54,158 in chips, then overcalls Seat 5s all-in! This is a fairly easy decision as the action comes back to me. I wouldve called Seat 5s all-in, but Seat 1s range has to be very tight. I would guess something like TT+, A-Qo+ or perhaps as loose as 99+ and A-Js+, but no looser than that. Also, since he just called Seat 5s all-in of 29,812 rather than putting the rest of his chips in (he left 24,196 behind), it looks to me like an inexperienced player with a monster hand trying to keep the first raiser in the pot. I fold. Seat 5 tables A-8o (a poor shove with 25 big blinds and an M over 11) and Seat 1 shows KK. Seat 1s pocket kings hold up and he wins a 65,005 pot.

Setup: Were five-handed and there are 15 players left - we are all guaranteed $389 dollars. A new player with a big stack has moved directly to my left in Seat 5, and Im not thrilled about it. Hes played 3 of 5 hands since sitting down at the table and has bet-folded twice on the flop.

Preflop (2,550): Seat 3 again limps on the button. My hand isnt strong enough to raise and isolate this player out of position, but 9-8o is a decent enough holding to call with from the small blind, as Im getting odds of 6.25 to 1 preflop. I call from the small blind, and Seat 5 checks his option.

Flop (4,350): Ive flopped bottom two pair here on an extremely dangerous board. There are two possible straights, Q-T and T-7, as well as a spade flush draw. That being said, I should have the best hand most of the time, and I should bet 100 percent of the time to get value from draws and made hands I beat. If Seat 5 raises, Ill call and reevaluate on the turn. If Seat 5 folds and Seat 3 raises, I will gladly move all-in against him, because he only has a stack of 31.5 big blinds. I will probably fold if there is a raise and reraise after I lead out on the flop. I opt to bet two-thirds of the pot which is consistent with my usual flop bets between a half and two-thirds of the pot. My bet size is good, if not standard. In retrospect, I should have made a larger bet for value on the flop, because Im out of position in an unraised pot on a drawheavy board. Balancing my bet sizes is not an issue here, since Im never going to bluff in this type of situation. I bet 2,900 and both players call. Im not incredibly happy about getting two callers since, together, they probably have a lot of outs. I put Seat 5 on a fairly loose range of 8-x, 9-x, J-x including combination draws, flush draws, or even T-x hands. He could also be slow playing a hand like Q-T or T-7 and may even be slow playing a better two pair like J-9 and J-8. However, most players would opt to raise those more vulnerable holdings on such a drawheavy board. Seat 3s range should be a little tighter, but I expect him to be the type of player to call with all pair and gutshot combinations like QJ-Q9 and even J7-97, pair and openended straight draw hands like J-T-T8, and any spade draw. He also likely calls J-x as I dont think hes the type of player to fold top pair to one bet. I expect he would raise AA-QQ (theyre most likely in his button limping range), sets, and straights on the flop. Since weve both shown strength, he would expect to get action with these hands. Theres a small possibility that he is slowplaying a straight or set, but these are far less likely than some sort of combination draw or top pair.

Turn (13,050): A blank turn card for me! This card could not have improved either opponents hand unless Seat 5 has the unlikely J-3. I decide to keep betting for the same reasons I bet the flop. I bet 8,000 into 13,050 (a larger bet might have been better here, too) and Seat 5 raises 9,200 to 17,200 total! Seat 3 folds. This is slightly uncomfortable, as he could show up with Q-T or T-7 (especially if he had Q-Ts or T-7s). However, his range is really polarized: He either has a bluff or the nuts, since all two pair hands or sets would probably have raised on the flop. The only value hand other than straights that makes sense is J-3. Thats not very many hand combinations. I beat the majority of hands I put in his range. Yes, he could have the nuts, but he could also have a hand like 8-7 that hes decided to turn into a bluff, a T-x hand, or a flush draw thats hes decided to get frisky with. I dont know how to interpret his small raise size, but Im inclined to think it might be weak. Why raise just a little bit more than the minimum, especially as deep as we are? I dont know enough about this player to draw any conclusions. Some players make smaller raises when theyre strong, while others do so when theyre bluffing. Even though I think I probably have the best hand, calling is by far the best play here. Raising will only make him fold his bluffs and stick his chips in with straights. Against such a polarized range when deepstacked, and in an unraised pot, calling is clearly the best play. By calling, I induce him to continue bluffing, while maintaining pot control if Im beaten. I call his 9,200 raise.

River (47,450): Many players would hate the sight of this red king, but it really isnt an awful card. Much worse would be any spade or a Q, T or 7. The only hands that he could be holding that have improved to the winning hand are K-9 or K-8. Seat 5 would probably raise K-J on the flop, or continue calling on the turn. I continue my plan of letting him bluff (or investing as little as possible if Im beat), so once again I check. He bets 14,400 into a 47,450 pot. A bet this size is usually a value bet and that worries me, but Im getting 4.3 to 1 on a river call while holding two pair. I only have to win this pot less than 1 in 4 times to make this a profitable call. Calling is therefore obvious. I call and he shows down T-4o. I win a 76,250 pot.

Setup: Were now fourhanded with 14 players left. Seat 5 knocked out Seat 3 with 88 against A-K. Hes played around 50 percent of his hands, opening four times the big blind preflop and making small bets postflop. Hes bet when checked to nearly 100 percent of the time so far. When he threebets, rather than make a standard 2.5 times to 3 times reraise, he has been going all-in for 65 big blinds or so over the top of raises. He is a loose cannon, and I cant wait to get a hand to play against him.

Preflop (3,200): I have a suited three-gapper, a terrible hand. However, against weak opposition I can profitably raise the button with a wide range, (maybe even as wide as 60 to 70 percent of hands) especially as the stacks are deep. Ive also played very tightly since this maniac has arrived at the table, so I think this is a good spot to raise. Seat 1 has mostly stayed in line, and Seat 5 usually just flat calls everything or goes all-in. I decide to make my standard raise at this level of 4,100. There are other approaches that work but I generally pick one raise size per level and stick to it. I raise to 4,100 and both Seat 5 and Seat 1 call.

Flop (13,100): Seat 5 bets 9,600 and Seat 1 folds. Seat 5 has been betting at every board, and this one is no exception. I sometimes play back at A-high boards, but if Im going to make a bluff raise, I usually like to have some outs, and I have completely missed this board. As a rule, I rarely make pure bluffs without outs unless I have a very good read on my opponent, and in this spot, I cant be sure my opponent doesnt have an ace. I fold and Seat 5 wins a 13,100 pot.

Setup: There are now 12 players left and were sixhanded. There was a $97 pay jump from thirteenth to twelfth, and were all guaranteed $486. I have no reads so far on Seat 3 or Seat 6, but Ive opened up the other table to observe the play there as well.

Preflop (3,200): Seat 5, the loose aggressive maniac, surprisingly limps under-the-gun, Seat 2 calls from the button, and Seat 3 calls from the small blind. There really isnt any play here other than to check and only continue if I flop a set. Pocket deuces would be a terrible hand to raise and play a pot with out of position. I check my option.

Flop (7,600): Ive flopped bottom set on a rainbow board. I almost certainly have the best hand, and my main objective is to figure out how I can get the most money in the middle.

Knowing what I know about Seat 5 and his betting tendencies, a check is clearly the best option. I check, Seat 5 bets 4,800 and Seat 2 calls 4,800. From what Ive seen, Seat 5 could have anything, and Id assume Seat 2 has T-x hands, 99-44, A-4, A-5, 5-4s, and 6-5s. I would raise here against most players, and expect to get action from someone. However, this seems like a good spot to slowplay, given Seat 5s tendency to keep firing barrels until raised, combined with this really safe board. I call the 4,800.

Turn (22,000): I continue with my plan of letting Seat 5 bluff his stack away and I check. I believe I still almost certainly have the best hand. The K means that both a flush draw and straight draw are possibilities, and I plan to checkraise if either player bets. Unfortunately, both players check and we go to the river.

River (22,000): Now two unlikely straights are possible, but Im almost positive that I still have the best hand. Seat 2 cannot have either straight, and Seat 5 would have raised A-Q preflop. The best play for me would be a check. Seat 5 probably wouldnt be able to stop himself from betting after being checked to three times, especially considering Seat 2 and I both look so weak and two obvious bluff cards have rolled off on the turn and river. Also, if Seat 5 were to bet, Seat 2 would probably call him light if hes been paying any attention to his erratic behavior. If either player were to bet I would happily go all-in, over the top, hoping Seat 4 made an odd two pair with a hand like K-3s or that Seat 2 gets stubborn with J-T. Neither the J nor the K is likely to have helped either player, making a check the clear choice. Unfortunately, I decided to bet for value, hoping to get paid off by either player. I assumed Seat 5 had given up bluffing, but may have hit the turn or river and Seat 2 would check almost his entire range, but might call a bet on the river. I chose to bet around three quarters of the pot. In retrospect, I probably should have bet a little less against both players weak hand ranges. A bet of 6,000 to 10,000 would have gotten more crying calls from a T or J than a 16,000 bet and has the added benefit of possibly inducing bluff raises from the maniac. I bet 16,000 and both players fold. I win a 22,000 pot.

Setup: Two hands later, and there are still 12 players left. Seat 2 raised the previous hand and folded to a small threebet from Seat 3. As we near the final table, I plan on running over the rest of the table to forge a bigger chip lead, since I assume everyone else will be eager to make the final table and will therefore be playing tighter.

Preflop (3,200): Seat 2 raises to 4,125, which appears to be his standard raise at this level. I have a premium, but vulnerable, starting hand. Seat 2 has been fairly active and definitely has leaks. For instance, he plays way too many hands out of position and for a while, he was raising more than 3 times the big blind. He had just raised and then folded to Seat 3s threebet. My dilemma here is whether to call or reraise to get it all-in. Im unsure of his fourbet all-in range; it probably consists of 88+, A-Qo+, AJs+, but since he just raised and folded, and I have an aggressive image, there might even be some random tilt all-ins with total junk in his range. If he goes all-in with the tight range above, Im a slight underdog7, but threebetting is still profitable given that I will often take down the pot unchallenged. Also, I plan on threebetting players often on this upcoming bubble, so showing down a hand like TTin this pot will make the other players wary of four-betting me light. Meta-game factors also go into this decision: Usually, I threebet a lot preflop with both my premium hands and suited connectors like 8-7s, 9-8s. Ill also threebet total garbage sometimes. If I flat call here with TT and show down the hand, that limits my threebet range to JJ+, A-Ko, and hands with which I cannot call a fourbet. Thats exploitable, meaning good players will notice there are very few hand combinations in my threebet value range where I could call a fourbet and, in turn, they will fourbet lighter against me. Therefore, there is value in showing that Im reraising hands like TT with the intention of calling. Conversely, it could be argued that against inexperienced players who dont really hand read well, and against whom you dont regularly play, balancing ranges to become non-exploitable will actually make you less money. This is because they will not correctly adapt to how youre playing anyway, and you will thus be choosing suboptimal lines. If I call, my plan will be to play for stacks with an overpair or a set. Ill probably be willing to call at least one bet on flops containing overcards in a heads-up pot. The players behind me are a little too deeply stacked to be threebet squeezing too often, but the maniac on the button will probably call behind with a very wide range. I think Id rather take the initiative by reraising rather than calling, which might force me to play TT in a multiway pot. Given that we are close to the final table bubble, I prefer the more aggressive approach of threebetting to put maximum pressure on my opponents. I make a 2.6x reraise of 11,111 to give him an impression of fourbet fold equity. He goes all-in for 57,922 total (about 36 big blinds) and I call. Seat 2 shows pocket Jacks that hold up on a 5 2 5 4 3 board. I lose a 119,044 pot and 57,922 total from my stack.

Setup: This hand directly follows Hand 16. I am no longer the chip leader at the table, but I still have a strong stack. There are still 12 players left.

Preflop (3,200): I have a strong starting hand in the hijack. There really isnt any other play than to raise. Even though I have close to the top of my opening range here, I will fold to any players reraise behind me because the stack sizes are awkward. I would probably call a 20-25 big blind all-in or less, but almost everyone at the table has more chips than that. I raise to 4,100 and Seat 2 calls. Ive seen Seat 2 show down garbage hands (3-4s and A-7o) after calling a raise from the big blind, so his call isnt unexpected.

Flop (10,200): The flop comes low, coordinated, and with a heart draw. Seat 2 checks. Seat 2 has hit this type of board a good percentage of the time. My impression of him is that hes a thinking, aggressive player, capable of moves but with preflop leaks and errors in logic. If I decide to bet, hell call or raise most of the time, and Ill probably have to continue betting a lot of turns and rivers if I bet the flop. Id rather stay away from low percentage plays, so I decide just to check this board, and fold to any bet on a non-heart, A, or J turn.

Turn (10,200): The turn brings me an A-high flush draw. Seat 2 bets 6,375, a little less than two-thirds of the pot. To be honest, Im not sure what his betting range is here and how heavily its weighted towards air. I think most players would check all one-pair hands, and some would even check two-pair hands on a board with four to a straight and three to a flush. If I was in his spot, I would be betting 9x, 4-x, possibly 2 pair and sets, made flushes and any heart along with a decent number of my air hands. His two-thirds pot bet is relatively small compared to his previous bets, and I suspect if he had a straight, he would bet bigger for protection. I infer that he usually has a hand that cant continue if I raise here, and if he does call, I almost definitely have outs. Even if he has two pair, hes not going to put another raise in on the turn, and may not even put in another raise with a straight. The only drawback to raising is that if he reraises (depending on the amount of his raise), I may be forced to fold. I decide that raising is a superior play to calling, although calling is certainly okay. I raise to 19,000, around three times the size of his bet, with the intention of bluffing most river cards that do not pair the board if he just calls. Seat 2 quickly folds to my raise and I win a 22,950 pot.

Setup: Ten players remain in the tournament and were now guaranteed $648, a $162 pay jump occurred between eleventh and tenth. Im fourth in chips and I have position on the table chip leader. Play has tightened up somewhat as we approach the final table even the maniac in Seat 5 has calmed down since he lost most of his stack on a huge bluff to Seat 2. Seat 2 then busted Seat 1 with A-K

against Seat 1s A-Q. Ive played fairly tight during the last two orbits, as I get a read on the new players, and have taken down all my pots uncontested.

Preflop (4,250): I have an okay starting hand in the cutoff. The maniac has calmed down, Seat 6 probably wont be reraising light out of position, and Seat 2 calls quite loosely from the big blind. I have no problem with players calling out of position against me when we are relatively deepstacked. I decide to make my standard raise at this level of exactly 2.5 times the big blind. I generally raise on the smaller side with shallower stacks and larger with deeper stacks. I raise to 5,000 and Seat 2 calls from the big blind.

Flop (12,250): This is a fairly uncoordinated board with flush draw possibilities. 5-7 makes one unlikely openended straight draw (I expect he would fold 5-3 preflop) and 8-7 makes a double-belly-buster straight draw. Two pair combinations are highly unlikely. My hand will be ahead a decent percent of the time, but even when Im ahead my hand is vulnerable, since even a hand with no likely draw has six outs against me. Checking will make it hard to react to bets on later streets, since I have little information about my opponents hand range. I would rather bet, and if called, Id expect him to have a weak made hand or a draw. With that in mind, Ill probably fire another barrel at any overcard to the board that falls on the turn, and some of the time Ill bet my turned straight draws, expecting low pairs, ace highs, and weak draws to fold. Seat 2 is calling with such a wide range from the big blind that hell fold to my bet most of the time in this situation. I decide to bet 8,000, around two-thirds of the pot. Seat 2 folds and I win a 12,250 pot.

Setup: Acouple of hands later. Seat 2, being the recipient of Seat 5s big bluff a few hands prior, is aware of Seat 5s maniac tendencies.

Preflop ( 4,250): I have a top-five starting hand. Seat 5, the maniac, raises under-the-gun to 6,000 and Seat 2, the big stack, reraises 14,125 on top to 20,125 total. This is a fairly tough situation. I have 65 big blinds and the one guy at the table who has me covered almost certainly has a strong

hand. He is committed to calling Seat 5s all-in, so the chances of him having a garbage hand are miniscule. However, his reraise is rather large (around 3.3 times the opening raise), which to me would indicate a strong but vulnerable hand. I could be wrong here, maybe 3.3 is his standard size, but poker is a game of educated guesses and making the best decision you can based on the limited information you have. I estimate that Seat 2 has A-Jo+, A-Ts+ and JJ-77, but probably doesnt have AA-QQ often. He is almost definitely wider than usual here, since he must have noticed that Seat 5 is raising more than 40 percent of hands preflop. I think Im ahead of both playersranges, but dont want to get called by the big stack because tournament life actually is important from a dollar perspective. I wager all of my chips. I go all-in for 129,848 total, Seat 5 folds and Seat 2 calls, tabling A-Ko. We chop the pot on a Q 8 2 7 T board.

Setup: This hand directly follows Hand 19. A player at the other table has been eliminated. There are now nine players left. There is a $192 pay increase to $841 for seventh and eighth places.

Preflop (4,250): Everyone folds to me in the small blind. The maniac is in the big blind with around 25.5 big blinds total. Against most players I would make a small raise, with the intention of folding to a threebet or even limping, planning to go all-in over a raise. However, this guy is likely to go all-in with a really wide range, and I dont want to call a big reshove with A-2o. A-2o doesnt play well against even the loosest ranges. Clearly, the best play here is to go all-in. Mathematically, I can turn my hand face up (meaning he only calls when he has A-2+, 22+) and I would still win chips in the long run. Lets look at the mathematics of this play. For the sake of explanation, let us say he is calling as wide as (though hes probably calling tighter than this) 22+, Q-Jo+, A-2+. That means that he is only calling us 24 percent of the time. A-2o has 37.7 percent equity versus 22+, Q-Jo+. Therefore8: 76 percent of the time I win 4,250 (.76 x 4,250 = 3,230) 15 percent (.622 x 24) of the time I lose 49,928 (.15 x -49.928 = -7,489) 9 percent (.373 x 24) of the time I win 53,178 (.9 x 53,178 = 4,786) 3,230 + 4,786 7,489 = 527 In the long run, I make at least 527 chips of equity per shove. In fact, my expectation is actually higher because Seat 5 is almost definitely calling tighter than this range. This play definitely has a positive chip EV; whether or not its dollar EV is debatable because of abstract arguments like tournament life and risk versus reward. Its also a mathematical fact that each chip decreases in value as you get deeper and deeper in tournaments, and ICM 9 considerations might dictate tighter play overall.

Yes, on the surface it seems crazy to risk 51,000 chips to win 4,250 most of the time, but its actually lower variance than raising and calling, since Im going to be all-in a higher percentage of the time, even against a range I beat. Raising and folding against someone so aggressive and likely to bluff probably isnt going to be profitable, as hes either calling or going allin almost 100 percent of the time. Also, A-2o doesnt flop well at all. I expect Seat 3 will call most of the time when I raise preflop. I expect to lose most of the time when he does so, because I will be out of position against an aggressive player who doesnt like folding; there just arent enough boards that I will be able to continue on when I have this hand. Another argument against raising and folding is that I could wait for a better spot, since I have such a big edge over the rest of the field, but I consider this argument fallacious reasoning. I have an edge over the field partly because knowing almost all the math behind my actions, I look for plays that make money. Also, my edge in the tournament isnt going to disappear if I lose this pot. Despite all counter arguments, I think shoving is the best play. Since Im on a money bubble, Seat 5 might call tighter than he usually would, making a stronger case for a shove. He might even fold hands like A7-A3. The above analysis looks at his loosest calling range, and that still shows a positive expected value on the play. The tighter his calling range, the more profitable the play becomes. Limping with the intention of reraising in this instance is okay against some opponents who would raise and then fold to a shove frequently. This strategy wouldnt be optimal against this specific maniac, due to his high frequency of overbet-jamming against a limped blind, as observed from previous hands. If he checks, I dont really want to have to play A-2o against an aggressive opponent out of position, since it doesnt flop very well, and hell end up taking the pot down most of the time. One final comment about this move: Earlier I indicated that I would raise and fold to a threebet against most opponents. Even though shoving against all players is positive EV (after all, I showed I could play this way with my hand face up), that doesnt mean shoving is always the most profitable EV play. Against most opponents who play a standard straightforward game, I can raise here to steal the blinds and safely fold if my opponent pushes. This is because most opponents will only push with this size stack with a tight range of hands. However, my opponent in this situation is much looser, so it is better to go ahead and make a play (like shoving) that cannot be exploited. I go all-in and Seat 5 folds, giving me a 4,250 pot.

Setup: Nine players remain and the blinds and antes have increased. Most of the table has tightened up, but Seats 2 and 6 have stayed fairly aggressive. Seat 6 appears to be a good, loose-aggressive player. Hes been reraising a lot preflop and won the bulk of his stack by moving all in (and winning) with K-Q against A-J preflop. Hes a winning player, and Im confident that he knows who I am. So he should know Ill be playing aggressively on the bubble.

Preflop: (5,100) Seat 6 raises to 5,000. Hes raised 20 percent of his hands at this table so far, and has been unafraid to get his chips in preflop. My hand is way ahead of Seat 6s opening range and probably ahead of his fourbet range. Knowing this, Im inclined toward a threebet with the intention of calling, but calling preflop also has some advantages. Calling has lower variance and is the safer route many players take with 42 effective big blinds. By calling, I keep many of the hands I dominate in the pot. The disadvantages are that Ill often miss the flop, and may end up conceding the pot when I have the best hand. Even if I play aggressively on some of the boards I miss, it wont make up for the positional disadvantage I face throughout the hand. I dont always get A-Q all-in preflop for 42 big blinds, but it seems best in this spot for strategic reasons. First, given my image, I think Seat 6 is aggressive enough to go all-in with worse hands. In theory, he should be playing tighter because two players with bigger stacks than his have position on him, and were almost at the final table. Still, many players have egos, and do the opposite. Second, if I win an all-in confrontation, I knock out a good player and have the dominant chip lead at my table, giving me huge leverage against the big stack. If that happens, I intend to make life miserable for everyone at the table, especially Seat 2. Im willing to take a big gamble when the bubble is near, if it will give me the biggest stack at the table. I can then use my stack to dominate the rest of the table because the other big stacks will be less likely to make a stand, and Ill have free rein to take down pots. This idea is obviously abstract and hard to quantify, since it involves the winning of future pots. Though I think its a reasonable idea, some may argue that situational factors do not make enough of a difference to justify the risks to get a big stack near a bubble. I decide to raise to three times his opening raise of 5,000 to 15,000. Seat 6 goes all-in for 101,878 total, and I call. Seat 6 shows 6-4s, and my A-Q holds up on a T 7 5 2 T board. I win a 206,456 pot and am now the tournament chip leader.

Setup: There are eight players left and were all guaranteed $842, with no pay jump between eighth and seventh places. Despite this, play has tightened up as I expected it would. Ive won three of the last five pots preflop with A-Q, A-J and T-8. Nobody has tried to play back at me, and even Seat 5, the maniac, hasnt played a pot. Im still the tournament chip leader. With my stack and table position, I plan on picking up a lot of pots without a showdown.

Preflop: (4,800) I have a suited twogapper on the button. Many players would opt to fold here. Ive won a lot of pots recently, and folding could even be optimal, depending on Seat 5s reshoving range. However, I think its better to stick with relentless aggression until my opponents show a willingness to fight back. I decide to stick with the plan and raise. Seat 5 is much less likely to reraise now, even though he has reshove stack, as he wants to reach the final table. I decide to raise to 5,100, or 2.1 times the big blind. I choose a smaller raise here because Seat 5 is usually going to fold or move all in, so I save chips when he shoves. Its possible that Seat 2 is calling lighter from the big blind due to my smaller raise. But, thats not a problem, because Ill be able to exploit him postflop being deepstacked, in position, and on the final table bubble. I raise to 5,100 and both players fold. I win a 4,800 pot.

Setup: Two hands later, and little has changed.

Preflop (4,800): I have a premium starting hand, and my only goal is to make as much money as I can from it. Seat 5, the maniac, raises to 7,200, three times the big blind. I have two optionsreraise or call. Theres certainly nothing wrong with reraising here, but I think Ill make less money in the long run by reraising than by calling. If I reraise, I expect that Seat 5 will fold the majority of his opening range. Also Ive seen him do absurd things postflop. Clearly, reraising preflop would show a profit, but not nearly as much as allowing him to bluff his stack away. If he were a stronger player, hed be suspicious of me calling a threetimes-the-big-blind raise preflop when he has less than 20 big blinds. In fact, this play is extremely transparentit indicates that I almost certainly have a premium hand. Id either threebet or fold anything other than AA-QQ with these stack sizes; funnily enough, Id be reraising with a very wide range here. Despite the fact that my hand would, effectively, be face-up against a strong player, calling is still the best play when your opponent is inexperienced. Theres no reason to needlessly balance my range herethe best play in this specific situation is the one that will exploit my opponents postflop weaknesses. Unfortunately, I would probably still have to stack-off on an Ace-high flop against this opponent, since hes so likely to bluff away his stack with his entire range. I call the 4,800 raise, and we see a flop.

Flop (16,800): This is an excellent flop the only hands that beat me are A-J and J-9, and even then, I still have a strong draw to a full house. Obviously, Im going to check to a bluff station who, when checked to, bets nearly 100 percent of the time. I check, Seat 5 goes all-in for his remaining 33,328, which happens to be twice the size of the pot. I turbo-snap-call so fast I jam my index finger! Seat 5 tables A-2o for a gutshot and only 12 percent equity in the pot. My hand holds after the 5 on the turn and 3 on the river. I win an 83,456 pot, knocking Seat 5 out of the tournament.

Setup: Were on the final table bubble! The pay jump between seventh and sixth places is $422sixth gets $1,264. This pay jump is quite large, and is the difference between a three-figure and four-figure score. I assume that everyone will play even tighter now, both for the final table bonus and the four-figure score. If anything, Im going to be more aggressive until we reach the final table. Were now threehanded. For better players, one advantage of a 6-max tournament is that late in the tournament, there will be situations where you are threehanded and fourhanded. Many players dont adjust to this when big money is on the line.

Preflop (4,500): Okay, Im holding the 9-3, a hand thats in the bottom 10 percent of the deck, and Im out of position. To be honest, this might be a fold, even on the bubble. However, both my opponents have played very tight, and I think I can play more hands for a profit than if I were playing with opponents who would threebet with a wide range or try to outplay me postflop. I raise to 7,200, or three times the big blind (I always raise a little more than my normal raise from the small blind since the big blind has very good odds to call in position). Seat 2 calls.

Flop (15,300): I have missed the flop, but Seat 2 usually misses this flop too. This is a dry, uncoordinated, and paired board. Hes not going to continue with most hands in his range. Seat 2 could raise me when I bluff the flop, but he hasnt shown any inclination to do that without a hand. I decide to bet 9,000, a little more than half pot. I bet 9,000 and Seat 2 folds. I win a 15,300 pot.

Setup: This hand immediately follows Hand 24. I stick to my plan mercilessly running over the table.

Preflop: (4,500) I once again have a garbage hand on the button. Seat 2 has 70 big blinds and Seat 3 has 33 big blinds. Seat 2 has shown no propensity to reraise preflop and Seat 3 has too awkward a stack to threebet light very often. Both players have been playing nitty and straightforwardly so far. I feel that against these two opponents, and with these stacks on the bubble, I can profitably raise 90 to 100 percent of my hands on the button. Its worth pointing out that this is very situational: I dont recommend raising 100 percent of hands on the button versus all opponents. I raise to 6,000, 2.5 times the big blind, and Seat 3 calls.

Flop: (14,100) A terrible flop! Many of the Broadway hands (such as A-T, K-Q, K-J, K-T, Q-J, Q-T, J-T, T-9s, etc.) my opponent would call with preflop have hit this board. At the same time, I believe he has a wide calling range, including hands like A-x, 9-8s, and small pairs. Its a close decision between betting or checking here. If I check, Im clearly conceding the pot if he decides to bet the turn with his hands that missed. From what Ive seen, however, he probably wouldnt bluff with those hands. Therefore, I can make him fold all his A-x hands, connectors, and small pairs on the turn with a delayed continuation bet just as easily as I could on the flop. Weighing my two options, I think my best decision may have been to check. However, in the moment, I opt for the more aggressive option and bet the flop even though I have completely whiffed the board. I bet 6,900a smaller bet than I made last hand. I chose this smaller bet size for three reasons: 1) I have almost no equity if called;2) most players dont make plays on this sort of board with total air, so it accomplishes the same thing as a larger bet; and 3) a small flop bet allows for a smaller turn bet if I decide to continue barreling. Arguably, this smaller bet might induce Seat 3 to play back at me more often, but I doubt it. Yes, my bet size could be a tell, but this player hasnt played against me enough to know what it means. Remember that, against strong players, changing bet sizes may give away too much information. When in doubt, stick with one standard size. I bet 6,900, a little less than half the pot. I bet 6,900 and Seat 3 folds. I win a 14,100 pot.

Setup: This hand immediately follows Hand 25. Around two orbits ago, I saw Seat 3 call, rather than reraise, a cutoff raise with A-Q and 35 big blinds on the button. He then checked down all three streets on a low board and won the pot! Ive won eight of the last twelve hands.

Preflop: (4,500) Im holding a suited Q-rag hand and Seat 3 raises from the small blind to 7,200. My impression of him is of a solid, but nitty player who has been especially tight on the final table bubble. So, of course I push all-in! In retrospect, I made a huge error in judgment. I got too carried away with the bubble play, and overestimated how often this player would fold to my all-in bet. I thought since hed played A-Q so cautiously in that previous hand, hed be unwilling to stack-off lightly. This was faulty reasoning. Calling with the intention of outplaying postflop is a much better option versus Seat 3s passive playing style. I should have realized that because hes so cautious, he probably isnt raising with a very wide range in this spot, especially against me. Since his opening range is so strong, he isnt going to fold very often. Im really unsure of how frequently Seat 3 would raise, rather than limp or fold, but I think hell call my all-in bet with something like 55+, A-6s+, A-8o+, and K-Jo+I have 33.6 percent equity against this range. Using my formula from Hand 2, hed have to fold 66.75 percent of the time for this play to be break-even. This is way off. Since hes a thinking player, and knows Im going to be threebetting often here, hell probably fold less than 50 percent of the time. Even on the bubble, you have to remember when to put the brakes on. Seat 3 calls my all-in quicklyand tables A-Ts. I suck out on the river with a straight on a 7 6 3 9 5 board. I win a 145,348 pot, eliminating Seat 3. Sometimes, being stupid and greedy pays off.

Setup: Were at the final table, and Im in the enviable position of being the chip leader. Sixth place came to the table with only two big blinds and quickly busted when he was pot-committed with T-7o in the big blind and forced to call for his stack against Seat 1s K-Jo. Were all now guaranteed $1,879; fourth place gets $2,657a $778 pay jump. Seats 2 and 3 are both losing players with low average finishes. Seats 1 and 5 have winning results, but they dont have a big enough sample size to allow me to draw any conclusions about their play. Seat 3 raised my big blind from the button on the previous hand (there was no small blind), and I folded J-3s. My image is almost definitely that of an aggressive maniac, though Seat 2 is the only player who was at the previous table. The blinds have increased.

Preflop (6,500): Seat 3 again raises the button a full three times the big blind to 9,000, and I have a very strong hand out of position. Although I have no conclusive data to prove this, I believe that an unknown player is much less likely to be on a pure steal the second raise in a row, especially with me behind him. However, he was at the other table, so he might not be aware of how aggressively Ive been playing. I think a flat call preflop might be the optimal play here, but I usually choose the more aggressive option in the moment, especially with Seat 5 so short stacked and Seat 2 not wanting to bust out before him. I reraise to 25,553. I choose to raise a little less than three times Seat 1s raise to discourage him from calling preflop, but also to give the impression of fold equity. In retrospect, this bet-sizing puts me in an awkward spot postflop, and Im not sure if I like it, or even reraising in general. Reraising a smaller amount wouldve allowed me more maneuverability postflop, but probably would have increased the frequency with which hed call rather than fold preflop. If I were to reraise a larger amount, it would be to around 37,000, to leave him a pot sized bet so I could go all-in on any flop if he calls. I dont hate my slightly-less-than-threetimes-the-bet reraise here, but I think the other options are easier to play, and perhaps better. I raise to 25,553 total, Seat 5 folds, and Seat 3 quickly calls.

Flop (56,106): Ive missed the flop and am a little perplexed about how to proceed. Seat 3 now has 87,324 behindaround 1.5 times the pot. Its always difficult to play out of position in a reraised pot when youve missed the flop with A-K or A-Q, and your opponent has a stack size of 1.5 to 3 times the pot. There are a few unknowns in this situation. First of all, I was watching the other table, but not that closely, so I dont know much about Seat 3. I know that hes a slightly losing player, with a 50/100 average finish. I dont know what hed raise with and then call a reraise preflop with nearly 25 percent of his stack. Against a top player, warning signs would be going off in my head, as calling 25 percent of your stack is usually a mistake, unless you have a premium hand. I believe he either has an upper-middle-strength hand like A-T, A-J, K-Q, and pairs from 22 to 99, or is slowplaying a monster hand like AA or KK. I suspect hed have moved all-in preflop with QQ-TT and A-K, since theyre strong enough, but are too vulnerable to trap

with preflop. He might just be a stubborn, fishy player who would call a reraise with J-T, but Im more inclined to think hands like J-T and Q-J arent in his range. In the past, I would stubbornly bet around the size of the pot in these spots to commit myself to calling should he go all-in. Some players even go all-in here in a desperate attempt to get their opponents to fold. In these situations, if your opponent is going to shove with a certain range, and you are betting with the intention of calling that shove, your EV on the play is the same, regardless of your bet size. If betting small means you dont have the odds to call a shove, then betting big so that you can call an all-in just means you made a bad bet. Therefore, your only concern is to bet a size where hes either folding the most hands that beat you or where youre inducing bluffs with the highest frequency, thereby increasing your equity in the pot. In this instance, a larger bet may cause a range such as 33-55 to fold, but this isnt guaranteed. All other hands that beat me such as AT, the unlikely JJ+, sets, and 77-99, are almost certainly going to move all-in or call. My optimal bet size, if I plan on calling, is one that will induce a bluff from as many of his A-J/K-Q type hands as possible, since these make up a much larger portion of his range (there are 18 hand combos of 33-55 and 40 hand combos of A-J/K-Q/K-J). Since its obvious Im not folding to a shove if I make a large bet, the size that is most likely to induce bluffs is a small one, around a quarter to a third of the pot. The next step is calculating how often he needs to be bluffing when I bet a smaller size to make bet/call a better option than bet/fold. If he does just call, I think he usually has sets or 33-55, so Ill shove any turn above a ten, expecting him to fold his low pairs. If I were to bet 15,000 and he were to go all-in for 72,324 more, Id be getting around 2.19 to 1 on a call and would need around 31 percent equity against Seat 3s shoving range for a call to have neutral EV. As I said earlier, I dont expect Seat 3 to ever show up with QQ-TT, and Im unsure of whether or not hed go all-in with 33-55. Therefore, Im only going to include 9 total combinations of 33-55 (meaning he only has them half the time) in this equity calculation. A-Q has around 18 percent equity versus Seat 3s hypothetical value range of 22, 66-99, KK-AA,AT, and 33-55 a smaller percent of the time, so I dont have enough equity to call versus his strictly value range. If I add all combinations of K-J, K-Q, and A-J, my equity jumps from 18 percent to 46 percent. But, I dont expect Seat 3 to be on a pure bluff with those hands anywhere near 100 percent of the time. Id estimate that this opponent is jamming those hands only 25 percent of the time at most. To compensate for that, Ill only put the suited versions of each hand into pokerstove. I find that I only have 28 percent equityclose, but not close enough for a call. Even if hes shoving K-Js, K-Qs, and A-Js (and I certainlycant guarantee that), I dont have enough equity to call, and a bet/fold is better. If I thought my opponent was capable of bluffing more than 25 percent of the time here, Id lean towards calling, but I have no reason to think he is. It could be argued that I should bet around 20,000 if Im going to bet-fold, as it presumably reduces the chances of him going all-in with nothing. However, some players might bluff more when facing a 20,000 bet, since theres more in the pot. I dont think his bluffing frequency will change nearly enough to warrant risking the extra 5k chips when I bet-fold. In conclusion, I doubt hes bluffing enough of the time for a bet/call to be profitable, and I prefer a bet with the intention of folding if my opponent pushes all-in. That being said, betting may not be the best course of action. Now, lets analyze my options if I check. After checking, Ill either checkraise his bet all-in or check-fold. Lets first examine the merits of checkraising all-in over a bet. For the sake of analysis, lets assume I have the same equity of 18 percent against his bet/call value range and that hes betting 30,000 chips a little over half the pot. If he were to bet more than 35,000, I wouldnt consider checkraising, because he has committed himself to the pot. Some players do fold when getting very good odds, but it would be unwise to count on it. When called, I: Win 143,520 x .18 (18 percent of the time), which equals an average of plus 25,834 and I Lose 87,234 x .82 (82 percent of the time), which equals an average of minus 71,532 Overall, when Im called, I lose 45,699 chips. When he folds, I win 86,106 chips. To find out how often he needs to fold, just solve for X in the following equation: 86,106(x) = 45,698(1-x) X = .347 or 34.7% For a checkraise all-in over a 30,000 chip bet from Seat 3 to be profitable, hed need to fold more frequently than 34.7 percent of the time after betting. I expect that his value range after betting is approximately 77-99, KK-AA, and A-T, around 2.7 percent of hands. The most likely hands hell bet-fold are KJs-AJs and KJo-AJo, around 3.5 percent of hands. This means hed have to be betting his overcards instead of checking behind around 45 percent of the timean assumption I cant make. Id need to have a more accurate read to checkraise over a bet here. I expect Seat 3 will check here most of the time when checked to, so I think a check with the intention of folding is better than checking with the intention of checkraising all-in.

Checking doesnt mean automatically conceding the pot, since Seat 3 is likely to check behind most of the time. If he checks behind, Id suspect his range to be 33-55, even 77-99 occasionally, sets and missed overcards. My plan is to fire a bet of around 15,000 on any turn, and reevaluate on the river if he calls. If I bet the turn when any non A or Q falls and am raised, Ill have no other option than to fold. The benefit of checking is I might get to see a turn card and possibly win the pot. Theres some chance he may bet his missed overcards and win the pot from me on the flop, but I consider that less likely than him checking those hands behind. My conclusion is that checking with the intention of folding or betting small with the intention of folding to a raise are the two best options. Id lean toward bet-folding because I doubt my opponent will bluff very often, and my line is consistent with a big hand. I think Seat 3s pre-and postflop range is too tight for betting with the intention of calling or checkraising all-in over a bet to be the best options. This conclusion would be drastically altered on a different board texture, or if Seat 3 was known to bluff frequently. If you make your own estimations about the ranges and frequencies of your opponent, you can play around with this method for yourself to calculate the best options in different situations. After analyzing this hand, its clear that one of the best tips I can offer is to study and write out your options in different situations. Of course I do not go through this precise math in my head during the hand, but each time I do a calculation I become better at estimating the correct play in the moment. By writing this book, I discovered a solution I didnt think of in the moment and a mistake I had been making for years. Now I have a new play in my arsenal. In the moment, I stubbornly bet big with the intention of calling Seat 3s all-in. I bet 44,444 and Seat 3 folds. I win a 56,106 pot.

Setup: A few hands later, the table dynamic appears to have changed dramatically. Seat 2 didnt threebet once on the bubble, but out of nowhere just showed down K-Js after threebetting. Seat 1 showed down Q-Jo after calling a threebet. Everyone has loosened up now that were at the final table. My table position is awkward since Seat 1, a loose player with 100 big blinds, is two to my left and will probably reraise me very light. The funny thing is, even though many people go nuts at final tables because theyre playing for the win, its much better to play tight, especially if youre a medium or short stack. This is because of the Independent Chip Modeling (ICM) theory. Without going into an extremely detailed explanation involving probabilities and confusing math, Id like to briefly explain ICM. First, we need to distinguish between chip EV (cEV) and dollar EV ($EV). CEV describes your expected value based purely on how many chips you gain in the long run. Cash games, for example, are purely based on cEV since theres no prize pool or pay-out structure. $EV indicates how much extra money you gain in prize pool equity. For example, with this relatively flat payout structure of $7,776 for first place, $5,022 for second place, $3,629 for third place, $2,657 for fourth place, and $1,879 for fifth place, Seat 2s stack is worth $3,832 in prize pool equity. But if he were to double up through Seat 1, his stack would only be worth $4,827 because of the two short stacks! You can make these calculations online, using the tool found at http://www.icmpoker.com/Calculator.aspx or just search ICM calculator. As of now, Seat 2s stack is worth $1,953 more than fifth place. If he doubled up, his stack value would increase by $995. Hed

essentially be risking $1,953 to win $995. This means that doubling his stack and risking elimination is only worth 51 percent of his chips, meaning he should only call an all-in for his tournament life if he has at least 66 percent equity. For example: if someone who has him covered is shoving any two cards, he can only call with 77+ and cant even call with A-K against a random hand profitably. This may shock many readers, as very few people play this way at final tables. ICM is only theory, though most experts agree its the best representation of prize pool equity. The basic premise is that the shorter your stack, the more each chip is worth. Folding becomes +$EVin spots where calling would be +cEV (like calling an all-in with 55 percent equity with 8-8 versus A-K) because of the chance that other people will bust before you. Folding is +$EV in itself because of the chance that other people will bust, and youll move up the pay ladder without risking anything. Risking chips in marginal +cEV spots becomes a mistake, because youre giving $EV to your opponents by risking getting knocked out yourself. The more likely other people are to bust (either because their stacks are very short or theyre very crazy and throwing their chips around), the more +$EV it is to fold, and the more +cEV a play has to be before you make it. Basically, ICM dictates very tight play at final tables (until heads up) in situations where a large proportion of your stack is at risk. Luckily, Im the big stack, so I dont have to worry much about ICM and can abuse people if theyre playing too tightly. However, because everyone else is playing so incorrectly, and because of my loose image, the only thing to do is tighten up. It would be a nightmare scenario for me to play a huge pot against the other chip leader with marginal holdings, especially since hes shown a willingness to gamble.

Preflop: (6,500). A relatively strong hand usually worth opening becomes a fold under-the-gun with the current table dynamics. I thought Id include this hand, since it would probably have been near the top of my opening range on the bubble. I fold.

Setup: There are still 5 players left. The stacks and playing style havent changed much. Seat 3 gave me a walk last hand, and I raised once with A-T on the button to steal the blinds.

Preflop (6,500): I have a top-five premium hand that Ill happily play for stacks with against all but Seat 1. Id be very uncomfortable getting 100 big blinds in at this final table with the other big stack for the ICM reasons mentioned above, and would most likely opt to call his raise preflop, rather than reraise. Seat 5 raises to 7,450 under-thegun, leaving himself 58,888 behindhe started the hand with around 22 big blinds, total. Everyone folds to me. I figure that Seat 5, being a decent player, has a somewhat tight opening range from early position and isnt going to fold too often. Im guessing his opening range is around 55+, K-Js+, K-Qo+, A-9s+, A-To+, and that hed call all-in with 77+ and A-J+ or, perhaps, an even tighter range.

A-Ks has 54 percent equity versus his approximate calling range, making this an easy all-in preflop. Calling preflop is bad because you miss the flop so often, and because A-K is a hand that youd like to see all 5 board cards. The standard play here is to put Seat 5 all-in. I go all-in for (effectively) 58,888 more. Seat 5 calls with TT and the board comes T J 4 8 Q, giving me a straight on the river! I win a 136,176 pot, and Seat 5 is eliminated in fifth place, earning $1,879.

Setup: Were fourhanded, and guaranteed $2,657. Third place gets $3,629, a $988 pay jump. I now have 161 big blinds and almost half the chips in play. This is a rare situation, and I admit I have run very well so far. I can open up my game a little bit at this point, while also trying to preserve my stack. The stack sizes of my opponents make this an ideal situation to increase the aggressiveness of my play. Even if one of the smaller stacks doubles through me, Im in no danger. Seat 3 is relatively shortstacked, and Seats 1 and 2 wont want to bust out before Seat 3. This allows me to pick on both Seats 1 and 2 a little more than I normally would.

Preflop (6,100): My opponents fold to me. Im holding a marginal hand in the small blind. Seat 1 should have noticed I have been playing pretty tightly for the last few orbits. I dont expect him to reraise me that light here, especially since he reraised me last time I opened from the small blind. His tendency has been to play loose, aggressive poker, though. If Seat 1 threebets here, I can make a smallish fourbet with the intention of folding to a five-bet. I think the range that hed threebet with the intention of five betting all-in is very, very small. Its small because the stack sizes of the remaining players mean that for Seat 1 to go all-in preflop, facing elimination, is a very poor play, even with a hand as good as A-Q. I expect him to call with most of the hands in his range. Therefore, hell threebet with a very small number of hands that hes also willing to play for his whole stack. He doesnt need to threebet bluff very much to make a fourbet bluff profitable. Just because I have tightened up some doesnt mean that Ill play passively or not make moves when I think such moves are appropriate. Limping is probably okay here, too, but its a little too passive for my taste. I raise to 9,000three times the big blind I raise to 9,000 and Seat 1 folds. I win a 7,600 pot.

Setup: There are still four players left. Seat 3 walked me once and Ive reraised him once in the last two orbits (in Hand 27). Hes playing scared, sloppy, and passive poker. Ive been abusing him, so he may be itching to take a stand against me.

Preflop (6,100): Everyone folds to Seat 3, who completes the small blind. Seat 3s stack size is 21 big blinds. I estimate hes limping with 50 to 60 percent of his hands. Hed probably raise with middle pairs and bigger Broadway hands because these hands arent strong enough to trap with. He might limp with a big pair, but big pairs represent a very small part of his range. Also, since I threebet him a couple orbits ago, Id expect a weak player like him to raise with a strong hand, hoping Ill threebet him again. In fact, most players raise with strong hands here, since, given the effective stack sizes, Im reshoving a wide range. I believe I have the best hand, so I should raise. I have three options: 1. Raise approximately three times the big blind and fold if Seat 3 decides to limp-shove. 2. Raise approximately three times the big blind and call if Seat 3 moves all-in, or 3. Move all-in and try to take down the pot now. I cant raise-fold against this player now, because I believe hell take a stand, even with Broadway hands and suited connectors. Raisecalling may induce bluffs from worse hands, but A-2s only has about fifty percent equity against his limp-shove range of small pairs, weak aces, Broadway hands, and some suited connectors. For example, its better to take down the 7,600 pot uncontested than to get my chips in the middle against a hand like 8-7s, when I have only 54 percent equity. I expect Seat 3 to call a shove only 10 to 20 percent of the time. This makes shoving a plus EV play. Also, from an ICM perspective, its usually better to make your opponents fold rather than gamble with small edges. I put Seat 3 all-in and he folds. I win a 7,600 pot.

Setup: This is the very next hand in the tournament. Seat 1, the other big stack at the table, has been reckless and very aggressive. Though I have him out-chipped, I havent been able to bully him as Im usually out-of-position against a fearless opponent.

Preflop (6,100): Im in the small blind, and the action is folded to me. I have an above-average starting hand. Raising or limping is acceptable. I raised from this exact position last orbit with J-T. I dont know how often Seat 1 will reraise with mediocre hands. I rarely limp, because when I enter a pot I prefer to take the initiative. I raise to 9,000 and he reraises to 27,000. In retrospect, given his aggressive play so far, a better alternative may have been to limp-call with the intention of playing aggressively postflop. I have a dilemma. I dont know what his threebet range is, but I suspect its quite wide. Considering the stack sizes, his threebet range for value should be very narrow; A-Q+, TT+ or possibly narrower. If so, my best options are to: 1. Fourbet to about 70K and fold to an all-in bet. 2. Call and try to outplay him postflop. 3. Fold. Let me assess each option: Four-betting to a little more than two and a half times his preflop reraise might be the most profitable play. If his threebet range is quite wide (around 20 percent of hands) and his threebetting-for-value range is quite tight (less than 5 percent of hands), four-betting is very profitable, but only if he folds all his bluffs to a fourbet. Unfortunately, I do not know how this particular opponent will react to a fourbet. He might call or he might even decide to five-bet light. From past observation, I think hell probably flat-call my fourbet and play a bloated pot in position. Given current stack sizes, Im almost guaranteed second place at worst. Therefore, I should avoid marginal spots, especially with insufficient information. Also, even if a fourbet would be a positive cEV play, it would probably not be a positive $EV play, according to the Independent Chip Model theory. Making an ICM calculation would be very tedious, though. Basically, the equity value of the chips gained would not outweigh the dollar equity of losing the pot when the other two players are shortstacked and likely to bust soon. Calling and playing the pot out of position is just ugly. It would be hard to show a profit by calling. Im going to miss the flop too often, and give up to Seat 1s inevitable continuation bet. Id have to checkraise the flop with air sometimes in order to justify calling preflop, but Im not even sure how Id proceed if I flopped top pair. When in doubt, I aim to avoid complex and unclear decision-making scenarios. Having ruled out the first two options, I grit my teeth and fold. My opponent could be bullying me, but this is not the right time to play back. I fold and Seat 1 wins a 19,600 pot.

Setup: One orbit later, there are stillfour players left. Nothing significant has happened. Since weve been fourhanded, Seat 2 has openraised about 30 percent of his hands.

Preflop (6,100): Seat 2 raises to 8,125 and Im in a tough spot. Usually, Id be reraising with a wide range to put pressure on Seat 2, since he should avoid busting before Seat 3, the short stack. However, hes raising on the button around 40 percent of the time, so KTs is ahead of, and may even dominate, his opening range. This situation creates a common tournament problem. If I make a standard threebet, Ill be getting good odds to call a fourbet, but Im behind his hypothetical fourbet range. Also, if I reraise, hes likely to fold all the hands I dominate like Q-T, J-T, and T-9. There are two solutions: I could call and see a flop out of position or make a very small reraise (maybe around twice the original raise or a little more than the minimum raise) with the intention of folding if my opponent moves all in. Flat-calling is the standard play, but Id like to discuss the merits of a making a small reraise. First, most opponents wont fold too often when theyre getting odds in position. Theyll still call with worse hands like Q-T, J-T etc. Effectively, I get to play the pot against their whole opening range, but with the initiative. Most of the time, my opponent will miss the flop and fold to a continuation bet. Other times, Ill be willing to stack-off on a T-high or K-high board depending on my opponents action. Conversely, this small raise may induce my opponent to fourbet all-in light, but I highly doubt that. If anything, Seat 2 will be worried that I hold a premium hand, which is possible. Also, Seat 2 probably doesnt want to risk early elimination with Seat 3 so shortstacked. Many good players disagree with making small threebets in this spot with marginal holdings, since it creates a situation where you play a bloated pot out of position. However, against weaker opposition who wont use their positional advantage postflop, I think this play might be best. Also, position matters less when the stacks are shallow. For all the above reasons, I make a small reraise to 15,125. I reraise to 15,125 and Seat 2 folds. I win a 14,225 pot. By reraising here, you look very strong. My opponent was getting 3.7 to 1 pot odds in position and still elected to fold.

Setup: This hand directly follows Hand 33. Last time I raised from the small blind into Seat 1s big blind, he reraised (Hand 32).

Preflop (8,000): The action is folded to me in the small blind, as in Hand 32. Many players would think it best to back off, since Seat 1 threebet last orbit. Conversely, I tend to think Seat 1 is much less likely to threebet wide the second time in a row. Most players lack the gusto to continue threebetting with marginal holdings. If he does threebet again, Ill almost definitely fold. I decide to make my standard raise (when Im in the small blind) of three times the big blind. I make it 12,000 to go. Seat 1 flat-calls.

Flop (26,000): Though I havent hit this flop, this is one of the better boards for a continuation bet. My opponent has probably missed the board and with the potential flush-draw, is less likely to make a play at the pot. Ill fold if he raises, and Ill probably shut down on the turn unless I improve. I bet 16,019, around 60 percent of the pot. Seat 1 folds and I win a 26,000 pot.

Setup: For the last three orbits, Ive been relatively inactive. Everyone at the table seems to be playing very loose poker, and I havent found many good spots. Though Id like to pick up chips, Im also content to be selective, given my large stack. Seat 3 has doubled up. With a stack of 12 big blinds, he called a raise preflop with T-9o from the big blind. First to act, he over-jammed all-in on a T 9 4 flop. This entire play demonstrates his poor understanding of the game.

Preflop (8,000): Seat 3 raises to 12,000 from the small blind and my course of action is obvious. A-K is at the top of my range. Id be happy to get my chips in the middle with A-T+, K-Qs, and 66+ here, or perhaps an even wider range in a blind-versus-blind situation. My two options are to either reraise to 24,000-36,000 to give the impression of fold equity, or to simply go all-in. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the final analysis are about equal. A small reraise might induce a fourbet with a worse hand. However, very few players fourbet light with less than 30 big blinds, because this gives opponents very good odds to call. However, this specific opponent isnt very aware of odds or fold equity and by making a small reraise, I may induce Seat 3 to call with his dominated hands when hed fold to an all-in bet. But, sometimes when my opponent calls with those worse hands, Ill sometimes miss the flop entirely. Ill then be forced to fold on the flop if he leads out or checkraises. By jamming, I eliminate these tough decisions. Also, the value of A-K increases significantly when youre able to see all five board cards. With effective stacks of 28 big blinds, jamming is the simplest and probably best play, although if he had more than 35 big blinds, I would make a smallish reraise and call a fourbet. I take the simplest option and put Seat 3 all-in. I put Seat 3 all-in and he quickly calls with JJ. His jacks hold on a T 9 6 7 9 board and he wins a 225,196 pot.

Setup: Im still chip leader by a decent margin, and my opponents have relatively equal stacks of 36-43 big blinds. Ive played somewhat tightly for the last 5-6 orbits and expect my image to be solid. From my observations, Seat 3, as mentioned previously, has been playing a loose-passive gamecalling a lot preflop and playing his cards postflop without showing down any bluffs so far. My opponents stack sizes make it unlikely that theyll reraise with weak holdings. For example, a standard raise would be about 13,000, so a standard threebet would be between 30,000 and 45,000, or 15 to 25 percent of my opponentsstacks. Also, with this even stack distribution, Seats 1, 2, and 3 dont want to bust in fourth place, so theyll probably play more conservatively now. For these reasons, I plan on widening my raising range a bit. The hands Ive shown down give me a tight and solid imageanother reason to widen my raising range.

Preflop (9,900): I decide to raise my suited kingrag but Ill obviously fold to a threebet. I expect Seat 3 to flat-call from the big blind quite often, since hes getting a good price to see the flop, but Im fine with this. I think I know how he plays, and I dont expect him to make any moves against me, especially after recently doubling up. I raise to 11,111, Seats 1 and 2 fold, and Seat 3 calls, as expected.

Flop (27,122): This is not a good flop for me, as I only have an overcard and a backdoor flush-draw. My plan is to fire at almost any flop, given my assumptions about Seat 3s emotional state and how hes played the last few hands. By this, I mean that because hes just won a large pot, hes less likely to bluff in the next few hands: Hes happy with his recent double-up and doesnt want to risk his newly acquired stack too soon. I bet 16,110 into 27,122, around 60 percent of the pot. Seat 3 quickly folds and I win a 27,122 pot.

Setup: Two orbits have passed since Hand 36. Ive raise-folded once to Seat 2s threebet. Seat 3 keeps calling Seat 1s raises preflop and folds when Seat 1 makes a continuation bet.

Preflop (9,900): I have a suited connector in the big blind and Seat 3, the weakest player at the table, raises to 15,000 from the small blind. Im getting 2.25 to 1 to call in position with a strong suited connector against a weak player. Calling is the best option by far. Folding is way too tight, and reraising surrenders my postflop advantage. I call Seat 3s 10,000 raise and we see a flop.

Flop (32,400): My opponent checks. Seat 3 has played passively, but I remember that he made a continuation bet after raising preflop in a previous hand. Im not sure what his check means, but Ive flopped top pair and an openended straight draw. Even if I dont have the best hand, I have eight to thirteen outs. With this flop, Ill gladly get all my chips in the middle. Seat 3 checks and I bet 17,000, a little more than half the pot. Seat 3 calls.

Turn (66,400): Seat 3 checks again. This isnt the best turn, since it completes the flush draw. Im faced with a tough choice between betting or checking. After checkcalling the flop, his hand range is probably 7-x, 6-x, a straight or flush draw, or some pair and draw combination. In a blind-versus-blind situation, most players bet flush draws on the flop, but Seat 3 is passive enough to checkcall. Its possible hes trapping with T-9, but very unlikely since, so far, hes played all of his strong hands fast. He doesnt have a set or two pair, as a player like Seat 3 will always protect his hand on this sort of board. In fact, hed probably bet the flop even with a made straight. Should I check or bet? Checking is safer, as it allows me to play a small pot and call a bet on the river if no heart falls. Also, I may squeeze another bet out of him, since if he holds a lower pair, he would likely fold to a turn bet but call on the river. By checking, however, I may lose a bet. If I bet, hell almost certainly call with worse pairs that also have flush and straight potential. Seat 3s hand, no matter what hes holding, almost certainly has a lot of equity against me. By checking, I give my opponent a free card to beat me and give up value when he misses. Also, theres value in betting to protect my hand and thereby making him fold weak hands that may have outs, but which he would only bet if those hands improved.

After checkcalling the flop, I believe Seat 3s range is more likely to include middle pairs, straight draws, and pair and straight draw combos than made hands or flushes, for the reasons listed above. Based on Seat 3s previous play, I expect him to be checkcalling most of his one pair and combo draw hands rather than try a semibluff checkraise. The only hands he might semibluff with are A-5, A-6, A-7 or A-9 with the A. Given the small likelihood of a semibluff checkraise, if he checkraises I am likely against a flush already, and occasionally against better 8x hands or the unlikely turned set of deuces. By observing and analyzing his play, I feel I can safely bet for value and protection with the intention of folding to a checkraise. I bet 40,000 into 66,400, a little less than 2/3 of the pot. Seat 3 folds and I win a 66,400 pot.

Setup: This hand occurs exactly one orbit later. No major pots have occurred.

Preflop (9,900): Holding pocket queens, fourhanded and with short stacks, Im happy to play a big pot. Everyone folds to Seat 3, who limps. Checking here reeks of fancy play syndrome. Id like to get money in the pot now, when my hand is almost certainly best. Ive triumphed in every confrontation with Seat 3 (except for the race earlier in Hand 35) and hes almost certainly tired of being pushed around. No one likes to be bullied, so if I raise, I dont think hell fold. I raise to 17,021, a little less than 3.5 times the big blind. This could be too much, but I expect him to make a stubborn call, and indeed he does.

Flop (36,442): This is a good flop. The only truly bad flop in this situation would be one with an ace or king. Seat 3 checks and I bet 19,000, a little more than half the pot, my standard bet size in these situations. Seat 3 raises to 43,000, leaving 69,564 behind. Seat 3 is basically committed to the pot and the only hands that beat me are the implausible AA, KK, TT, 77, 33 and the even more implausible T7, T-3, and 7-3. I could call to induce him to continue bluffing (if hes on a pure bluff), but I believe hes very unlikely to fold, so I might as well get the money in now. Calling also looks suspicious. If hes bluffing, he would probably give up on the turn anyway. I put Seat 3 all in. Seat 3 calls and tables 7 4 for middle pair. My queens hold up on a T 7 3 6 3 board. I win a 261,570 pot and eliminate Seat 3.

Setup: There are only 3 players left, and were guaranteed at least $3,629. Second place pays $5,022, a $1,329 pay jump. Ive walked Seat 1 a couple times and I just won a huge pot in the previous hand. Ive only shown down good hands at this final table so far and I should have a solid image.

Preflop (10,250): Once again, I have a suited K-rag hand in the small blind. If my hand wasnt suited Id probably fold, but this hand is worth a raise. Ive walked Seat 1 a number of times and he should give me credit for a hand. If he reraises me, Ill sigh and fold with the intention of four-betting him light in the near future. I dont follow a specific pattern, but if anything, I like to raise and reraise after winning a hand, rather than after losing a hand. I dont do this for any superstitious reason such as riding the rush, I just think most players do the opposite, so it throws my opponents off. I raise to 18,000, three times the big blind. Seat 1 folds and I win a 10,250 pot.

Setup: This hand directly follows Hand 39. Seat 2 rarely threebets, but he defends his big blind with a wide range (my PokerTracker

statistics show that he only folds in the big blind to a raise from the button or small blind 54% of the time).

Preflop (11,250): I have a medium-strength hand thats worth a raise on the button. I expect Seat 2 to continue calling too much from the big blind, and Im happy for him to do so, as his postflop play is weak. Unfortunately, my hand isnt strong enough to allow me to call a reraise from either player. My standard raise for this level has been 16,000. I raise to 16,000 and Seat 2 calls.

Flop (37,250): I dont like this flop, since Ive completely missed, and Seat 2s calling range could easily hit this flop. From what Ive seen Seat 2 show down in these spots, I expect his preflop calling range to include any pair, any ace, suited kings, any suited connector up to twogappers, and Broadway hands. This range covers roughly 37 percent of his hands. I have about 35 percent equity against this range on this flop. If I bet, I expect he will continue with any pair, openended straight draws, gutshots with two overcards, or flush draws. Therefore, I dont expect a continuation bet to work often enough to be profitable. Seat 2 checks, and I check behind.

Turn (37,250): Seat 2 checks again. I would expect him to bet with any pair and most draws. More specifically, I would expect him to semibluff his weaker draws like J-T, J-9 and 6-5, since these hands are too weak to call a bet with. Though he may opt to checkcall or checkraise his flush draws and openended straight draws, I think its more likely that he would have bet them too. By checking again, Seat 2 indicates that his range is significantly weaker than I first thought and that a bet would now be a profitable play. This illustrates the importance of position! If I bet now and get called, Ill probably bet again on the river unless a T or J falls, since these cards hit almost every draw and I expect hes more likely to be checkcalling with draws than he is with made hands on the turn. I bet 21,000, a little more than half the pot. Seat 2 folds, and I win a 37,250 pot.

Setup: Seat 2 walked me in the previous orbit.

Preflop (11,250): I have a middle Broadway hand in the big blind. Seat 2 raises to 14,250. Given that he folded on the previous orbit in this situation, I would expect him to raise a higher percentage of the time this orbit since he probably thinks I now view him as a tight player. Also, psychologically, most players dont like to consecutively walk their opponents. It also appears he has preflop raise-sizing tells, preferring to raise smaller with his weaker holdings and larger with his big hands. Ive seen him show down JJ after raising more than 3 times the big blind and A-5s when raising 2.5 times the big blind. I would usually just call with my hand since it flops decently and is behind a lot of hands preflop. But with the additional information that his raise size gives me, a reraise all-in is more appropriate. As an aggressive player who doesnt limp very often preflop, hes probably raising more than 50 percent of the time and only calling around 15-16 percent of the time (roughly A-7o+, A-5s+, K-Q, 33+). QJ has around 38 percent equity against his hypothetical calling range, and Seat 2 will fold often enough to make this a profitable shove. I dont want to make a smaller reraise, because I dont want to give any impression of fold equity. Calling could be the better, lower variance play here, because my assumptions about Seat 2s raising frequency from the small blind could be wrong. I reraise all-in and my opponent quickly folds. I win a 30,750 pot.

Setup: I raised the button two hands ago with Q-Ts and took down the pot. PokerTracker shows that over 150 hands, Seat 2 has raised the button 32 percent of the time. Though 150 hands is a small sample size, it still indicates he has a wide raising range when on the button.

Preflop (11,250): Seat 2 raises to 17,350 on the button. Though he varies his raise sizes, hes raised this amount several times before, and its probably his standard sizing. My hand is well ahead of his button-raising range, and hes probably raising an even wider range than normal, since he just lost the previous hand and may be eager to win back some chips. If my hand was off-suit I might fold, but A9 suited is too strong to fold to a wide button range with shallow stacks. Both calling and reraising are reasonable. If I just call, Ill checkraise all-in if I flop any pair, straight draw, or flush draw. PokerTracker shows that Seat 2s continuation bet frequency is only 55%, lower than most players, so Im not going to go all-in on every flop. Calling from the small blind isnt as bad a play as it might first appear, since position is less of a factor when I intend to either checkraise or fold on the flop. However, calling does give the big blind an opportunity to squeeze or call, and it isnt the most profitable option. A reraise is more profitable and easier to play.

In this situation, I prefer a smaller reraise size for two reasons: It still allows me to fold if Seat 1 goes all-in, and it may induce a fourbet bluff, as it might convey the false impression of fold equity to Seat 2. I reraise to 49,996, around 2.8 times his raise. I could have chosen a smaller reraise, but I want to leave Seat 2 with a potsized bet should he decide to call. If Seat 2 fourbets all-in, Ill be getting sufficient odds to call. Even though Ill probably be behind, he raise-folds often enough to make reraising here a profitable play. Seat 2 folds, and I win a 42,950 pot.

Setup: This is directly after Hand 42. Ive won six of the last eight hands and expect to be played back at very soon. Every player has a breaking point, and no one likes to be bullied constantly.

Preflop (11,250): Im on the button and have a hand near the top of my range. After winning so many pots in succession, I would fold many hands Id usually raise with, but Im obviously not folding this one. With this hand, Ill gladly put all my chips in the middle preflop. Seat 1 has around 40 big blinds and is threebetting quite often, and Seat 2 only has 23 big blinds and is probably fed up with me too. I expect Seat 1 to threebet-and-fold often enough to make a fourbet profitable, and I also expect to be ahead of Seat 2s all-in range though not by much. In this situation, when were threehanded and Ive won nearly every pot in the last few orbits, my marginal hand increases in value, as I expect my opponents to loosen their ranges preflop to adjust. I raise to 16,000, my standard raise at this level. Both players fold and I win a 17,250 pot.

Setup: Two hands have passed since Hand 43. Seats 1 and 2 played a pot where Seat 1 raised preflop and then check-folded the flop.

Preflop (11,250): Seat 1 raises to 16,450 on the button and Seat 2 calls. Im getting 4-to-1 odds in the big blind on a call with a suited medium-strength Broadway hand. I can comfortably call preflop, as Im confident I can make the correct decisions postflop. I dont consider my hand a trouble hand, since the preflop ranges of both players are relatively wide and the stacks so shallow. I will occasionally get in a hand here where I have a worse kicker, but with both of my opponents stacks less than 35 big blinds, this isnt much of an issue. I call the 10,450 and we see a flop.

Flop (51,600): Seat 2 checks to me. Ive flopped a flush draw with an overcard. I like playing flush draws aggressively because you have so much equity when called against almost any hand, and your opponents dont have to fold very often to make your semibluffs very profitable. At the least, my flush draw has 27 percent equity versus a set, 38 percent equity versus an overpair, and 47 percent equity if my queen is live. A small bet of around 14,000 is one reasonable option, because if Im called I can draw cheaply, effectively making my own price to draw quite low, and it sets me up to be able to go all-in over the top of a raise. Im also quite happy to take the pot down with no resistance. The disadvantage of betting is that I would hate to have to call an all in if one of my opponents shoved. In the moment, I decide to check. This option is good too, since I either get a free card or get to checkraise with fold equity if Seat 1 bets. I check and Seat 1 checks behind.

Turn (51,600): Seat 2 checks to me again. I now have second pair in addition to my flush draw. I decide to bet with the intention of calling Seat 2s all-in. If Seat 1 raises, Ill fold or call, depending on his raise sizing. Seat 1s value hands can only be 9-8 and TT if he raises the turn, so I think hell fold after I bet most of the time. I decide to bet an amount that will induce Seat 2 to jam his draws, yet not induce a raise with weaker holdings from Seat 1. I bet 31,906, Seat 1 folds, and Seat 2 quickly moves all-in. I dont believe he would check a made hand twice in this situation, and expect he probably has straight draws (K-Q), pair and straight draws (T9, T-8, 9-7, and 8-7), and other flush draws. I call the remaining 88,911. Seat 2 shows K-Q. The river is an off-suit deuce and my pair holds. I win a 309,234 pot, and were now heads up!

Setup: Were both guaranteed $5,022, and first place gets $7,776. Were effectively playing heads up for $2,754. Heads up is a dynamic, fastpaced mind game where game flow and hand reading are very important. Right now were in the feeling-out stage. I have a big chip lead, but my opponent has over 30 big blinds remaining, so theres plenty of play left. Previous hands show that my opponent is aggressive preflop but passive postflop.

Preflop (10,500): When playing heads up against most players, I raise the button between 65 and 100 percent of the time, depending on how often they reraise me and how well they play postflop. With shallower stacks, I like to make the minimum raise my standard raise because Im raising so much, and because I prefer to play my larger pots in position. Also, minraising makes his threebets difficult to size when hes planning on threebet-folding, and he probably wont go allin with garbage hands over my minraises. Its difficult to adjust your play against an opponent who often minraises heads up. My opponents two options are either calling a lot out of position, or threebetting more preflop. Neither option is very good. I decide that Ill raise around 70 to 80 percent of my buttons to get a feel for my opponent and how hell react. 8-7o is in the top 70 percent of hands. I raise to 12,000 total, the minimum raise, and Seat 1 calls.

Flop (25,500): Ive flopped top pair on a low, connected, and drawheavy board. This being the first heads-up hand, Im not sure what Seat 1s calling range is preflop, but a bet for value and protection is the clear choice. Ill be unhappy if he checkraises the flop, since he could have two pair, a straight, or a better 7, but there are enough draws and pair-plus-straightdraw combinations that Ill be forced to go all-in if he raises. I bet 15,000, a little less than 60 percent of the pot. Seat 1 folds and I win a 25,500 pot.

Setup: Its two hands after Hand 45, and the blinds have increased. He folded his button and I folded 9-4o on my button.

Preflop (14,000): Seat 1 raises to 19,500. Although I havent played with Seat 1 for very long heads up, I did think he was one of my strongest competitors at the final table. I would guess hes raising more than 50 to 60 percent of the time from the button heads up, and K-9o should be well ahead of that range. Getting 2.5-to-1 preflop, against a range Im probably ahead of, merits a call. Also, he has around 23 big blinds, and shallow stacks make position less of a factor. I plan on playing very aggressively postflop, and probably wont fold if I flop any sort of draw or pair. Im too unsure of his raising range from the button to know whether a reraise would be profitable or not, therefore a call is best. I call the 11,500 raise, and we see a flop.

Flop (41,000): Ive completely missed the flop, and plan on checking to the raiser and folding to a bet. I check, and Seat 1 checks behind.

Turn (41,000): A queen rolls off, pairing the board. After checking the flop, I would put most opponents on a 5-x or 7-x hand, middle pairs, top pair sometimes, and the occasional 8-6 or 6-4, as well as flush draws. Most players bet flush and straight draws after raising preflop. A typical player usually has a medium-strength hand with showdown value after checking back on this sort of board. However, my opponent has not made continuation bets on the flop nearly as frequently as the average player. PokerTracker shows that during the final table, his continuation bet frequency after raising preflop is only 44 percentmost players average 60 to 70 percent. Some tricky, aggressive players choose to delay their continuation bets, or raise their opponents on the turn, rather than make a continuation bet on every flop. From what Ive seen so far, I suspect Seat 1 falls into this category. I check to Seat 1 and he bets 24,000, around half the pot. A fold here is the correct play against most players, since they are most likely to be holding a 7, 5 or 88-JJ when taking this line. He almost certainly does not have a queen. However, I consider Seat 1 to be the type of opponent with a bell shaped aggression curve meaning most of his betting occurs on the turn. Therefore, I expect him to be betting almost all of his hands (with the exception of his ace-high hands that have showdown value) after being checked to twice, which means I may still have the best hand.

Folding is best against most players. Checkraising also has merit, because I make him fold his better king highs, and hands I beat that have plenty of equity against my hand. But in this situation, I dont think a checkraise would be credible, and I want him to keep bluffing with worse hands. I opt to call, thinking Im slightly ahead of this particular opponents betting range, since hes betting all of his air and draws as well as his value hands.

River (89,000): The fabled ace on the river is actually one of the best cards for me. In this instance, the Ais very unlikely to improve Seat 1s range, though I could conceivably have weak aces (I would have reraised all of my strong aces preflop) in myrange. Most important, I expect he isnt a good enough player to extract small value with a 7 or 88-JJ. So if he bets, I assume hell be bluffing because he thinks the Ais a scary card for any opponent facing a river bet from the original raiser. The ace is usually a good bluff card when preflop hand ranges are narrower, but in this situation, he cannot credibly represent an ace. I check to Seat 1, and he quickly bets 42,000. The ace on the river effectively polarizes Seat 1s betting range. If he were going to bet a 7 or 88-JJ for value, I think he wouldve at least taken some time to think it through. I dont think he holds a 5, because my hand looks too much like a 7. At this point, I think he either has a Q, an unlikely 88-JJ, A-5, A-7, or a total bluff. I also think he would bet a Q on the flop, making the possibility of him holding one of the two queens left in the deck very unlikely. There arent very many combinations of value hands in his range, and there are plenty of bluff combinations. He might be bluffing with K-T or K-J, but he might also check back those hands for showdown value rather than turn them into bluffs. In any event, they are a small part of his range. I have to have the best hand less than 25 percent of the time for a call to be profitable, and I suspect his quick, less-than-half-pot bet is a bluff often enough to justify a call. After some thought, I call his 42,000 bet and he shows T-8o for ten high. My hand reading pays off this time and I win a 173,000 pot!

Setup: This hand comes directly after Hand 46. Seat 1 has a little more than 12 big blinds. I might mix in limps and minraises, but overall most of the action will be push or fold preflop.

Preflop (14,000): I have a premium hand for shortstacked, heads-up play. In fact, I can profitably shove this hand face up for 25 big blinds with no ante in the middle, so the decision is rather easy10. I wager all my chips, and Seat 1 calls. Seat 1 shows A-T, but I get lucky and hit a K on the turn on a 6 7 8 K 4 board, giving me the victory! I receive $7,776 for first place. This tournament went very smoothly, as there were few ups and downs and most of my reads were

correct, which certainly isnt always the case. Its very satisfying to enter a final table as the chip leader and close out the tournament. I won some races and sucked out a few times, but overall, I feel I often made my own luck by applying pressure and making informed, intelligent decisions. Hopefully, you found my play and analysis instructive as well.

Glossary
A-x A hand which contains an ace and an unspecified card. A-xs A suited hand which contains an ace and an unspecified card. Backdoor A hand completed by both the turn and river card (same as runner-runner). Abackdoor flush is a flush where you must use both the turn and river card to complete your flush. Barrel - A bluff bet. Generally refers to a sequence of bluffs on consecutive streets. Blind - Aforced bet a player puts into the pot before the cards are dealt. Blocking Bet A small, price-setting bet used to discourage the opposition from making a bigger bet when playing out of position on the river. Bounty tournament Atournament where an additional prize is given whenever you knock out certain players. Broadway Any card ten or higher. Abroadway straight is an ace high straight. Cold call Calling when there has been a bet and another opponent is also in the pot. Complete - Calling from the small blind when the pot has not been raised. Continuation bet Betting the flop after raising preflop. Cooler Asituation where you have a very good hand but your opponent has an even better one. Counterfeit When a card on the board diminishes the value of your hand. For example, you hold bottom two pair and the board pairs the top pair. Crying call Calling when you know your chance of winning is small, but the pot odds make it worth a call. Double belly buster A two-way inside (gutshot) straight. EV The expected value or the value of a play on average. First-in - The first player to put money in the pot (other than the blinds and antes). Float A bluff which takes two streets to implement. Generally, a float involves calling a flop bet with the intention of bluffing on the turn or river. Fold Equity Refers to your ability to get your opponents to fold, and the associated value you have when they fold. When extremely shortstacked, you have little fold equity as you dont have enough chips to force players to fold. Fourbet Raising when there has already been a raise and reraise. Freezeout tournament A typical tournament where tables are combined as players are eliminated and there are no re-buys or addons. Hijack The position two seats to the right of the button (one seat to the right of the cutoff seat). ICM - Independent Chip Model. Looks at chip values and prize distributions to help make decisions later in a tournament. Jam - Going all-in. Light - Betting or raising with a weak hand. Limp Raise Limping preflop with the intention of 3-betting should someone bet. Look me up When a player calls to make sure you have the hand that you are representing. Open-limping - Calling the big blind preflop when first-in. Post oak bluff A bluff where you bet a small amount in the hope that your opponents will perceive your bet as strong. Probe bet A bet or raise with the primary purpose of gaining information to see where you are in a hand.

Range - The likely distribution of hands a player may be holding. Re-buy tournament A tournament where you are allowed to buy additional chips for a certain time period as long as you are under a certain stack level. Reshove Pushing all in after an opponent has raised preflop. Resteal - Reraising a preflop raiser who you suspect has a wide range. Reverse Implied Odds Situations where your hand will either win a little or lose a lot. Runner-runner A hand completed by both the turn and river card (same as backdoor). Arunner-runner flush is a flush where you must use both the turn and river card to complete your flush. Satellite tournament A tournament where entries to a larger tournament are awarded as prizes. Threebet The same as a reraise. Threebet-push Reraising all in. UTG+1 The position after the player under-the-gun, or the player two to the left of the big blind.

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END NOTES
1An odds simulator shows that A-J wins close to 60% of the time against this range. 2 Q-Ts is 1.7 to 1 against a range of 66+, A-7s, A-To, and K-Q, which is pretty close to the range I might expect from this opponent given the final table bubble. 3 I derived 14,982 from ((.30765 x 56,581) (.69235 x 46,781)). I derived 2,751 from ((.65 x 12,300) (.35 x 14,982)). 4 22+,A-2s+,K-6s+,Q-8s+,J-8s+,T-8s+,A-2+,K-9+,Q-T+,J-T is the Pokerstove representation I used. 5Note that this range is 4.7% of all hands, but given that I already have an ace in my hand, the percentage is reduced to 3.8%. 6www.bluffmagazine.com/thepokerdb is an excellent site to see a players overall ROI and www.InternetPokerRankings.com is a good source to see how players do in the major online tournaments of $100 buy-ins and higher. 7 TT has 48% equity versus 88+, A-Qo+, and A-Js+. 8 These percents are rounded for ease of comprehension. 9

ICM stands for Independent Chip Model which looks at chip values and prize distributions to help make decisions later in a tournament. It is generally used for sit-n-go tournament structures but has applications for multi-table tournaments, particularly final tables, as well. For more info, visit www.chillin411.com.
10 For more information on what hands you can shove face up you can look at the sklansky-chubukov site at http://www2.decf.berkeley.edu/~chubukov/rankings.html