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The Hand We're Dealt

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It is not my duty to call.

By: RedAirkson @ 11:08 (EDT) / 72 / Comment ( 1 )

9-handed Tournament Table.  Blinds are 1000-2000 with antes of 300.  5700 in the pot before a hand is dealt.  A shortstack shoves first-in from UTG.  The all-in bet is 7000.  It is folded to me in the Big Blind.  I still have 100k behind.  Should I even look at my hand, or is this a duty call?

Math.  I have to wager 5000 to win 12700.  That gives me 2.54:1 odds.  Ranges?  With the blinds coming to get him, he has any two cards.  I have any two cards.  That's 1:1 odds.  Pot gives me 2.54 so I no-look duty call.

Let's add some detail.  We are on the money bubble.  I am the chip leader with over 470k in chips.  This encounter won't even hurt my stack.  Duty call?

Strategy.  Nobody wants to bust out on the bubble, so everyone is playing extremely tight.  The entire field is rooting for me to bust this guy out.  I remember Mike Caro:  "Figure out what they want you to do, and disappoint them."

I fold, the shortstack chips up slightly.  The bubble does not burst and ultratight play continues.  I steal six sets of blinds and antes over the next two rounds, easily making more than the 12700 I passed on.  My stack crosses the 500k mark.

Let's change it up again.  This time it is not the bubble, but I am still chip leader with 155k in chips.  12700 is a good amount to add to my stack!  But wait, the shortie shoving is not UTG, he is MP...Still getting 2.54:1 on my money.  No-look call?

"Just throw in a 5k chip!" the entire table goads...

Ranges.  Shortie must think he has no almost no fold equity.  Shortie could have waited three more deals to catch a hand.  He chose this hand.  Broadways, 55+, Suited Aces.  His equity versus ATC is about 64%.

"Come on, it's just 5k more, you will still have 150k!"

He is a 1.77:1 favorite.  But the pot is still laying me better odds.  Sigh...

Table says "duty call!"  Math says "agree!"  Strategy says "look!"

"Don't look, mahihinaan ka lang ng loob! (You will only lose courage!)"

I look at the hand, it is garbage! His equity versus 73o is about 72%.  He is now a 2.57:1 favorite.  No odds.  Fold.

What a difference information makes!  Just by spending a miniscule amount of energy to peek at my cards, I turned a duty call into a good fold.

While all this may seem academic to the experienced player, it is always (pleasantly) surprising how many players are out there still bind themselves to "duty calls."  These seem to be the top considerations:

His stack won't dent mine.  So guy with 600k duty calls a shove from guy with 50k.  He adds 48k to win 55700.  Shortie holds, and now has a 100+k stack.  A few hands later, 100k gets dealt AA and 550k doubles him up with KK.  Duty caller chips down to 440+k and Shortie is up to 200+k

He's denting you now.

There is already so much money in the middle.  These heroes say "pot odds" - or even "Well, I'm priced in" - as they call off the last chips in their stack on the four-straight broadway board with a naked pair of fives.

"Eh pag nag fold ako, ano pa ba gagawin ko sa stack ko ang liit na eh.  (I can't fold and play with so short a stack anyway.)"

That may or may not be true.  What I know to be definitely true is that you can't play with NO stack.

Ya gotta gamble to win a tourney anyway.  Ya can't win without winning a few flips.  Ya gotta come in from behind a few times.

All true Sir, but please pick a better spot than "two guys shoved and I can triple up with 22 if they both have Ace-King!!!"

There are times in our lives when we have to take leaps of faith.  Those times are few and far between though.  The in-between-times are filled with information.  One of the aspects of poker I love the most is the gathering of information.

I don't like to do things just because people say I have to.  I guess that's the kind of stubborn proud independent guy I am.   I prefer to choose my duties, and I urge others to do the same.

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