How would you have played this hold 'em hand?

Playing an online NL hold 'em tournament last night. 340 players to start, it’s down to about 60 with the top 40 positions paid (significant money starts at 20th). I’m in about 14th with about 10,000 in chips. Blinds are IIRC 400/800. Dealt JJ in early position. Folds in front of me, I raise to 4200. Folded around to, if not the button, near the button (can’t remember) who is one of the big stacks with about 80,000 chips. He raises all in. BB, who is short stacked, calls. Now it’s back to me.

What would you do?

Get out. get out quick. Jacks in EP are not strong enough to play against that big a reraise with a caller. There’s no reason to go up against the big stack with so many fishes still around.


Get out of the way. But I tend to be a bit more conservative when I’m not the big stack.

I’d stay in, assuming that I wouldn’t have to go all in myself. If you think about it, as a starting hand, there’s only 3 hands stronger than JJ. QQ, KK, and AA. What are the chances they have one of those? You’ve already put in 40% of your chips… I’d stay to see the flop. This coming from a guy who watches a lot of Texas Hold 'em on TV and usually ends up as 1st or 2nd place when playing amung friends, and rarely for money.

I would have played this hand differently. First, the preflop raise committed you to the pot no matter what the action behind you might be. A raise that large looks like nines, tens or jacks that don’t want to face a flop. Making in $2400 should have about the same effect as the $4200 bet, but give you room to drop the hand and still have a stack left if that is your choice.

I would have called quickly here. In these multi table tournaments the huge stacks are not usually the best players. They are willing to go all in with a wide range of hands and got lucky early to build up the big stack. A tight player just doesn’t see enough good hands to build that monster stack in most cases. That being said, villain could have AK, AQ, AJ, AA, KK, QQ, TT, or 99. The big blind was shortstacked so a little more money is going in the pot. To me the most likely outcome seems to be AK on the button and the big blind with Ax. That takes away an out from your opponent and makes you a decent favorite.

Based on the action is looks like you are getting 3 to 1 on your money. Those odds are favorable unless you know he has AA, KK, or QQ. I don’t think you can know that with any certainty so you have to call. I think you have to accept that your preflop raise committed you to the hand, this could have played out differently with a smaller bet preflop.

You call, because you have already put in too many of your chips. Now, I don’t know that you will be ahead here often, but you are getting something like between 3-1 and 4-1 on your call and that is only slightly wrong IF the big stack has an overpair (QQ, KK, or AA) and definitely correct if he holds any other hand. Certainly his range of hands is at least something like A-K, and pairs 10s and higher, and against that range you have way more pot equity than the odds you are getting

The real problem with this hand is that you made too large of a raise preflop (without going all-in). You are in a “bubble” tournament situation ,where you are near the money with a moderate stack, but not one that can stand a LOT of heat - you have something like 12 big blinds. If you make a standard raise to 3x the big blind, you might be able to get away from it, but even so it is 25% of your stack right there. There is certainly an argument to be made that the correct play here is simply to go all-in- you aren’t yet at the point where your only move really is all-in or fold, but you are close enough that going all-in with JJ certainly isn’t a BAD play. A decent play here where the big stack is aggressive would be a limp and then a re-raise all-in.

But if the two callers combine to have the three overcards, then you’re down to 35% to win, which puts you closer to an even money bet.

Put me down with “bet too much to start with”. I don’t think that JJ is a monster hand in early position.

I raised big pre-flop because I want A-rags and K-rags out and to apply pressure to the BB who was short stack at the table. I don’t much believe in “pot committed” so I don’t feel like putting in 40% of my chips pre-flop commits me to the hand.

I ended up dropping the hand. The stacks in the tournament were such that I felt like even with 6000 in chips I had a legitimate shot to make the money if I muck here and I don’t like my chances with two all ins in front of me. I figure I’m looking at, minimum, two or three overcards and quite possibly an overpair. I thought about it for pretty much my maximum time allotted and finally decided to let it go and regroup.

Unfortunately, the big stack had pocket 99 and the short stack had AJos and my Jacks would have held up. I’d have had close to 30,000 in chips which would have put me in the top ten, knocked out a player and taken a chunk out of the chip leader. Oh well, playing poker backwards is a lot easier. I ended up in about 30th place after the hand.

JJ and 99 continued to play roles through the rest of my tournament. I got dealt 99 twice in the money; doubled up once and took down the blinds once. Ended up going out in 15th when I picked up KK in early position with about 15,000 in chips. One raise in front of me, I went all in, one caller with pocket JJ. J came on the flop and I was out.

This was definitely the key hand of the tournament for me. If I make the call I’m in a solid position to make the final table where the real serious money begins. Still, I ended up quadrupling my buy-in, which is not a bad result considering I decided to play almost literally at the last minute.

JJ has a 70% chance to win over A-x or K-x. Don’t you want those hands to call you?

With JJ, I play it like a middle pair: get in cheap in early position, try to steal late, and if an overcard comes on the flop dump it.

Even if the button still makes his raise, it’s easier to put him on a small pair hoping to be up against overcards. BB just called because 3-1 on his money looked good with A-J (and it was pretty good, he’s about 30% to win against JJ, KK, QQ, etc).


Absolutely not. I cannot count the number of times that I’ve held JJ and have gone down in flames to A rag or K rag. I want them gone, gone, gone. It may not be playing the odds but bitter personal experience leads me to drive them out of the pot if I can.

You don’t believe in pot committed ? With all due respect, if you want to be the best player than you can be, you need to take into account when you are committed to the pot. Period. Suppose you had raise to 9800 ? Surely it would be ludicrous to think that you would fold for an extra 200 in a $22,000+ pot right ? - You just have to take that thinking a little bit further to be a good player - Folding for $5200 in a pot that size is also wrong unless you have a real reason to believe the player would have to hold QQ or better a relatively large % of the time - certainly far more than 50% of the time. At that stage in the tournament, you are only going to have a read that specific if you are against a tight player, who has a stack only slightly larger/smaller than yours. If you are going to try to drive out A-x, K-x hands (which implies that you believe you have the best hand), raising 50% of your stack is NOT the way to do it. You should either go all-in so everyone KNOWS you are going all the way, or you should make a standard raise so maybe you can get away from JJ if you think a player has you beat. Anyway, take a look at some of the better tournament hold’em books. I personally recommend Harrington on Hold’em (Dan Harrington - 1995 WSOP champ) and David Sklansky’s tournaments for advanced players. Or check out, who publish some of the better books, and have poker specific forums.

Well, no, I don’t really believe in pot committed. I wouldn’t raise to 9800 with a 10,000 stack but if I did, no, I wouldn’t fold to another 200 raise. If that’s “pot committed” then so be it but I don’t think of it that way. I always reserve to myself the option of mucking a hand regardless of how much I’ve put in the pot or how much I have left.

My answer to the OP would depend on how the big stack had played his previous hands. My (admittedly limited) online tourney experience has led me to believe that big stacks come from reckless play as often as solid play, and I try to victimize those people when I can identify them. If he was playing way loose, I’d have called in a heartbeat. Otherwise, I’d have folded (and, I have no idea if its the ‘right’ play or not, but I love to limp in w pocket Js or 10s as opposed to using them on a big raise pre-flop, except for certain situations in late position).

But, in tournament play, “pot committed” should be a concern. Much more so than in a regular game.
For the OP: I probably would have called. With 40% of your stack in, it just makes sense. Also, more often than not, the pot goes to the aggressive player, not the best hand. The button has a large chip lead, and you have an excellent starting hand, which puts you in a good position to move up in chips. Calculated risk.

Disclaimer: I am 80% sure that you are a better player than me. I’m 100% sure that you’re a more accomplished player than me. That said, even I can tell that you’re being irrational here. You’re raising enough to drive off A-x or K-x (hands that you’re heavily favored against), but not enough to drive off A-K (which is about 50-50 to beat you). There’s no sense in that, especially in early position. I strongly recommend that you hit the books for advice on how to play JJ correctly, so you can avoid going down in flames while giving yourself a chance to win.

I’m aware of putting other people who believe in pot committed in the position of committing themselves, but that doesn’t mean I have to commit myself to what I believe to be a loser just because I have chips in the middle already.

There isn’t a raise I could’ve made in this circumstance that would’ve driven out AK. AK is a hand people marry, not realizing that it’s ultimately a drawing hand. And I did say that I know I’m not playing the odds by driving out the Ax and Kx hands. Does that rise to the level of “irrational,” that I don’t know.

Touchy, touchy. Of course you’re not required to play a hand if you think it’s a loser. I likes me jacks to open, I do, but that’s just me. And I would say Survey1215 has a good point as well; how’s the big stack been playing? He has the chips to make moves and steal blinds. Play the player, not just the cards. You asked what we’d do. I’m tellin ya.

That was kinda part of my point. Your raise couldn’t drive out the hands that have the best chance of beating you, but would drive out most of the hands that you have a good chance of beating. In early position you have no idea if people are holding those hands that have the best chance of beating you. Which is why I advocated a smaller raise, then run if an overcard comes on the flop.

Sorry, not meaning to come off touchy. Honest.

I don’t really want a multi-way pot with JJ regardless of what’s out against me. AK’s not going anywhere in the hand I’m describing. Nothing I can do about that. Ax probably won’t stick around, neither will Kx. If I put out a smaller raise, they’re more likely to. Against AK I’m going to lose if an A or K hits, regardless. If I can push out any Ax players with a big raise then I don’t lose to an A on the flop. Same for Kx. As I said, in this situation with a re-raise and a call, I feel like I’m looking at multiple overcards and possibly an overpair.

Not a huge player, but 4200 seems like too big of a bet in early position, I think I’ll go with others here in that regard, even with a nice pocket pair. 2 bets to go, maybe 3, but I can’t see more than that. If you want to chase out Axo, a small bet and reraise would be better, but at that it isn’t playing the odds as others have said. You get to the flop with JJ, there’s only a 25% chance an overcard hits at all, but I’d say you can bet on both of them having an ace (I’d put BB on Axo and the all-in on Axs or a non-ace pair), making it less than that. With three players in, that’s a huge pot for a decent pocket pair and some decent information. Call. I also say this because if I were on the button I’d think you were pushing too hard and didn’t have the goods so I’d push back if I had something even decent.

But, against others here, I don’t believe in being “pot committed,” either. I can’t say you were wrong to fold, you gotta trust your instincts if you want to stay cool in a tough spot, but I think I’d have called. IMO, “pot committed”=“resigned to failure.”