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Bounty Tourneys, Barreling and Showing Hands | Q&A | #84


Sky Matsuhashi

on July 30, 2016

I answer 3 listener Q’s about playing in bounty tourneys, barreling your opponents off their hands and the perils of showing your hand unnecessarily.

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


Bounty Tourneys, Barreling and Showing Hands

Question 1 from Mike (3:00)

Good Afternoon Sky!
I am hosting a bounty tournament this weekend. I have never actually played in one, but have been thinking about the strategic implications of the bounty in relation to overall tournament “equity” (buy-in vs payouts) and ICM considerations. Do you have any thoughts on KO Bounty Tournaments and how to adjust?

I don't play many bounty tourneys, but there are some considerations you have to take into account though because of the format and the way your opponents will approach it:

  • It's fine on borderline decisions to let the bounty sway you to one side. If the break-even math makes your call neutral or slightly negative EV, the bounty just sweetens the deal to now make it a +EV call b/c your win nets you more than just the chips in the pot.
  • You can try to pre-isolate a short-stacked player who is still to act.  You open, he shoves, now anyone who may want to call has to contend with his sizing and the fact that you're still to act.  But only do this if the hit to your stack from the shorty won't hurt you too badly.
  • A big consideration for bounty tourneys is the willingness of your loose-passive opponents to call all-ins very light. If you've got someone like that on your left and you shove as a shorter stack, just assume that they'll be calling you.  It’s great that they’re willing to call you with so many weaker holdings, but that means you have less fold equity so don’t shove too wide.


Question 2 from Ed (8:00)

Hi Sky,
Any thoughts on how far to take a c-bet?
When I open a pot I usually c-bet even if I miss the flop. If I get called I will barrel the turn and if called again, do I barrel the river? Or shut down by checking and folding if villain bets?

There are no hard and fast rules here regarding barreling opponents off of hands.  But, there are 5 things you need to consider that will help you determine how likely your barreling will get him off his hand:

  1. Your position. Cbet bluffing OOP is very difficult.  You might be better off c/r bluffing instead of donk bluffing.  Being IP gives you a better shot at pushing opp's off of hands b/c you get to act after they show weakness as well as there's potential for you to bet and make things difficult for them on later streets.
  2. Your opponent. It's very difficult to bluff a calling station off their hand.  If they guy calls down w/BP, then don't even try.  Go for value instead.
  3. Your opp's stats vs cbets. If you’re playing online, it's great to see what street he gets honest on.  You just need to make sure you've got the chips to barrel him off on that street.  If he's super flop honest (fold to cbet of 65%+) then fire the cbet bluff on the flop.  If he calls every flop but folds turns (folds to flop cbet 30% but turn is 70%) then make sure you've got the chips to barrel him on the turn with the threat of more aggression on the river.  If you’re playing LIVE poker, take mental note or use Evernote or something to track how your opponent’s respond to cbets on various streets.
  4. Stack sizes. Just mentioned above, but you need to make sure you’ve got the chips to bluff with and to imply threats on later streets.  If your opponent already put in 33% of his stack pre-flop, then he’s got only a pot-sized bet left behind when the flop hits (this is a stack to pot ratio, or spr, of only 1).  It’s harder to bluff someone when they feel “pot committed” already.  The bigger the effective stacks, the more likely your bluffs will succeed.
  5. The board and his likely range.  Let's say you open and your opp calls.  Looking at his stats tells you that he often calls lots of broadways and pp's.  (if his VPIP and PFR are close then that's all he likely calls with; the wider the gap the more crap he fits into his calling ranges)  Knowing this we might NOT want to barrel on broadway heavy boards like QJ2 as he likely flopped weak pairs or some kind of straight draw that he won’t fold.  You also might not want to barrel boards with lots of medium cards like 875 or 468.  He could’ve easily flopped a set or another draw or an overpair that he won’t give up.  Bottom line is the more likely his range hit the board with draws or pairs, the less likely you’ll blow him off his hand.

Make sure you review all your double barrel and triple barrel hands after the fact to see if your decisions were well advised or if you missed any important clues that should've told you not to barrel.

Question 3 from Tim (15:45)

Hello Sky,
I've been trying to play in a lot of small stakes daily NLHE tournaments at my local casino. Low buy-ins with lots of the same faces playing. Last night I felt like I was playing well until one hand and it got in my head. I kept dwelling on it afterwards and thinking about my table image and went all-in with a weak hand for 19th outta 50.
Here’s the hand that set me off: I was in late position. Blinds were 75/150. Four Limper's ahead of me. I raised to 450 with QQ. Big blind and one other called. I flopped a set. I bet large, 2,000 because there were two clubs on the flop. The BB hesitated but called, the other guy folded. The turn was a club. The BB bet 4k.
I started thinking he caught the flush and I did end up folding. That might have been a mistake but for sure my mistake was showing my fold. I thought I was showing off a big fold to save face and ego or something.
The whole table started saying, “How could you fold that with the river still to come!?!” Even the dealer said he would have played that.
It got in my head and it was all downhill from there. I felt embarrassed.
What do you think?

  • For starters, I think you've got to raise more over 4 limpers pre-flop.  You want to limit the field with your QQ, and I think you could normally expect to get all the limpers to call as well as the blinds when you make it just 3bb’s.  The odds the limpers needed were so low to call that they mathematically should've.
  • I like the size of your roughly pot sized bet of 2,000 with the nuts at that time.  You need to ask yourself what you think the caller could've called you with.  If you put him on calling only fd's, then sure, the fold to the turn 3-flush is fine.  But of course he’s calling you with more than just flush draws; could’ve been a TP hand, 2p hand or even an underset to slow-play, or some other kind of draw or even an over-card like AJ.  His turn donk bet of about 2/3 pot could be for value with a flush, or it could’ve been a worse hand than yours or possibly also a bluff as players like to donk lead like this on scary cards to blow you off your hand.  He could've seen your large flop bet as a strong hand right now that’s scared of the board.  So when the flush completed he rightly figured you'd be scared.  I would've liked a call from you on the turn and re-assessed on the river.  I don't know what your starting stack was at the beginning of the hand, and your call would've committed a total of 6500 to the pot counting pre-flop, flop and turn action.  If you still had maybe 20bb's behind (3,000 chips) then you could've made the call knowing you still had a decent amount of play left in the tourney.
  • Never show your hand in a situation like this (but it's okay to break the rules, you just need to be aware of the consequences).  Don't let the table know you're capable of folding such a strong holding like that, as that will just embolden them to bluff you over and over again.  Plus, I'm sure you were very conflicted about making the fold in the first place, and when you show your hand you open yourself up to hearing everyone's opinion on the matter.
  • One thing this also tells me is that you might be the kind of player that sees “monsters under the bed.”  I imagine you often think very negatively every time a scare card comes off (like the 3-flush, board pairing, over-card or straight draw completing).  I used to be like this quite a bit, and it often stems from a fear of losing or from wanting to win super badly.  I fight this mentality every session by trying to play with a mindset of trying to make the best decisions possible right now, and the money be damned.

Up Next…

In podcast #85, I'll answer 3 listener Q’s about learning with your poker friends in a study group, my MTT opening ranges and dealing with adjustments for bubble play.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.


Sky Matsuhashi

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