Card games
September 12, 2017 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Card games - Is folding pocket rockets UTG on the bubble ever a positive ev play? I mean pushing and getting rivered by some flush is one thing, or folding to fight another hand.. in the money. What would you do?
posted by Clementines4ever to Education (7 answers total)
(You might get more responses if you ask the mods to edit your first sentence to say more expressly what you mean... I understand all that shorthand, but not everyone will.)

It depends on how many people are sitting at your table, as well as the tenor of your game. Generally speaking big pocket pairs are better against fewer opponents, because it's likely that hand can win without being improved by the board cards. If there are many opponents, one of them is very likely to get 2 pair, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, etc., and your aces won't be enough and you'd need at least an ace on the board and possibly even the boat in order to win.

Likewise if your game is very loose, or even worse, loose-aggressive, the pocket aces are not likely to hold up. At least one person, and maybe several, will stick around to get some ridiculous draw on the river, and if they're being aggressive too, then they'll make YOU pay to see it (of course one hopes you'd fold by the flop at latest if your pair doesn't improve and multiple people are quadrupling or quintupling the blinds).

So, yes: if your table is nearly full, and the players are loose, it might be a good idea to fold AA, especially if your stack is short. Also I don't know how literally you mean "on the bubble," but if the tournament is large enough and you are literally in the first out-of-the-money place, it might make sense to fold absolutely everything until someone else screws up and goes out.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 11:34 AM on September 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

It depends on the tournament structure, stack sizes, etc. As an extreme case, suppose you're playing a survivor tournament (the top X% get exactly the same prize -- say an entry into a bigger tournament), are right on the bubble, have the second biggest stack and would be up against the biggest stack in your all-in, folding is very clearly the right choice.

However, in a typical tournament structure (where min-cash is pretty low compared to the top prizes), folding AA is unlikely to be the right move. Any scenario I can imagine which calls for folding would be pretty artificially designed. Interestingly, this is because AA has such high equity vs any other hand in hold-em. In Omaha, for example, the equities run much closer and folding AAKK double-suited (the best pre-flop hand) can be justified in more tournament scenarios.
posted by bsdfish at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2017

it might make sense to fold absolutely everything until someone else screws up and goes out.

Make sense is absolutely not the same as positive EV though. Unless it's a flat payout situation like the one bsdfish describes, folding is almost never going to be a positive EV play.
posted by ODiV at 1:13 PM on September 12, 2017

You're on the bubble, but you didn't mention stack sizes... Unless you are short stacked, you should at least lead out for 4x the BB. Most people will read that as a pretty strong raise from early position, and will correctly fold trash. Now you are isolating, which is what you want to do.

If you are short-stacked, and you're trying to get into the money, then I think it's an OK fold. But even in that case I would likely open push and try to double-up against a lone caller.
posted by joecacti at 1:55 PM on September 12, 2017

(You might get more responses if you ask the mods to edit your first sentence to say more expressly what you mean... I understand all that shorthand, but not everyone will.)

I wouldn't bother, since it's a self-selecting question - no one who doesn't understand the lingo is likely to have a meaningful answer to the question.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:20 PM on September 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

^^ except for maybe people highly trained in probablility and statistics. Oh well.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:06 PM on September 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that if you're truly on the bubble, then nearly everyone is going to be playing tight - especially those that are short stacked, not necessarily so much for the chip leaders who are probably looking to bully someone into going out to guarantee themselves in the money.

What this means is that, if it were me, if I'm a big stack, I'm probably more apt to be aggressive with AA UTG because there's a good chance any callers are going to have hands that are powerful, like large pairs or possibly AXs, which are larger underdogs to AA than hands like 98s or similar connectors / 1-gappers that a lot of people like to play, but might shy away from in this specific situation simply because of being on the bubble. Anyone who is very short stacked, desperate, and has a similar marginal hand might call, but you're still a heavy favorite and it won't break you if you lose. The fact that you will likely still be in it if your AA gets cracked I think probably increases the EV of that play since you still can still cash, and winning puts you that much father ahead.

Short stacked, if my driving force was to be in the money, I might be more prone to folding UTG since you have no idea what's going on behind you and, as was mentioned, you want AA against as few hands as possible but you don't know if that is going to happen. (It probably would, but you don't know for sure so it's difficult to gauge EV unless you're confident about how many callers might be likely if you shove.)

For me it would probably depend a lot on the entry fee vs. what that first money spot pays out as well. A buy-in-funded freeroll where first money spot pays 50 bucks, I'm shoving, no question. I lose, big deal. WSOP money, with enough blinds to last a few orbits, I'm going for a drink or a walk if allowed by tourney, else not even looking and just folding blind so I don't have to think about it and agonize over what if, until the bubble bursts.* Let someone else get unlucky.

* But then, I don't make it that far very often because I'm not that good. I'm guessing there's smarter players here than me.
posted by SquidLips at 7:22 PM on September 12, 2017

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