If you make the final stages of a major tournament, you should fully expect to be
facing one or two pros

### SCENARIO 1

You’re heads-up in a major \$10,000 tournament. The ante is \$10,000 and the blinds are at \$50,000/\$100,000. You have around \$2 million in chips compared to your opponent’s \$1 million. He is a well-known professional player. You find yourself with 7-7 on the small blind and decide to just limp. Your opponent checks. The flop comes 3-9-3. Your opponent immediately bets \$100,000. You decide to test him with a re-raise of \$200,000. The pro goes into the tank for a few minutes before coming over the top for the rest of his chips. Now what? What different steps might you have taken coming up to this point?

DAVID WILLIAMS
I’m probably going to fold as the only hand he could have that I could beat would be a flush draw, and even then he may have two overs, which would make him the favourite anyway. The most likely hand in my opinion would be something like 10-9 or J-9. I think he might try and trap you with a 3 and wouldn’t want you to fold. I also think he would have raised you pre-flop with a bigger pocket pair. I think this is a good spot to fold and just keep plugging away.

SURINDER SUNAR
In this situation I would say that you have to pass. Obviously you’re drawing pretty thin if he has a 9 and you’re in a whole world of trouble if he has a set of 3s. The best situation you could hope for is that he is on a flush draw and should he make it, he will almost certainly be in the driving seat. What I would have done is just call the 100k on the flop, instead of the re-raise and look for more information on his hand on fourth street.

VICKY COREN
He bets the size of the big blind, and I limit-raise with a pair of 7s? We are both playing like morons. The first mistake was to pay \$10,000 for a tournament which was going to end in such a crapshoot. But maybe the blinds were small when we got heads-up and we’ve simply been playing for 18 hours – with these timid bets. If I really had limped with 7-7, then limit-raised a minuscule bet on the flop before he pushes all-in, I would have to believe him for the 9 and pass. What else can he have? But it wouldn’t have happened that way. With \$170,000 in the middle before the deal and my opponent only sitting on \$1 million, if I found a pair of 7s, I would probably go allin before the flop and have nothing left to worry about.

### SCENARIO 2

You’re five-handed in a major \$25,000 tournament. All the other players are veteran pros. The blinds are at \$10,000/\$20,000 with a \$2,000 ante. The player under the gun is short-stacked and folds. You’re next to act with Q-9 and decide to limp. You have around \$750,000 and lie second in chips. The button, who is the chip leader with about \$1.5 million, limps, as does the small blind before the big blind checks – they both have about \$500,000. The flop comes 10-Q-4. The blinds both check. You bet \$60,000 and the button just calls. The blinds both fold instantly. The turn is a 10 – pairing the board. You check and the button bets \$120,000. You call. The river is the 4. Now what? Should you just check it down and fold to a big bet or should you come out firing?

DAVID WILLIAMS
I would have never limped with Q-9 in first position fivehanded. But, assuming I did, then I would have checked on the river to see how my opponent acts. This factor would determine whether or not I would call. I don’t like betting because it is very unlikely you are called by a worse hand and I wouldn’t want to make a small defensive bet because he might sense a weakness and move in. If he does this, you are not in a position to call.

SURINDER SUNAR
I would check and see what he does. I expect he will bet, and if so, I will have to pass – there are way too many hands you can lose to; he could have a monster like trip 10s or trip 4s, but even if he only has a Queen, it’s more than possible he has you out-kicked.

VICKY COREN
These veteran pros must think it’s Christmas! I would check and call any amount on the river. The most likely scenario is that he’s missed a straight or flush draw, or is bullying as chip leader. If that’s the case, I win a bigger pot if I check and let him try to bluff. If he’s got the best hand, and I’m knocked out, it’s no more than I deserve for limping with Q-9 offsuit in the first place.

### SCENARIO 3

You’re four-handed in the same tournament and are now the slight chip leader with just over a \$1 million. Two players have just under a million, the short-stack just under \$300,000. The blinds are \$10,000/\$20,000 with a \$2,000 ante, but are just about to go up to the next level. The short-stack is first to act and moves all-in. The button folds and the small blind calls the all-in bet, leaving himself with about \$700,000 in chips. You find A-K on the big blind. Should you go over the top and put the small blind all-in as well or just call?

DAVID WILLIAMS
I prefer to win tournaments and not move up a spot. If you want to move up a spot, the best move is to probably just call and work together on the flop to try and eliminate the short-stack. I like to give myself the best chance to win every pot, so I would put the small blind all-in. Most likely he would fold and I would get to play my hand against the – most likely – worse holdings of the all-in player. Even if the small blind calls all-in, you have them covered and cannot be eliminated this hand.

SURINDER SUNAR
300k from the short-stack is a big raise, but the call from the small blind indicates serious strength. Your call depends on how tight the small blind has been playing. If he’s not been playing many hands, he could easily have Aces, Kings or Queens, in which case he will certainly not pass whatever re-raise you make. The only other hand I think he could have is A-Q, in which case he might pass to an all-in. These are the only four hands he can, or rather, should have. In the absence of any concrete information on the small blind, I would say that passing in this situation is a perfectly legitimate play.

VICKY COREN
What sort of player is this small blind? Is he cunning and experienced or is he calling with a marginal hand because it hasn’t occurred to him to move over the top himself? Is he playing for money out of his comfort zone with his main priority being that somebody knocks out the shortstack so that he can creep up the prize ladder? Is he going to bet the flop with anything? If I improve and make more action myself, will he pay me off? I would consider all these factors before deciding whether to see all five cards for his \$300,000, or whether I need to shove in my million to be certain of it. The one thing I am sure of in this scenario: I wouldn’t pass.