Your call: Would you call a shove with pocket Tens on the bubble?’s Karl Mahrenholz tests out your poker skills with this tough hand from a recent major tournament. Can you work out the best move?

EVENT: £500+£50
GUKPT Reading
STACK: 48,000
BLINDS: 1,200/2,400/a200

This hand comes from Day 2 of a recent GUKPT main event. There are currently 30 players remaining from a starting field of 268. 26 players will be getting paid. The minimum cash is £1,050 and first prize is around £40,000. I have been on the same table since the start of the day about five hours ago. I began the day with an above average stack and played with quite a loose image until losing a big preflop all-in with K-K v A-K. Since then I have been card dead and have just about maintained a 20BB stack.

In this hand it is folded to me in mid-position. I open to 4,800 with T-T. The player on the button then moves all-in for 16,000. He has recently lost most of his chips in a huge race and is visibly on tilt. The small blind folds and the big blind begins to think. He is a young and fairly inexperienced player, but someone who is clearly trying hard to learn and play his best. He has asked my advice during the break about some of the spots that have come up and, despite having a big stack of around 300,000 chips, he hasn’t been abusing the table. After around 30 seconds he announces all-in. What is my best play? Call or fold?

The solution

There are several things to consider here. My table image for the past few levels has been solid. I felt like the big stack player respected my game quite a lot, enough to seek my advice during the breaks. He hasn’t been playing a crazy LAG style and seems to want to look after his stack. I don’t think he is the sort of player who would be looking to shut me out of the pot to get heads-up against the all-in player with good odds, unless he had a decent hand. I think he usually has A-Js+ and possibly 9-9+ here.

Usually I would discount hands like A-K as most players would make the decision slightly quicker, but with a more inexperienced player I think that is still a part of his range. Whilst the impending money bubble shouldn’t be your key deciding factor here, it’s a mistake not to consider it. I think at best this is a marginal spot and one that can be avoided at the current stage of the tournament.
I don’t think we’re doing well against the range of hands I expect the Villain to show up with.

It’s incredibly frustrating to have to fold the best hand you have seen in three hours but I thought it was the correct move here. I folded and was up against the short stack’s Q♠-J♠, and the other T-T of the big stack.

The winner this month is Brett Davidson who correctly analysed that Karl should fold his pocket Tens because he was often going to be dominated by the chip leader in the big blind. Congratulations Brett!

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