View Full Version : Bob Ciaffone One Table Quiz

La Brujita
03-06-2004, 08:34 PM
I am taking this from his book Improve Your Poker. Cloutier and McEvoy (among others) went one way, Ciaffone and Harrington (among others) went another.

One table satellite to WSOP, only one player wins entry. Four players left, chip stacks pretty even. 8000 in chips in play, blinds 200-400 and increase every 10 minutes.

You have 1900 in the BB before posting. UTG open raises all in to 1950 (he has you covered). Folded to you in the big blind holding K-Q offsuit.

Your play?


03-06-2004, 08:41 PM
Fold. If you ever see me calling all in to a raise with KQo (when I'm not heads up) please shoot me.

03-06-2004, 09:01 PM
hm. with 5 bets each. i think there is alot of pushing. since a double is worthless. and 3x doesnt leave you any chips to push on the flop.

hes probably pushing with an A high, or a pair. in each case youre probably 50/50 or 40/60.

youre calling 1500 into a pot of 2100 assuming no ante. next hand you'll be down to 1300 after posting small (again assuming no ante).

if you win the hand you have a big chip advantage, and have a better chance to go on and win it. since it only pays 1 spot, i think this is crucial.

call me a gambler but i call.

03-06-2004, 11:30 PM
I'd say the "character/history" of the UTG would have lots to do with this, but all things equal, I fold. Too 50/50 too early.


03-07-2004, 02:40 AM
blinds 200/400 too early?

03-07-2004, 04:42 AM
I agree with Bradley. Fold it.

KQo is a lousy hand. IMO, does not fit the description in the gap concept of a "better hand" with which to call. As Bradley says, it is at least a little better heads up.

I'll do my own pushing with the remaining 1300 on the next three hands with whatever I get. If somebody pushes, and I don't have AA, KK, QQ?, or AK on the SB hand, I pass. I open push with any drawing hand on the SB hand, IE: any pair, any A or K, any suited connector.

Button hand as above. Add open push with gapped connectors pr any 2 suited cards.

CO hand (which is also UTG), I open push with any two cards. I can wait one more orbit, but if I do, I'll be down to 700 and nobody is afraid of the bet anymore. Then, I must get the top cards because it will be called. Besides, blinds will have prob gone up again by then. Better to do it now with the 1300, and at least have a chance of everybody folding to a push, or catching a decent flop.

All three of the next hands are a better chance than calling with the KQo.


03-07-2004, 05:02 AM
4 left is too early. But I lose, so I'm probably quite wrong. /images/graemlins/wink.gif

But again, since it is a toss up, the take on the other player becomes very very important. That's what would decide it for me. I would call with a feel that UTG was playing games. Probably not if he liked to bluff from first position. And who knows on everything in between. /images/graemlins/wink.gif


03-07-2004, 06:45 AM
Let's see. You are getting 63:37 from the pot. That's *way* +EV if he has any pair JJ and low, and marginally +EV if he's on any A, AJ and low. Considering you hold one of each K and Q, chances for KK or QQ are lower, and same for AK and AQ. AA is maybe the only hand he woudln't push here but only raise, so chances for AA are also a bit lower, maybe. This depends, of course, heavily, on your read of him.

All in all, it looks like a call, and not a very close one at that. As your opponent is looser, this becomes clearly +EV. If he's *very* tight, it's probably a fold, or a close call. But I think that with blinds of 200/400, and stacks of ~2000, typical UTG can push with a wide range of hands, including hands you're a big favorite against, KJ, KT, QJ.

The fact that it's a winner-takes-all, and that you'll be left with 1300 after posting SB in the next hand, makes it even more +EV, IMO.

I will be glad to hear good reasons for folding here.


03-07-2004, 10:04 AM
OK, LaBruita,

I have ciaffone's book, but am finishing TPFAP and reading Psychology of Poker right now, so I haven't gotten to it yet.

Are you going to tell us the answers from the high dollar players or not?


03-07-2004, 11:07 AM
yes! i completely agree! but everyone keeps saying no and i dont realize what i must be missing? sure in a sit&go where 3 gets pay, pusing allin on with KQo might not seem like a great play. in this situation the money is tight (everyone has 5BB so theres not going to be much other than ALLIN) AND you HAVE TO TAKE 1st! if you give this up AND the SB. and THEN you double, youre almost back to where you started 2600.

Doc you said yourself you will push with almost anything UTG because the blinds are coming. If your opponent are thinking the same thing this makes KQ A MONSTER! If he would open raise with any suited connectors/gapped/suited Q/K/A/ any A/any pair. how can you fold?

everyone ive asked this too off the board says fold. fold. fold. fold. "if he has an ace he's ahead." yet, these are the same people who would prefer to push with an A2. where every pair has you dominated, any ace has you dominated, and any 2 connectors have a 40%+ chance.

someone post what pros says push and what pros said fold.

03-07-2004, 11:33 AM
Well, I was going to say fold in a heartbeat, but you have done a very good job of talking me into a call.

Sure... I call too.

Brad S

La Brujita
03-07-2004, 11:44 AM
The responses were not long but here they are:

Cloutier-"Fold. The most likely hands for my opponent are an ace or a pair, neither of which I can beat."

Russ Hamilton (former WSOP winner)- "Fold. I can find a better spot for my money. I'm going uphill here."

Harrington- "Call. I like the action."

Bobby Hoff (former WSOP 2nd Place finisher)- "Call. You are getting acceptable pot odds against an ace with an undercard and good odds against any underpair. You might have him in bad shape. The only enemy hands where you're totally buried are pocket aces or kings."

Steve Lott (former WSOP 4th place)-"Call. I would make this play without a second thought. I've seen the kind of crummy hands a lot of these satellite players move all in with."

McEvoy-"Fold. I can't beat ace rag, his most likely hand. The first player is the one who moved all in, so he is more likely to have something reasonable. I would bet all in with this hand without a problem, but this is not a good hand to call with."

Ciaffone-"I actually held the hand. My decision was to call. The result ... my opponent held ace rag and I fiald to improve."

He then goes into a page long discussion (which is very interesting) further explaining why he called.

Basically the reasons are:

1. tourney only pays first place, survival less important

2. You need to win 37.5 percent of time for positive ev. You are 42% against ace rag offsuit and 38% against ace rag suited. You are even money against an underpair.

3. Chances are slim you are facing a hand that has you buried (AA, KK, AK, QQ, AQ).

I thought it was a clear call for many of the same reasons above, basically you can't give up postitive ev in a winner take all format. Big blinds make you go in as an underdog sometimes.

It typed this in playing three short handed games at once. Is that talent or what? If you all don't play at Intercasino and its skins you are missing some easy money. You can make $47 in 75 minutes at William Hill by playing 4 1-2 tables.

Anyway, I have suggested in certain other threads that it is hard for good players to get their money in as 'dogs. i think this is an example. If you run the numbers against the range of likely hands it seems a positive ev call.

03-07-2004, 01:22 PM
I read all the answers in LaBrujita's post. My answer still stands, because:
1. I absolutely DO NOT like playing KQ anyway, esp KQo. personal prejudice based on losing lots of $ with it.
2. I think (as indicated in LB's post) that the +ev and the percentages on winning the hand are really close. If they weren't this would not be an interesting thread.
3. I would much rather have him call my ace rag, than me call his.
4. I cannot argue with the call him now, he's the next bb and he's desperate, therefore may have ANYTHING, line of argument.
5. I think it's more of a preference in how you wish to play it, and you were right if you get lucky this time. I don't think there is substantial mathematical difference between the two approaches.

Doc /images/graemlins/cool.gif

03-07-2004, 01:37 PM
i think the +EV is close for this hand. but you win the flip, and go on to win the game are probably 3X as likely. whereas if you fold your chance goes down tremendously as the short stack. IMO.

but as in all poker, everyone has their own choice. i know one guy who would fold AA becuase he would have a substantial edge 3 handed. /images/graemlins/smile.gif

03-07-2004, 02:03 PM
Hey Doc,

As much as I think about it, it doesn't look like a close call, but like a good call. I think what is interesting in this question is not that it's a close one, but rather that it *looks* like a close one, when actually it isn't.

I made some more CEV analysis.

If you figure him to push from UTG with any pair and any A, these are the numbers for each possibility:

Pairs J and below: 60. AJo and below: 120. AJs and below: 40. AA: 6. KK: 3. QQ: 3. AK: 12. AQ: 12.

I made an avarage EV calculation for your standing with KQo against any of these, and the general CEV you get from calling here, with the specific pot, is +T140. This is a lot, considering your stack size.

I would say, that in general, typical UTG can push here with a wider range of hands, which makes it even more +CEV. If he's *very* tight it becomes closer, but surely +CEV.

With blinds that high, winner-takes-all, and no specified differencies in ability, it looks definitely like a call to me.

Yes, KQ is a problematic hand, but here you wont have to play it post flop or anything. Just make the right decision.


03-07-2004, 02:42 PM
I would usually call.

Gap is small here, negative possibly because of big blinds.

Some UTG's could have any two.

Winner take all places no extra value on survival, and big blinds means it will be hard to outplay your opponents by much.

Your SB will be seriously -EV.

People may mistakenly not want to attack the big stack, so your extra chips may be worth more.

You are getting pot odds to call every hand except AK, AQ, AA, KK, QQ. These are less likely. Against any pair or ace you are 39.8% to win for +91 CEV, and usually he will do this with more than 20% of hands. Just adding KQ KJ pushes you to +160 CEV, and adding just KTs,QTs,JTs,QJ to that gives you +244.

Definitely a coin flip you shouldn't avoid.


03-07-2004, 03:23 PM
OK, guys.

If for no other reason than my own statement that i would push with any two cards from UTG, and with your ev analysis, I admit it, you're right on this one.

What influenced my initial thinking was $ I have lost over time with KQo, and calling other people's all in.

Doc /images/graemlins/smile.gif

03-07-2004, 04:38 PM
glad you finally made the right decision doc. gl in the 215, i decided to take the tournament dollars. /images/graemlins/smile.gif

(note: i am now an enthusiast.)

03-07-2004, 05:16 PM
The error that many people make here is that this is a -EV call IF YOU COULD KEEP YOUR BB, and possibly over your predeal expectation. And you are an underdog, to almost all ranges of hands UTG could have. But these are fuzzy thinking arguments.

Not to say that you made these errors, but I suspect Tom McEvoy did.


03-07-2004, 06:10 PM

I discussed this today over lunch with DrPhysic. My instantaneous impression after hearing the problem was that is was a close decision. After reading the post (but none of the responses), and seeing that four expert players had different opinions, I am now sure that "I was right." /images/graemlins/grin.gif

I am ever so slightly leaning towards "fold," assuming nothing about the raiser. I certainly would not "chastize and cast out" anyone who said call.

I lean slightly towards fold because the blinds/stack sizes are as they were stated. Make the big blind 600 or more and I feel it would automatically become a call. As it stands, it's a borderline decision.


03-07-2004, 06:30 PM
Read the mathematical arguments by Praying Mantis and Bozeman and you'll change your mind. It does look close. It's not.


03-07-2004, 10:43 PM
which pro said push and which said fold is mostly irrelevant. It's obviously somewhat borderline.

The one thing you said that I disagree with is push in with any two cards UTG. I would still be at least somewhat selective here, winner take all or not. Knowing nothing about the raiser UTG, I would also assume more than almost any two cards, but less than simply super-tight AA-KK-AK. As I already said, make the BB 600 or more and things might change.


Vince Lepore
03-08-2004, 01:01 AM
Fold is my answer. I believe that in most instances I am behind. But that is not the reason for folding. Those that dismiss survival play because there is one winner are making a mistake. Survival skills are always relevant in tournament poker. If you do not survive you lose, plain and simple. If you choise to gamble in a tournament then you should try and gamble when you believe you have the best of it. Certainly there are times to consider pot odds but taking close pot odds when one result is elimination must be weighed carefully. If winning does not provide as significant a result as losing then it might be right to not take the bet.

The old addage of being first in rather than calling is a powerful tournament tool. Folding here still leaves you with manuevering room.

That said, if someone can show mathematically that calling results in a higher EV then calling is probably correct. I just don't believe anyone can do that.


03-08-2004, 01:49 AM
Hiya La Brujita,

I call this in a heartbeat. If I pass on this hand, I'm down to only a little over 3xBB in two hands (unless by some miracle I catch a monster in the small blind), which leaves me almost no maneuvering room when I'm on the button. I'm going to have to push with almost any two cards, or be all but busted in the BB a hand after that.

I'm getting just under 2:1 from the pot (1300 to win 2500). It is hugely unlikely that I'm a big underdog; only AA, KK, AK, and AQ do that. I'm ahead of some hands with which he'd make this move (KJs, KTs, JTs, QJs, etc.), only a coin-flip underdog to lower pairs, and only a 3:2 underdog to AJ or lesser kicker. On average, I figure I'm a 5:4 dog here, getting over 2:1 from the pot. That's a big overlay, and I think it's a clear call.


03-08-2004, 02:19 AM

The key to thw question is that all the stack sizes are about even.

With those blind sizes... nope.. not goin all-in with KQ off. ( within the parameters/info given )


La Brujita
03-08-2004, 10:20 AM
I thought one of the coolest things about this quiz is how great players (the pros not us /images/graemlins/cool.gif) disagree on a problem set up with pretty simple parameters.

I think many people (certainly me included) sometime forget that there is more than one correct way to play many hands.

That being said (and I am about to contradict myself) I think a fold here is a clear mistake given you have no information on the raiser.