ausmus AQ

$2,500 Freezeout Final Table (WSOP Hand Breakdown) | Upswing Level-Up #43



This article is a transcription of the Level-Up Podcast, hosted by Upswing VP Mike Brady with special guest Aaron Barone. You can watch or listen to the entire episode via the links above or read on if you prefer a written version.

Mike (00:00):

Over 1200 poker players have been whittled down to six $439,000 is the first place prize up for grabs. Let’s review a key hand from the 2,500 buy-in freezeout tournament at this year’s World Series of Poker. The way this one ends is absolutely wild. I’m Mike Brady and Tournament Pro Aaron Barone is here to break it down for you. You ready?

Aaron (00:23):

I’m ready.

Mike (00:25):

The action kicks off here with six players left. The blinds are 125K and 250K and Jeremy Ausmus, who is one of the shorter stacks, he’s the second well kind of tied for the second shortest stack at this point. He raises it up to 500,000. That’s a min raise with Ace Queen of hearts. Jeremy Ausmus, Ace queen of hearts from the cutoff raises it up, clearly standard, min raise is the size we’re going to be using when we’re this short deep in a tournament. No point in really even diving deep into the analysis on that one. The action folds around to Reichard in the big blind after we see an interesting fold from one of the other short stacks who folds ten nine suited in the small blind. Reichard has the shortest stack, 2.7 million to start the hand. So he’s got about 12 blinds to start the hand. Jeremy Ausmus has about 18 blinds. Reichard has Jack eight offsuit and ops to defend his big blind. This is really the first somewhat questionable decision point. So I’ll turn it over to you Aaron, what do you think about Reichard’s call here in the big blind with Jack eight offsuit?

Aaron (01:30):

As the shortest stack, I don’t mind having some looser defends here. I think it would be a disaster if he defended this and there was another stack having 2 million chips or 2.4 or even 1 million, would be real bad because it’s tough to realize your equity. You can get bluffed out on a lot of run outs and even run outs where you feel like you have probably the best hand. The ICM might make you have to fold. But here as the shortest stack, I think you’re getting a good price. And again, as the shortest stack, the ICM pressure on you isn’t nearly as significant as it is on the small blind who actually folded a worse hand but a higher equity defend. So I’m fine with defending this Jack eight. I do think that if I’m in the spot up against an amazing player who is able to read my soul at times I want to defend a lot tighter. And if I’m up against a player who is someone who I have good reads on and I’m familiar with how they play, then maybe I defend even looser.

Mike (02:30):

That makes sense. The key takeaway here is that when you’re the shortest stack, and we mentioned this in previous episodes of this WSOP breakdown podcast, when you’re the shortest stack, the ICM pressure on you isn’t that significant because you’re kind of the person whose head is on the chopping block. Whereas if there was a shorter stack than Reichard here, he should play relatively tight because he kind of wants to wait out that shorter stack. But in this case that shorter stack doesn’t exist. He is the shortest stack so he can defend relatively loosely. Now that said, we did run this hand with all the stack sizes, all the payouts using Hold’em Resources calculator, which is a great tool for running this kind of unique tournament scenario. And the results were that Jack eight offsuit is right on the borderline according to the calculation we ran, it’s actually a slightly slightly losing call, but then Jack nine off is a slightly winning call.


If we had ran this calculation for longer, it’s very possible that it would have actually moved into slightly profitable. So the takeaway really is that his hand is right on the borderline and you can kind of go either way. If I was in this situation as Reichard, and I don’t know Reichard’s game at all, so I should throw that caveat out there first, but if I was in this spot as Reichard at this final table, six players left and I was up against a really good player like Jeremy Ausmus who straight up has more experience than me, is going to be better than me in general at tournament play with six players left at a big final table. I’m going to make the fold with a borderline hand like this because I just don’t feel confident enough to play a borderline hand profitably against such a great player. Whereas maybe if I was up against a weaker player, someone who I identified as a weaker player, then I would go for the call with this hand. But against Jeremy Ausmus, I know I would opt to play a little bit tighter, maybe even fold something like Jack nine offsuit here and make Jack ten offsuit the worst hand I would call. Do you think that’s a reasonable approach, Aaron?

Aaron (04:25):

I do. And there’s also an added benefit of playing tight here is that when you fold the hand’s over the next hand begins and there’s a chance that other people clash and you get a pay jump, which at final tables is very, very important. It can just be free money. So the idea of playing tight here because of your opponent or a little tighter because of your opponent, makes some sense and you’re not really looking to play a bunch of pots even though you are the short stack and the ICM pressure isn’t as significant as it could be. It doesn’t mean that you want to get in there with any two cards and try to play pots. You still do want to stay out of the fray a bit and hope that two players that are not you end up getting the money all in and then you can benefit from that.

Mike (05:09):

Yeah, I mean you never know. We could fold this hand very next hand. It could be Aces versus Kings between two of the other guys and you just locked up an extra $30,000 in this case. But Reichard does make the call with the Jack eight off suit. So it’s Jack eight off suit versus Ace Queen of hearts going into the flop, which is ten three two all clubs. Reichard has the only club, he’s got the eight of clubs, so he’s got Jack eight, eight of clubs. He checks it on over to the pre-flop aggressor. Now the action is on Jeremy Ausmus with his Ace Queen of hearts that has totally missed this ten three two all club flop. There’s about 1.4 million chips in the pot. Reichard is the effective stack. He’s got about two total pots behind, 3 million chips. What is your play as Ausmus here in position, Aaron?

Aaron (05:56):

I think I’m goin to be betting fairly frequently and when you’re doing that, especially in this sort of a board, you want to pick a really small sizing. And so here I think going even as small as a min bet is actually fine. I believe that more traditionally you’re going to go like 1.1, 1.2 big blinds sometimes as much as 1.8. But I mean all those sizings are really small. I do think that Ausmus does have a fair number of flushes. You could argue that Reichard has more flushes and we’ll get into that. But Ausmus still has the advantage in terms of over pairs and strong top pairs probably even sets as in Reichard probably jams pocket tens, pocket threes, pocket deuces preflop. So I still think you’ll be betting this board a pretty high frequency. His exact hand is interesting because you could argue that are you really folding out that many better hands right now? But you are denying equity to other hands in Reichard’s range that pushing out some equity is not a bad thing at any point. So I do think betting is the play and a very small sizing.

Mike (06:59):

Yeah, Reichards definitely going to fold some hands with equity here. I don’t think he’s going to fold anything better than Ace Queen High, but he is going to fold a hand like Jack nine no club, which has six outs to beat Ausmus. So this bet that Ausmus does decide to make will accomplish some good things for him. Ausmus does go about that size. You were saying Aaron, he goes, what is that 1.2 big blinds, 300,000 chips into a 1.4 million chip pot unsurprising to see a very good player go very small on a monotone board. That is kind of a universal strategy. Now almost every studied player knows if you’re continuation betting in position on a monotone flop, you’re going to be doing so for a very small size. Now it’s back on Reichard. Who is facing that 300,000 chip bet with his eight high one card flush draw. What do you think his play is here, Aaron? I don’t think raising is really on the table at all with a hand like this. So it comes down to calling or folding.

Aaron (07:54):

So he’s getting an amazing price, right? It’s 300 into 1.6, you’re getting over five to one. And to me these spots used to feel like folds, automatic folds. And upon doing more work, I realized that well, even though I have only the eight of clubs in terms of a flush draw, I also could win the pot with a jack or an eight potentially. And you add those things together, I have enough equity to continue in terms of pure chip ev. ICM, it’s a little bit different. But you mentioned raising here not being on the table and I don’t think I would raise this combo, but if the suits were switched and I have the jack of clubs instead of the eight of clubs, I might look to raise a little more because if you think about how Ausmus range looks in terms of the nutty parts of range being flushes, they’re going to be stuff like Ace queen of clubs, Ace King of clubs, Ace jack of clubs, jack ten of clubs, like all the Broadway clubs.


I don’t think he’s going to be opening hands like King five of clubs as often from the cutoff, even eight six of clubs or eight seven of clubs here. Given the stack distributions, it doesn’t make as much sense for him to be raising those hands given he should also be tight because of the ICM pressure. So maybe with the Jack of Clubs I might look to raise a little more and even though we had said before for Ausmus if he bets Reichard isn’t going to fold really better hands now, but if Reichard check raises for sure Ausmus is going to fold better hands like this Ace Queen, I mean pretty much any hand that does not have a pair or a club in it is just going to go right into the muck. And the hands he continues with that are a little bit on the lighter side will be high club combos. And so having the Jack of clubs can block some of those. And so I think actually I might raise that combo, but this one I’m just going to look to continue with a call.

Mike (09:42):

That makes a lot of sense. You want to be blocking more of your opponent’s strong hands and you just want a better flush draw when you’re raising here. So Jack of clubs eight might raise, but jack of hearts eight of clubs for just the eight high flush draw does just call. That’s what Reichard does. And we get the seven of spades on the turn. So Reichard picks up a gutshot straight draw now, no reason for him to lead into the previous street’s aggressor here. That card isn’t so good for his range that he can sort of support a leading range. So he checks it over to Ausmus. Now there’s 2 million in the pot, Reichard has a little more than that behind 2.1 million. So stacks are already on the table here and Ausmus has a decision to make does he want to continue betting with his ace queen of hearts that has totally missed this ten three two seven board or he can check it back and play a river. Do you lean one way or the other, Aaron?

Aaron (10:35):

I do want to be betting some hands here as Bluffs, right? You definitely want to do that. But in this particular situation, Ausmus has a hand that has a lot of showdown value and it’s not the worst hand in his overall range. So if you have a hand here like Queen Jack, right? Or if he raised Jack nine of spades hands like that Queen high, jack high, I look to bet those a little more along with obviously some of my value hands, right? I think Ace Queen no club is just going to be a check. With one club, now you’re going to block flushes, which are strong parts of your opponent’s range and you’re going to have actual equity in this hand. So I might look to barrel those, but I think we have to remember that Ausmus is pretty short as well, right? So there’s ICM pressure on him, arguably more on him than on the shorter stack. So I think he wants to be checking more hands here and Ace Queen is one of them I would check.

Mike (11:30):

Ausmus does seem to agree with you as he does tank a little bit, but eventually check back with his Ace Queen. 2 million in the pot. He’s got a little more than that behind and he has a decision to make. Does he want to take a stab at this with his jack high? There’s really no way he has the best hand here. He has essentially no showdown value. So the question is does he want to take a stab at this? Aaron, what is your take? What are you doing in his shoes here?

Aaron (11:56):

So we talked earlier in this hand and you had mentioned you’d fold pre flop and a lot of people would, and I think that’s fine and if you’re somebody who said, I want to call pre flop, but you get to this river and you don’t want to bet, probably should have folded pre right? A lot of your value in defending and playing hands is when your opponent has shown you they have a weak range or you think whatever reason they’re not going to call you want to apply pressure, especially when you’re low in your own range where Reichard is here. So I would be looking to bet here, I know he has a little over the pot behind, but I don’t think I would pick an all in size, but I would still definitely look to be betting.

Mike (12:37):

This is a crucial pot by the way, just to kind of zoom out and think about where we’re at in this tournament. These two players are two of the shorter stacks. Were staring down the barrel of a $30,000 pay jump or potentially missing out on a $30,000 pay jump. And the pay jumps only get bigger from here and this is a very significant pot to both players. If Reichard wins this pot, he essentially has doubled the chips that he goes into this river with. He goes from 2 million to 4 million. If Ausmus wins this, his stack increases by about 50% compared to where he is going into this river. So this is very, very, very significant at this stage. Ironically, there is a person in the background on our screen right now that’s wearing a shirt that says ICM is for poor people. That’s a quite funny shirt that I’m just seeing now. Pretty ironic given our heavy emphasis on ICM in this discussion. So back to the analysis, you mentioned that all in wouldn’t be your bet size here. So I’m curious, what size would you be going with as Reichard when you’re taking a stab at this river with your jack high?

Aaron (13:38):

So I’m trying to think about first of all my value range and how it looks right. And obviously I have flushes, I have a handful of some suited deuce x, but not as many as you might think given the ICM pressure, is nine deuce suited defending, eh, is six deuce suited, defending, not so sure about that. But the other issue is if this was a pure chip EV situation, I think the all in size is totally fine. But at a final table, again, pay jumps are important and so you want to generally pick slightly smaller sizings. Your survival is more important than accumulation. So obviously in a perfect world I would say, man, when I have the nuts, I really want to go all in and get all the money. And when I’m bluffing I want to pick a small size. So if I get looked up, well I didn’t lose that much, but you can’t play that way.


Or if your opponents figure that out, you’re going to have a bad time. So I think instead in this spot, I’d want to pick a smaller size with the majority of my range and by picking a smaller size I get to value bet more combos as well. So in this spot, if I’m Reichard and I have a hand like ten nine no club, do I want to shove ten nine and hope I get called by Ace Queen? It seems a little optimistic. It’s possible, but it’s optimistic. If I have a hand like say Jack three of spades, do I want to go all in? Not really. And so I think by jamming here, his range becomes quite polar and in addition, when he is caught bluffing, he’s now out of the tournament or close to it, rather than leaving himself with a playable stack of we’ll say between four and six big blinds, which isn’t great, but it’s much better than zero big blinds. Remember your last big blind tournament is worth a lot more than the previous big blind because being alive in that tournament still gives you the chance to ladder up. So that’s why I would pick a smaller size here, probably around maybe even one third of the pot. And that would give me if things go wrong, a lot more playability for future hands.

Mike (15:44):

Going for that smaller size allows you to much more comfortably value bet with a wider range too, right? I mean shoving all in here with a weak ten or especially something like a three feels incredibly ambitious, but when you bet 700,000 into 2 million on this river, it’s pretty easy to imagine betting a ten and getting called by worse. So that does kind of check out. In a cash game, this would definitely be just a shove to try to take it down. There’s no reason to try to survive in a cash game. But this is a tournament. Reichard does have that incentive and based on the bet size he does decide to go for, he does agree that survival is important, but he takes it to a much more extreme level. He bets almost all of his chips. He leaves exactly one 25,000 chip behind.


So if he gets called here, he’s basically out of the tournament. I mean he technically isn’t, but he’s going to need several double and triple ups to get back in the game if this bluff doesn’t get through. He bets just under 2.1 million into this 2 million chip pot and now it’s on Jeremy Ausmus who does not quickly fold. He’s got ace queen of hearts, he’s totally missed this board again, it’s ten three two seven two, 3 clubs on the flop. And Jeremy Ausmus has the ace queen of hearts. Good things about Jeremy’s hand include that he does not block any of these one club hands that might be bluffing the river, but on the other side of the coin, by not having a club, he doesn’t block any flushes. So that factor kind of maybe washes each other away. It’s really hard to say. It’s almost always different in different situations how blockers actually function. I think what it really comes down to for him here is does he just think this guy is going to be making this play with enough value hands and can he just call ace queen of hearts here? Is this just going to be a winning call? What is your take, Aaron?

Aaron (17:34):

Yeah, and I think that’s the concern we talked about a little bit on the earlier part of this river is that will Reichard have enough value hands? So yeah, he’s going to have flushes, sure, but he might not have all flush combos because of how his pre-flop range looks. And he is certainly going to have a lot of one club combos. Does he have tens for a value shove? Probably not. Does he have deuces for a value shove? Sure, but what are his most likely deuces he defends? Well, it’s high card suited deuces, so he might not have eight deuce, but he’ll have Queen deuce suited and Ace Deuce suited. Well, Ausmus blocks two of those combinations. So I actually think he has a blocker in a way that we don’t normally think about it here. We normally think about a blockers with a club blocker and sure, yeah, he blocks flushes, but the other part of his value is going to be three of a kind.


And Ausmus does block the more likely combos of that. So that’s something, sometimes these decisions, all your choices seem pretty miserable, but you have to just choose between the best of the bad options and go with what limited information you have. So I could see Ausmus looking him up here. It’d obviously be an amazing call. And I go back to what I said earlier on the river, if Reichard bets 700K here or 800k, I think he gets almost the same amount of fold equity if not the same amount, and yet he gets to risk less. But Ausmus is going to be more concerned about him having thin value like a ten where I don’t think Ausmus thinks that’s even part of his range at this point.

Mike (19:10):

Right. With the size Reichards decide to use, I think Jeremy Ausmus is correctly recognizing that this is trips or better, essentially it’s trips or a flush basically maybe once in a while, Reichard can have a really good ten, Ace ten offsuit or something like that could be in there. I mean Ace ten offsuit is pretty similar to trip twos on this board, but is he going to do this with ten nine with these tens that are more prevalent in this range, like the medium tens, it would be pretty ambitious to go for this pot size shove with all this ICM pressure at a big final table and going for that thin value with a medium or a weak ten. So by shoving all in for just over pot on this river, like Aaron just said, Reichard has polarized his range. He’s either got a bluff and there are a ton of potential bluffs in his range or he’s got a very strong hand, let’s say Ace ten or trips or better, something like that.


And yeah, he’s got some of those hands, but I think Jeremy Ausmus correctly recognizes that he’s just going to have so many potential bluffs here. There’s a solid chance this guy’s just bluffing way too often and doesn’t have enough thin value and Jeremy Ausmus does decide to call picking off Reichard and winning this 6 million chip pot with Ace Queen High, absolutely monstrous play from Jeremy Ausmus. That’s why he is one of the most accomplished tournament players in the world. And if you want to become one of the most accomplished tournament players in the world, a great first step to take is to join the Upswing Lab and learn from this guy over there. Aaron Barone. He’s got a ton of great tournament content in the lab. He just reviewed a Bounty builder win. It was like a 10 or 11 part series where he goes through every significant hand


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