“Do as I say, not as I do” -Parker “tonkaaaap” Talbot as he analyzes a hand from a $530 multi-table tournament (MTT) on PartyPoker, which he went on to win for about $10k.
In this 1.5 hour hand review for Upswing Lab members, tonkaaaap walks you through every hand he played in this MTT.
I just watched this 4-part series and want to share 3 of tonkaaaap’s valuable insights, including:
- Making necessary adjustments at the final table
- A simple concept that will help you exploit weak players more effectively
- Passing up on an “easy” 3-bet shove
Making the necessary final table adjustments
Let’s kick this article off with the most exciting part of the tournament, the final table.
Watch the video preview below or, if you can’t watch a video right now, scroll down for a readable version.
tonkaaaap reaches the final table as a middling stack and shows off a few hands that demonstrate how much tighter you should play in such a situation. There are 8 players on the final table, 6 of which all have similar middling stacks. The other two players have considerably larger stacks.
First, he folds A8s from UTG. This hand is a slam-dunk raise in most situations, but a reasonable fold in this spot.
Next, the chip leader raises to 44,000 (2.2bb) in the cutoff and tonkaaaap defends 8♥ 7♣ in the big blind. Now, you may be thinking this is an easy defend given the pot odds, but it is more complicated than that in this high-pressure spot.
tonkaaaap says he’d fold 65o here — another easy defend in most situations — but would defend 76o and 87o. That said, he could also get on board with folding because the chip leader can put so much pressure on him postflop. This pressure makes it difficult to reach showdown and realize your equity with these types of hands.
But, armed with sweet postflop skills, tonkaaaap does decide to call and the flop comes: Q♥ 8♠ 2♠.
This is the exact situation that is difficult to play. The flop gives tonkaaaap second pair, but he really doesn’t want to risk too many chips here given all the other similar sized stacks at the table. If his opponent chooses a large flop bet sizing, he would be forced to fold many 2x and 8x hands — maybe even this one.
This is the issue with defending these marginal hands preflop; your opponent with a large stack can apply a ton of pressure and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Luckily for tonkaaaap, the chip leader opts for a small c-bet: 44,490 into 118,000. A much more effective bet size would be closer to 67-100% pot because it puts the big blind in a very difficult spot. However, versus this small sizing, tonkaaaap can comfortably call.
The action checks through.
The action checks through again and tonkaaaap drags the pot as the chip leader mucks KJo.
tonkaaaap is pleasantly surprised he was able to reach showdown here. He thinks the chip leader played their hand very poorly and should have barreled on the turn or at least bluffed on the river.
As the chip leader, you have the leverage and usually need to be putting the pressure on, especially against a middling stack who has a capped big blind range.
Pay close attention to properly exploit weak players
There is a lot of talk in the poker world about game theory-based play vs exploitative play — we’ve written extensively about this here and here. Short explanation: you should know and understand a game theory-based strategy — using it by default — but adjust to exploit your opponents as you learn more about their strategy.
In tonkaaaap’s $530 review, he is at a table with a weak player for the majority of the tournament. As he notices holes in the player’s game, he explains how deviates his play to exploit this player.
The key takeaway is how you must pay close attention to the specific mistakes a player makes.
Case in point: the player at tonkaaaap’s table was limping many hands. Some players would simply note this player as a fish and play on, possibly missing some key hands that the player shows down after limping. If you do this, your exploitative adjustments will not be as effective.
tonkaaaap, on the other hand, pays close attention, taking specific notes that the player limped A9o and J5s. He also picked up on a key read that the player was using pot-sized bets when he had a strong hand. This kind of information can be very important when making decisions later in the tournament. And, spoiler alert, the recreational player makes the final table!
You need to be able to understand what the recreational player is doing if you want to be able to exploit them. You can’t just note a player as weak and start attacking them. You need to be methodical. Note how their strategy deviates from a theoretically sounds strategy, and then make the necessary adjustment to counter.
For some specific counter-adjustments, check out these guides:
Passing up on an “easy” 3-bet shove
tonkaaaap begins talking about a relatively standard 3-bet shoving spot in which he has 33 on the button versus a cutoff raise, but then he notices a couple key factors that might change his mind. Let’s look at the specifics of the hand.
Playing 7-handed, the cutoff raises to 7,575 (approximately 2.2x) and tonkaaaap is on the button with 25 big blinds and 33.
tonkaaaap states that against a most regulars — who typically raise 25%-35% of hands from the cutoff — 33 is a standard shove. But then he started factoring in other pieces of information that you should consider in such spots, including:
- Who raised?
Do we have any reads on him? If yes, are they opening a too wide or too tight?
tonkaaaap notices that the cutoff raises a paltry 17% of total hands (234 hand sample). He does raise a lot more frequently from the cutoff, but the sample is unreliably small (7 hands).
- What are the stacks?
The cutoff has a 26bb stack, which likely comes with a slightly tighter raising range compared to deep stack situations.
Additionally, the cutoff can see that there are two potential shoving stacks behind — tonkaaaap and the SB, who has 11bb. Not to mention the big stack in the big blind (52bb) who will likelu defend with a wide range. Again, this means the cutoff has to raise slightly tighter.
In light of this information, tonkaaaap makes an exploitative fold.
A shove may have been fine, but the big lesson here is to not act like your short stack shoving ranges are set in stone. You need to consider all pieces of information available to you — the stuff short stack calculations/charts miss.
Conclusion from the $530 MTT with tonkaaaaap
A major takeaway is tonkaaaap’s thought process throughout hands. He does not think of situations or hands in a rigid manner. He considers the unique information of the spot — player reads, stack sizes, population tendencies, ICM pressure, etc. — and uses it to make a better decision.
The advice above is just a snippet of the value tonkaaaap provides during the 1.5 hour hand review. If you want to see him break down every hand from this win, click here or below to join the Lab now!
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