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OTB #013: 3 Shortstack Mistakes on this Year's SCOOP $109 Final Table (And How To Avoid Them)

Updated: Mar 18

Hole cards up footage of the big final tables on YouTube is a great way to learn.

You can see what the best players in the world are doing, and then learn from them. And you can identify mistakes that other players are making, and then learn from them too.

Crazily enough, sometimes it's the best players in the world making the mistakes...

If you've never watched them before, here are two great channels to get you started:

Today I want to explore 3 shortstack mistakes from this year's SCOOP $109 final table that I identified when reviewing the hole cards up footage.

I'll also show you what you should do in similar situations in the future.

When you get short it's important to still make great and profitable decisions. Even though you're towards the back of the pack, you don't want to make poor decisions that lose $EV.

Your main goal as a poker player is to make the most profitable decisions every time.

Let's dive in...

Mistake #1: Opening too wide a range

In this spot it folds to the CO who has about 15bb and 98s. They made the mistake of opening this hand when it should just be a fold.

When you get short on a final table, and especially when you're in late position, you'll want to have a minraising range and a jamming range.

The minraising range (red/pink colour in the chart below) will be polarised, which means you want to raise your best hands to induce (i.e. get it in or call when another player 3-bets or jams) and raise your worst hands that will fold to any action behind.

Then you jam the rest of the hands in the middle (purple colour).

The CO player is currently 8 of 9 and their risk premium against the players behind is 7.5% vs the BTN, 9.0% vs the SB and 9.5% vs the BB.

This means that they can't raise too wide because they then need to be able to realise at least an extra 7.5% equity (the risk premium) if/when 3-bet. If they open too many hands like suited connectors and offsuit broadways at full frequency, they will have to fold too much facing a 3-bet or jam or continue with too wide and weak a range, neither of which is a winning strategy at a final table.

Also, 98s doesn't do a great job of blocking any really strong hands. Of course the players behind could get in 99 and 88, but your real focus here when thinking about raise folds are high card hands that either block 3-bet and 3-bet jamming ranges or can flop top pair that you can go with.

Notice how the range is like a slightly lopsided arrow with a focus on high cards.

Actionable tip: when short and in late position, split your range into a polarised minraising range and a condensed jamming range.

Mistake #2: 3-bet jamming too aggressively

In this spot, the MP shortstack makes a mistake by 3-bet jamming AJo for 8.9bb over an EP minraise.

Here are some clues for this hand:

  1. The opener is raising from early position so their range will be tight

  2. The opener has ~37bb and is raising despite having three players who cover them in position behind and one player who covers them in the small blind which forces their range to be much tighter

  3. If you 3-bet jam, there are still 6 players who could wake up with a better hand

When you see just how tight this opening range is (just 13.7% of hands) you can no doubt understand why 3-bet jamming in this spot is going to be a mistake.

Whenever you jam or 3-bet jam or even 4bet+ jam, you always need to think about whether you're shoving for value or as a "bluff".

  • If you're shoving as a bluff, will better hands fold?

No. In this example, EP is not going to fold AQ or any pair.

  • If you're shoving for value, will worse hands call?

Maybe. EP should call KQs 100% of the time and ATs most of the time. But ATo and all other worse hands fold. In this spot I would want to 3-bet jam a much stronger hand for value.

KQs can jam here as a "bluff" because it can get AJo and A9s and worse Ax hands to fold, and then has reasonable equity against EP's calling range.

ATs can jam because it can get KQs to call and AJo to fold.

Actionable tip: Make sure you know whether your hand is shoving for value or as a "bluff" and you can explain logically why that particular line makes sense.

Mistake #3: Open jamming too wide

In this spot it folds to the BTN with 7.1bb and Q4s. The BTN makes a mistake here by jamming.

A common misconception is that the shortest stack has no pressure on them so they shouldn't worry about ICM.

This is incorrect.

7.1bb isn't a lot of chips, especially when one double up still leaves you in last place. But it's still equity in this tournament that you should aim to protect.

In this spot, you don't get to jam as wide as Q4s as Q8s is the worst suited Queen you can jam.

However, you can still minraise in this spot despite only having 7bb:

  • Raise the top to call.

  • Raise the bottom to fold.

  • Jam everything else.


When you get short on a final table, it's important that you still make profitable decisions and don't throw away your equity.

Some tips to help:

  • When short and in late position, split your range into a polarised minraising range and a condensed jamming range.

  • Make sure you know whether your hand is shoving for value or as a "bluff" and you can explain logically why that particular line makes sense.

All three of these mistakes could have been avoided with a bit of study and training.

Good luck!


Whenever you're ready, here's how I can help you:

The Final Table: Play your best poker when the most is at stake. Detailed analysis of over 100 hand examples at different stages of play. Learn how to make great decisions every time and set yourself up for daily progress.

Poker On The Mind: Listen to my podcast with Dr Tricia Cardner as we discuss peak poker performance and tournament poker strategy.

Train & Play Like The Pros: Join the next cohort of my flagship program that will take you from amateur to training and playing like the pros in the next 8 weeks. There are only 12 spots for each cohort, and when they're gone, they're gone and I close enrolment until the next one.

Purposeful Practice for Poker: Gain a clear theoretical understanding of the science of purposeful practice and how you can apply it to your poker study & training. Includes specific exercises designed to create an infallible plan for poker improvement.


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