Cast your minds back to April 2021. The Twitch Poker world was on fire when PokerStars Team Pro and BBZ Poker streamer Fintan “easywithaces” Hand took down a whopping $232K when he won his second Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) title in a $5K buy-in event.
But the excitement and craziness didn’t stop there. Just a couple of days later, Fintan was on the verge of winning his second title of the series and third overall, reaching the final table of a $2K SCOOP Sunday Warm-Up.
Alas, he’d fall in fourth for another big score worth $48K.
It’s that final table we’re going to look at today, just as Fintan and Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond (a.k.a. BBZ) did in our video: $2100 PKO SCOOP Review w/ Fintan Hand.
We’ve picked out just two of the many fascinating ICM spots which arise on PKO final tables, so we’ll hand it over to BBZ and Fintan for the analysis.
THE MAGIC HAND?
Nine players remain in the first hand we’re going to look at from the final table. Fintan is dealt A ♦ 5 ♦ in the lojack and has 18.5 big blinds in front of him. Action folds to him and he opts to lay it down.
What’s interesting is that one orbit prior to this one, Fintan had opened with K ♠ J ♦ from the same position. So BBZ asks what went into Fintan’s thought process when making the open-fold.
“The K ♠ J ♦ open I felt was close, but there was at least the added incentive of the shorter stack,” he says, referring to the fact that the player in the hijack had only eight big blinds during that hand, so Fintan could have potentially won their bounty had he knocked them out. Alas, that player has since doubled up and now covers Fintan.
“Everyone can make my life pretty horrible,” he continues. “There are two shoving stacks on my direct left (16.2 and 21.1 big blinds), so if I fold here, there’s potential for one of them to bust. Also, the shortest stack in the tournament (UTG – 12.2 big blinds) has already folded, and they’re in the big blind next.
“I didn’t want to get too out of line with the potential for someone else to bust, but it pained me to fold A ♦ 5 ♦ ,” he finishes.
So, what did BBZ make of the fold? Would he have opened it despite all the reasons Fintan listed for folding?
“I would open A 5 -suited but I’d probably fold A 2 -suited, A 3 -suited, A 4 -suited, and A 6 -suited,” says BBZ.
That being said, BBZ doesn’t believe it would be a very profitable open at all.
“The suited ace-highs are more resilient than almost all the other combos in the range,” he says. “Hands like 10 9 -suited and Q 9 -suited I’d pure fold. I’d also fold K J -offsuit and Q J -offsuit, and J 10 -suited is also a fold here.”
This is how BBZ likes to structure his thinking. In tight ICM spots like this, he chooses to open with hands that can withstand very adverse situations. The hands he mentions include K Q -offsuit and A J -offsuit.
“What I do is look across lots of models and see which hands never fold,” says BBZ. “Then I burn them into my brain. I very rarely see A 5 -suited folded.”
Fintan suggests A 5 -suited is the magic hand. “You can 4-bet shove it, you can 5-bet shove it. If you have A 5 -suited you can pretty much do whatever you want. That’s what I’ve learned in 2021.”
This time, Fintan chose to fold it. Onto the next one.
ROCKETS IN THE BIG BLIND
A couple of hands later Fintan is down to 18 big blinds and finds himself in the big blind. One thing to note is that a player has busted since the previous hand we discussed, so eight players remain.
He picks up A ♥ A ♠ and the hijack–who has 90 bigs–opens to 2x. It folds to Fintan.
“You’re forced to 3-bet this, but it’s kind of awkward,” says BBZ. “You can choose an all-in size if you want, but it’s difficult in KO formats to do that.”
In this instance, Fintan elected to slow-play the aces and just called. “Is this a mistake?” he asks.
“Probably,” replies BBZ. “Now we’re getting into the whole chipEV/KO debate. In non-KO final tables, we have a non-all-in 3-bet range here as it’s difficult for your opponent to call because the stack-to-pot ratios are so small. But it’s debatable whether you want to do that in KO formats.”
In Progressive Knockout tournaments, the amount of shoving goes up because opponents have to call wider in order to hunt bounties. So in BBZ’s opinion, the option to call in this spot with aces hasn’t got better.
“Your opponent doesn’t really stack off that much wider post-flop for your KO, but he calls wider pre-flop to win your bounty, for sure.”
The flop comes 9 ♦ 7 ♣ J ♣ and Fintan checks, which BBZ agrees with. The hijack continuation bets for 1.5x.
“If this was a J97-rainbow flop I would always raise,” admits Fintan. “But I decided to just shove as they are meant to continue a little wider than they normally would [due to the bounty].”
Fintan wasn’t sure he’d find too many hands to raise with as a bluff with the stacks being set up how they are. But BBZ still feels you should just raise to a normal 4.5x sizing in this spot, with the obvious intention of stacking off should we face a 4-bet jam.
But then he also considers something else.
“It’s tempting to think about calling, which sounds insane,” he says. “There’s a 10-big-blind stack at the table and a 15-big-blind stack at the table, and when you check-call your range is relatively weak because you want to raise a lot with your sets and two-pairs. But when you shove the flop, your hand gets it in with neutral equity a lot, whereas when you check-shove on brick turns, it doesn’t. The turn is where you have the equity profile to go with it.”
BBZ admits he doesn’t think he’d call the c-bet in-game (he feels the raise to 4.5x is the right play), but he finds the idea of calling interesting.
In the end, Fintan’s opponent folded to the shove and he took it down.
These are just two of many interesting hands that Fintan and BBZ cover in our 65-minute $2100 PKO SCOOP Review w/ Fintan Hand video. You can pick up the entire video today for just $9.99.