Tournament Strategy: How to Play Pocket Tens With 16 Big Blinds
DECISION POINT: In a no-limit hold'em tournament, you have 16 big blinds and are sitting under the gun when you're dealt 10♠10♦. The action is on you...
PRO ANSWER: With 16 big blinds, open-shoving pocket tens from the UTG seat is definitely profitable, so folding is not an option. The question is whether raising to a smaller amount would show a higher profit.
Often with awkward stacks of 10-20 big blinds, raising a smaller amount gives your opponents the opportunity to reshove with hands that you have beat, which makes raising instead of shoving the play with the higher expected value.
However, the fact that you are sitting UTG greatly mitigates that effect, since your perceived hand range is fairly strong when you raise (or shove) with 16 big blinds from UTG. This hurts your ability to get value on your hand from this position.
That said, another benefit to raising instead of shoving is that you can get away from your hand when there is significant action behind (such as multiple all-ins) which would indicate that you are behind with your 10♠10♦.
Also, when you raise instead of shove, you can also get further value when your opponents call preflop with hands with which they wouldn't call a shove. You often win pots on the flop or later against these types of hands.
Overall, raising to a smaller amount instead of shoving is a more profitable play. However, if you are up against trickier opponents who likely have a postflop skill edge against you, simply open-shoving is also profitable in this spot.
Open-raising to approximately 2.5 big blinds is the best play.
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