In this series we’ll be retracing my steps through a few Grand Tour sprints. For anyone who hasn’t tired this fast and furious format, you can find full details of how it works plus the introduction to a strategy series on the game format here.
Grand Tour is a game of playing many smaller stages or sprints to make your way to some big finals where the real money resides. It is important to have a healthy win percentage in the lower sprints so that you can make more finals and keep your profits nice and high. A serious Grand Tour player should be paying just as much attention to a $12 sprints as he would to a $60 final. So far, I’m winning one third of all of the four-player sprints I’ve entered. This stat guarantees a significant win-rate in the format if I can maintain it.
Spot 1 – An Early Double Up
If you’re going to progress in Grand Tour sprints, luck will always need to be on your side to a decent extent. There will be many unavoidable flips in this format of the game. Picking up this hand on the button is a dream. My strategy here is to min-open every hand I’m playing at this stack depth with the exception of a few hands that play very well as shoves like small pairs and off-suit aces. These hands have a lot of equity but play poorly post-flop and gain a lot from picking up folds pre-flop from random weak hands. AKo, on the other hand, is too strong for a jam and an easy raise/call. Using the min-raise in this spot allows me to raise/fold some hands vs. the SB, who covers me, decreasing my incentive to get my money in light.
You always want to take more risks in Grand Tour when you cover the players behind and be tighter when you don’t.
My opponent’s shove with 33 is 100% correct since he gets a shot at my bounty with a very reasonable hand while also boosting his stack nicely the times I fold. Of course. I won’t fold AKo, but I could easily be stealing the button with J9o or some such semi-trash. I’m now in the driving seat with a potential shot at this player’s bounty now that his stack has been decimated. Life is good.
Spot 2 – A Nice Limped Pot in Position
Sadly, it’s the opponent to my right who ends up taking out the short stack and the other player for that matter. We now have a fairly even heads-up battle where I have the slight chip lead. Bounties are no longer relevant here because whoever wins will always grab his opponent’s bounty eventually. There is no longer an urgency to go after someone’s bounty before another opponent gets there first.
I limp the QTs here because, at this stack depth, shoving is risking too much with most hands and raise/folding isn’t very attractive. Limping allows me to limp/call and play pots in position. It is by far the best choice when you’re 17BB deep. Assuming that I have an edge post-flop against most opponents, limping will also allow me to use that edge by keeping stacks a bit deeper.
Villain checks, capping his range for the most part. We see this flop:
Betting is fine here when Villain checks and one potential strategy on a flop like this which is much better for me than him would be to bet all of my range. However, checking is also fine with a hand that might not want to bet three times on a lot of run-outs. I can let Villain catch up a bit by hitting a lowly pair or induce a bluff on the turn. If he has a flush draw, he has a tonne of equity any way and so me putting in lots of money immediately will not necessarily achieve much. Villain is unlikely to have too many gutshots when he doesn’t raise pre-flop though JT is a possibility. Heads-up though, most of Villain’s range is utter trash so giving him a bit of rope and a chance to catch a bad pair is my preferred line. I check.
The six is a nice turn card as it hits a bunch of his typical big blind garbage. I’m looking for a low card like this to roll off and then I’ll make two bets. Because Villain is unlikely to have a Queen after his second check, I am mainly targeting a lowly pair of sixes or eights; or alternatively, some random gutshot like 74o or T9o. A small bet will suffice then. I bet 100 and Villain calls.
On the river, we are very much in the same boat. The ten is mostly a brick for my opponent’s range but it is the type of brick that might make him less inclined to call a big bet with 8x or 6x. It is tempting to get greedy with the two pair, but after his pre-flop check, turn check, and turn call, 8x and 6x are still the overwhelmingly likely hands in his range. I pick a size that targets those and bet half of the pot. Villain calls and I win a nice pot from a likely hand in his range.
Spot 3 – Knowing your Calling Ranges
Now with a big chip lead I face a 6BB shove. I have a trivially easy call here. It’s worth noting that Villain should be jamming the top 68% of hands so folding a better than average hand is completely out of the question for me. Some opponents will shove too tight here, but even vs. them this hand is just huge and cannot fold. I get lucky to get my money in with dominating equity.
And my hand holds up! It’s onto the $25 sprint now. In the next instalment we’ll take a look at how to win one of those.