Even Good Players Suck at Satellites

There were 61 players remaining in a Poker Stars $650 satellite, and 51 seats to be won. We were already at the point where we’d be getting our buyins back. I was in like 49th or so place with 25K chips at 1250/2500 and had a nice spot for stealing. On my right were a far too tight short stack and a guy with a huge stack who was just folding virtually everything. On my left were two stacks about equal to my own, and the guy two to my left was someone I knew to be a successful tournament player. Action folds to me on the button, I shove J9s, “decent” tourney player calls me with AT and wins the flip.

He had me covered, but barely, so it was very near to being a flip for his life. Even if he puts me on any two, which isn’t correct but not an unreasonable assumption, he’s only a 68-32 favorite. As a good player at this stage of the tournament, he’s probably got at least a 70% chance of winning a seat if he folds this hand, and of course busting me doesn’t guarantee him a seat anyway.

Thinking about this river play cheers me up a little though:

Full Tilt No-Limit Hold’em, $20.00 BB (2 handed) – Full-Tilt Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

Hero (SB) ($4931.50)
Button ($8070)

Preflop: Hero is SB with A, Q
Button bets $60, Hero raises to $222, Button calls $162

Flop: ($444) Q, J, 8 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $240, Hero calls $240

Turn: ($924) 4 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button checks

River: ($924) 4 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $420, Hero raises to $1444, Button calls $1024

Total pot: $3812 | Rake: $0.50

Button had 10, J (two pair, Jacks and fours).
Hero had A, Q (two pair, Queens and fours).
Outcome: Hero won $3811.50

This is a pretty optimistic value bet on his part on the river, though I actually don’t mind calling the check-raise. There’s actually an outside chance he was betting to induce a check-raise, which I would like far better than value betting (funny how the same play can be good or bad depending on the reasoning), but I doubt that’s a play in his arsenal.

Anyway, for me, leading out on the river looks really strong. Not like “set or better” strong, but definitely like a value bet. I think checking is the only option for me, and between his turn check and his small bet sizing, I’m comfortable saying my hand is good 90% of the time here.