Preparing for all in decisions in Poker
So here we are, we have to decide to risk everything in a coin flip, not a tempting prospect and quite a frightening and frustrating situation to have to face – exactly why you would be put in that situation from the other players viewpoint.
The successful player in late tour nament play will be well aware that these decisions will be coming, – when to shove and when to call pre flop. This is particularly the case in online tournaments where upon a player will often face a shove after making an open raise. Knowing how to handle such a situation is vital in feathering the cap of a successful player and can be the difference between another close miss and a final table finish. Fortunately the solution is more simple than it may appear, but nothing in this game is simple.
Always have a plan.
Have a plan. Know your guns, count your chips then decide what’s right. You should have in your head when the right time to call against an all in would be, rather than over analyse and really feel the pressure when it is presented.
Once you get into the shove or fold stages of a tournament all your decisions are simplified. If you raise you should always know in advance whether or not you are happy to call a shove. However, even the best laid plans can go wrong. There will be many variables involved and so sometimes your plan will and must change. Poker is a complex game and a small change in starting conditions can determine your final impact.
There will be many factors to consider:-
Relative Hand Strength
And finally payouts if you make the final table. An experienced player may take some or all of these factors into a final course.
For instance if you’ve got JH TH in the cut off and the 30BB stack and 3 equal stacks behind you then you should open raise. However if the situation is such that a player has a 15BB stack it would probably be of benefit to fold given the high chance of getting shoved on. If you know the maths it’s because against a standard shoving range, here you have about 37% equity and need 41% to break even. Likewise a change in the starting conditions can also change a raise into a flat call by taking the same scenario as above but in this instance you have AC AS and there has been a raise from early position in the first situation with equal stacks behind you, you would almost always raise for value.
In the second instance you could consider flat calling to induce a 15BB stack to squeeze for the all in.
Calling ranges in practice In the later stages of MTT’s, when you’re dealing with situations with effective stacks of up to 20BB, most decisions become a maths problem. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a maths whiz to work out he solution. A lot of times really you’ll just mark it as standard and go with your feeling. For instance, say it folds to the small blinds, which shoves all in for 12 big blinds. You’re in the big blind with AJ suited and you know you’re ahead of his shoving range, so you must call. But most decisions aren’t that simple.
Sometimes it can be very easy to narrow a players range down, as they will vary their bet size according to their hand strength betting bigger with bigger hands for example. But when stacks get shallower many players (good and bad) will simply open-shove their entire range, making it harder to pinpoint their hand.
As a general rule if a player is good or competent, they’ll have a wider shoving range than a so called fish, and as such you can call wider against better players. Also if a short stack shoves from early position you’d generally assume their hand was stronger than if they did it from late position. However as the stacks get shorter the desperation of early position player rises, as they know the blinds passing through them can render their fold quality almost nonexistent. As a result, they will start to shove wider.
Pay attention to your opponents and note which players shove from weak positions and with what stack sizes so you can get handle on their style of play. Take good notes, and specifically not anything unusual. For example, if a player raise-folds with a 15BB stack or flat-calls preflop with A-K suited and 20BB stack.
What all these decisions essentially break down to is putting a player on a range.
Although no two situations are exactly alike there are plenty of situations that crop up time and time again.
One example i’ve noticed is when you hold a low pair 3-3 and are facing a shove. This is the kind of spot you will find yourself in time and time again. If we give you 30BB stack and you are shoved on by a 12.BB stack with antes in play you will need around 43% equity to call. If you open-raised to 2.5BB before being shoved on by only 15BB you will need around 37% equity.