Mar 17 2010

Defending Against Random All Ins

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: 1

A lot of players have a tough time learning how to play against players who will go all in at random times. This is most common in tournament or Sit n Go play. There are many different reasons why a player might go all in, some of these reasons will be logical while others will not be. Your goal as a poker player is to decipher what the most likely holding for any player is when they make this type of play.

One of the best ways to put someone on a hand in a situation like this is to use the context clues available to you. If the board makes a full house, straight, or flush very possible, it should be quite apparent that an all in shove would be indicative of strength. If, on the other hand, the board missed a bunch of draws and a player decides to go all in, there is a good chance that they have absolutely nothing.

Now, you are not going to be right 100% of the time, you probably won’t even be right 90% of the time, but you will be making money if you are right more than you are wrong. This is something that a lot of poker players struggle to understand. You can’t look at a few random hands in a vacuum and honestly assess whether or not you made the right play. Being results oriented in poker will get you into a lot of trouble. If your play is going to be the correct move in the long run, you will have nothing to be upset about.

Stack Sizes

Stack sizes play an extremely important role in tournaments and Sit n Gos. In cash games your stack size will still matter, but it won’t be a huge factor in your decision making in all situations. If you have a very big stack in a tournament or Sit n Go, you will be able to be a bit more lenient with your calls. This isn’t to say that it would be optimal to call off big bets with weak hands, but that you will be able to withstand more risk. Chip accumulation can be a tricky thing. You always want to add more chips to your stack, but you shouldn’t be doing it at any cost.

Your Hand

Poker strategy will often tell players that it isn’t so much about what you are holding, but what your opponents are holding. While this is certainly true, when you are contemplating calling an all in you will need to assess your own hand. Give your opponent’s hand consideration, but weigh it against what you are holding. Your goal is not to have your opponent crushed, but to instead beat their range. This is the key to calling any all in bet.

If you are going to have the best hand even 51% of the time, you will be in a position to make a call. Say that you think your opponent will be going all in with any ace or any pocket pair. If you are holding a moderately strong ace or any decent pocket pair, it should be fairly easy for you to make the call. If he has AK or a big pocket pair, unfortunately you will have run into the top of his range. The times where your opponent has A2 or 44 will balance out the times where they have AK or a big pocket pair. This is how you play against random all ins. Determine what range of hands that you think your opponent has, and then see if you beat the majority of those hands. If you beat most of their hands, call, if not, fold.

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