Hello! Welcome back!
My last post brought up the idea of “Going All In.” I chose to be very limited on my poker referencing because I wanted you to feel, and to understand your life moments that required a 100% commitment. Those moments, regardless of the outcome, are some of the most important moments in your life.
Just like life, pokers “All in Moments” are extremely important. When you go all in, it’s important to have as much information as possible. It’s important to be prepared for every outcome. It’s also important to keep your emotions in check.
For starters, I want to talk your reasons for going all in. With “all in” being possibly the last bet you may make in any given tournament, or cash game, why put your chip stack on the line? Well, there are a few reasons you can make this kind of bet. First, if you have the absolute “nuts,” and there is no possible way for you to lose. Here’s an example of this: You are dealt 9c 10c on the button. Blinds are 500 and 1000. Middle position has raised it to 4500. Folds around, and you call with a decent mid ranged hand and great position. The big blind calls. The flop comes out 6c 7c 8c. The big blind bets out 5000. Middle position then raises it to 15000. You can expect that at least one of them is going to call your bet if you raise it, so this is a good time to either, milk the hand and get maximum value, or its time to eliminate a player. In a cash game your goal is to extract maximum value here, but in a tournament the goal is to inevitably be the last person standing.
Let’s take a second to think about the hands that would be betting in this situation. If the big blind is betting, you have to put him on 1 of 3 hands: a flopped set, a flopped straight, or a high flush. There are very few hands that should be called from the big blind. You can eliminate AA – JJ based on no second raise pre-flop. The raise from the middle position is generally a pretty easy situation. My thoughts: continuation betting with A K or A Q off suite, one of which could be a club, pocket pair higher than the board, or he has flopped the flush with a Q of clubs or better. Realizing that there is absolutely no way for you to lose this hand, it’s time to eliminate a player, and go all in.
Calling someone’s all in bet can be extremely nerve-wracking… especially when you’re tournament is on the line. So this next situation will concern calling all in pre-flop. If you aren’t holding Q Q/K K/A A you should not be calling someone’s all in pre-flop (yes there are circumstances where “the math” is right but I won’t go into that yet). Notice I didn’t put AK or AQ in there? Where they are good starting hands, they are only good drawing hands… They are not good hands to call someone’s all in with. If your hand losses to 22 you in bad shape. You can expect 1 of 3 things from a player who’s all in pre-flop: 1. they have a decent pocket pair, or are sitting on high cards. 2. they are short stacked looking to double up for survival 3. they are bluffing (this is not a recommendation…).
We all know that AA is “the best starting hand” but did you know that it’s not always the best finishing hand? Let’s say that you’ve made it to the turn with Ah As in middle position and 2 other people are there with you. The board is Jd 9d 10c 6d. It’s just been checked to you. How comfortable are you with your Ah As? There are a lot of hands you lose to, and all of them could have called a decent pre-flop raise. Here’s a list of hand that could have called your raise: Kd Qd, J J, 9 9, Ad Kd, 10 10, KQ off suite, 7d 8d, 6 6, I could continue on here… The point is, how comfortable are you betting all in here? Can you call someone who raises you all in? I’ve listed 8 hands that you lose to; can you reasonably eliminate a player from calling you with any of them? These are situations you’re trying to avoid, but they do come up. I’m not telling you that you should have gone all in pre-flop. I’m not telling you that they were wrong for calling. What I am saying is that betting “all in” can put you in some bad spots. You need to know your situation, you need to know your opponent, and you need to know the hands you lose to. You need to be prepared to fold AA once in a while… I know it’s painful, but it’s the truth.
Surprisingly enough, betting all in is a lot easier than calling an all in. It’s nice to look down at A A pre-flop with someone raising big into you. Just like any other raise, you need to always be prepared for someone to call. Be prepared for someone to get lucky. Losing will never feel good, but winning will be exhilarating. There’s no feeling like surviving your all moment… especially when there’s a lot on the line.
At some point you will run into a situation where using the all in bluff will be right, but I would caution that. Traps are designed to be sprung… This is a situation where using all the information you have gathered will be a key element.
Here are a few links to help you in your journey “all in.”
When you do chose to go all in, be committed to it. Accept the wins and accept the losses. Sometimes you will be the one to get lucky, and often times others will. All you can ever hope to do is make the right move, at the right time. If you played your best there will be nothing to be mad at or ashamed of. Don’t let the emotional side of this game control you.
We all know there are several different viewpoints when it comes to playing poker, and I’ll never claim that mine is right, but I do hope that I’ve done and shown you enough to get you thinking about this game differently.
I’d like to finish by saying thank you for reading. You are the reason that I do this! Without you, all this rambling would be for not and I’d like to think my knowledge is useful! Please remember that poker is a game, it should be enjoyed! I hope I’ve helped you even just a little along the way! Have a good day and may many pots be pushed in your direction!