Todo… Nada… All or Nothing

Going all-in is definitely one of my favourite moves in poker.


Go all in too often during the preflop is the best way to lose any poker game

This is the first part of our new and exclusive “How to lose in Poker” series. In our articles, we will concentrate on the common mistakes usually made by poker players who lose more games than they win. If you are one of these people we will help you to improve your game and stop losing.

Going all-in during the preflop game

One of the typical mistakes of losing poker players is the all-in move during the preflop. Going all-in can be an effective weapon but many inexperienced players are going all-in much too often. Of course, their game will be full of many mistakes and wrong decisions However, going all-in during the preflop without a decent hand is usually the easiest way to lose your money.

We will discuss typical situations in this article. We shall also describe the usual and common situations that can happen several times during a typical poker tournament. We will explain to you, how to read your opponents and how you should act accordingly.

Evaluate your own hand

The situation described above is only valid for a game against the so-called thinking player. It will fail against players who think only about their own hands.

If you have to face a strong player who focuses on the complete game, you should consider your hand differently than in a normal game. Not the value of your hand is important but whether it is better than your opponent thinks.

A basic example of this strategy would look like the following. Imagine you have played very tight during the entire game (either because you did not get good cards or it is your poker style – the reason is actually not important since your opponent will not know it) and you make eventually a remarkable re-raise before the flop. Every other thinking player will expect that you hold a strong hand. Nobody will expect that you will bully them around.

If your opponent re-raises again, you should consider the following different reasons for his behavior.

1) The stacks are too low. Imagine, you are playing a $0.5/$1.0 game. The first player would place a bet of $4 while he has a chip count of approx and you raise up to $10. With this small bet, you will not push the player out of the game. He has simply invested too much money in the pot to let it go. In this situation, he will play almost any hand.

2) He starts to play mind games with you. Basically, the idea is that he knows what you know and so he will act differently than you expect. In other words, this means that he simply does not believe that you have a strong hand although you have played very tight so far. But only the best poker players will use this strategy since it requires a huge experience. If you are not sitting at the table with a very, very good player, you can ignore this option.

3) The scenario that you will usually face is: your opponent simply believes that he has the stronger hand although you have placed a high bet. Now, you have to analyze what your opponents think of your hand. Afterward, you compare this with your real hand. I will give you a very simple example. Since you have placed a high bet and your chip stack is low, your opponent might guess that you have a pocket pair (at least 88) or AK or AQ. If you have QQ, you have a very strong hand compared to the expectations and you should go for the pot. But if your opponents might guess that you have JJ, QQ, or KK, and compared to them you have a weak hand (here JJ), it is time to leave the pot unless you wait for a triple on the flop.

As a summary and a basic rule one can say that if you play tight, you need to be even tighter to go all-in during the preflop.

An all-in move against loose players

During the years, I have seen too many tight players who went all-in during the preflop against other players. These players assumed that the other player is a loose player and that they can win a big pot with a pair of tens. However, the other player then appears to be a thinking player who has pocket aces. Usually, the players who went all-in will curse their luck instead of making an honest analysis of their mistakes.

This leads us directly to another important aspect. Every time you play against a loose thinking player you have to find out how he plays against a player with your image at the table. In particular, you need to find out against which hands he is willing to go all-in. In the first moment appears that the loose players who go all-in get rather loosely, but in most of the cases their opponent is even looser which you can see from their cards. In the end, it turns out, that the “not-so-good” hand is very often better than the hand of the other player.

And always remember, when a loose thinking player goes all-in against a tight player, he does it only with a very strong hand.

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