Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I love coinflips.

In a cash game, I'll take them any chance I can get, especially if I'm the one able to put the pressure on.

Only good things can happen when you put your chips in with a 50 percent shot at winning the hand. Your opponent could fold, giving you the existing pot. At worst, your opponent calls, which isn't the end of the world because of pot odds.

When there's decent money in the pot already and you have an even chance at winning, you want to fight for that money. Sometimes, even when slightly behind, the money in the pot is enough to make a big bet worthwhile.

Hands with a pair and a flush draw are the classic example. These hands have about 14 outs and they're not dominated by much except for sets and higher flush draws. Even then, there's a significant chance of sucking out.

There's also some utility preflop in betting big with AK because it's a coinflip at worst against anything except AA or KK. Even if QQ or JJ makes a read and calls your preflop all-in, you're in fine shape to win the pot half the time. I'm not advocating pushing all-in with AK frequently, but there's some value in making a move when you think you can pick up a growing pot preflop.

Just don't do it when your opponents have you dominated!

I hear people all the time say they'd rather "wait for a better spot" than get it all-in on a coinflip. While this may be correct at times in tournaments, it's rarely right in cash games.

While you're waiting for a better spot, your aggressive opponents are picking up lots of small and medium-sized pots uncontested.


Here's a hand of the day:

In a full ring 5/10 NL game, everyone is playing normally except for one maniac. He general strategy is to raise and then push all-in against anyone's reraise. His stats are about 45/38/5.

At first, everyone respects his all-in raises, but it doesn't take long for people to figure out that he has hands worth less than trash.

That became abundantly clear when he raised from middle position to $40, and I re-raised to $120 from the button with AA. He pushed all-in, and I had an easy call to make. He flipped over T5s and somehow didn't suck out, giving me a $2,084 pot.

After that hand, everyone at the table wanted a piece of this guy's money before it ran out.

A few hands later, an early position player limps, and I make it $45 to go with KQs from MP. The cutoff player calls the $45, and then the maniac on the button goes all in for nearly $700. It folds around to me.

What should I do with KQs? It's behind any Ace and dominated by AK or AQ.

But I figure I'm ahead of this crazy guy's incredibly wide range. I'm a tiny bit worried about the player behind me, but I only had one move. I raised all-in to isolate the maniac and try to bust him with what I figure to be a decent enough hand. I don't think I had ever raised all-in preflop with KQs, but the time was right against this guy.

As I hoped, the cutoff player folds. What does the maniac turn up?

Jh. 5c. Just as I suspected.

Flop comes 26J. Turn is a J, and I had doubled the maniac up.

But that's OK. I still netted about a $500 profit because of the AA hand, and I got it in with KQ against J5, which I'll take any day of the week.

My only regret is that I couldn't get the rest of the maniac's money. He busted out soon afterward with his AK vs. QQ.


HighOnPoker said...

You allude to it, but I think its worth emphasizing the difference in raising all-in on a cointoss vs. calling all-in on a cointoss. If you figure (for the sake of easy numbers) that your opponent will fold to your all-in raise 50% of the time, then 50% of the time, you'll win outright (albeit a smaller pot) and when you are called the other 50%, you still have a 50% chance to win. In total, you have a 75% chance to win the hand. When you are calling for a coinflip, the best you can do is a 50% chance of winning.

Still, this doesn't consider the maniac situation. In that case, you have better odds when merely calling because of his wide range.

Interesting stuff, Gnome. Thanks for posting it.

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I came to the comments to make exactly the point that Jordan does above. Calling allin on a coinflip I think should only be done where the pot odds justify such a move (such as when there's already a lot of chips in the pot before the allin call decisions presents itself to you). Raising allin on a likely coinflip is typically a much better move with a more much favorable outcome than to be the guy on the other side of the table calling that allin with 77 or AQ or something similar.

Craig Cunningham said...

This is a pretty impactful point for me, and I've probably come around 180 degrees since my quest to figure out NLH 6-max over the last three months. I initially started pulling back alot on these types of situations, tightening way up with AKs and AKo for example. It was partly due to a blogger who mentioned he'd done this and partly trying to play good. You know one of my big problems currently is not widening my three-bet standards, which is tangential to the point you're making. I'm hardly there yet, but your discussion gives me more reinforcement. Thanks.