Sunday, November 02, 2008

All-in Preflop

The basics of evaluating hand ranges start preflop. Some of the easiest money comes from fish who don't understand what hands they should be getting all-in with preflop in full ring and six-max cash games with 100-blind stacks.

Let's start with pocket Aces. Obviously they're the best hand preflop. I'm sure there are players out there who refuse to get all-in preflop with anything but Aces, but I usually assume that even my tightest opponents will happily bet it all with Kings as well.

It's much more common to find players who will go all-in with a range of AA and KK. These premium hands make up just under 1 percent of all potential starting hands, and they crush any lesser hands. As a general guideline, I look at the 4-bet range statistic in Holdem Manager to identify players who are only rereraising with AA or KK: If their 4-bet range is less than 1 percent, I can pretty safely fold to a third raise preflop with anything less than KK.

A third tier of players are those who will commit with AA-QQ or AK preflop. I give QQ and AK roughly equal value, and when I'm against a player who I know will risk all their chips preflop with AK, I can be pretty certain their range also includes QQ. These hands account for 2.6 percent of potential starting hands, and you should be willing to go to war preflop with an identical range of hands. Otherwise, your opponent is making you fold too much and winning big preflop pots uncontested.

Finally, you have your flexible players and maniacs. These opponents can 4-bet preflop with a wider range as a resteal, or they may be going in with as little as 88 or AJ (if they suck). Against wilder players like this, you absolutely want to get all the money in with QQ or better and AK, and maybe even consider AQ or TT+ against some truly crazy opponents. However, it's rare to find fish big enough to justify widening your all-in preflop range beyond AK.

Most players know this already, but it's incredible when you see an otherwise good player going all-in preflop with QQ against the tightest nits who can't have anything but AA-KK.

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