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/Nov/2012

Should i fold or should i shove?

By: baud2death @ 08:27 (EST) / 660 / Comment ( 0 )

I think everyone has heard of or knows of the classic song "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" by the Clash

 

 

If not here is the specific line in the song that I am reffering to : Should i stay or should i go now? Should i stay or should i go now? If i go there will be trouble and if i stay it will be double!

Now lets tweak it : Should i fold or should i shove now? Should i fold or should i shove now? If i shove there will be trouble and if i fold it will be double!

 

The point I am getting at is that when you are at or below 10BB, you should be picking an open spot and shoving your entire stack over the blinds. It really doesn't matter what hand you have at this point because of the effect this tactic has, the hand doesnt matter.

 

So you are down to say 9BB... what do you do now?

First you pick the right position - BB or SB is good, Button is good and Cutoff is your last spot. So you are in one of these positions... what you are waiting for now is for the table to fold their hands around to you, so you are first to act. Whilst this tactic CAN work if there are some limpers, it normally doesnt and not a good idea to try unless 100% open.

NOTE : Do not try this tactic when you are not short... it will work the same of course but the risk vs reward just isn't strong enough to consider it valuable in the longterm

Now you shove your stack.

At this point you are hoping for one of two things to happen out of 3 possibilities

1 : The blinds fold and you pickup the SB, BB and antes (if any) which is anywhere from 1.5BB to 2.5BB normally

2 : The blinds call you and you are now all-in vs them. You are now hoping to hit your hand and Double Up. Having a good hand in this spot is better (but not essential), them having a worse hand than yours is better but ultimately its down to luck now. You Double Up and now are no longer in the danger zone.

3: Same as (2) except you get knocked out... But, as I will explain further below, it is better it happens this way, trust me.

 

Now surely it sounds crazy that I am suggesting you risk your entire tournament life over for a 2 in 3 chance of success... It isnt crazy and whilst there are 2/3 outcomes, this is not a 2/3 chance since the majority of the time, you will get folds.

Remember : It is very hard to catch a good hand. When I first started playing poker i was convinced that whenever i watched a showdown and there was a straight or flush on the board, one of the guys showing down must have it... but more often than not it was just pair vs pair or a set vs something else...

I will say again, it is hard to catch a good hand.

This is important because what this means is that if you are in the position to shove, you have taken your field down from 8 opponents to 1-4 (depending on position) and there is a very good chance that they don't have a strong hand and to call an all-in, regardless of if you think it is a bluff or a squeeze play, in the longterm you need a hand to challenge it.

With this in mind not many people will challenge a shove unless they have a good hand or they have the stacksize to take the hit if they don't hit their weaker hand to call you with.

 

By shoving you are in a strong position. You are saying "I may or may not have a good hand but I have the courage to risk being knocked out to gamble... do you?" and most of the time the answer will be no. It is much much easier to shove than it is to call a shove without a strong hand.

 

So thats the mindset of you and your opponents dealt with... I fear that I still need to convince some of you that this reckless ALL-IN shove with anything is really the best move.

 

Lets set the scene. Someone not following the right course of action.

You have 8BB and are UTG, you were hoping for a hand but got trash so you fold. The blinds are just about to burn through you and you are praying to catch a hand soon. Your BB comes and its a pair of 3s but you get raised by those before you so you fold. Your SB comes and its trash so you have to fold... you are praying for AA soon.

You are now down to 6.5BB and are on the button, you get dealt trash again and although it is open to you, the SB and BB have you covered 2:1 and you are convinced to wait for a good hand.

You get nothing until UTG+1 when you get a pair of 77s, UTG pushes all in and you dont like that he has more chips and your 77 can't beat his hand so you fold. UTG comes and nothing, its blind time. Nothing comes in the BB or SB.

You are now down to 5BB. On the button you get trash again and its open but you just dont like the hand holding up so you fold... this continues until you get around to the next button, blinds having burnt off more chips and you are down to 3.5BB and you get dealt AA on the button, its open to you and you shove and the blinds fold... yay you scored 1.5BB, you are now at 5BB, but just as you did that the levels went up.

Your 5BB is now worth 3BB, you hit nothing decent again this round and the blinds burn through you to leave you with 1.5BB. You get AJ in the cutoff after this, you shove, the button calls you and the blinds fold.. you double up through the button and are at 3BB.

You wait another round and are down to 1.5BB and wait until UTG when you get 55, you shove... since the entire table has you covered about 3:1, you get 3 people calling you and you get knocked out there.

 

This player got knocked out because they waited far too long to catch good hands. It resulted in them get blinded down to nothing and knocked out. The fact is they probably don't realize they were doing anything wrong and just consider it part of poker or bad luck.

 

Lets play the same scenario out, this time with the correct way of doing it

 

You have 8BB and are UTG, you were hoping for a hand but got trash so you fold. The blinds are just about to burn through you and you are praying to catch a hand soon. Your BB comes and its a pair of 3s but you get raised by those before you so you fold. Your SB comes and its trash and you decide to shove over your BB, he folds and you are still at 8BB

You are now down to 8BB and are on the button, you get dealt trash again and although it is open to you and the SB and BB have you covered 2:1, you decide its the right move to shove here and when you do, both the SB and BB fold. You are now at 9.5BB.

You get nothing until UTG+1 when you get a pair of 77s, UTG pushes all in and you dont like that he has more chips and your 77 can't beat his hand so you fold. UTG comes and nothing, its blind time. In the BB you get nothing good and in the SB, its trash but you shove over the BB and he folds. Still at 9.5BB

You are now down to 9.5BB. On the button you get trash again and its open and you just dont like the hand holding but decide you still need to push so you do and get folds, you are now at 11BB - Still in the danger zone but not as bad as you were before... You let the BB and SB burn over you, the trash you are given just didnt feel good enough yet, perhaps not the best call but we will see.. You are on the button with AA , its open to you and you shove and the blinds fold... yay you scored 1.5BB, you are now back at 11BB, but just as you did that the levels went up.

Your 11BB is now worth 8BB, you hit nothing decent again this round and you get nothing on the BB but shove at the SB for a fold, so still at 8BB. You get AJ in the cutoff after this, you shove, the button calls you and the blinds fold.. you knock the button out and almost double up through him and are at 14BB.

At this point you were almost down and out in the previous scenario but now you have a comfortable position and can wait for a premium hand to find you. The rest of the game should go better now and if you do get stuck, you can play the tactic again and again for good results.

 

Don't get me wrong, i obviously wrote it so that the shoves all fell to folds. In reality there could have been a few calls in there but the point remains the same, most of the time you will get folds... sometimes a Double Up and sometimes get knocked out but what would you rather do? Be aggressive and pur yourself in a good position to continue on or sit on your hands waiting for a hand, only to find that Doubling Up with it still leaves you behind and the ability to recover is all hinged on luck rather than skill.

 

I see so many opponents who just let the blinds wash over them, when i put pressure on them - they fold. They are waiting for that one top hand and sometimes, they will catch it and survive but most of the times they will be crying from the rail "Ouch, bad luck to me" when really it was bad of them to rely on luck to get them out of that spot instead of good tactics.

Don't get me wrong - i love opponents like this. With my left being this weak I can easily steal my way to a much stronger position. Its good for me but overall for them, I don't see them playing poker as much as Bingo.

Poker isnt about hitting AA, pushing all-in and hoping to cash in. We have slot machines and Bingo games for that. Poker is about knowing how to manage your cards, your stack, your position and your opponents so that you can get the most value out of every possible scenario to improve your position and placing.

 

So the next time you are at the tables and shortstacked to 10BB or below... forget the cards you are holding for a moment and consider position and if the field is open. If you have good position and the field is open, you can shove with ANYTHING and in the longterm the folds or double-ups you get will be a lot more valuable than the times you get knocked out. Remember, you are aiming for 1st place, not minimum cash...

If you have a poorer position or the field isn't as open, a shove can still work but you need to be aware that your cards actually do matter. Limpers will be coming in with marginal hands like small pairs or suited connectors, perhaps Ax. Raisers will be coming in with larger pairs, A+Big or high suited connectors like KQh perhaps. You not only need to consider if your hand can beat ONE of those but ALL of those. The more hands that call your shove, the more chance anything you have will get outdrawn on.

If 3 people limp in with small pairs and you shove with a pair of 77s in MP, you get called by the BB and 2 of the limpers call you. The BB has AJ, the limpers have 44 and 55. You are technically ahead at this point. However there are 5 cards to come and the chance that one of them is a 4, 5, A or J is pretty high, not to mention if any of them get 4-flush or hit a straight. Too much action = too many chances for your opponent to outdraw.

Say instead you had AA here, now instead of being up against a 4, 5, A or J - you are only up against a 4 or 5... you just halved the chances of you being outdrawn!

 

Also, when you are down to really nothing (3-5BB is nothing most of the time) then shove with anything from anywhere if you have to. You don't want to get into that spot really because you should either be above 10BB or around 8-10BB and shoving at the button / cutoff to keep treading water. You only should be getting super short like this if you lost a big hand, the levels just jacked up in the wrong spot or you couldn't find an open spot to make a play.  At this point you are beyond desperate... you are hoping for anything to improve and even 72o in this spot from UTG has a better chance of getting you ahead than waiting around doing nothing!!!

 

In Summary : If you have less than 10BB, pick your spot and if its open, shove. Aim for the steal, settle for a doubleup and hope not to be knocked out but accept that if you do, your stack was so weak that it would have happened anyway

If you are out of position or the field isnt open but short-stacked consider how good your cards are for the play. If they are weak, you really are just wasting a play here and relying more on luck than skill... it might hurt but wait for another orbit to make a move. If they are strong, shove it in and hope for the best.

If you are super short stacked - dont consider position, action or your cards ... just move it in, you are behind anyway so you are relying purely on luck here.

Lastly, the size of your shove stack is important. If you are shoving with 9-10BB, most of the time you are going to be in a spot where people can respect that shove. If they call it and fail, they will take a dent to their own stack that they might not recover well from and the decision to fold is a lot easier for them.

Also if you do get into the ring with them and Double Up, you want to come out with 18-20BB not 4-6BB.

Put it this way, if someone shoves at you when you are at 20BB and someone shoves at you with 10BB, you think twice about challenging him with A2c.. however if you have the same cards, at 20BB and someone with 3BB shoves at you, its a call you could decide is better.

 

Overall... just be assertive, smartly with the right position and you can really improve your standing or go out in a blaze of glory!!

 

P.S. During writing these, I was in a 45man Sit & Go. Had to push and had 72o, opp has A9o and i hit a 7 to double up... Blinds getting choppy, a few hands later I had to push with Ax and hit KK, hit an Ace on the flop but Opp hit a King as well --- But it was the best play both times

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