Mike the Dealer: A Pair vs Big Slick
It is the classic race, we’ve seen it a few thousand
times on TV. The two opponents get all the money in
Now let’s say you’re in a tournament, you have 6000 chips left, blinds are 100/200. A solid player in front of you raises to 600. Now you know he’s not doing this with nothing, you look down and suddenly find yourself with a pair of 10s. Now you have two honest options, since you’re not folding the tens in this spot (unless you have a really uncanny read on this guy). You can either call the 600 or you can raise. Now raising may seem like a solid plan, but it leads to a lot of problems. One of the main reasons to raise is to make an opponent fold, and we’re pretty sure that this player won’t be folding. (Note: If you read this person for weakness and that they were raising with nothing, then a raise is fine here) A raise allows this person to build a bigger pot, or to get all in, and with 10’s the last thing we want is a larger investment before we’ve taken a flop and seen what’s come out, and we especially don’t want to let the opponent get all in with us pre-flop.
Now yes, it’s very possible an over card to our tens will come out on the flop, but that would have happened no matter the size of the pot or the course of our actions. What we want to see is what cards do come out, what our opponent does in response to those cards, and how we want to play it. Let’s say the flop is J-5-4 and our opponent makes a weak bet of 600 again, odds are he doesn’t have the Jack and is just trying a bluff at the point, we can call him and continue to let him bleed himself out with bets, or we can pop him with a raise right away and take the pot down.
By the same token if the flop comes out A-Q-5, and he bets, now we can fold with confidence, this was a horrible flop for us and he most likely has Tens beaten. If the flop comes out 7-5-5 or any three cards lower then a ten and our opponent checks, odds are he just had two big cards, missed the flop, and is now begging us to take the pot from him with a bet.
Now let’s say we have AK of clubs when our opponent raises to 600. We have 6000 in chips. While we’re healthy on chips, this is tournament poker, and sometimes you have to play big pots, Ace King suited is a big hand, and in small tournaments like this one, with fast moving blinds and low chip stacks (Odds are a tournament like this would double from 100/200 to 200/400 and start putting a real hurting on stacks). It’s time to put the heat on our opponent and move all-in on him.
We’re pushing here because Ace-King is a fantastic hand against the range of hands our opponent could have, if they have an Ace or King with a weaker second card (Hands like A-Q, K-Q, A-J, K-J, etc.) we’re a nearly 70-30 favorite. Against a pocket pair smaller then kings, we’re a slight dog, if they have Aces or Kings, well then, they got really lucky, and good luck to ‘em.
Now I know you’re saying “Mike, I do that and they turn over a pair of 2’s and I lose, I never win with Ace-King” and to that I say, you have a selective memory. Let’s say you try to play it safe and just call a the standard 600 chip pre flop raise with the AK. . The flop comes out 4-6-9 and they move all in. What can you do? You can’t call, you only have 6 outs. This is why the pocket pair only calls the raise and this is why AK wants to get all in, the AK in order to be a ‘coin flip’ against a pair needs to see the turn and river for free, against a pair on the flop, Ace King is a two to one underdog. This tactic of getting all in with AK pre flop is called ‘buying five’ as you get all five cards.
Now the other big reason why you get all in with AK pre flop is that often times this is the only way you can win a big pot with AK. Let’s say your opponent has a pair of sevens and for some reason, he’s willing to call any raise or re-raise you make. You don’t raise, but rather just call, the flop comes out A-T-4, and you bet, he folds, you win a small pot. Now if you go all in, if he calls and you win the coin flip, you win a giant pot. The pocket pair has an easier time of figuring out where it stands after taking a flop and can prevent huge losses when the big cards come raining down. If you get them in pre flop, then they have to gamble for their stack in a coin flip, which puts them at a huge risk.
Again, it’s not a given they’ll have the pair every time you push and they call. You’ll see lots of A-J’s K-Q’s, and other horrible combos of cards you have way beat. When they do happen to have the pocket pair, your hand is only a slight underdog, and given the blinds in the pot, you’re making a right decision pot wise.
One last thing is to remember that early in a tournament you can’t pull these stunts with AK. With blinds 25/50 and 2500 a stack, you can’t go dropping the hammer with AK. Odds are nobody will call you for such meager stakes ad if you do get called you better be praying it’s only queens, cause odds are very likely you’ve just run chin first into Kings or Aces. The tactics I’m describing are for mid-late game in a tournament when you have blinds nipping at your heels forcing you to act.
So with the pairs, take a flop and make your decisions
based on what came out. With the AK, shove and hope for the best. It’s
about that easy.
Any questions or comments send ‘em to Mikethedealer@hotmail.com