Should You Go All-In Preflop With AQ?

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AQ can be a very tricky hand to play, and even moreso when getting into all-in confrontations.  And because of this I am often asked “should I go all-in preflop with AQ?“, and it’s a tricky question to say the least.  In this hand analysis I want to review a situation where we did get it aipf and discuss what goes into it.  While doing this we will also discuss ranges and show you how wide ranges really need to be to consider getting AQ aipf preflop for 100bb.

25NL – 6max NLHE

UTG: $26.91
Hero (SB): $35.80

Preflop: Hero is SB with A Q
UTG raises to $0.75, 3 foldsHero raises to $2.50BB foldsUTG raises to $6.75Hero raises all-in

In this situation hero decides to 3bet preflop, faces a 4bet, and then decides to shove.  I’m not going to go into detail on the 3bet (as I’ve covered it in a number of videos), but once we face the 4bet we really have to make a decision.  If we were to flat the 4bet we would be OOP, without initiative, and in a very small SPR pot…a situation that AQ probably wouldn’t perform well in.  Because of that I am really between folding and shoving here.  So if a shove is profitable I will do that.  If a shove is -EV then I will fold.  It’s that simple.

CALLING AQ PREFLOP

To estimate the value of a shove we can simply use a fold equity calculator and PokerStove.  And we will need to estimate a few things:

1. What range does he 4bet here?

2. What range does he 4bet AND call our shove with?

Pretty simple, right?  Let’s start by assuming that he would 4bet/stack off with QQ, KK, AA, and AK.  This is a pretty tight range (roughly 2.6% of total hands), and I always like to start by analyzing my shove against a worst-case scenario range.  By plugging this into PokerStove we see that we have 24% equity.  If we then plug that into the FE calculator along with the pot size before we shove ($9.5) and total shove size ($24.41) we see this:

Villain must fold 52.3% of the time to be 0EV

($24.41/24%/$9.5)

So for this to be a breakeven shove we need quite a few folds…and to make this a +EV shove we need a ton of folds.  But what does it really mean when we say that villain has to fold 52.3% of the time for this to be breakeven?  Let’s simplify this for 2 minutes and assume we need 50% of folds to breakeven on a shove.  Well we know that his 4bet/call range is QQ+/AK (2.6% of hands).  So if we need 50% of folds to breakeven, and we know his 4bet/call range is 2.6% of hands, we need his 4bet range to be at least 5.2% of hands.  If he is 4betting more than 5.2% (and thus folding more often when we shove), our shove becomes really profitable!  But wait…we can go a step further!

If we think he’s opening a range of 22+/AJ+/KQ from UTG.  This is a 10.7% range of hands.  If he’s 4betting at least 5.2% of hands that means he’s 4betting almost half of the hands he opened with from UTG.  Is that a realistic expectation?  Are you 4betting even close to 1/2 of the hands you open from EP?  Unless villain in this hand is a total aggrotard I think it’s pretty unreasonable to expect his 4bet range to be anywhere near wide enough for this to be a +EV shove with AQ.  Of course, if there is any history or dynamic between you and villain that could also influence the width of his 4bet range, but many players incorrectly over-estimate poker aggression and ranges.

This is actually a very powerful, and important, concept.  It’s important that you can correctly gauge how wide villain’s 4betting range is.  It’s important that you can proof these kinds of spots by using software like PokerStove and FE calculators.  It’s important that you can think logically about whether villain’s range is really wide enough to justify shoving.  But if any variable in this hand changes, our line could easily change as well.  For instance, what if his 4bet/stack range was wider and thus influenced our equity?  Or what if he actually 4bet/folded more often thus making our shove more outright profitable?

semibluff shoving

Use the Fold Equity calculator yourself to practice and study shoving in poker.  To save you some time I’ll do the equity calculation for you so you can visualize AQ’s equity against a few types of calling ranges (going from a very tight QQ+/AK (2.6% of hands) to 55+/AJ+/KQ (8% of hands)).  Simply use the FE calc to see how many folds you really need, and use the work we did above to estimate if villain is really going to be 4betting/folding often enough to make a +EV shove.  AQ EQUITY CHART

It’s great to do this work off the table so that it’s internalized when you are playing in real-time.  Once you run through this math enough you will be able to quickly estimate your opponent’s 4betting range, your equity against their logical 4bet/stack range, and if you can really expect to make profit when shoving.  It should go without saying that the smaller the stack sizes the better this shove becomes, and the more often he’ll 4bet/fold the more often we should be semi-bluff shoving with AQ.  And the short answer to the question posed in the beginning of this article?  Probably not.  It’s very tough to get AQ all-in preflop profitably with 100bb or more, and thus you want to be very selective when doing so.  This isn’t to say that certain spots don’t call for it…but it’s much more rare than most players think.  If you are interested in doing even more work, consider analyzing your own poker database for AQ + all-in preflop =)

SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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