Going All-In Preflop With AT In An MTT

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First and foremost, I want to thank Scott a lot for giving me a lot of tournament information about this and this is the write-up that he sent me.

He said, “This was deep in the nightly $55 tournament on PokerStars with a $25k guarantee. There are nineteen players remaining in the field, which is why play is six-handed in this hand. And most of the players at this table were pretty fishy and they had minimal MTT experience according to SharkScope. None of them had previously done any 3betting preflop. And here I played about 50 hands with each of these players up to this point.”

Shy of giving me all the payout information and all that, this is a great piece of information, Scott. Thank you so much for sharing this. And for all you other MTT guys that send in hands, this is the kind of information that’s really, really helpful. That way I can do my absolute best to make sure I give really, really good advice and the best advice possible in these spots.

On to the actual hand. There is a fold. There is a fold. There is a steal. There is a call. There is a call. And Scott at this point is deciding what he wants to do. Should he just call? Should he just shove? What’s the best play?

Now, Scott did end up shoving and we’re going to talk all about this exact shove, but what I want to quickly say is this. I am not an MTT pro. So if there is anyone who is an MTT pro watching this who’s like, “Ah, I don’t really agree with this,” or, “This is the way that I would think about it in this spot,” I am all ears.

I’m not claiming that I know the end-all and be-all strategy for MTT poker, certainly not by any stretch. So I’m going to show you how to solve this mathematically and explain what would go through my head. But that being said, if there are any MTT pros who want to correct me or want to chime in the conversation, I am all ears and I really, really appreciate that.

But in this exact situation, we have the cut-off who opens, and Scott said, “At this point, the cut-off is only opening about 18% of hands.”

Now, what I would say real quick is was he opening 18% of hands overall? Do you think he’s opening 18% of hands in this situation or was that before when stack sizes were different and blind levels were different? As obviously the blinds get higher and higher, even tighter players are going to start stealing a little bit more because they simply have to to keep their head above water.

He may have been stealing 18% before, but over 50 hands is not super, super usable. You’re probably just getting down to the 6-max level where people can easily start changing their play style very quickly from a folding game. I would say that even though he was 18% before, he may not be opening just 18% of hands right this moment.

Let’s get into actually solving in this situation. In this spot, hero does decide to go in for the jam. And we can prove this very easily using a fold equity calculator. This is the one from Red Chip Poker. I’ll leave a link in the description box for it. But, essentially, we just throw in all the information. The pot size before we jammed is $23,575. Let me get that back up. How much do we have to call is just $3,425. How much are we shoving for a total is $55,567. And in this situation, obviously, it’s a little bit difficult to say exactly because player 5 has a smaller, effective stack than that. So does player 1.

We’re only really risking our full stack against player 6. Definitely make sure you keep that in mind. You get a little bit of a rebate back if you get it in against player 5 or player 1 and end up losing the pot, which changes the fold equity at least a little bit. And then the last thing we need to know is our estimated equity when called.

In this situation, there are two different things that I would think about. There is the range against player 5, and then there’s the range against player 1 and player 6. What I mean by that is player 5 opened the pot, so they can have things like AKQ, AK way more easily than player 6 or player 1 can. Those players are more likely to show up with things like maybe 88, 99, maybe an AJ or AQ kind of hand. You’re going to have two slightly different equities and there’s definitely some complicated ways you can solve this. I’m just going to take a blend of the two and go forward from there. And it’s not perfect. It’s just what I’m going to do in this scenario.

So in this spot, let’s just analyze the CO first. Let’s say they’re going to get it in with 88+, AQ+, and let’s just say that for the time being. Evaluate it. Notice that we have 20%, let’s just say 30% equity against that.

If we change it and go for a range that player 1 or player 6 might call us with, well, that looks a little bit different. Let’s just say 88-JJ. Let’s say AQ. Let’s say — Maybe you can consider AJ. Maybe they call to induce, that sort of thing. Evaluate it and notice that we have 32% equity. Either way, we’re kind of in that ballpark of equity. Let’s just plug in 30% and go forward from there.

You notice at that point, we need folds at least 41% of the time. Well, I think that’s pretty reasonable against most of these players, right? If you look at the guy who is opening 18% on the button, if they’re only going to be continuing with this kind of range, which is 5%, that means they’re folding roughly 75% of the time. That’s awesome.

Against player 1 and them, if they’re only calling with these kind of hands, that’s only 4% of hands. And what are they calling with preflop? Are they calling with at least 10% or at least 11% of hands? Yes. I’d say that’s probably pretty fair.

In this situation, this looks really good to me, simply because if we shove and everyone folds, that’s an automatic increase of 50% to our stack size. That’s pretty awesome with no contest. And I think we’re going to pick this up uncontested a very large chunk of the time.

Also, we only start this hand with about 20 big blinds. So it’s about time in my opinion to start getting pretty aggressive when the situations present themselves and this looks like a good spot for it.

So unless you think there’s some trickiness from maybe player 6, or maybe you think player 5’s range is a little bit tighter preflop or whatever, I think this is good.

Scott described player 1 as not a very strong player at all. So this could actually just be a straight value shot against that kind of individual. Maybe they call with, like, KQ or KJ preflop. All that kind of stuff is fantastic for us.

Because of that, this looks like a great situation to squeeze it out. Unfortunately, as played, we do end up getting called by player 6, who ends up having the hand to kind of put us in massive amounts of pain. So it’s something that you want to keep an eye on. Could someone possibly call to induce a good squeeze from you? Could they just have been creating that situation? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s definitely something I would consider.

As played though, just looking at the hand overall from a very mathematical point of view, it looks like a good situation to squeeze from me!


My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 500+ 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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