Poker Preflop All-In Calls Explained

No matter if you are playing tournaments or cash games, it comes in handy to know the math behind preflop ranges and how much equity you need in order to make the call with a specific range of hands. Being able to estimate and correctly estimate poker hand ranges both play a major role in this thought process and if you are playing online, some optional tools such as Equilab help to quickly plug in the numbers while you are playing and determine whether or not a call becomes profitable in the long run.

Click the video below to learn the math behind calling preflop all-ins.

The entire procedure of calculating the equity is rather simple as the basic numbers you need to keep in mind to do so remain the same but the equity may vary a lot and at some point, it suddenly is no longer profitable to make the call.

Learn how to use Equilab to calculate equity quickly.

First of all you need to know the size of the pot and how many of your chips or money remains at that point. The already invested amount should not be considered as your own anymore as it is part of the pot and merely plays a psychological role when you may or may not consider yourself as pot committed by then.

The upside is always your own equity to win the pot as a percentage along with the size of the pot and the downside contains the equity of the opponent and how much you are still risking to win the pot. From there it takes just a few seconds to run the math and the decision is also easy, as only two choices are available: To call or to fold.

The size of the pot and how much you still risk remains the same no matter what your hole cards are, the equity in percentage can however be quite different and heavily influence whether or not it remains profitable in the long run.

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Keep in mind that there is no need to know the exact outcome of the calculation by a fraction of a percentage within one second. Instead, the ultimate goal is to have a good idea about the ballpark figures and recognize specific patterns. Based on those two things and the more practice you do, it will become a lot easier to memorize all the different preflop all-in calling scenarios and correctly apply them at the poker tables.

Did You Make A Profitable Preflop Call All-In?

If you are unsure whether or not you made a profitable call, write down all the details and figure out the exact numbers afterwards as you analyze your session. Being results oriented doesn’t help in this case because ideally that should not play any role in the thinking process and you rather want to make the best possible decisions based on the math going forward.

And as you run through all the various preflop exercises and examples, you can determine what the sweet spot in terms of hand range is that makes a call profitable or not. Calling a preflop shove with Ace-King suited and queens will very likely always be profitable in the long run as you beat a lot of hands that are within the range of your opponent. This still applies for JJ and TT whereas KQs is still profitable, but more marginal and no longer a must-call anymore.

All-In Preflop Calls With Premium Hands

For most of the premium hands, it will be a comfortable and profitable decision to make the call but the lower your equity gets, the worse off your expected profit is. If you risk a decent portion of your cash at the tables or remaining chips in a tournament, you want to make sure that the quality of your call is still positive EV.

While the numbers don’t lie, it also helps to look at your hand strength and what it does against a large portion of the expected range. Ace-queen suited for example dominates a lot of weaker aces, is a coin flip against a lot of pocket pairs and the flushdraw adds a small fraction of equity on top.

You will certainly be dominated by some hands such as aces, kings, ace-king and ace-king suited while you have chop equity against ace-queen off suit. To conclude: In the long run it will still be a profitable preflop all-in call.

Calling Preflop All-In: Cash Games Vs. Tournaments

In cash games, these preflop scenarios may not happen as frequently whereas in MTT’s you will notice the same frequent patterns a lot more often. There are also other implications that should be considered in preflop tournament poker ranges depending on the stage such as ICM or the value of the remaining chips in big blinds going forward if you opt not to call.

Conclusion & Cliffnotes

Behind all these calculations and considerations is simple math and it is crucial to understand that as a vital part of the game to easily and reliably figure out if you should be calling or folding.

To sum up the above article you will want to always consider the following poker fundamentals when determining whether to call all-in preflop or not.

  1. Equity to win the pot as a percentage along with the size of the pot.
  2. Equity of the opponent and how much you are still risking to win the pot.
  3. Post poker session hand reviews and study to determine if a preflop all-in call was correct.
  4. Knowing the difference of calling all-ins preflop between cash games and tournaments.

If you want to perfect your preflop poker play utilizing the following “The Preflop Poker Checklist” by James “SplitSuit” Sweeney is a great way to prepare yourself for whatever all-ins may come your way at the tables.

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