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Another problem that I face on micro limits every other day. Some guys love to put all their stacks on top pair (many of them with any kicker).

My question is: Is it worth to call these kinds of coin flip situations against bad players or is it better to wait for a better spot?

For example:

  • AK preflop
  • Flush Draw + Overcards vs Top pair
  • Flush Draw + Straight Draw vs Top pair
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It all depends on pot odds. If you have better than 50% pot odds and have 50% equity versus your opponent's range, and you have the bankroll to handle the variance, then you should be looking to play for stacks. This will always produce a long term winning strategy, because you're getting >50% return on a 50% bet. Do you see why?

The only situation where you should be looking for "better spots" is if you are underrolled for the game you are playing.* In which case the optimal strategy is to move down in stakes so that you can play optimally. Playing suboptimally at higher stakes because you can't afford to gamble when the odds are good will almost certainly produce a lower winrate than playing optimally at lower stakes.

*Except in tournaments where your tournament life has a $ value and ICM can be a serious consideration. Better spots do not exist in cash games. Assuming an adequate bankroll, spots are either +EV, -EV or Neutral EV. That's it.

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If a player is regularly pushing on the flop with top pair, you should call him with an overpair, top pair and a good kicker, or anything better. With a flush draw and two overcards you have about 15 outs, giving you around a 54% edge ignoring any cards that improve their hand. It's a borderline case. It may be worth a call in case they're bluffing, and to stop players bluffing you out in future. Similarly a flush draw and straight draw has 15 outs, so it's also borderline. A flush draw with one overcard only gives you about 45% to make your hand. You should fold, unless there's a chunk of money already in the pot (say around half the size of the push).

Pre-flop with AK it depends what you put them on. Realize that you need to flop an A or a K to have anything, and you have around a 50% chance of hitting that on any of the five cards (actually it's 48.7%, so a shade under 50). AA or KK completely dominates you, but you're in with a shout against most other hands, so if their range includes any non-pairs I'd probably call as well. With AKs it would be a pretty easy call.

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I agree with Andrew on a theoretical level => if you have the pot odds you should call.

I just wanted to put stress on the concept of pot odds. If you are on the flop and have alredy placed some of your money in the middle a coin flip is more than enough to call an all in because you more than double the call prise with a 50% chance.

You can see a full explanation here: http://www.thepokerbank.com/strategy/mathematics/pot-odds/

With AK preflop the matter is a bit different because you have not yet invested in this hand. I would still advise you to call all-ins and even push yoursef on the micro limits vs unknows oponents for the following 3 reasons:

  1. You hold blockers for the only 2 hands that dominate you(AA and KK) => knowing that you hold and Ace and a King there are only 6 combinations of AA and KK that beat you.(You are not behind ANY other hand including pocket pairs)

  2. You dominate quite a large range of hands that many less experienced players on the micro limits can overplay.(epsecially some of the more agresive and/or tilted players)

  3. You should also seek to raise AK preflop because you have fold equity. You can never be too disappointed to get some chips without looking at the flop.

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