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When do fold AKo preflop?

Let's say you just sat down at a $1-$3 $1,000 cap NLHE table with $500. Hence, you have no reads on the players. A mid position player opens with a $25 raise and has about $600 behind. Everyone folds to you with $300 behind. You raise to $70, he pushes all in. Easy fold?

What dollar amount of a re-raise would be justifiable in calling to see the flop?

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The top 6-max cash game guys playing zoom500 will happily get 100BB in pre-flop with AKo. However the playerpool is really tough and aggresive, so maybe against some tighter live players it is not optimal. Let's discuss how you should play AKo in this spot.

You are 200BB deep. This is probably too deep to get AKo in pre-flop. However, he raises to 8.3x the big blind. I'd assume that these big sizes are around the standard size pre-flop in this place. His range doesn't have to be that strong. He can easily have hands like T8s, A5s, QJo. I'd for sure 3-bet and call an all-in in this spot. I can see him shoving AQ, 99+ and a bluff every once in a while. You block aces and kings. You have to call $230 to win $370. So you need around 38% equity. You easily have that. This is a mandatory call. Even if your percieve his range to be as tight as JJ+ and AK you still have 39.79% equity! (I use this site for calculations http://www.propokertools.com/simulations)

Playing AKo like this is a massive mistake. Why should you 3-bet this hand if you are folding to a shove? Are you bluffing or raising for value? If you really don't want to get AKo in, then don't 3-bet. Use weaker hands like A5s to 3-bet fold and stronger hands like QQ to 3-bet call. Make your 3-betting range more polarized. But again I think AKo should be in your 3-bet call range.

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    Wow @raymondTimmermans! That is a really healthy answer and a lot to chew on. Thank you. +1 – Scott Boston Mar 3 at 13:41
  • "If you really don't want to get AKo in, then don't 3-bet." This statement is absurd. 3-bet/folding is a perfectly fine strategy. However, you should not 3-bet to a size that makes you committed if you're not ready to be committed with that hand. – Jonast92 Mar 21 at 12:50
  • @Jonast92 I am saying this, because AKo is too strong to fold. If you don't want to get it in pre-flop, don't invite your opponent to do so by 3-betting. If you continue to read my answer you can see that I recommend 3-bet/folding, but just not with a hand at strong as AKo. – Raymond Timmermans Mar 21 at 18:23
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AKo is definitely a hand you should be 3-betting with some of the time, getting 4-bet without a read is a tough situation (at least for me). With no read i would fold AKo pretty much all of the time in small cash games like this. Players only tend to 3-bet and 4-bet with premiums so I would estimate that if you call you would be up against QQ+ most of the time.

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Assumptions

Your question is a bit confusing because you say you sit down with $500, but later you say "everyone folds to you with $300 behind," so I will address the question under both both stack sizes. Also, there are 2 key pieces of information you left out: how deep is everyone relative to villain, and what position you are in (I will assume you are in the BB based on the way this question was worded).

To answer this question you first have to understand villain's range in this spot. A typical MP open in 1/3 varies between 5% to 20% of hands depending on a multitude of factors, and is generally between 3BB to 5BB. In your case his open was 8BB, which is alarming.

My assumptions of villain in this scenario: He is probably a recreational player, and is either really tight and playing 1 hand an hour, or is super loose and splashing around way too much.

Next you must analyze the most important piece of information you can get when sitting down at a new table, the stack sizes of all your opponents.

If most everyone at the table is $300 to $500 deep, then you are probably at a tight table, and should move on if you can. If you see that a few players have $300 stacks and the majority of players have $800+ stacks, then you immediately know who the whales are, and you can usually conclude that the short stacks are aggressive maniacs in the latter situation.

In your scenario, if all the other players had $1000+ dollars behind, and villain was the short stack with $600, you can safely snap call to his shove with the assumption that he is just a maniac.

Assuming that you don't have any pertinent stack sizing tells, here are my conclusions:

$300 deep:

If you are only $300 deep (ie 100BB), you have to pay him off every time. Folding here to a complete unknown with no other reads would be a huge leak imo. The answers telling you to fold because villain's range is QQ+ are mathematically inaccurate. Even if you knew villain's range was precisely QQ+, AKo+, you are still priced in to call at this stack size.

$500 deep:

This becomes a reluctant fold without any other knowledge. Villain's shove in this situation is awful for several reasons (which are out of scope for this question), so you should feel confident he will pay you eventually.

Since it is safe to assume villain is a req player, it would be preferable to either 3-bet to a really small size (something like $55) or just flat calling all together to avoid getting shoved on. In my experience, when facing a min 3-bet, bad players typically flat call all their decent hands, and 4-bet either QQ+ or KK+, which makes the rest of the hand play out in your favor. If villain shoves on you when you min 3-bet, you can safely fold since you are priced out (in both stack size scenarios).

Note that the latter approach is a terrible strategy against anyone resembling a decent player, and is purely an exploit on the fact that villain opened for 8BB.

This sort of question is based solely on assumptions you have to make in this situation. To make them effectively, you need to use equilab (or something similar). If you can't figure out how to use equilab, you can check out the Poker Bank. They are a (mostly) free poker training site and are a great resource for new players.

  • you are correct, I was a bit confusing with typing up this question, I had $300 infront of me. Thank you for your detail analysis of this hand and I will look at using the resources you recommend. +1 – Scott Boston Mar 3 at 21:15

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