I started playing online at free tournament games. I usually stick to a solid % range of hands where I go in on preflop, always folding the rest. But later into the tournament when blinds grow and antes start kicking in, people start to all-in early, I see 'a lot' of them betting with hands like J5o, 65s etc. What's the reasoning behind betting preflop with such hands at all? Are these antes and relatively lower stacks which make such bets profitable equity-wise? Or are they simply playing wrong and will be kicked off later?

  • They either don't care (playing for pure fun) or they're just trying to pick up the pots and get out of line with them or get lucky.
    – Jonast92
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 13:31
  • A better question would be a little more broad: What's the reason behind betting at all? and it has a few answers, such as: to build a pot, to thin the field, to take the pot down right now, and even the often misguided: to see where I'm at. There are other answers of course, and one more advanced one is: to set up for a bluff later. The important point regardless of reason for betting though is to answer the "why" question for yourself before you make the bet... have a plan or don't play the hand.
    – mah
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


With free tournaments and games, playing a lot of hands is a good thing, it helps one learn how a lot of hands play. The object of free play is to play so one can learn.

Then there are others who are just having fun, serious poker when there is nothing serious involved is not fun.

At any rate free money poker games are not really poker, they are just some card game that looks like poker, about as serious as go fish. What makes poker a poker game is the element of betting. If you do not have stakes that have meaning you do not have a poker game. You just have fun.

  • So, you're saying, that a) play money games are not real games 2) play money games help you to learn to play[not real games]. Which means that they actually don't help anything, that's sad. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 17:36
  • There's a reason why most people don't go back from real stakes to fake stakes.
    – Jonast92
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 17:38
  • yes, they help you learn the basic mechanics of the game and help you learn to play wild loose players. But it is no more playing real poker then flag football is to the super bowl.
    – Jon
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 17:39
  • @IlyaSmagin yes, if the stakes are meaningless, you're not learning to play poker, you're learning to play a card game whose rules match that of poker. I know it sounds like they're the same, but consider: Poker is not a game of cards played with people. Poker is a game of people, played with cards. The difference is that in poker, it is not the best hand that wins, because many hands do not go to completion. Rather, it's often the last person willing to bet that wins the hand... when bets have no meaning, it's a very very different scenario.
    – mah
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 16:11

They might do so everyone will fold and they may get chips.

  • They don't go all-in, they call 1-4 bb, so this is not what's happening( Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 10:17
  • What beats me most is that in my opinion a lot of people do that. I can often see 3-4 people fighting and agreeing to 4bb at preflop, later on 2-3 of them happen to be trashhands -- but they win pots. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 10:25

As the blinds grow, your opportunities to wait for a great hand go down, so the chance to get lucky with a poor hand, right now, can become comparable to the chance to get lucky with a great hand later, which might never come.

As the blinds become large relative to your stack, playing with poorer hands makes sense. And the same may be happening to the others at the table.

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