When to All in Pre-Flop in Poker?
Table of content:
- All in preflop – A basic explanation
- Reasons for moving all in preflop in poker
- When should you go all in preflop in poker?
Poker is often regarded as the game of mathematical calculations, key strategic decisions, understanding human behaviour and variance. Oftentimes, people prefer to move all in preflop in poker after looking at their hole cards. It is quite understandable that this is not an easy decision for any player. But the decision to preflop all in often benefits the players in more than one provided they move their chips at the right time. Now, you may ask “when should a player actually go all in preflop”, and that is exactly what we have answered here. In this post, we have detailed everything from the basic meaning of all in preflop, the reason to go all in to the factors and the right timing to go preflop all in poker.
Before we jump on to explaining what does preflop all in means in poker, let us first understand the meaning of these two terms “all in” and “preflop” individually. So, when it comes to poker, going “all in” simply means betting the entire amount that a player currently holds in a single go. The term “preflop” generally implies before the flop, where the flop refers to the second betting round in the game of Texas Holdem where 3 community cards are dealt face up. Together, preflop all in usually means moving all in before the flop round itself. Now, here you might find yourself asking “why would a player want to move all in preflop even before the community cards are dealt”. Well, sometimes it so happens that a player becomes short stacked in a game of poker thereafter he is stuck in an all or nothing situation where he generally has only two decisions to make. He can either fold his hand pre-flop or he can choose to move all in hoping to double up. This, as you might have guessed, is a place where no player wants to be. But, contrary to popular belief, you should actually consider going preflop all in due to two key reasons, both of which we have covered in the next section.
Why would a poker player who has just entered a fresh round of Texas Holdem risk all his chips by moving all in that too in the preflop round itself? As surprising as it might sound, players generally move all in preflop quite often and here are the two distinct reasons.
Firstly, when a player moves all in preflop, he essentially places all the pressure on his opponent. How? Because all in bets generally amount to a major fraction of any player’s chip stack, and deciding to call a player’s all in bet is a game-changing decision. Additionally, when any player moves preflop all in, he essentially puts his opponent in a spot where his opponent will now have to decide whether he is prepared to risk a major fraction of his chip stack or not. In such a situation, most opponents end up folding which in turn benefits the all in player in more ways than one. Not only does the all in player win the amount of the antes and blinds but the decision to move all in preflop gives him a major chip advantage as well.
Secondly, when any player moves preflop all in, he is saved from making a hard decision post flop. Let’s understand this reason better with a short example:
Let’s assume you are playing a game of Texas Holdem where the current big blind is $100. You currently hold a stack size worth next 10 big blinds or a total of $1000. You currently hold a hand consisting of a king and an ace. Here, you have two options - you can either preflop all in or you can make a standard 3x raise. Let’s assume you made a standard 3x raise and your opponent with a stack size worth 30 big blind calls. Now the flop round comes and 3 community cards – 7 of diamonds, 9 of diamonds and 4 of clubs are opened, none of these cards can truly help your cause in a major way. Now, you are stuck in a big tight spot since neither the community cards are of any major help to you nor do you have an idea about your opponent’s hand strength. But if you look back, you could have easily avoided this critical situation if you had decided to move all in preflop.
Generally speaking, it is always considered a good idea to move preflop all in when you have been dealt a strong hand consisting of premium cards such as Aces-Aces, King-King, Queen-Queen, Jack-Jack etc. Here, you need to remember, deeper the stack size higher are the chances of your preflop all in bet proving profitable. On the contrary, if your current stack size is rather shallow then you must consider moving preflop all in with a wider range of cards including mid and small pocket pairs such as 66, 77 and 99 and broadway hands like King-Queen, King-Jack etc. When it comes to poker, pocket pair is a term that is generally used to describe any two cards that belong to the same rank. Alternatively, the broadway hand generally refers to a poker hand that contains at least 2 out of 5 highest ranked cards in poker namely – Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace.
Now, we know this answer is a bit direct and simple. But don’t you worry, to help you understand better, we have answered the question “when should you go all in preflop in poker” in a little more detail in the next section.
To begin with, the right time to move preflop all in generally depends on 3 key factors all of which we have detailed below.
Starting Hands and stack size
When it comes to preflop all in, starting hands and chip stack generally play a rather significant role. Typically speaking, there are only a few monster hands that you must seriously consider worthy of a preflop all in bet. These hands are:
Aces-Aces, King-King and Queen-Queen, if you have been dealt any of these hands during the preflop round then going for an all in bet is the ideal option for you. However, depending on the type of opponent and your relative stack size, you can widen this range a bit. This is because when it comes to poker tournaments and games, blinds usually escalate every few minutes. In such a situation, you likely cannot sit and wait for a monster hand like the one detailed above. Here, your prime consideration should be to survive and not get pushed out of the tournament. Therefore, with a short stack size, you must seriously consider going preflop all in with hands like – Ten-Ten, 9-9, 8-8, Ace-Ten as well.
Here, it is imperative for you to understand that when it comes to preflop all in, you must stay very selective with your hands. This is because when you move preflop all in, you basically risk your entire chip stack. So, rather than going all in with any and all hands be selective and give yourself the best chance possible at winning.
As a rule of thumb, the shallower the stack size the earlier you should decide to move all in.
This is because with deeper stack sizes, you can comfortably raise and wait for a better community card to make your straight flush. But when you are stuck in a situation where your stack size has depleted to a level where you can see max 10 big blinds. Here, it becomes imperative for you to preflop all in as early as possible with whatever hands you have because you run a chance of being blinded out of the tournament. Therefore, whenever you decide to move all in preflop in poker, always make it a point to take your relative stack size and starting hands into consideration.
Let us understand the importance of starting hands and stack size with a short example:
You are currently playing a game of Texas Holdem where you have a stack size worth 15 big blinds. Here, you must consider going preflop all in if you have been dealt the following set of hands:
Aces-Aces, Kings-Kings, Queen-Queen, Jack-Jack, Ten-Ten, 99, 88, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33, 22
Aces-King, Aces-Queen, Aces-Jack, Aces-Ten, Aces- 9, Aces-8, Aces-7, Aces-6, Aces -5, Aces-4, Aces-3, Aces-2
King-Queen, King-Jack, King-Ten, King-9
Queen-Jack, Jack-Ten (suited), 98 (suited) and 87(suited)
Vital to this, if you hold a deeper stack size perhaps worth next 30-40 big blinds, then rather than going preflop all in you should consider raising the amount of the big blind by 2x or 3x.
Type of opponent
Can we ever emphasize enough on the importance of the type of opponent when it comes to poker? We assume likely not! This is because whether it is the decision to go all in preflop or to fold, everything in poker is intimately correlated to the type of opponent you have been put against.
When it comes to all in preflop, you should be much more willing to move all in against loose and aggressive players rather than tightly disciplined players. This is because loose-aggressive players in general have a wide range of cards and as such are much more likely to bluff with weak hands. Such players generally play a fundamental role in making the all in bets profitable. On the contrary, the tight and disciplined players usually tend to hold extremely strong hands such as Aces-Aces, Kings-Kings, Aces-Kings and Queen-Queen. You need to be extremely careful about going preflop all in against these players, because chances are, they will likely call your bet that too with even stronger hands.
Here, it is imperative for you to understand that though preflop all in bets are usually considered one of the best tools in any poker player’s arsenal. They only tend to be profitable when they are executed with a statistical advantage. Now, to gain that statistical advantage, you need to read your opponents well and only go for an all in when you are sure the other person won’t call your bet.
It is always considered a good idea to move all in preflop in poker especially when you hold a positional advantage. Vital to this, you must always aim to preflop all in from a late position as compared to moving all in preflop from an early or middle position. Suppose, you are currently playing from the late position and all the players before you have already folded their cards. Let’s say you hold a chip stack worth the next 10-12 big blinds. Here, you must consider moving all in preflop with any two random hands. The reason for this is that all the players on your current online poker table have already folded now to win the antes and blinds all you have to do is make the small and big blind fold as well. In the current situation, the chances of the small and the big blind folding are actually quite high. But, let’s assume you got called, here on, you still have a fair opportunity to win simply because in the current round of poker any two random hands will win.
In the above situation, more than the chip stack or the starting hands or the opponent it was actually the position that played a rather important role. Therefore, whenever you decide to move all in preflop in poker always make it a point to take your current position into consideration.
Pre flop all in – The place and importance of timing
For our last bit, we have covered a rather important area relating to preflop all in bets which is timing.
As unlikely as it may sound, timing actually plays a rather crucial role when it comes to moving all in preflop. This is because if you hold a strong hand in poker you can actually decide to move all in preflop irrespective of the current situation. On the contrary, if you hold a tentative hand i.e., neither exactly strong nor weak such as King-Jack you must ideally opt to play only against those players who are much more likely to fold to your bet. Here, you can also use one of the best poker strategies of all times namely fold equity.
Moving on, let us assume you hold a stack size worth next 20-25 big blinds. As you can notice, your stack isn’t that short yet. In such a situation, you can easily pressurise your opponents by re-shoving and re-raising their bets. Re-shoving means pushing all in over the player who has already shoved his entire stack while re-raising implies increasing the size of an existing bet in the current betting round.
When it comes to poker, it often becomes difficult to create a “one-size-fits-all” strategy. But, isn’t that what makes poker truly fun? Vital to this, the decision to go all in preflop usually depends on a lot of factors. For our part, we have covered every bit of information that we could have potentially detailed about the preflop all in. Now, it is up to you as an astute poker player, how you put this information to your advantage.
To do the same, just register on the GetMega Poker app and commit yourself to playing a diverse type and number of poker games and tournaments. The more you play the better you will be able to understand when you should go all in preflop in poker.