Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Poker: Avoid calling in Coin-flip Situations when it is not profitable
Let's say you are somewhat short-stacked and limped in with AK. A relatively tight player reraised all-in and got your stack covered. Most amateurs would call, but this is a mistake. With so little chips committed, there is no point in risking all of your chips for a ~50% chance to win.
It is better to look for situations that is advantageous to you. If you held KK with a short-stack, and someone reraised you all-in, obviously you should call. But the reason behind it is that you know the only other hand you are a dog is against AA. Against QQ,JJ,TT,99, you are ahead 80:20. Against AK, you are ahead 70:30. Against AQ, AJ, Ax, you are ahead 72:28. So you are most likely a 2:1 to 4:1 favorite against your opponent's hands.
Now if you think it over, if you call every single all-in with AK, you will lose money in the long run. Where as, if you call with KK every single time, you will make money. This concept is simple enough preflop, but people should understand that this applies to post-flop play as well.
Let's say you have top pair, and you know that your opponent has a mid pair and a flush draw. If you have very little money commited in the pot, and your opponent went all-in. Is it really worth it to call? The answer is a definite no. Half the time, you would be grumbling to yourself, thinking you made the right read of your opponent, but your luck was bad. Too bad it isn't that your luck is bad, but your play is not advantageous.
However, there is one caveat. The above only applies to heads-up situations. If it is a multi-way pot, your odds are significantly better. So calling could be worthwhile.
P.S. If you are looking for a leak in your otherwise *ahem* flawless game, this could be one of them.