Odds to call all-in, and Odds against random hands

by ~ June 19th, 2008. Filed under: Bankroll, Basics of poker, General poker strategy, Instructional posts, Micro level poker, Poker aggression, Super turbos.

* Modified June 27th, 2008 *

Calling an all-in preflop, or, calling a preflop raise that will put you all-in, requires putting your opponent on a range of hands that he’s likely to be making this move with. ICM helps to determine when this is the correct call, but ICM starts from the odds that your hand will win against the range that you put him on.

That’s what I wanted. A chart that gives me my chances preflop against a guesstimated range for my opponent. So that’s what I built.

I combined this with an abbreviated version of the chart from the Odds of winning against 1, 2, 3, or 4 random hands blog entry. I took out the 4th random hand because by that point it’s really not going to be all that random if you have that many people still to play, and used only the better hands as those are the one’s that I’m likely going to be considering pushing with.

Then I took those hands, plugged them into PokerStove (if you don’t have the program, Google it and get it; it’s free!) and ran those hands against the top 10%, 20% and 30% of hands to see how these hold up, depending on which range of hands I put my opponent on.

(I’ve revised it since the original upload. Corrected a couple that were out of order, and color coded those situations that are better than a coin flip and worse than a coin flip; > 55% and < 45%)

It’s interesting. If my opponent and I are evenly chipped and he’s fairly tight (and, obviously we’re not headsup since everyone’s shoving range should open up hugely if the blinds are high and there’s only two players left in a tourney), then it looks like I’m calling too often with low pairs since I normally call with any pair.

Also in the chart I’ve skipped the middle Ace hands as the drop off is gradual from A8 down to A2. The mid-lower Aces only hold up decently against the wider range of shoving hands, though that’s definitely not a tight range to put someone on if they’re short stacked.

Partly I did this because I wanted to see how non-Ace hands that I routinely fold actually compare with Ace hands and this chart seems to bear that out. KQs, the best of them, only ranks around AJo and ATs so calling with KTo just because they are big cards is only valid if someone is really shortstacked or you otherwise have reason to believe that your opponent’s range is pretty wide.


I think beginners probably look at something like this and wonder, why do I have to “put someone on a range? That’s another step, and makes things more complicated”. Basically, you do this to narrow the possibilities. If you think that he could be doing this with 72o, then you consider the full range of random hands. If not, then your chances improve, but how much they improve depends on what range of hands your opponent might have that would lead him to make this play.

And then the next, more difficult question; how do I put him on a range of hands? Practice. Make a point of always putting your opponent on a range (even in normal postflop play) and then always critiquing your guess afterwards to see how closely it matches what he actually held. But, watch out for the tendency that I have of putting someone on too narrow a range of hands (partly because 1) I erroneously assume my opponents play like me, and 2) I play buyin levels lower than I need to play) and then worst of all, narrowing the range too tightly as the hand goes on. This is akin to not being able to fold AA/KK postflop even when it’s pretty likely that you’re beaten.


This all comes about because I’m still playing the super turbo SnGs on Full Tilt. Because it’s almost all push/fold preflop (except when some weak player limps into my blind or I’m under-representing a monster), thinking along these lines is what playing these tournies is all about.

I’m still trying to learn that line between survival and winning in the earlier rounds. Two of my early exits were the result of my AK up against a middle pair and losing. Once is all that I can recall of getting all-in with AK and winning in the early rounds. Pretty small sample size, I know.

On the other hand, too many of my ITMs are 3rd place which I believe is due to a combination of people loosening up their calling range ITM while I’m still being aggressive, combined with the fact that because of my survival approach in the early stages I get chipped down, and just before the bubble I can’t get aggressive if there are limpy players still playing. In other words, when we get close to the bubble, I’m often very short stacked, and when calling ranges open up, I can’t get anywhere with an extreme short stack.

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