Why All-In? The Beginners Guide To Understanding Push / Fold Poker Strategy

Pushing All-In In SNG Or Multi-Table Tournament Poker Is Common, This Article Explains Both How And Why!

Ever wondered why people push all-in so often at the bubble of a Sit and Go? To someone new to this form of poker it can seem like all the skill has gone out of the game! Push / Fold poker strategy is used by both expert players and novices. In the right hands it is possible to become ‘mathematically unexploitable’ using this Sit N Go Poker strategy. In the wrong hands, or wrongly applied, it can lead to horrible poker - this article outlines why all-in poker can be appropriate, and shows you how to execute the right moves at the right time!

There are 2 aspects to all-in / fold poker tournament strategy that the beginner needs to understand. The first concerns stack sizes + pot odds and the second is to do with converting chip stacks into something called ‘prize pool equity’.

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Push-Fold SNG Poker Strategy Basics #1 - Stack Sizes And Odds

Stack sizes make a big difference to any poker strategy, since the game of no-limit Texas Holdem is based largely on ‘implied odds’ – that is the chance of being paid off with a big pot if you hit a flop hard.

Here is the key point – once you get down to 10 times the big blind pot-odds mean that you should usually call if someone re-raises your initial raise. An example will clarify:

You have a stack of 1000 chips (as does your opponent), the big blind is 150 at the bubble of a sit and go tournament. You raise to 400 and your opponent (in the big blind) goes all-in for 1000 chips.

Now the pot is a total of 1475 chips (including the small blind who folded). To call you need to put in 600 more. This makes your pot-odds 1475/600 or 2.45 to 1, this means that you have to win the hand only more than 40% of the time to show a profit… against the wide range of hands someone might push all-in with in a low limit SNG you are often a favorite against the wide range of hands your opponent could hold – this becomes an easy call.

So here is the follow - up question (as nobody likes to ‘flip’ for all of their chips on the bubble of a SNG!):

If you were forced to call the re-raise by the pot-odds, why not go all-in yourself in the first place?

After all your opponents will often fold hands that they might have re-raised with – allowing you to pick up the blinds uncontested and grow your stack by 15%!

Push-Fold SNG Poker Strategy Basics #2 - Prize Pool Equity Models

There is another reason for pushing all-in at the bubble, this concerns a mathematical model called the ‘Independent Chip Model’. What this does is convert your stack into ‘equity’ in the prize pool… the relationship between your chips and stake in the prizes is not linear (after all there is more than one prize).

As you become experienced in SNG play understanding ICM is important, even if you choose not to use this yourself – so many opponents will use it that you need to know.

There are actually software tools that will give you a head-start when it comes to profitable push-fold poker strategy. We suggest taking the 30 day free trial of SNG Wiz – this will analyze your hand histories for you, leading to immediate improvements.

There are many ICM articles here at SNG planet – those new to this concept can start with the introduction to ICM and go from there.

So, next time you wonder why opponents are pushing all-in you’ll know that there are at least 2 explanations!! Of course, even a basic understanding of when to push all-in and when to fold will give you a huge advantage over those opponents who do not know this.

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