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Old 06-10-2011, 11:38 AM   #1
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pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

I'm clearly missing something, because when i put something like
AK o/s VS 55 into pokerstove :-
...... .. equity win
AcKd 44.985 44.79
5h5s 55.01 54.82 etc etc

so wouldnt the above suggest that actually the pair is ahead of ak o/s ( and AK suited too!) and more likely to finnish the winner?
and infact if you had pocket 10's or above the chances of ak to finnish with a run are even reduced making your holding 10's even more likely to finnish a winner

so why does everybody throw away everything ( and congratulate themselvs) with ...
" wow i threw away pocket jacks Yipppeeee! I am great at this " etc
Please gently explain if its a coin flip why push allin with ak ??
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:02 PM   #2
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

There are a few reasons for going all in with AK, even if you know your opponent has a pair.

If you're the one pushing, there's a chance your opponent might fold and you win the pot (this is "fold equity").

If you're the one calling and there's enough chips in the pot compared to what it costs you to call, then it's worth it because when you hit your A or K you win enough chips to make up for being slightly behind. For example, if the pot has 1000 already and someone raises all in for another 1000 it costs you only 1000 for the chance to win 2000, so the pot is giving you odds of 2:1 - certainly good enough for a coin flip (this is called "pot odds").

If you have AK, your best chance of hitting is to see all 5 cards without having to make any more decisions - so all-in is good.

The other thing is that you usually don't know that your opponent has a pair. If they don't then you're at least 2:1 favourite. You put them on a range of hands, which includes a proportion of pairs, etc, and figure out how likely you are to be ahead or behind. Then make a decision based on a combination of pot odds, fold equity, etc.

The reason why pairs don't always call is the risk of facing a bigger pair. Then they lose more than 80% of the time.

Last edited by gothninja; 06-10-2011 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:07 PM   #3
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by grossout View Post
so wouldnt the above suggest that actually the pair is ahead of ak o/s ( and AK suited too!) and more likely to finnish the winner?
Pocket pairs are always ahead of two overs preflop (unless they're blocking each other, such as 55 vs 55 vs AKo, in which case the AK is well ahead).

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Originally Posted by grossout View Post
infact if you had pocket 10's or above the chances of ak to finnish with a run are even reduced making your holding 10's even more likely to finnish a winner
Yup.

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Originally Posted by grossout View Post
so why does everybody throw away everything ( and congratulate themselvs)
Different situations dictate different choices. As the villain(s) make their decisions themselves reacting to your decisions, their range (probable set of holdings) shrinks and becomes more and more exact.
Suppose you're heads up with someone and raise from SB. If he now reraises you, you should take that as an indication of a strong hand, stronger than at least half of your range, which is those hands you could have raised with in the first place.
Example: you have 55 against nitty villain, folded to you, you're SB. You raise to 3xBB -- disregarding bluffs that shrinks your range to playable hands like A9o+/A7s+/KTo+/K9s+/QJo/QTs+/22+. Suppose that's what villain thinks you will raise, and nothing else. Now in order to 3-bet he needs to beat the majority of that range: AK, AQs+, TT+ are 3-betting hands. So if you get raised, you're either up against a greater pair that crushes you, or two overs against which you're in a very slight advantage, and you'll never know if he made a pair on the flop (usually you'll flop an underpair to the board) which makes it ridiculously hard to play. It's best to fold to the 3-bet in this case.

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Originally Posted by grossout View Post
Please gently explain if its a coin flip why push allin with ak ??
Likely because of the large amount of $ already in the pot and to utilize fold equity (make small pocket pairs fold some percent of the time). It depends on the situation though, so sometimes it's correct, sometimes not.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:39 PM   #4
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

Quote:
I'm clearly missing something, because when i put something like
What you're missing is that you can't "put something like" that in a real game situation, because neither player knows what the other has.

Spots where one player is likely to have AK are also spots where the same player is likely to have JJ and up.
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:30 PM   #5
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

I personally am unwilling to be all in with AK most of the time unless it's an mtt or sng. In ring games I'm willing to call a push if they are below half stacked for the buy in but if someone with more than that stack 3 or 4 bets me all in I might fold AK (if I'm not pot commited at that point). My theory is that AK is a very small underdog to PP holdings and that will add up overtime. Also how often are some of your outs out already like someone may have folded K3 etc. The only time I might not follow this self rule is if someone's pushing range is extremely light like people willing to push with Axs.
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Old 06-10-2011, 05:36 PM   #6
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by Takemusu Aiki View Post
Pocket pairs are always ahead of two overs preflop (unless they're blocking each other, such as 55 vs 55 vs AKo, in which case the AK is well ahead).

55 has 54.617% equity vs. Ako
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Old 06-10-2011, 05:45 PM   #7
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

The big advantage of AK preflop is that it is rarely a big dog to any holding. There are only two holdings which have AK in horrible shape: AA and KK. And since AK has blockers to both of those hands, the chance of your opponent holding one of them is further reduced.

By playing AK aggressively, you get folds from many hands which are favorites over you, like 22-99. In case they call rather than fold, you still have good equity anyway. Unless you are facing the fishiest calling station in the world, the equity you gain when your opponent folds the best hand should more than compensate for the times when you make a big pot with a slight equity deficit. And if your opponent actually is a horrible calling station, then AK is well ahead of their calling range, which probably includes AQ-AT and maybe KQ and KJ, and you gain value from their calls.
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Old 06-10-2011, 06:26 PM   #8
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by andyg2001 View Post
55 has 54.617% equity vs. Ako
Which is what he said:

Quote:
Pocket pairs are always ahead of two overs preflop
And then added more information to:

Quote:
(unless they're blocking each other, such as 55 vs 55 vs AKo, in which case the AK is well ahead).
(Emphasis mine.)
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Old 06-10-2011, 07:34 PM   #9
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

OP, you seem to think that getting it all with AK pre is a standard play, which it isn't.
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Old 06-10-2011, 07:58 PM   #10
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by Mr Beer View Post
OP, you seem to think that getting it all with AK pre is a standard play, which it isn't.
Depends on many factors though, especially stack size and # of people at the table / what the dynamic is like (aggressive 3/4/5 betting or not).
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:33 PM   #11
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by JomboJuice22 View Post
Depends on many factors though, especially stack size and # of people at the table / what the dynamic is like (aggressive 3/4/5 betting or not).
Yeah of course and obviously there are circumstances where getting it in would be standard, it's just OP seems to think it's a universal rule instead of very situation dependant.
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:47 PM   #12
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by grossout View Post
I'm clearly missing something
Everything in your post is right so you aren't missing the fact. What you need to do now is think a little deeper. If AKs is the "loser" to most hands that would properly call an all-in PF why should you go all in?

To get some data compare AKs to all other pocket pairs, and other premium hands (AQs, AJs, KQs, etc.) using pokerstove. You will notice that with the exception of AA and KK (which combined occur in less than 1% of hands) the AK has pretty good equity. On some hands it is ahead and with the exception of AA & KK it is never behind by much.

So of the hands an opponent is likely to call your all-in (with exception of AA, KK) you are essentially a coin flip. There isn't much potential -EV there. Your potential for huge losses is limited. Also there are three things that make it +EV (often times a LOT of +EV).

1) There are bad players. Many players love the all-in a little too much. They will call an all-in with AQs, AJ, Axs hell even KTo or higher. The AKs is superior against all those. Don't assume you will get called with inferior hands but know your opponents. If opponents at your table calls all-ins with too many hands there is bonus equity there.

2) Pot odds. There is money already in the pot especially in middle tournament (when antes kick in). Say there is $2K in the pot, you have $5K all-in and are called ($12K total). You got 2.4 : 1 pot odds on a matchup that is essentially a coin flip and that is +EV. Thinking a little further this is why AKs is worth MORE in late position (or in the blinds). I hate getting AKs UTG because it loses a lot of potential equity because the all-in usually limits you two 1 caller + blinds, you don't gain any folding money. The best is being on the BB, having UTG PFR and then getting 2-3 callers. You might get 3:1 pot odds for your all-in. Note: the shorter your stack relative to the blind the more value AKs has. Read that again (or run some numbers) if it doesn't make sense.

2 - the ugly) Variance. Since AKs is a coin flip for most matchups you will lose when called with a pocket pair about 50% of the time. Get that in your mind right now, you can't change that. The variance that comes from that is hard for many players to deal with. Marginal players don't comprehend the huge variance in near 50/50 all-ins and thus think "AK sucks, I keep getting burned" but +EV is +EV. Understand the variance, don't let it cause you to make sub-optimal plays. If you play poker long enough you will get hundreds of AKs all-in and the variance takes care of itself.

3) Folding Equity. If there is $2K chips in the pot and you think your opponent will fold 30% of the time when facing an all-in (even with superior pocket pair) then that needs to be part of your equity analysis. So why are people likely to fold even pocket pairs? Because betting for AKs is very similar to premium pairs. Your opponent doesn't know if you have AKs or AA. So while JJ is coin flip with AKs it is smashed against AA. Remember how AKs is not much of an underdog against any pair, that isn't true of pairs. Thus dynamic makes calling with low or medium pairs very dangerous and going all in with AKs less dangerous.

Now that being said there are two situations where you have no folding equity. The first one being when you call an all-in. So calling an all-in with AKs may be the wrong play even if going all-in with AKs is the right play. The second situation is calling stations. Some players will call any all-ins with any pocket pair. In those situations AKs has no folding equity and loses a lot of value. Know your opponents.

Last edited by DeathAndTaxes; 06-10-2011 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:12 PM   #13
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by andyg2001 View Post
55 has 54.617% equity vs. Ako
Yeah, pocket fives always ahead



...of other sites.
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:45 AM   #14
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

Thanks for taking time to reply

What you've all exposed "whats missing" is i keep looking for a "1 rule fits all"
I must try and remember poker is situation and player dependant

But i keep losing at MICRO stakes and i thought having had a sucessfull career as an exchange derivatives trader and i thought poker has very simular ingrediants
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:50 AM   #15
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Re: pre flop all-in ak vs pocket pairs

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Originally Posted by andyg2001 View Post
55 has 54.617% equity vs. Ako
Player 1: 55 (22.71%)
Player 2: 55 (22.71%)
Player 3: AKo (54.57%)

Player 1 and 2 cannot improve with a set or quads.

Last edited by gothninja; 06-11-2011 at 05:07 AM. Reason: removed guff
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