AK: All-in or fold?


Last weekend I was in late stages of a tournament at my hometown casino. It was the Saturday deepstack, $250 buy-in with 15,000 starting chips, with about 45 entrants. Grand prize was about $3400 and the top 5 players paid.

There were 12 players left. The following numbers are estimates. I have a somewhat-above average stack, about 65,000 chips. Blinds are 500 ante / 1500 / 3000. I am in late position. An early position player, who has about 35,000 chips, goes all-in, and everyone after him folds. I hadn't played a hand for probably the last 6-8 hands. I was bleeding away my antes (or so it seemed to me, even though I still had plenty of chips). I looked down, praying to find either AA or a trash hand I could easily fold. But, much to my chagrin, I was holding AK off-suit.

What should I do: fold, or go over-the-top all-in?

I'll post hand outcome, later. Thanks.


  1. I think moving all in is the best play here as a general situation. With a stack of $65,000, calling will commit just over half of our chips. We really can't call and then later fold if some one else comes over the top. So, being committed, I think moving all in makes some sense. That being said, if there were a really loose gambling type, I might think about calling and hoping to lure that person in. But, again, by deciding to continue, we are committing ourselves to this pot and we need to see every card through the river. So, if I make some exotic play like calling, I am moving all in on 100% of the flops. Honestly, I hate decisions like that, so moving all in prevents me from having a hard decision on a flop I miss.

    I think there is a solid chance that the $35,000 stack is moving all in with a pocket pair. However, somewhat less likely is that he has A-A or K-K. Those hands might not opt for an over-bet here. So, we may well be behind. But all the dead money - and the possibility we are up against a hand like A-Q that we dominate - give us plenty of reason to gamble here even though we might be slightly behind. But you need to gamble at some point to make it into the money.

    With 12 players left, were there two tables of six? If so, being up against A-Q or A-J go up in possibility and you can absolutely not ever fold A-K here (even if, like me, you hate the hand).

    If you were significantly better than most or all player left - and you weren't prone to overestimating your own skills, there might be a point to finding a better spot. But this seems like a pretty darn good spot so I'd go with it. ALL IN BABY!!!!

    Hope this went well for you.

  2. @allin67 I agree with you. But then again your user name is allinn lol

  3. You are 7 from the money, your actual stack does not guarantee you to be paid, you have 22 bb and you hold AK. If there is 2 shoves before you of stacks as big as yours is the only situation where I could find a fold here (as you are probably sharing outs and diminishes your equity). Here everything else than re-jamming is burning money.
    Oh and don't be result oriented you have to win flips and setups in tournament.

  4. I agree with everyone here. Over the top. This is a spot where you need to be playing to win, not survive. If you bust, so be it. Make the right decisions and let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully you came out ahead here.

  5. Hand outcome: I stammered a bit before acting, as I was anticipating a bad outcome (I am cynic at heart). Then, I shoved all-in. The blinds folded and we raced heads-up. I figured my opponent was holding a pocket pair, unlikely to be A or K. As expected, he had pocket TT.

    I lost the race.

    My chips were deflated down to about 20,000 or about 10BB. I went all-in a few hands later with suited A2 (maybe not a good decision?), lost that race, and busted out in 12th place.

    Thanks for your comments. I know that you have to have some well placed luck, a couple of races in your favor, and good timing, to win a tournament. But I still feel better after venting my hand on this board!

  6. @Goodshoe - And that's part of it. Good choice in shoving. You win that race you're sitting nicely to really go on the attack and try to take down the whole thing. :)

  7. Easy Shove :)

  8. Unless you think he's never shoving AQ or AJ here with 11 1/2 BB's. Actually Looking at Propokertools if you think he's still shoving a very tight range of say 99+ and AQ+, your an underdog - although the added blinds/antes help compensate for the slight < 1% negative immediate EV. In general we're reshoving unless you believe his range to be very very tight still... Considering a decent amount of players will shove with any suited ace there, or any semi decent ace along with their pocket pairs, there's a little added dead money, and we won't be eliminated by this player we should be shoving here relatively easily with AK.

  9. Shove

  10. Even my grandma would have called that.

  11. @JG1983 see you at the 50k guaranteed :) nitt

  12. @Goodshoe yes you do but donking off your stack w/A 2 isn't a race

  13. @Goodshoe....I am by know means a pro, but do feel I have a good handle on my game. If you are really in the "zone" than I think you call with AK with hopefully a little luck your hand hits the flop. If you are playing to win the tournament you fold and wait for another hand which will come within a minutes time. No one at the table knows what you are playing! Good luck!

  14. This is what I see all the time. People holding AK and think they got the nuts...and how do they justify folding AK?
    To answer your question correctly, I'll first ask you exactly what hand did you put him on and what kind of action behind you did you expect?
    You said he had pocket Tens, so is AK a loser to pocket Tens? Yes. So you shoved anyway. I guess you didn't get lucky. If you want to play a game of luck, don't waste time on strategy.
    No way I would intsashove right there...and I'd be ashamed if my grandmother did.

  15. The question is really, "Is this a hand I must play?" You have only the ante invested. How did you get your stack? by Luck or skillful play...? Be honest with yourself. If you have been picking up pots by outplaying your opposition then why gamble half your stack away. If you have been getting it in bad and getting lucky to win most your chips then you should know this is most likely a flip but this time you have a decent hand. AK is great to shove with, less great to call half your stack off with. That being said... Pros and Recreational players do it all the time. Now I'm going to see what happened.

  16. @any2 The shove is not a "Bad Move" The Tilt shove with A2 was the Bad Move. Don't get me wrong, I've Tilt shoved many a hand. But I am trying to be a better poker player. Good Luck in the future

  17. @any2 It's more so "Is this a profitable play" than "is this a hand I must play." Mathematically, long term - this is a very easy shove.

    Not accounting for ICM and assuming the other player is shoving a mathematically optimal range (I'm sure he's probably not) then we can at least call in this spot with 55+, A9s+, ATo+ and KQs, thus AK is towards the top of that range and should be an easy and profitable get in.

    An appropriate shoving range UTG 6-way w/11.5BB is 22+, A3s+, ATo+, K9s+, KJo+, Q9s+, J9s+, T8s+, 98s

    VS. this shoving range, our AK shove (assuming no-one else comes in) or call is a 56.69% favorite. Not a huge favorite, but pokers really a game of small edges. This with the added dead money from ante's and blinds in makes this a quite favorable get in - Whenever we can do that without putting our own tournament life on the line as the favorite is pretty significant.

    The best/highest earning players tend to bubble more often than others on final table and money bubble but are winning more money overall. This gives us a much better chance for a run and/or much more comfortably make it into the money when we knock him out and chip up...

  18. @any2 A2s+ is a standard shove when first in under several positions that he will find himself in. Often this is standard, not tilt/bad shove. We shouldn't be so results oriented when looking at a long-term probability based game.

  19. @akashra this tourney isn't a "long term event" im saying pending playing style this could be a spot to wait for a better spot. And I get most people shove any ace on the short stack. Still not a great play.

  20. Thanks for your new comments on my old post.

    As for shoving my A2s to exit the tournament, from my perspective, there was a little bit of both things going on: (1) I was tilt-shoving, a bit, and (2) I was very short stacked and had to pick up a good spot to regain some chips. I either had to pick this hand, or a different hand, soon, during this cycle.

    By the time the antes / blinds would have come around for a second cycle, I would be $4500 blinds plus about $4500 in antes poorer, or $9000 poorer and having only $11,000 or so remaining. Really bad shape. So, If I didn't shove, soon, while the chips still meant something, then I was out. I am not a poker math expert, but my feeling at the time was that this was probably going to be my best spot. So I went with it.


  21. @Goodshoe well it depends doesn't on how you have seen others play. If you know they are loose or tight and how many cchips they have.say there at other players that might call. Say 4 player in hand. AK is drawing. The other 3 plays likely have high cards too so less high cards in deck to get you a pair or strait. Small cards might have better chance.

  22. @Goodshoe Makes sense. Depends on your position and of course whether or not your first to open-raise in the pot - It could be a little loose UTG and such, but in most positions honestly at this point (Considering your at a short handed table - 12 left) it's a standard shove, so was a good shove still in my view.

    Excellent point with the blinds/antes coming around and that's exactly why it's a standard shove - that's gonna eat up your stack quickly - especially short-handed. Have to choose spots and unfortunately take some more marginal (but still overall profitable) ones while you still have a chance.

  23. @Dahlqje I actually do use this logic in PLO8, and O8 only in position when multiple people enter the pot when deciding to play connected mid-cards or not being more live, but here it's really not relevant.

    For one, he noted he's in late position and 1 person shoved, so doubtful both blinds also come in after two shoves this late in a tournament.

    Either way - let's say 3 had big hands vs. a random small hand: (you can see the small hand is still doing worse than the dominated AQ hand in the sample, so this is pretty bad advice really here that you're suggesting)

    Hand Equity Wins Ties
    AK 28.84% 169,895 7,259
    AQ 18.48% 107,769 7,259
    JJ 35.65% 213,405 1,980
    43 17.03% 101,672 1,980

  24. @akashra statistically your right. In that case it sounds right. All in can be all out too though as this time. Even with 90% odds you loose 10%. I usually wait if odds are too close to 50 50. Sometimes blind out. Heads up its easier to push than multi way pot.

  25. @Dahlqje one reason I play o. Going tables more. Tourney play requires a certain element of luck depending on blind and ante structure