Playing Coin Flips in Poker Tournaments
Coin-flips are practically inevitable in an online No Limit Hold'em tournament, however some players enter coin-flips far too often and wonder why they are not successful in tournament play. Although odds
are you will enter numerous coin-flips in each tournament you play, it is important to enter them in the most advantageous situations possible.
These situations may include knocking a shorter stack out, doubling up when you hold only a few big blinds, or late in the tournament to battle for a big stack entering the late stages. Although many people seem to be thrilled when entering a coin-flip situation, most observers get the wrong idea. Most people are thrilled to enter these situations simply because they are not behind to begin with. As each separate coin-flip provides a 50/50 shot at winning the pot, the players are usually not thrilled to be ahead with a small pair vs. over-cards, but rather are thrilled to not be dominated.
Knocking Out Short Stacks
Your best opportunity out of the three scenarios discussed here, is always whenever you hold more chips than your opponent. This will automatically guarantee that you cannot be eliminated in the hand in which the coin-flip is taking place. If you are fortunate enough to be sitting on a fairly large stack entering the mid to late stages of a tournament, you will have various opportunities to enter pots with the short stacks that will continue to play aggressive. These short stacks will be battling the raising blinds, and any stack under around 10 big blinds will most likely only be making one move, all-in. These short stacks will be pushing with very marginal hands, and sometimes you will have to make a decision with marginal hands as well because you will not constantly be holding hands such as JJ, QQ, AK, KK or AA that guarantee a call. Some of the marginal hands you may be considering calling with when you have a short stack covered a few times over may be A10, KQ, KJ, 44,55, or 66. These hands vary greatly and it is important to consider a number of factors before calling a short stack's all-in.
You must first consider the short stack's position, if he or she sits in early position you may wish to fold these semi-strong hands, and stick with pairs above 88, and AQ or AK. If the short stack pushes in very late position you will have no trouble calling his or her all-in with the six hands listed above. If you are sitting in the big blind and the raiser has only 4 to 5 big blinds, you also can consider a call with an even weaker hand such as K10, A9, or 33, simply because you may be getting 2 to 1 on your money that you call with.
Pushing as a Short Stack
As discussed above, many short stacks including you may be pressured by the blinds to push all-in very often as the blinds continually rise. This is another case when you may have to enter a coin-flip situation because you will be called by a larger stack attempting to knock you out. If you hold around 10 big blinds with one of the six hands listed above, your all-in is a strong move because you force the remaining players at the table to have a very large hand, especially when you push in early position.
If you shove all-in and the players do not hold JJ, QQ, KK, AA, AK or AQ, you will most likely be entering a coin-flip situation, which is the best position you can hope for. In this case you have the opportunity to double up to nearly an average stack, and enter the later rounds with a strong chance to go far. You may even dominate the player that called, especially if it is a large stack, who may be calling with a very weak hand simply to knock you out.
In this case your hands can become increasingly weaker as you are in later position as well. This forces the hands in front of you to be semi-strong, and if they hold junk, you will take down the blinds and possibly add up to 20% of your stack on top of the 10 big blinds you hold.
Re-Raising Big Stacks
Another opportunity you may have in the late stages of tournaments to make a move may be while you hold a large stack. At this point the blinds will be fairly large, and the larger stacks are going to be pressuring the blinds, and hoping to steal them very often. These raises will often occur in very late position and will be made with any two cards that a large stack will hold.
If you are sitting in a blind or dealer position with a large stack directly behind you, this may be the opportunity to re-raise the big stack's pre-flop raise. It is almost guaranteed that this raise will be made by the player to take the blinds, and therefore a hand such as A9, A10, KQ, KJ, and pair above 44 should induce a re-raise. The big stack will almost always recognized he or she is far behind and surrender the hand immediately, awarding you the blinds and raise for a simple, precise, quick play.
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