Most of the time when I am playing online Sit n Go tournaments big or small, I will see players that go all in early in the tournament. Sometimes (a lot of the time) I will even sit down at a table and have one or more players go all-in the very first hand. Inevitably when they flip over their cards, they have less than a premium hand. I have seen players all-in the first hand with 9-2 off suit, Q-8 off suit, A-3 off suit and a myriad of equally undesirable hands. These are players that you need to learn how to play against.
Not only is going all in the first hand particularly dumb, regardless of your cards, it alerts the other players that you are a knucklehead. The first thing I do is make a note about this player. When you go all-in early in a Sit n Go, you are taking a huge chance with your tournament life. In lower dollar tournaments, you see this more, the money doesn’t matter to some people. They have no desire to get better at the game, they are just trying to luck out and double up. There is a very simple solution to keeping these players from accomplishing their goal: fold.
If you refuse to call, they will quit eventually. If you refuse to call, they simply take the blinds, which are meager early on, and they cannot double up. If they cannot double up, they are in trouble because they are obviously not good enough to play and win over the long haul. That is why they feel they need to double up quickly in the first place. These players feel that if they cannot have a big chip stack early on they are better off just finding another Sit N Go. They are probably right, as if they have to attempt this, they are not very good players to begin with.
When you go all-in before the flop, you reduce the skill level needed to play the hand. No hard post-flop decisions have to be made. No tricky bets on the Turn or River. You simply wait for the cards to be dealt out and hope for the best. That is a great play if you HAVE NO SKILL TO BEGIN WITH. However, if you have some skill at playing No Limit Texas Hold’em (and I assume you do or you would not be reading this trying to better yourself) then why would you want to call a bet that will in turn take the skill out of the rest of the hand? The answer is, you wouldn’t.
Many times what happens in these situations is someone else at the table gets tired of watching “BigDog1001” go all-in 6 times in a row and finally calls. The danger here is, BigDog1001 may finally have a real hand or may suck out a hand on you. You need to have VERY premium cards to make this call pre-flop if you have identified one of these players. I’m talking Q-Q, K-K, or A-A. Otherwise there is too much chance involved and you have played into his hands. You can beat him later on using your superior poker skill, so why take the chance that this imbecile might put you out now.
That is the real danger of being at a table with one of these guys: you might get impatient and adjust your play to bonehead vs. bonehead! Don’t do that. Wait him out and trap him post flop once you have a big hand or hit the flop in a big way. As I have said in my book many times, there will come better places to get all your chips in later in the tournament. You cannot win the tournament early on anyway, but you sure can lose it. All-in early on is a beginner and amateur-ish type play. Let other players make that mistake and then capitalize on it later.
Think about this: It is nice to double up early and play with the big stack. You should look for situations where you can do this with little or no risk. But, of the players that you see going all-in a lot and doubling up early, how many of them actually end up winning the tournament?
I would bet not many because even if they luck out and double up, they don’t know how to play with a big stack anymore than they did with a smaller one. They end up getting whittled down to nothing or making another boneheaded all-in move midway through against a smarter opponent and they are done before they make the money anyway. You are much better off waiting to get your chips in when you are more of a favorite to win later on.
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