If you play Sit n Go’s or multi-table tournaments online you are frequently presented with what is known as “coin flip” hands, sometimes quite early in the tournament. There are various schools of thought on how to play these hands, but I have a couple of rules of thumb on how to respond to these plays, especially early on.
First, a “coin flip” hand is simply a hand (generally heads-up against one other player) where both players have about a 50% chance of winning the hand. Many times it is 45% to 55% or 47% to 53% or somewhere in that area, you get the picture. The cards in these hands will usually be something like pocket 7’s against A-K (55% to 45%) or A-Q to 9-9, that sort of thing.
How do you know when you are about to be in this kind of confrontation? The answer is, you don’t always know, but a lot of times you have a pretty good idea. For example, if you are sitting there with T-T and make a pre-flop raise, only to be re-raised or maybe put all-in, you can be fairly safe in figuring you are up against A-something. Or vice versa. Many online players will try and make huge re-raises with low or middle pocket pairs with you have. So, how do you respond when you are put in this situation.
Well, everyone loves to double up, especially early. It gives you the safe, satisfied feeling that this is now your tournament to win. If you have read my book, , then you know my feelings on getting all your chips in pre-flop early on. Suffice to say, it is not a play that I encourage.
However, here is a general rule for you to use: if you feel you are the weakest player at the table, the great equalizer is the pre-flop all-in. It takes away the difficult decision making process that you face after the flop. If you strongly feel that you are out-skilled and need to double up to be competitive in the Sit n Go or tournament, then going for these coin flip hands is the right play. Otherwise, you just do not NEED to get your chips in when you only will win about 1/2 the time. There will come plenty of plays later on where you can push all in as a 3:1 or 4:1 favorite or better. Trust me, they will be there. You do not need the coin flip if you have the skill to navigate through later stages.
If you feel that you don’t yet have this skill, the coin flip may not only be a good proposition for you, it may be one you need to win. Do not take this to mean that you have to be a bad player to need to utilize the coin flip. Maybe you are an online amateur at the WSOP Main Event and have the misfortune to be sitting at the table with Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, and Gus Hanson. Here, the all-in on the coin flip may be your only chance against highly skilled, wily, pros. There is nothing wrong with that, you may be a perfectly good player, but find yourself up against better players. Recognizing this is part of becoming a great player.
Obviously, thisis strictly situational. In the later stages of the tournament it may be a good play all the time. Of course, that depends on the size of your chip stack, the aggressiveness of your opponents, the size of the blinds, etc. But, early on, you have to be the judge of whether or not coin flip situations are ones that you need to enter into or not.
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