Close Call

I’m in The Big Blind (TBB) holding Ac-3d. After posting the $800 big blind amount, I have 7 big blinds left. With the small stack at this point, I’m looking for a good spot to be all-in and ahead of my opponent. The principle, players tend to play stronger hands from early position and weaker hands from late position is relevant here. Recall that in an 8-handed game like this one that early position will be the first two seats to the left of The Big Blind (Players 476 and 267). Middle position will be the next three seats to the left (Players 495, 14, and 289). Late position is The Button (Player 162), The Small Blind (Player 477), and The Big Blind (me). Following this logic, I’m able to make a generalization that a raise from early or middle position will be with a stronger hand than from The Button or The Small Blind.

My goal with every all-in is to be ahead and dominating. Almost all of the hands that an opponent will raise with from early or middle position will be dominating A-3. For this reason, I’d fold to and early or middle position raise. I must see how the action plays out before making assumptions, however.


The action folds all the way around the table to The Button (TB), who moves all-in. The Small Blind (TSB) folds and the action is on me. If a move like this was made from early or middle position it would be an easy fold for me. But the fact that the all-in comes from The Button makes it far more likely that it is a worse hand because players tend to play stronger hands from early position and weaker hands from late position.

There is another principle that must be considered here as well: Players with less chips are more likely to go all-in with weaker hands. This principle stems from the idea that, with blinds and antes coming around every 9 hands, you will run out of chips if you don’t make a move. The late table position all-in is easy to see, but how do I know if the size of this all-in is considered small enough to be a weak hand?

The answer to this question can be found by calculating the number of big blinds of the all-in. The all-in if for $6,357 chips. To calculate the number of big blinds use this formula:

# of big blinds = (chip amount) ÷ (1 big blind)

Fill in the variables:

# of big blinds = ($6,357) ÷ ($800)

# of big blinds = 8 big blinds

The Poker Model will give you the tools to nail down the typical range of an 8 big blind all-in from The Button and all other all-ins from any seat at the table. These ranges will help you determine whether to call or fold. For now, just know that an 8 big blind all-in from The Button from an opponent will be 22-AA, A2-AK, K2-KQ, QJ-Q2, J10-J7. Notice that this is what most opponents would do. We would be much tighter with our all-ins from this position with 8 big blinds, more like A6-AK and 66-AA. The Poker Model is focused on staying in the tournament as long as possible and eliminating risk.

Now compare the range of hands for what most opponents would do against A-3. I’ll call if I’m ahead of more hands than are ahead of me, 50/50 hands will not count.

Ahead or behind?

  • A3 vs. 22 – 50/50
  • A3 vs. 33-AA – behind 12 hands
  • A3 vs. A2 – ahead of 1 hand
  • A3 vs. A3 – 50/50
  • A3 vs. A4-AK – behind 10 hands
  • A3 vs. K2-KQ – ahead of 11 hands
  • A3 vs. QJ-Q2 – ahead of 10 hands
  • A3 vs. J7-J10 – ahead of 4 hands

Totals: Ahead of 26 hands. Behind 22 hands. Tied 2 hands.

Although close, I should make this call.


I make the call and Player 162 shows K-9. This was a good call because I’m a 60% favorite to win the hand. The runout doesn’t help Player 162’s hand and I win the Pot.

60% for my whole tournament seems like a big gamble, but my goal is to cash in 1 out of every 6 tournaments that I play. The reasoning here is that the 1 cash will keep my bankroll from a drastic fall while giving me the opportunity to get a big score. When the big score comes it erases all of the loses and becomes pure profit. Repeat this cycle and work hard to be ahead when all-in to become a profitable poker player.


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