I’m holding pocket aces with 4 players left at a final table and am first to act in Phase #2 – Pre-Flop. A-A is the best starting hand in the game and my goal is to get all-in right now. You should always look to get all-in with A-A pre-Flop regardless of stack size. I have about 17 big blinds in my stack (a small stack) with blinds and antes at $1600/$8000/$16000. The other players at the table all have medium to large sized stacks (over 20 big blinds).
If I make my typical min-raise with A-A here then my opponents can call, fold, or raise. I don’t want them to fold, I’m alright with them calling, and I really want them to raise. Because I have a short stack, it will be hard for one of my opponents to raise me without a premium hand after my min-raise. The reason being that a standard raise will almost be enough to put my short stack all-in. So if I min-raise I’m essentially forcing my opponents to raise me all-in, which requires them to have an unlikely, premium hand. I’d also consider doing this with K-K. This strategy applies when you have a short stack, so under 20 big blinds.
Remember my goal is to be all-in Pre-Flop. If I call the blind, then I’m leaving the other players space to make a standard raise with an average hand which is what I want. Because I have a short stack, I can go all-in over the top of this raise, getting all-in Pre-Flop. If I just call and players raise, then the hand would move to the Flop, where I will get more information to make my next decision.
I call the blind for $16,000, Player 122 folds, Player 273 raises, Player 21 folds, and the action is back on me. My trap worked. Player 273 saw my call and decided to make a raise. Now I’ll be able to move all-in over the top. Player 273 will most likely call and I’ll have accomplished my goal, win or lose.
I move all-in and Player 273 calls, flipping over A-J. This is the best possible position I can be in during Phase #2 – Pre-Flop. Not only am I all-in with pocket aces, but I’m facing a hand that has an ace. My odds are about 90% to win the pot of $579,442.
I survive the run out and win a nice pot. Be clear that the main reason I only called with pocket aces Pre-Flop instead of raising in this hand is because I had a short stack. In almost all other situations I would have made the min-raise, hoping to catch a raise (3-bet) from an opponent (certain blind vs. blind situations will be different). My short stack makes it very difficult for an opponent to 3-bet me because I have so few chips left behind. So I had to adjust and just call to disguise the strength of my hand. Disguising the strength of my hand allowed my opponent to make a raise without putting me all-in. I’m fairly certain that my min-raise would have caused A-J to either call or fold. Instead I doubled up. There’s nothin’ better than getting all-in Pre-Flop with A-A.