This poker article was the winner of the June 2010 NoPayPOKER article writing contest. Member Buried_Child gets $1,000 FreeD and a big pile of Bonus Chips.
There is a poker tournament variant called All-in or Fold. The rules are this: There is only one blind (called big blind). Each player starts with just one chip; it doesn’t matter how many, anyway, for these reasons: Your only options are: All-in, and Fold. If you are on the big blind you are automatically all-in. You receive change, however, if, say, you have 5 chips and someone moves all-in with 2 chips and you call him (which is an all-in, too). He will not win five chips from you; you will get a change of three chips.
If you are on the big blind you just ignore everything else that follows. (It happens only about 1/10 of the time, however, in a 10-player table. If you somehow want to become hooked.)
So it’s really a math game, and a position game too.
Why math game?
Because you will be relying entirely on preflop all-ins, and you have to commit to memory the probability of your winning, or at least have a gist of them. I can give some examples (You can generalize; the probability’s pretty much the same in a similar situation; for instance the first example will be ‘Two Overcards vs. Small Pair, or the first example will apply too if it were, say, A-10 over 5-5) and approximate probabilities:
A-K vs 8-8
55%-45% in favor of 8-8
A-K vs A-Q
75%-25% in favor of A-K
A-10 vs K-K
75%-25% in favor of K-K
A-K vs 7-6
65%-35% in favor of 7-6
A-10 vs K-Q; A-Q vs K-J
63%-37% in favor of A-10 and A-Q
A-A vs 8-8
80%-20% in favor of A-A
A-A vs A-K
93%-7% in favor of A-A
A-A vs K-Q
85%-15% in favor of A-A
But these do not imply that you should wait for A-A or K-K or A-K before you move all-in, of course.
Do it with two face cards, a pair, or A-x. Just make sure the big blind doesn’t reach you, for if that happens your decision’s beyond your will.
All-In or Fold is also a game of position. Oftentimes players in these tournaments play hands similar to the above, and throw away the rest. Consider these two examples: (1) You are in late position with 4-4 and there are two all-ins in front of you. You might be facing three or four overcards, or an overpair.
Fold. After all, if you are in late position, there will be many hands before you reach the big blind. (2) You have A-8 in early position. You are two hands away from being the big blind, so you move all-in, and players after you will interpret an early-position all-in as a sign of strength.
What you consider, then, is the strength of your hand and the surrounding action. With one-on-one, which happens mostly, the above probabilities still apply. But with three or more, hand strength matters more.
Big pairs are still big; medium pairs shrink in power (because you can’t see the Flop yet; usually we see the Flop with a medium pair to hit a Set). A-x becomes weaker; A-K and A-Q weaken down a little bit. However, make sure you play a hand while you’re still in control of your decision. When you get yourself blinded out, it’s for your tournament life, mostly.