Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Checking down an all-in...peacefully

Texas Hold'em Tournament Scenario: One or more players have moved all-in while two or more players still have chips. Additional community cards to come.

This is one of the few scenarios I play the same way every time. I check it down...unless, of course, I end up with the nuts. This play maximizes the chances for the all-in(s) to lose, which gets you closer to the money. This is the correct play. It is how I recommend you play.

What I find interesting is how other players react to a breach in this well-known strategy. I have heard more people break into condescending lectures of how to play, or not-play in this case, that can domino into a full-on tirade the likes of which I thought only Christian Bale was capable. Not cool.

I try not to stand in the way of bad play when I stand a chance at profiting from it. Beyond alerting the few of you who might not have known the above strategy, my tip of the day is this: Size up your opponent in times like this. If someone you perceive as a good player bets into you and over all-ins, take him at his word and fold. He likely knows the strategy and has a monster that he wants to maximize. If you perceive the opponent as inexperienced, play as you normally would and adjust for the all-ins by sticking with reasonable draws.


  1. [...] http://hellscoldday.com/2009/checking-down-an-all-inpeacefully/ [...]

  2. Sorry, Grundy, but I can't agree with you on this one. There are times to check it down and there are times to play it aggressively. There really are few absolutes in poker and this is not one of them.

    I can't even say I check it down on the bubble every time (although I can only think of one time in which I didn't). If you're goal is to win the tournament, the chips you can gain by betting into a side pot, or even a dry side pot, may be a lot more important than eliminating a player. The reward of gaining the chips in the pot can be greater than the risk of giving them to an "all-in" opponent. Consider the following examples:

    - STT on the bubble, the UTG player moves all-in for three big blinds. The button, who has a large stack of chips and is the chip leader, calls. The small blind, with a semi-small stack, folds. Do you call and check it down with AA and a very big stack, too? I don't, I make a healthy raise. I want to win more than 9.5 big blinds with this hand.

    Now, you get called by the button and the flop comes 532 with two clubs. You have to figure your AA is still good. Do you check it down? Heck, no. I'm not worried about giving the bubble boy 9.5 big blinds when I have 40 big blinds remaining and I can win a big side pot that will drastically improve my chances of winning the tournament. I'm betting again.

    - Let's say it's early in a MTT tournament and somebody has just taken a bad beat and only has 6 big blinds left (everybody else has 80 or more). Are we even going to worry about him until he doubles up a couple times? I'm not, unless there is a significant bounty on him. It's way too early in the tournament to start worry about knocking people out. Building chips when you get the opportunity is one of your goals here (the other is to not get yourself knocked out or handicapped, of course).

    Just my two cents.


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