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Some decisions in poker seem nearly obvious. However, sometimes one should abandon the expected approach to end up with better result in the end. For example, you got the AA pocket pair. Can there be any game situations in which it is preferable to fold having the AA pair on the pre-flop? Sometimes it is more suitable, if you do not have to be particularly rushed.
A very common and most famous example is represented by the satellites. In such tournaments players compete for the tickets to the next event. The first places in this case have absolutely the same value. For example, 10 participants competed for three tickets to the next tournament.
Now only four players are left and only three of them will get tickets.
Small Blind 2900
Big Blind 5000
You are in the small blind with AA. Cutoff raises, the button raises to 7000 and thus goes all-in, and you are the next one to act. If we consider the final calculations, we will get the following result:
BU 99.5%, AA 22+ 3x +
BB 0.5%, AA
So, the player on the button can go all-in with nearly any cards, while you can not call having any hand. The one in big blind can call with the AA pair, heedless of the fact that he knows that the button will go all-in with almost any hand. The explanation for this is very simple. You are already sitting in the money, as the participant on the cutoff has only 100 chips. Most likely, the tournament for him is over. In addition, the reward for the first three places is the same. Extra chips do not bring you anything. You only exclude the risk, but do not reduce the chances of a maximum win, because in the satellite all prize places are paid equally. Thus, you have very good chances to take one of the winning places, if you refrain from the action. Calling the all-in participant on the button with such a pair, you will win from a random hand with a probability of 85%, and lose with a probability of 15%. The difference is obvious between reaching one of the winning places almost certainly, or only with a probability of 85%.
Imagine the following situation: you play in the WSOP Main Event and get a pair of aces in the first hand. The one in front of you goes all-in. When should you throw away the aces? You have 85% chance of winning, if we speak of a random hand, and about 80% against best hands. In 80% of cases you’ll double your chips receiving the share of the prize pool. The buy-in in the Event is $10,000. At first, your $EV is also $10,000. Calculations of the expected value in the case of calling with all-in aces are:
$EV = 80% * $ 20,000 + 20% * $ 0
$EV = $16,000
If you call all-in, your expected value rises from $10,000 to $16,000, and in 20% of cases you will drop out of the tournament. Now you can expect that, due to such a final situation, you will always throw aces away, if you intend to earn an amount exceeding $16,000.
Naturally, in cash games it’s hardly possible to fold with the starting hand, because the known circumstances of other examples (ICM) do not play a role here. The chips in cash games have an exact monetary value, which you can get right after the end of the hand. Without the knowledge of other players cards it is meaningless to fold with AA pair. Take this information into account to consider all possible situations in this unpredictable game. However, do not forget, that the mentioned situations are rather the exception than a rule.
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