Poker Quiz! Pocket Eights Facing an All-In, What Do You Do Here?
DECISION POINT: In an online Tournament with blinds at 500/1,000 and a 1,000 big blind ante you are dealt 8♣8♠ in the Cutoff seat. Stacks at the table range from 10BBs to just over 40BBs. The early position players fold, the MP1 player open shoves for 15,000 (15BBs) and action is on you with 21BBs behind.
What do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are in the middle stages of a major Sunday online tournament. The blinds are 500/1,000 with a 1,000 big blind ante. The stacks range from 10 big blinds to just over 40. We are dealt black eights in the cutoff and it folds to MP1 who open shoves for 15,000.! Everyone else folds and action is on us.
When analyzing spots like this after the fact, we should approach from two perspectives. First, we should estimate MP1 range and how our hand performs against that range, much like we would in real-time at the table. Second, we should double check our estimate in real-time by running the spot in a solver to see what things look like when both players are using optimal ranges.
Studying in this way allows us to exercise our brain in the same way that we will use at the table, and then either reinforce our thoughts with the solver or discover any errors.
If the decision was wrong in real-time we can determine if this is a fundamental leak and what adjustments need to be incorporated to our game plan. If the opponent was likely shoving different ranges than the solvers suggest which may often be the case, then we can consider the merits of making an exploitative adjustment against our real life foes.
A primary consideration is whether MP1 has a non all-in raising range here. It’s likely at this stack size that they would raise a more standard sizing and not just move all-in with AA/KK and some of their other biggest hands.
Given this we can assume that MP1 is likely to have a capped range that includes many suited broadway hands, some big Ax hands, and some middle pairs. The key factor we need to assess is if MP1 will ever move all-in with pocket pairs lower than 88 or Ax combinations where their kicker is lower than 8.
In real-time we thought it was possible our opponent is capable of shoving as light as 77, but 66 or less and A8s or worse seemed unlikely so we chose to fold.
Through post hand analysis using a Game Theory Optimal Solver we can see that if MP1 is splitting their range properly the all-in range will include 66-99, A8s-AJs, AKo, KJs, KTs, QTs+. The range of hands that prefers to raise a standard amount first-in at 15BB blinds includes a mix of stronger hands (TT+/AQs+), some smaller suited Ax combinations, and offsuit broadway hands. Against the specific all-in range provided by the Solver we see that 88 has a +550 chip (+.55 BB) expectation. This means that against an opponent using GTO ranges we should be calling, although the decision is still very close.
In real world situations many players might shove hands such as TT/JJ, especially as they don’t want to encourage action and have to play postflop. If MP1 was the type of opponent to use this larger sizing with medium pairs that may be vulnerable on overcard flops then this spot would quickly become a fold. We would also have an easier call if we were in the Blinds with fewer players behind yet to act.
Against a GTO opponent, calling is the best play. Against specific opponents shoving narrower ranges or higher pairs, you could make an exploitative fold.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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