Friday, April 08, 2005

Ever Fold AA Preflop?

I actually considered this last night.

Let me set it up for you. I was playing the $12K guarantee at Absolute Poker and we were down to 47 players. Payout started at 45th place so it was crunch time and I had been playing for a little over four hours. The blinds are at 500/1000 with a 75 ante and I sit in the small blind. At this point I'm in no danger of busting out of this tournament. I have 15,831 in chips. This is a little short but their are plenty of players that will be out before I have to even worry about it.

I get dealt the beautiful hand of AA and suddenly my feelings of great joy are replaced by apprehension and self doubt. As the hand gets underway a middle position short stack calls. It folds around until the small blind who raises it up to 3,000. The predicament involves the fact that the small blind is a very tight player. I haven't seen him play anything that wasn't of premium quality. Since this means he's holding big cards, he's also not likely to just let them go. He also has me outchipped by about 8,000 making his call feasible.

I have a tough decision. I know I'm favored preflop against any hand save another AA. If I push all in at this stage I believe that it send the signal, "hey, I don't want any callers." I believe he will call an all-in and my mind drifts to a hand earlier in the tournament. Four players manage to raise each other all-in pre-flop. The hands were QQ, KK, AK, and AA. A king hit the turn and the player raked a monster pot while sucking out on the A's. The voice of Howard Lederer then invades my consciousness and even though I can't remember the exact quote, I recall him saying how he has laid down the rockets when at the bubble to guarantee a money finish.

I'm so close and throwing away four hours of work because I got sucked out on just wasn't appealing. After weighing my options I decided there was just no way I could sacrifice this hand for the purpose of coasting into the money. Since I also thought an all-in was sending the wrong message I went for a reraise to 10,000. This represented 2/3 of my stack and I hoped he would read that as, "I have a big hand, I'm pot committing myself, but by not going all-in I'm inviting you to join me."

I have no idea if that's how he read it but he folded and I increased my chip stack. Wouldn't you know it the very next hand I get dealt AA again but this time I didn't even consider laying it down. I made a large raise and everyone folded preflop including an early position limper. I went on to play pretty well but became severely shortstacked and had to venture and all-in holding Ad7d. The button had AK and called me. I never caught my seven or any diamonds and was out in 14th position. It wasn't the big cash but I managed a little over $30/hour win rate for the tournament, and I'll take that anyday.