The Power of the All In Shove

When you sit down to play a session of poker whether it is in a live cash game, live tournament, online cash game, or online tournament, you should always keep in the back of your mind how much power you have over the table. The power comes from previous hands played during a session. It also comes from your chip stack, your table image, and the reads you have on your opponents at the poker table. All of these things considered, the power of an all in shove is more than anyone can imagine. What you are doing is more or less punishing your opponent and putting them through the grinder to see what they come up with on the other side. You will see it at live poker games every day. One player is sitting there for a long time then all of a sudden he is all in, and again, and again, and he keeps applying a ton of pressure to his opponents. This realization at a poker table doesn’t happen overnight, but rather over years of playing poker. It hits players when they see it, and never saw it before. You can just move all in here and you win the pot without a showdown instead of playing the hand the way you have been. It is a bigger risk, but the player will fold a large percentage of the time, so it is a profitable play.

One of these spots that occur almost all the time in every poker tournament around the whole world is when a player puts in a raise pre-flop from the cutoff or from the button position. The reason that the player is raising from the button or the cutoff spot is to win the chips in the pot before the flop without a showdown. The reason that you are shoving all in is to do the exact same thing with the exact same intention, but with slightly higher risk. This play will happen later in poker tournaments when about 60% of the field has busted out and the blinds are worth taking down. Your intention by shoving is to say that you have a big hand and you want to win the pot. Also, your intention is that maybe you have the best hand, or you know that the player on the button is consistently raising your blinds with light hands. In this instance shoving all in is the optimal play especially when between 15-20 big blinds. It will get a fold almost all the time from marginal hands as well as small pairs most of the time. A large number of players always fold small pocket pairs to shoves because at best you are in a race situation. This only happens every other time, but that also makes it incorrect to call a shove with a pair of threes or fours. The math puts the odds in favor of the player who shoved all in by an additional 25%. This means that even if you can make a call with a pair of fours, 50% of the time you lose out right and the other portion of the time you lose to a bigger pair. When the math doesn’t add up, you now realize why shoving all in is such a powerful play.

Another spot where an all in shove can have a great deal of power is when you are sitting in a poker game, live or online and you have flopped a flush draw. Shoving with a flush draw is one instance that occurs a ton of times every day in poker games. The main reason for shoving with a flush draw is to get your opponent to fold out a better hand. If you feel like your opponent has middle pair or top pair with a weak kicker, it is a good scenario for you to use the power of the all in shove. When you make this play at a pot it will always occur on the flop. It is on the flop that you shove all in because it will apply a ton of pressure to your opponent as well as turn an unprofitable flush draw into a profitable one. If you are folding out top pair or middle pair more than 50% of the time which is almost certainly common, then you are making a profitable all in shove at a pot. When you have a flush draw depending on whether it is the nut flush draw or a lower flush draw, you will hit it about 35% of the time. With this 35%, you will be losing 65% of the time. If you force a fold half of the time, you are increasing your chances of winning the pot significantly from 35% to 85%. With this increase, you should see the significance of shoving all in.