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Correct to fold aces preflop?

27 May 2008, By:

I was in a tournament recently where the top three places were paid. The blinds were 1,000-2,000, we were four players left and I had about 21,000 chips.

The other three players all had around 80,000 chips. I was in the big blind and found AA in the hole!

The player UTG, who was the chip leader, went all-in and both the button and the small blind called. I thought for a while and threw away my AA because I had the chance to move up two spots instead of risking getting knocked out in fourth place.

What would you have done?

/Jesse J


Hi Jesse

Yes, this is the classical situation in a tournament where it's often said that you could correctly fold AA pre flop.

Still, let's take a closer look. You're choosing between an almost certain money finish and risking it all for a shot at first place. The correct decision probably depends on how much you value the prize money.

If third and second prize are life-changing money, say in the $10 million or so, it's probably correct to fold. With that much money within reach, it would be just devastating to go home empty-handed.

On the other hand, if this is a sit-and-go (which the prize structure might indicate,) third prize would typically be twice the buy-in, that is, no big deal. (Given that you don't play way over your budget.)

If you call and win the pot, you'll probably have a certain second place and sit with 80K against another player with 180K. You have a decent but not huge chance at winning the whole thing. Call and lose and it's all over.

If you fold, you'll most likely play with 20,000 against one player with 240,000, still with second place guaranteed. Your chances of winning first prize are much smaller.

To maximize my expectation, or my long-term results, I think I would have chosen to call here, given that the prize was not very important to me.


Lobster, Team Poker Junkie


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