Common sit n go (SNG) leaks #3 - calling all in with AK early on

You've probably read that in the early stages of a SNG, it's best to play tight. This is great advice to follow. One hand which people seem to misplay a lot in the early parts of a sit n go is Ace-King.

Time and time again, especially in low/micro stakes games, you'll see people calling all ins with AK. Now you might read this and think, well, AK is a strong hand so what's wrong with that? Well it is a good starting hand but it's not so great that you want to be risking all your chips early on in the game, especially if you're the caller. Why? Because unless you connect on or after the flop, all you are holding is ace-high. So it's a good idea to think of AK as a drawing hand rather than a 'made' hand.

For example, let's say you make a 3xBB raise when the blinds are 20/40. The player next to you moves all in. What cards might he be doing this with? Well unless we know he's a complete idiot who will push any two cards at any point, we have to give him credit for either a high ace (AJ/AQ/AK), or most likely, a pocket pair (quite easily JJ/QQ or KK). Now if we call, we're risking our entire stack. What are the odds of us winning the hand in these situations?

Odd when holding AK

  • If opponent has QQ or JJ and we have AKo, we are only a 42% favourite to win the hand
  • If opponent has KK then we are only a 29.9% favourite to win a hand.
  • Of course, we could hope that he shows up with AJ or AQ in which case we are dominating them with a 74% chance to win the hand.

Now at this stage of the game, we really don't need to be getting involved in coinflips for our tournament life. So in the example above, facing a re-raise allin, I would fold in the early stages. Playing a patient game will pay off rather than potentially throwing away your buyin on what is almost a coin-flip.

Whilst AK is a potentially great hand and is good to see a flop with, the hands we are potentially up against have us dominated the majority of the time. Don't be afraid to fold AK early on in a sit n go.

By the way, there is a huge difference between calling an all in with AK, and being the one to go all in. If someone is making pre-flop raises every hand, then 3-bet shoving with AK can be a good move to let them know they can't walk all over you (and most times they're folding)

Exceptions to the rule

The only times I would deviate from this is if I knew for sure that the player making the shove is a complete lunatic (for example if they had a really high VP$IP). You will sometimes encounter players who will open push every hand in every turn. In this case I would be willing to take the gamble against any two cards, in which case we are around a 65% favourite to win the hand.

>> For the best range of SNG games, we recommend Titan Poker and Party Poker