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How to deal with players who randomly go all-in

October 23, 2018

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You find yourself on a comfortable game, maybe with your friends, or with players you have played with before. Everyone is happy to pass the time, trying to win chips without getting sassy. Then, someone leaves and a new player arrives whose strategy is apparently to simply click raise or all-in every hand. What can you do?

What you should NOT do is:

  • Complain about them directly in chat or insist they leave. If they are determined to unsettle you, they will just get encouraged and this could make it worse.
  • Start employing any sort of unethical counter-play of your own, like timing out or unchecking your post blinds option.
  • Curse the poker gods for allowing these types onto your table. Not everyone plays perfectly, and unfortunately, not everyone has the same regard for ‘friendly’ games or values their chips as much as you do.

Ring Games

During a ring game, you should always be evaluating the quality of the game:

  • In terms of profitability, if you are trying to build your bank.
  • In terms of enjoyment, if you are passing time in a social game of cards.

If someone begins changing the table dynamics and the game no longer suits you for whatever reason, consider whether you should adjust and perhaps play differently yourself. Maybe you should hunker down and see if they persist for long, or even leave to find a situation you feel is better for your game.

What kind of aggressive player is it?

Someone who was already at the table may end up becoming an aggressive player. Tilted players frequently fizzle out very quickly, either busting out and giving up, or they manage to recoup their losses and settle back into their normal mood.

Some players are just button clickers and seem to like getting a reaction when they make their crazy shoves. Don’t allow them the satisfaction of seeing it has unsettled you. Give them a few hands to see if you can surprise them with a monster. You can pretty soon decide if it is worth sticking around or moving on.

Some players have a naturally aggressive strategy which is designed to intimidate opponents with persistent stabs at pots. Locking horns with this type of opponent may be a good way to learn sound strategies, improve hand reading skills or betting dynamics, and develop as a poker player. If you feel intimidated or don’t think you want to suffer the pain of losing chips to them, do look for a different game and avoid confrontation.

Tournaments

When you’re playing in a tournament, it may appear that your choices are limited since you can’t change tables, but there are always options that could help resolve the situation to your favor.

Freerolls and Turbo Games

Very often in freerolls with many players, some will play recklessly with their chips at the beginning and see if they can build a big stack because they don’t have the patience to wait for good hands. Some tournaments have a very fast blind structure, and players feel pressured to take a chance before they run low on chips.The key to beating them is to let them win the small pots and take them on when you have a good chance of having the best hand. If your chip stacks are similar, just one confrontation might be all it takes.

Rebuys

The aggressive rebuy strategy is quite common, and can be employed by novice players and highly-skilled sharks alike. If you’re not prepared to go toe-to-toe with them, that’s fine. Choose your spots and determine whether to rebuy if you lose, or bow out of the tournament with good grace so you can fight again another day.

Big Stacks

In a tournament, if a player with a big stack begins to use their chip advantage as leverage to “bully,” try see it for what it is. They’re the big fish in an ever-decreasing pool, and they are legitimately exerting a tactical advantage, which is part of what poker is about.

Think ahead. Ask yourself if you have enough chips to wait them out, or if you are going to have to make a stand before you drain away in blinds. If you do get a decent hand and you can see an opportunity to double through the big stack, you might want to do so sooner rather than later. Don’t put any chips into any pot unless you are prepared to commit all of them.

In Conclusion …

In many of these scenarios, the worst that can happen is that you’re knocked out fighting your corner. Recognize the situation for what it is: a psychological poker battle. Don’t get suckered into losing concentration. Meet them on your terms when you have a good chance to win through.

Using your own ability and discipline to adjust your strategy is super rewarding in terms of chips, as well as self-esteem as a poker player.