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Push or Fold

May 3, 2022
by Raise Your Edge

‘In order to live, you must be willing to die’

Dramatic words perhaps, but this phrase in poker, coined by pro Amir Vahedi, is very apt to many forms of the game.

And the quote is particularly relevant and meaningful to Sit’N’Go strategy. There is no room for passive, timid play in this format. Here, we’ll discuss what the push/fold strategy is, why you should use it, and when to implement it.

What is a Push/Fold Strategy?

The push/fold strategy means that preflop you will either go all in or fold with 100% of the hands you receive. You’re never limping, never calling, and never raising. Your only options are to either put all your chips in the middle or throw away your hand.

Why do this?

You might think that this strategy is too risky, especially near the bubble when you’re so close to making the money. You don’t want to go all in and risk losing before the bubble bursts and you’re guaranteed money.

In reality, it’s actually the opposite. You want to be taking this kind of aggressive action near the bubble in a lot of situations. Think about it.

If you just limp or raise, you’re giving your opponents the chance to put the pressure on you by raising your bet or calling with a weaker hand and hitting something on the flop.

By going all in preflop, you put all of the pressure on them, often getting them to fold out a lot of hands that had very good equity against you and thus increasing your stack without having to see a flop.

When to Push or Fold

Use this strategy when you are short stacked and have 12 big blinds or less. In poker we always refer to our chipstack in terms of how many big blinds we have left.

For example, if the blinds are 50/100 and we have 1,000 chips, we have ten big blinds in our stack. Once you reach a stack depth of 12 big blinds or less you should consider implementing a push/fold strategy.

Advantages to Push/Fold Strategy

The first advantage is that if you have 10 big blinds and you move all in, your opponents may fold, and you’ll win the blinds/antes uncontested. This is roughly 2 big blinds that you’ve won without having to play postflop at all, an increase of 20% to your stack. Do this 5 times and you’ll have already doubled your stack just by putting pressure on your opponents preflop. At this stack depth of 12 big blinds or less, the risk to reward ratio is very good.

Another advantage is that we can often fold out hands that have 50% equity or greater against our hand preflop. Think about it, if you have KQo and your opponent has 76s they have over 40% equity against you. Just by going all in instead of raising you deny them the chance to realize any of that equity, and you get to take down the pot without them being able to see a flop.

Two Situations to Use the Push/Fold Strategy

There are two situations where the Push/Fold strategy is very effective.

The first is when everyone folds to you in the Small Blind, where you only need to get the Big Blind to fold to win the pot. Not only will the Big Blind very often fold a hand that has 40%+ equity against you preflop, but even if you’re called you will still have a chance to win the pot and double up.

The second situation is where most players make a lot of mistakes. You should be implementing the push/fold strategy on the money bubble to put the pressure on your opponents. People get scared and timid when the payouts are close, but bubble strategy is all about putting pressure on your opponents and avoiding getting pressured yourself.

If you just limp or min raise, your opponents can go all in and make you decide whether to call for your tournament life. By going all in you remove the pressure from yourself and put it on your opponents, a very powerful move.

By implementing this strategy correctly, you’ll immediately see improvements in your Sit’N’Go game.

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