Tournament Coin Flips

If you’re a tournament player, you probably know your coin-flips, and you probably hate their guts too. A poker coin-flip is a situation which carries approximately 50-50 odds for the two players involved. It is generally not a good idea to get all your money in on such odds, but in tournaments such moves are virtually inevitable. The rising blinds and dwindling stack sizes force players to undertake such desperate measures. As a matter of fact, in a tournament, getting all your money in on a coin flip is sometimes the best possible move you can make.

In principle, taking a coin-flip for your stack is a bad idea. There are few exceptions in cash games which justify such a move, and normally, instead of getting your money in on adverse odds, the advice would be to wait for a better opportunity to shove all-in. For the above mentioned reasons though, you’re unable to do that in a tournament.

The bottom line is, you do not want to flip for your tourney life, but you will have to. Since you know you’ll have to do it anyway, you may as well look for ways to better your odds when it comes to the coin flip. That’s right, even if the odds are close to 50-50, there are still ways for you to secure an advantage over your opponents.

One such advantage comes via a subtle little factor known as the fold equity. In every coin-flip, there’s a player who does the shoving and there’s a player who does the calling. The guy who shoves all-in has an advantage over the caller for one simple reason: he has two possibilities to win the hand: his opponents may fold or he may end up winning the coin-flip. Though this edge is quite impossible to put into numbers, it is one that will indeed increase your odds. You cannot possibly avoid taking a coin-flip for your tourney life, but you can pick your spots. Make sure you’re the aggressor, as that always gives you control of a situation and the coin flip is no exception either. If your opponents fold, you may not score a double-up, but you’ll still take down the blinds, which – in the late stages of a tournament - are always substantial.

Make sure your coin flip is indeed a coin flip. I mean keep in mind that a coin-flip should always be a near 50-50 situation. A 30-70 one is definitely not a coin flip any longer.

Hands like Ace-rag are easily dominated and although they have the potential to bust someone’s pocket Ks, most of the time, they’ll lose out to any pocket pair or any other hand that has an Ace in it. When you need to get really lucky just to make the match-up a coin-flip, you’re definitely not getting good value on your do or die move.

A low pocket pair is also an easily dominated hand. Take a pair of 3s for instance. If you get your opponent to call you on something like A,K, A,Q or A,J you’re looking good and you have your coin-flip indeed. If you happen to run it into another pocket pair though, given that it’s one of the smallest possible pocket pairs, you won’t get a coin-flip, but rather a one-sided whooping.

The bottom line is that you need to have a read on your opponent. If you shove all in and some guy with a large stack calls you, chances are he’s making the move on a subpar hand just to push you out of the game. The only way to make sure you are indeed getting coin-flip odds though is to pay attention to the types of hands your opponent plays under the given circumstances.

Being in control is always good, and the coin-flip is no exception here. Make sure you get your coin-flip odds and shove, don’t call. That’s about all there is to coin-flip strategy. The rest hinges on things out of your reach.

Signing up for a rakeback deal makes prefect sense for an online tournament player too. The rake rebate that you get through a deal like the full tilt rakeback or the betfair rakeback will cover your cash game rake as well as your tournament fees.