I recently decided to dip my toe into Natural8’s All-In or Fold poker games for the first time. After a couple of hours spent racking up 400 Sit & Go hands, here are my five takeaway findings.
What Is All-In or Fold?
If you’re not already familiar with All-In or Fold (AoF), I’d better explain before we go any further. As the name implies, this is a form of poker where all of the decision-making element is removed. You receive your initial starting hand, and from there, your only choice is whether to shove or fold.
I opted to try the No-Limit Hold’em version, but you can also play Omaha. And while Natural8 does offer cash games too, I kept to the Sit & Go. In these, 16 players buy into what is a shootout format with four tables of four players.
Each individual winner makes the money and progresses to a final table. Every player at a new table receives an initial stack of 800 chips. There are two additional backup stacks each, giving you three bullets to fire for the price of your initial buy-in.
#1: All-In or Fold is Absolute Chaos
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but when I first sat down, it was chaos. I had no idea what was going on. The game is so fast-paced, you really don’t have time to think. And that is the intention, after all.
AoF was designed as a response to the direction that online poker took in the decade after the Moneymaker boom. A generation of players emerged who take poker extremely seriously. There was little chat, lots of tanking, and tons of charts, HUDs, and other strategic aids. No wonder a lot of people lost interest in the game. It wasn’t fun anymore.
But with a new breed of Natural8 games such as the All-In or Fold, the recreational element of poker is really back with a bang. You won’t be able to sit around for several minutes at a time overanalysing because you aren’t allowed to. You are forced into making a quick decision. In any case, there’s very little to think about when you only have a single option. It makes for a frenetic but extremely enjoyable experience.
#2: I Suck at AoF
No, really. I am terrible. There’s no getting away from my PokerCraft results, which back this up.
I only made the money in six of my 24 All-In or Fold Sit & Gos, which is exactly 25% of the time. Okay, that’s not too bad I guess, especially for a complete newcomer. If every hand were a coin flip, you’d actually expect to make the money 25% of the time
However, in half of my games, I was the first to bust the final table, while the remaining three times I finished third. In other words, I never even placed second, let alone managed to secure a win. Clearly, I need to work on my end game.
#3: But I Did Improve
One thing is for certain though, I did improve with time. To begin with, I really had no clue at all about strategy. Having initially approached the game as a complete exercise in fun, I was shoving pretty much any Ace, King, Queen, pair, or suited connectors or gappers. I wasn’t thinking about my position at all. After all, under the gun is the same as the cut-off in a four-handed game.
My first three attempts to play saw me finish 13th, 15th, and 8th. Upon checking my overall All-In percentage with PokerCraft, it was sitting at more than 60%. That didn’t seem sustainable. I immediately began to think about a more scientific way of playing.
Of course, with no opportunity to be creative post-flop, it’s pretty much impossible to bring any deep strategy to the table. But I opted to tighten my under-the-gun shoving range a lot and my button range a little. As my all-in percentage began to fall below 50% my results immediately improved. The next four Sit & Gos saw me finish 4th, 12th, 10th, and 4th again.
#4: You’re Going to Be Outdrawn a Lot
So, after exactly 400 hands, my All-In percentage now sits at 38%. Of those 151 shoves, I have won just 28% and lost 45%, with 27% ending in chops. There’s definitely room for improvement. It feels like I can be even more selective with my range in order to bring that win percentage up.
However, one thing I was not prepared for is the frequency of bad beats. In truth, you can’t really be outdrawn more in AoF than any other form of poker. But, the thing is, because you play so many hands per hour, they come around so fast.
It feels like there’s someone hitting a runner-runner every few minutes and you just lose so many races. Not in percentage terms obviously, just the sheer number. Of course, you win more too because you’re contesting so many more. But it doesn’t seem that way.
If you don’t handle tilt particularly well, this may not be the form of poker for you. Even if you’re trying to think strategically, it’s important to treat the game for what it is – a bit of fun.
#5: A Woman’s World?
Perhaps the most interesting thing I noticed while playing All-In or Fold was what seemed to happen after I switched my avatar. As a horse racing enthusiast, I originally went with a clichéd choice, the lucky horseshoe. But somewhere around the 200 hand mark, I switched to the busty brunette caricature named Tina.
It felt right away as though people were giving me more respect when I opted to play a hand. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, I thought. But if I didn’t play much in the first blind level, I could steal the blinds more often in the middle levels. Not in the later stages, of course, as the blinds jump so sharply and everyone is forced to play. But to begin with, I definitely could get away with more.
Could there be a stereotype in what is undoubtedly a male-dominated environment, that women are more passive? And therefore less likely to attempt to steal? Perhaps that’s a debate for another time!
To my surprise, you can bring a strategic element to the table with these games. There are definitely range considerations and it feels as though you can gain an edge in the long term. It’s extremely fast-paced, so I would not personally want to multi-table with too many games open. But no matter what, Natural8’s All-In or Fold Sit & Gos are definitely a lot of fun.
If this article has piqued your interest in testing out the All-in or Fold games, why not sign up for a free account with Natural8 and start playing?