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The stop and go play

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The "stop and go" play is a move used in tournaments over the pre-flop and flop betting rounds. It is generally used when a player is short-stacked and tries to double-up going all-in because they have a strong hand.

In the stop and go play your hand is good enough to go all-in and instead of pushing you call an opponent's bet before the flop because you want to go all-in on the flop.

The stop and go play situation

When you have a decent holding and you are short-stacked in a tournament, the general rule is to go all-in when an opponent raises in front of you.

When you are so short-stacked that going all-in is not enough to make a second full size bet when your opponent has raised, then your opponent's will probably call your bets and try to get the best hand by seeing the five community cards. As a result, in such situations in which your chips are not enough to make your opponents fold with your re-raise, you should consider stopping and go to play.

The stop and go play move

When we talk about stop and go play we mean that you have to call your opponent's pre-flop raise with the aim to go all-in on the flop instead of pushing all-in over the top when your opponent raises preflop.

Calling the bet on the flop gives you the chance to force your opponent to fold on the flop by betting the rest of your chips. This happens because your opponent will be forced to call your flop bet if they want to see two more community cards instead of the chance to see the five cards by calling an all-in pre-flop.

It will be more difficult for your opponent to call your all-in on the flop than to call a push pre-flop in poker Texas hold'em.

When you use the stop and go play you reduce the odds of calling of your opponent and they'll have to think twice before continuing in case they don't have a better hand and 60% of the time they don't.

Stop and go play example

Suppose you are in the middle of a poker hold'em tournament and you only have 1200 chips. The blinds are 100/200 and you have AClover JHeart on the big blind. The other players fold to an opponent in late position who raises to 600 and suppose you are sure they have a pair of Tens.

The remaining players fold and the action is now on you. You could choose to move all-in but your opponent is likely to call your 600 re-raise and you would have to deal with a 50/50 all-in coin flip. However, you can have better chances of winning if you use the stop and go play.

You call your opponents raise and you are left with 600 chips. The flop is QClover 6 Diamond 2Spades and you move all-in. Your opponent will now have to decide if they call 600 into a 1300 pot holding middle pair.

The odds of your opponent to call are 2:1, since there are chances you made a pair of queens on the flop or a higher pocket pair. If your opponent folds, you'll win the pot with the worst hand, which means you would probably had been out of the tournament if you had pushed all in pre-flop.

Why does the stop and go play work?

When you make your opponent face a tough decision on the flop, you increase your fold equity, which means you have better offs of winning the hand. Even if the other player makes a better hand on the flop and decides to call, it would make no difference if you had pushed all-in preflop since they would still have a better hand.

You increase your fold equity by pushing on the flop instead of before the flop.

The cards that come out on the flop will not change the way in which you play your poker hand because your goal is to go all in at some point of the game.

Tips for making a successful stop and go play

  1. Always move in if you are the first player to act, and be ready to call if you are bet in to if acting after your opponent.
  2. You should only try the stop and go play when you are heads up.

Always move in when you are the first to act

If you are the first player to act when you make a stop and go play, you should always move all-in. If you choose to check, you'll lose your fold equity. As a result, always bet out and make your opponent face a tough decision.

However, if you act after the other player, be ready to raise or call their bets no matter what hand they have because you'll go to the pot more committed and folding would not be as profitable since you'll be left with a small stack when you still have chances of winning the hand and taking a decent pot.

Only use the stop and go heads up

Remember to use the stop and go play only when you are heads up. If you are playing against more than one player then there will be more chances that one of them will make a good hand after the flop. As a result, when you face a situation in which you are short-stacked and you have a hand you are ready to go all-in with, you should go all-in after the preflop rather than calling trying to make a stop and go play.

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