When are You Supposed to Go All-In?

In poker scenes in TV and film, there is always a dramatic moment where the protagonist or rival declares “All-in”, and shoves a pile of chips across the felt. This always makes for a fantastic point in the plot, but what does it actually mean to go all-in, and how often does it happen? Let’s take a closer look at this special poker move.

What It Actually Means

When you go all-in, you are betting all of your remaining chips. There are several scenarios in which you might decide to do this, and we will go over each of them in turn, but the important thing to take away is that you are putting all of your remaining chips forward.

However, if faced with an all-in bet, you only have to match it if you have more chips (though you will also be going all-in). So, if you are playing against someone who goes all-in with their stack of $500 chips, you need to also put $500 forward from your own stack to match it. If you wanted to go all-in with what you have, they would have to meet it with whatever chips they had in their possession. This makes it an interesting move that you can pull off at just the right moment if planned correctly.

Going All-In During Cash Games

Obviously, poker has two main types of games – cash games and tournaments. Cash games are the ones that you can attend at your local casino, or play at a site like GGpoker Canada, or even a game you set up amongst friends. There are two reasons why you might decide to go all-in during a cash game.

The first is nice and straightforward – it is because you want to increase the pot. The more that you can force to be added to the pot, the more that you could potentially win if you have a good hand. You could also use an all-in move because you want to push a big bluff, and want to persuade the opponent to fold.

If you are facing the all-in, you need to make sure that you think about the pot odds. Will you be able to get a good win if you meet the all-in? If you are the aggressor, you need to think of the reason behind the all-in. Is it because you have a strong hand, or is it because you think the opponent is folding too often? Both could dictate whether or not this is the move for you.

Going All-In During Tournaments

Tournaments are structured slightly differently from cash games. Most cash games you can just walk up to and start playing if there is a seat at the table. Obviously, with a tournament, you are not able to do this. You will need to get your buy-in place early, and you might have to go through several satellite and qualifying games to be able to earn your seat at the table.

Make sure that you pay attention to the payout structure for the tournament. There are several times when it might actually be in your favour to fold preflop rather than keep pushing and potentially end up all-in – severely cutting our pot and the amount we could potentially cashout with.

Going all-in can happen more often than you might realise, but if you find yourself facing an all-in you need to make sure you know how to handle it. This is a straightforward move but it could majorly upset the game if not handled correctly. It is also not a light decision to take – never go all-in simply because you can.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan