All In Poker

There are times at the poker tables that all in is the correct and obvious move. Then there are times that it is stupid and obnoxious. The question you must ask yourself when going all in is "why?" There are so many different scenarios that it would be impossible to cover them all. So what we will look at is the most obvious. When does it make sense to go all in and when is it completely the wrong thing to do.

If your bet takes a majority of your stack it almost always makes sense to shove in the whole stack. Let's look at an example. Let's say there is forty dollars in the pot in a 1-2 no limit hold em cash game. You have ninety dollars and you have flopped top set. Your opponent makes a pot size bet of forty dollars. At this you simply must push all in. if you raise it eighty you are only left with ten dollars, so it makes sense to put it all in. If your opponent is on a draw you don't want to slow play to give him cheap cards. If he has a weak hand it is almost impossible for him to fold for fifty more when he already has sixty in the pot.

Now a less obvious example. You have eighty dollars and your opponent has one twenty. You have flopped top set, with two of the same suite and a possible straight draw on the board. Your opponent bets twenty dollars. Right now you have the best possible hand. Calling the twenty gives him cheap draws to a better hand, plus gives you no information as to what he might have. Raising is the obvious move here, but the question is how much. First you have to put your opponent on a range of hands, based on what you know about him and how he plays. If you suspect he has a weak hand and will fold to a large raise, then a raise of twenty or thirty dollars will give you a lot of information. If this is a player that will call a large bet on a draw than all in here is a legitimate play.

Now when is all in poker stupid and obnoxious? Let's say there is twenty dollars in the pot and you have missed the flop completely. You have eighty dollars and go all in, knowing a bluff is the only way to win the pot. Risking eighty to win twenty, when you have nothing is just not smart poker. If you feel like your opponent will fold to a bluff, a thirty of forty dollar bet here would do the job. It is usually better to have some sort of back up plan when you decide to bluff, such as over cards that may save you if you pair up.

Angela M. Morrell has been playing poker for many years and maintains a website about poker strategy.