All In: Knowing the Poker Basics

Going all in heals or kills poker players, as they use all their chips as they bet or bid. In such tense moments, only one player will feel the joy of victory, while the losers quickly regret their decision.

This tutorial covers the basics of deciding when to go in, how to measure side pots and changing tactics to improve your game and sharpen your decision making.

When to Go All In

  • With a great hand while playing against aggressive players, as it’s possible to take away their chips before an opponent claims them instead. Aggressive players don’t like backing down and this mentality can be turned against them.
  • An all in move on the flop can hold back opponents from limping in to see the turn and river cards. This can protect an early advantage and stop players from hanging on until they do get the cards they need.
  • Going in all will act as a bluffing tool, but only against the right players and cards. For example, the perfect target for bluffing with an all in motion is a modest opponent who rarely takes risks.
  • Every player ends up facing a time where they watch their chip stack dwindle away. Finally a last stand has to be made, but preferably when a good hand emerges. Holding out can remove the possibility of staying in the game for too long.

How to Calculate Side Pots

Side pots are common during all betting because it is unlikely that the players involved will have the same number of chips. For two players, this is not necessary, but three or more may require multiple side pots. Therefore, it doesn’t mean their enemies have to stop betting on a hand just because some players have fewer chips.

It’s easy for online poker players to manage side pots because the code is programmed to automatically monitor the chips and do all the calculations. Using a pen and paper in offline games, especially when four or more players are involved, can be helpful.

Below is an example of how four players can measure side pots, starting with their chips:

  • Player A: £50
  • Player B: £110
  • Player C: £180
  • Player D: £200
  • Main Pot: £200

Player A can afford only £ 50, so each player contributes £ 50 to create a major pot of £ 200.

  • Player B: £60
  • Player C: £130
  • Player D: £150
  • First Side Pot: £180

After the main pot, Player B has £ 60, which means the first side pot is reduced to £ 180. Players C and D are now the only players capable of competing in the second and final side bowls.

  • Player C: £70
  • Player D: £90
  • Second Side Pot: £140

The champions will be the players with the best cards in each pot after all the cards have been drawn. So, while A can win the main pot, only players in the following side pots have the right to win. In the meantime, if they drop the main pot and side pots, player D will live with £ 20.

Tips for Going All In

Consider the value of the showdown. Never get everything out of rage, even if you play with a short stack. If the player is cards with a higher set, a low pair or medium card will have a minimum value in a one-on – one showdown.

Try to trap adversaries. Having an all – in reputation can work just as well in moments of restraint, as when Johnny Chan won the 1988 World Series of Poker Finals. Opponent Eric Seidel wagered from the late position as Chan got straight on the flop, so the native Chinese wagered modestly before Seidel dropped down to the pit and made the all in call.

Don’t be afraid of calling. Teams in a weaker position can use an all-in-hand to unsettle their rivals. Antonio Esfandiari had pocket queens against the pocket eight of Andreas Flakstad at the 2009 WSOP. Esfandiari made the mistake of letting Flakstad grow in trust before avoiding a call he’d won.

Bluff late. Betting in a hand from an early position will give an advantage to opponents as they have more details to use in their answer. This can form an even more effective bluff when paired with an all-in, but only with a good read on opponents.

Use it in a balanced approach. It’s only going to make it easier for opponents to be predictable, so it’s important not to overuse or underuse everything. Opponents can figure out how to win by adopting an unbalanced strategy.

Going all in is inevitable in poker, so it is vital to be able to use this strategy effectively in order to at least understand the basics.

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