When you play No Limit Texas Hold’Em Poker you can bet all your chips at any time during the game. This move is called all-in. There are many situations when going all-in is the best move you can make. However, many poker players are using the move too often. Other players tend to wait too long until their stack size becomes too small and they are forced to go all-in. In this article we will show and explain situations when you should go all-in.
Please, remember that each game of Texas Hold’Em Poker has its own history and depends on many different variables. It is possible that some of the examples listed below may not apply to your particular situation. All examples are made under the assumption that other aspects of the game are in your favour. Particularly, the way all players act at the table has to be taken into account before you decide how to play a given situation.
Before you start to study the examples below, I want you to understand a few things about going all-in. Going all-in has two different advantages. Firstly, your opponents have to call with a large amount of chips. Secondly, they know that the hand will be played to the river. In other words, the decision about the winning hand is made after all community cards are dealt. The second aspect is very important to understand. The purpose of betting big amount of money is usually to force as many people as possible to fold their hands. It will isolate the players with strong hands or with hands that offer a high potential. It is very important to understand the difference to an all-in move. And all-in move will force more people to fold even if they had a hand with a high potential. For example, a player who has $1000 and goes all-in will most probably get less callers than a player with $5000 who bets $1000. However, it can be seen also from a different point of view. The callers might see in the all-in move of $1000 a sign of desperation of a short-stacked player, while the other player has the potential of paying another $4000.
But let us discuss the first situation when you should go all-in. It is a classical situation in a poker tournament. Your stack size is down to about five times the blinds or even less. You are short stacked and you have to play your remaining hands aggressively in order to stay in the tournament. With every blind you need to pay, you lower the amount of money you can win exponentially. Just imagine the following situation. Placing an all-in bet with a medium strength hand is usually much better than waiting for a better hand during the next round. Even if you get a strong hand in the next round, the amount of money you can earn with an all-in move is reduced already by the blinds. Many poker players hesitate too long before they make a play. If you are in a tournament, and you have to make four successful all-in bets in order to get to the average stack size of all players, you have waited already too long for your move.
The second situation for an all-in move in the pre-flop game is the protection of a strong hand. Some hands have to be played strongly in the pre-flop game. A typical example for hand for this strategy are the pocket jacks. This hand is quite strong in the beginning but it can be easily defeated by anyone who has a Queen, a King, or an Ace. If you bet aggressively with this hand in the pre-flop game, you will force many players to lay down their cards since most of their hands will be drawn hands. This means that they are waiting for one particular card on the flop in order to have a strong hand. In comparison to other hands like ace-king, pocket jacks are already a very strong combination in the beginning, So my advice is, if you have pocket jacks or a similar starting hand, you should play it aggressively in the pre-flop game. Afterwards you have to pay attention to over cards on the flop which may defeat your hand.
Before you decide whether you want to go all-in or just to limp in a Texas Hold’em Poker game, you have to consider that all betting amounts are relative. This means, that in the beginning of a tournament a bet of $1000 is considerably high, but in later stages it will hardly cover the blinds. Therefore, the actual amount of money you might want to bet depends more on the pot size and the blind size than on the actual value of the chips. An easy rule to remember is that the pot dictates the suitable amounts for betting. Just consider that the pot size in a typical tournament game is $5000. If you place an additional bet of $500, you will not force any player to fold since the bet is too low compared to the pot size. Therefore, most players adjust their betting according to the pot size and the probability of winning the hand. As a result, they get the so called “pot odds”. So if your chance of winning a particular hand is “50%” you should place a bet of “50%” of the pot size.
The best reason for going all-in is a suspected bluff of your opponent and when you think your hand is stronger than his hand. Maybe you think that it is too aggressive and that you should play slowly and try to squeeze the highest amount of money out of your opponent. But always remember, that the community card might improve the weak hand of your opponent and this will give him the winning hand. Because most players who try to bluff in Texas Hold’Em Poker have some outs. They are trying a classical semi-bluff. The more cards on the table the higher is the possibility that your opponent will increase the strength of his hand. By a re-raise, you force him to decide whether his hand is strong enough to risk a high amount of money and whether this will be still the case after all cards are out. A typical example is a game with an aggressive player. After the flop, you have the top pair and a high kicker. He is betting five times the blinds. Due to your experience, you expect that he has a middle pair. If you just call in this situation, you give him the chance to complete his second pair and win the hand. He might even call a re-raise in order to obtain the lucky card. If you play aggressively and bet all-in now, he has to invest a big amount of money and he has to go with his weak hand to the last card.
If you understand the concept and advantages of going all-in in Texas Hold’em Poker, you will make better choices when the time is right to go all-in and you will understand why your opponents went all-in which will improve your game. If you are a poker tournament player, you will face the point when you have to go all-in several times and you will have to make the decision whether to call or not to call the all-in of another player. These situations are the most critical during a tournament and they will decide how you will perform during the complete event. A wrong choice will most probably kick you out soon. But making the right choice increases your image, your chip count and brings you closer to the prize money and the final table.