Going all-In is definitely one of my favourite moves in tournament poker. I am aware that many people do not agree with my strategy but by my experience I can say that there are times when it is the most effective move. Of course, there are also other times when it will not pay out and you’ll stay with empty hands. In order to play Poker successfully and profitably, you need to know when you should go all-in and when not.
But let us begin with the opposite, the worst moment for going all-in. It is an all-in move during the pre-flop in the beginning of a poker tournament. The players who make this move want to double their chips in the beginning of the tournament. The problem is that any experienced poker player can easily read the player at this moment. When a player places all the chips in the pot at that time, everyone at the table will know that he has a strong hand, usually a pair of jacks. Therefore, you will receive only calls from hands that are even stronger during the pre-flop – queens, kings or aces.
But as I have said before, going all-in is one of my favourite moves, so let us discuss when you should make it. The difference between a good and a great tournament player is the perfect timing for the moves. A great player simply knows when it is the right time to play. Now, I will give you some guidelines that will help you to determine whether going all-in is suitable with your hand.
1. Late Rounds (Tight Image) – If you have played only very strong hands during the early stages of a tournament, your opponents will have noticed that – you have a tight image at the table. Then, you can use your tight image against the other players in order to steal the blinds. The following conditions must be fulfilled for a successful all-in. You are sitting on the button, everyone has folded and you have a good hand against a decent player. You should not be afraid to place all chips with A-x suited or any pairs. Do not forget that it is usually much easier to go all-in than to call.
2. Playing Against Highly Skilled Players – The all-in strategy works successfully playing against skilled players. If you have to face a player who will outplay you on the flop, you can go all-in during the pre-flop game. But be aware that this strategy includes certain risks. However, if played properly, you can make your game more profitable. There was once a player in an online tournament who was constantly moving all-in in the last stages of the tournament. I asked him in the chat why he was playing in that way. He responded that he is facing a better player who would read him on the flop. He explained, that by doing so, he decreased the times he was called drastically. In that way he did not have to risk all his chips on the flop.
3. The Bubble – Although this can be also considered as late round, this situation is very special. In big multi-table tournaments, most people start to play much tighter when it comes too close to money. In this situation, you can use the all-in move to build up a big stack size. I used this strategy several times successfully to raise tight players during that stage. I consider it as the basis of my victory.
If you want to become a successful tournament player, you should not be afraid of going all-in and test your opponents’ chips. If you have the right hand and somebody raises, you can easily say “I’m all-in” because you know that you are in the position to do so.