All-in in poker

All-in in poker

All-in in poker is an action or a situation when a player plays for the entire stack or that part of it that opponents can call if the player's stack is bigger than theirs.

In fact, the poker player shoves all his chips (or money) in the center of the table and plays for them, getting an opportunity to significantly increase their stack by n-times (depending on the number of players in the pot and the size of their stacks) as well as risking losing it. A player who is all-in does not take part in further betting and cannot influence the course of the game. Their cards always go to showdown. It is only if all players fold their hands the player can take winnings without showing their pocket cards. 

All-in sizes and splitting the pot

All-in already implies that a poker player plays for all their chips, that is, the size of the all-in is equal to the size of the player's stack.

With equal all-ins, the winner takes all the chips and their stack increases as many times as there were all-ins at the table.

But, more importantly, how to calculate side pots when all-ins are not equal?

The player who is all-in claims to get that part of the opponents' stacks that does not exceed their own stack. If the all-in is followed by bets that exceed their stack, then the player is not entitled to claim to take them away. At the same time, if the player’s all-in is higher than their opponents’ stacks, then the opponents cannot take all of the player’s chips.


Films usually impose on us a stereotype that in poker a player can bet more than they have at the table simply by announcing the desired amount or object (a car, a house, etc.) out loud. For example, in the popular movie "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", Eddie goes all-in for $250 000, while not having such an amount at the table. To make a bet, he borrowed the money from his opponent Harry Hatchet right during the trading. Such a situation is possible only in a film or some kind of underground, home games. In a casino or a poker room, such action is impracticable. You can only bet an amount that is in your stack at the start of the hand.

All-in poker rules

Why do players go all-in?

At the table, you generally have a few options to act: to fold, to check if you are on the big blind and/or no one has raised the bet, to call, to raise (make a bet, 3-bet) or go all-in – that is, play for all your chips.

Why do players risk going all-in? There are several common reasons for this:

  • a player has very strong cards or they’ve managed to hit the nut combination;
  • a player has a good combination or a strong draw, suspecting that the opponent is bluffing;
  • a player prefers to play aggressively by knocking weak opponents out of the game;
  • a player knows that their opponent rarely calls all-ins (a high percentage of such indicators as Fold to 3bet, Fold to 4bet, etc.);
  • a player is bluffing;
  • a player has already put a lot of chips in the pot or just wants to fight for a big pot;
  • a player is following the "push or fold" strategy, which means either go all-in or fold (this line is often used in tournaments when you have less than 10 BB in the stack);
  • a player has a short stack and thinks that they may not get better cards in the next hands;
  • a player is automatically all-in.

All in

All-in in No Limit Hold'em

In No Limit Hold'em (NLH) and other no-limit games, you can go all-in during any round of betting, even on the preflop.

All-in in Limit Hold'em

Compared to no-limit games where you can declare yourself to be "all-in" at any stage of the hand, in limit hold'em (and other limit games), this can be done only in certain cases – when the bet allows it.

In limit hold'em, you can go all-in if:

  • an auto all-in occurs;
  • your stack is equal to the size of the bet (i.e. call or min-raise = all-in);
  • your raise or call becomes an all-in at some stage of the hand;

The situation is similar in fixed and pot-limit games.

All In Shootout

For those who like to rely on luck and often go all-in, there is a special type of tournament called  All In Shootout. In these events, all players automatically go all-in in every hand, until one winner is determined in the game.

By registering in such tournaments, you may not take part in the hands and even not follow the game but still get in the money. Some poker rooms host All In Shootout tournaments in the form of freerolls. Such games are quite popular at PokerStars.

Auto all-in

When you have a big blind or fewer chips in the stack and you are playing on the big blind or, in some cases, the small blind, you automatically end up all-in preflop with any two hole cards. This situation is called "auto-all-in".

Being a short stack is unpleasant anyway, but it sometimes can play in your favor, as cards that you would never shove purposely can double your stack.

All-in in online poker

Not all poker rooms offer a separate "All-In" button. On PokerStars, for example, to go all-in, you need to move a bet slider to the right edge or click on the "Max" button. This means that you are raising the entire stack, i.e. go all-in.

all in online

All-in in offline poker

When playing online, you can go all-in by mistakenly clicking the mouse – it’s called a misclick in poker. It is much easier to make this mistake when playing offline, because, according to poker etiquette, the dealer may mistake certain players’ gestures and consider them as declaring to be all-in.

Therefore, when playing live poker, you need to be very careful and know what actions at the table can be mistaken for going all-in. Since the rules may differ from casino to casino, it is better to clarify such nuances before joining the poker table.

There have been numerous cases when the dealer did not hear a player declaring all-in and thus did not accept the bet, or vice versa, announced the all-in by mistake.

If such controversial situations occur, the dealer usually calls a floorman (sometimes shortened to just "floor") or a tournament director.

For players’ (and dealers’) convenience, some casinos use special chips signed "All-in", so that players don’t need to move their stack in the center of the table or announce a bet out loud.

All in chips

You can easily buy such chips on the Internet or in a specialized store that sells poker stuff for home games.

That’s it. You now know what does all in mean in poker and how to go all-in correctly. Good luck everyone!​


Can all players at the table go all-in at the same time?

Yes, it is possible. The player with the strongest combination will be determined a winner. If a few players have the same comninations, then the pot will be split.

Can I go all-in by mistake?

Yes, such situations may occur. When playing online, you can make a misclick, that is, accidentally press the all-in button. In such cases, it is impossible to cancel your action. In live tournaments, the dealer may mistake your gesture for an all-in. In this case, you must immediately call a floorman and explain the situation.

Does a player always have strong cards when going all-in?

This is far from always being the case. It happens that players apply bluffing, so they may have very weak cards when going all-in.

When does auto all-in occur?

When you have a big blind or fewer chips in the stack, you are involved in the hand automatically.

What are All In Shootout tournaments?

In tournaments of this format, all your play depends solely on luck. In such events, all players automatically go all-in in every hand.

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I’ve been working in the Cardmates team since 2018. Started playing poker the same way most people usually do – socially, with friends and fellow students. I adored those exciting poker nights but never thought my life would be connected with this game, even tangentially.
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