What Does All-in Mean in Poker
All-in is a situation or action in poker that signifies you are betting your entire stack or the portion your opponents can match if their amount of chips is smaller than yours.
Putting all chips (or money) on the line, you receive an opportunity to significantly increase your stack by n-times (depending on the number of people in the pot and their total chips). At the same time, you also take risks of losing it all.
Common synonyms for the discussed move are: shove, push, jam, and play for a stack.
All-in Sizes and Splitting the Pot
Jamming already implies that a gambler plays for all their chips/money, that is, an all in bet is equal to their stack size. In the case of equal all-ins, the winner takes all the chips and their stack increases as many times as there were shoves at the table.
But, more importantly, how to calculate side pots when such bets are not equal?
A player who is pushing claims to get that part of their rivals' stacks that does not exceed their current amount of chips. If subsequent bets exceed the player’s stack, then they are not entitled to claim to take them away. At the same time, if the player’s shove is higher than their adversaries’ stacks, then the adversaries cannot take all of the player’s chips.
Films usually impose on us a stereotype that playing 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 funds from his opponent Harry Hatchet right during the betting. Such a situation is possible only in a film or some kind of underground, home games. In a casino or online room, such action is impracticable. You can only bet an amount that is in your possession at the start of the hand.
General All In Poker Rules
At the table, you generally have various action options: place a bet, muck your cards, play check if you’re on the big blind and/or no one has raised the bet, call, raise (make a 3-bet, 4-bet, etc.) or jam – that is, put all your chips on the line.
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 other participants fold their cards the player can take winnings without showing their holding.
Why do players risk going all in at poker tables? There are several common reasons for this:
- a person gets premium starter, flops a combination or a strong draw, suspecting that their adversary is bluffing; or they’ve managed to hit the nuts in poker;
- a gambler prefers to play aggressively by knocking weak opponents out of the game;
- when playing against a person who rarely calls shoves (you see a high percentage of stats like Fold to 3bet, Fold to 4bet, etc.);
- they pull off a poker bluff;
- a player has already invested a lot of chips in the pot or just wants to fight for a big pot;
- when following the "push or fold" strategy, which means either shoving or folding (this line is often used in tournaments when you have less than 10 BB in the stack);
- they have very few chips and believe that they might not get better cards in the subsequent hands;
- automatic all-in.
In NL Texas Holdem and other no-limit games, one can shove during any betting round, even on the preflop.
Shoving in limit & pot limit games
Here you can’t declare yourself to be "all-in" at any stage of the hand. This can only be done in specific cases – when a bet allows it. In FL and PL games, an individual is allowed to play for all their chips in the following situations:
- if an auto all-in occurs;
- their total chips are equal to the size of the bet (i.e. call or min-raise = all-in);
- their raise or call becomes an all-in at some stage of the hand.
When you have a big blind or fewer chips and 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".
The opposite situation is playing poker on the button, as this position allows you to assess the bets of all participants engaged in the hand and only then decide to push.
Being short-stacked is unpleasant anyway, but it sometimes can play in your favour, as cards that you would never push purposely may double your stack.
Jamming in Online Poker
Not all platforms offer a separate "All In" button.
On PokerStars, for example, you need to move a bet slider to the right edge or click on the "Max" button to push. This means that you are raising the entire stack.
For those who like to rely on luck, frequently putting all of their chips in the pot, online poker sites offer special games called All In Shootout (including freerolls), where all players automatically push each hand until a single winner is determined. By registering in such tournaments, you may not participate in hands and even not follow the game but still get in the money. Play limits in this format may vary depending on the platform; available disciplines – NLH, Short deck poker, Omaha.
Poker rooms to play all in shootouts
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Pushing in Live Games
When playing online, you can shove mistakenly by clicking the mouse, which is called a misclick. It is much easier to make this mistake when playing offline because, according to poker etiquette, a dealer may mistake certain players’ gestures and consider them as declaring to be “all-in”.
Playing live games, you should be extremely careful and know what actions can be mistaken for pushing. Since rules may differ from casino to casino, we recommend that you clarify all nuances before joining the table.
There have been numerous cases when a dealer did not hear a player declaring all-in and thus did not accept their bet, or vice versa, announced shove by mistake. Croupiers call a floorman (sometimes shortened to just "floor") or a tournament director when such controversial situations occur.
For players’ (and dealers’) convenience, some casinos use special chips signed "All in" so that people don’t need to move their stack in the centre of the table or announce the bet out loud.
It is the most aggressive and radical decision in poker betting. Doing this move, an individual puts all their money or chips into the pot. It's important to use this tactic judiciously.
Gamblers jam in different scenarios – holding a strong hand, bluffing, or when their chip stack is short – but it's always a personal choice. It should be made thoughtfully; never shove in the heat of negative emotions or while being on tilt in poker!). When deciding to bet all chips, one should take into account game type, as it affects the range of starting hands (it’s narrower in ring games compared to MTTs).
To call your opponent's all in, you should generally have the same or more chips in your stack (but not necessarily). If your push is called by an opponent who has more chips, you will be out of the game if you lose. If they are shorter, you'll still be able to continue after a bad shoving.