Perhaps the most exciting play in all of Texas Hold’em poker, is when a player makes the bold choice to go All In with their chips. To go All In means that you put all your chips into the pot as your bet. If you win the hand, you will have at least doubled your chip count, or perhaps much more than that if several players decide to call you by going All In themselves. Many SitNGo tournaments have 9-10 players in them, so you could potentially make 10X your money or more on a strong All In move.
However, if you lose the hand, you are out of the game, and your money is gone for good. So it is really a suspenseful moment when someone moves all their chips into the center of the table, claiming to have the best hand, and daring anyone to call them on this move. But the question I get most from a lot of new players is, ‘How do I know when I should go all in?’ I will attempt to answer that question in this article to the best of my ability.
The first rule I always use when determining whether or not I should go all in, is that I must determine whether or not I have an actual chance of winning if I am called. It does not necessarily mean that I must have the best hand in order to make this move, I just need to make sure I have a shot. Many players go All In pre-flop with two off suited low number cards, such as a 4-8, and hope to bluff everyone out of the small blind betted pot. That in my opinion is idiotic, because the person sitting across from you with two Aces is going to call you, and you will inevitably be out of the game.
After determining whether or not I have a decent shot at winning the pot, I try to evaluate my opponents. Will it be worth it to me to take such a risk? Is the pot big enough to try buying? Will anyone chase me into this trap I am setting by calling me? These are all questions you have to answer before playing like a cowboy and pushing your chip stack towards the center.
Remember to keep a wide perspective of the game. What are the chances that another player could hold a higher hand? Remember to include how many players there are, since fewer players increases your chances of winning. What will happen if you do not win the hand? How bad of a shape will you be in? Will you be out, or will you simply lose a large portion of your stack to another player?
Also, what do you stand to gain? Are you in a heads up situation, where winning the hand would declare you the winner of the game? Or is it the 3rd hand in the game, and losing will cause you to walk away with little to show for it. Remember that going All In is not always the best option. Sometimes a bold 50% raise is all you need to take down a big pot.