When to Go All-In in Texas Holdem Poker
Pushing your chips all-in is the most powerful move in poker. It’s what makes No-Limit Hold’em different from other form of poker.
The all in bet gives even the worst players a fighting chance at a table full of professionals. There is little doubt that the all in bet is what makes No-Limit Hold’em is the most popular poker game.
Understanding the power of the all-in bet is easy, but knowing its strengths and weakness can be a difficult concept to grasp. Going all in pre-flop every hand is a recipe for disaster, but sitting back and waiting for the nuts will get you nowhere.
To maximize its power you need to know when, and where to make it.
There are three main reasons that you should make an all-in bet.
With the Nuts
The first is a no brainer; you should make an all in bet when you are sure you have the best hand. If you are placing an all in bet with the nuts on the river, you need to be convinced that your opponent will call you. If they fold you are losing chips by not placing a value bet that they would call.
When you have a very strong read on your opponent you can use an all in bet to force a fold even holding when holding a draw. The bluff is what makes the all in bet so powerful, but also dangerous. The skill to know how your opponent will react to your pressure is essential for this bet to work.
There are times in tournament play when your chip stack will force an all in bet. Once your chip stack is at only 10 times the big blind or smaller you need to find a hand to push all in with. You want to pick a premium hand like :Ac :Ks or middle connectors like :7h :8d, if they are suited it is even better. Waiting too long will cause the big blinds to take what chip stake you have left.
Stop Before the Flop
A common mistake for new players is going all in before the flop. This is especially true when playing from early position. Even with a strong hand like :Ac :Ks placing an all in bet from this position could see you being dominated by a hand like :Ah :As. Going all-in pre-flop is a sure way to lose money.
When you place an all in bet in position it gives you strength. You will have more information about their hand. You can watch for tells. Look for shaky hands; this could be an indication of a good hand. Watch for weakness when sitting in position.
Before the Turn
The all in bet is most effective before the turn when you know your hand is ahead. Most flops will show some kind of draw. Using an all in bet before the turn will force an opponent to make a decision on their draw. If you have a large enough stack the odds are rarely profitable for them to call.
The all in bet is what makes No-Limit Hold’em what it is, embrace it but don’t abuse it.
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