Poker strategy essays
No Limit Holdem
Cash Games - All about the All-In
By Martin Fromage
What separates the game of No-Limit
Holdem from everything else in poker Ė what gives
it its true moments of guts and glory and the exhilaration
that comes with that Ė is the all-in move. It doesnít
even have to be the actual move itself; just the threat
of going all-in can create a bolt of electricity that
shoots through the entire card room. Thatís a potent
move and one of the main reasons Texas Holdem has been described as, 'hours
of boredom, interspersed with moments of sheer terror.'
The moments of terror? When all your chips are in
the middle and itís down to two outcomes Ė doubling
up or packing up Ė and thereís nothing you can do
but hold your breath and hope the right cards come.
But itís not necessarily terror just
for you. Here are some great ways to use the all-in
as a weapon in your No-Limit cash games and strike
a little terror in the hearts of your opponents instead.
For the Double Up
Bottom line, if you have the best hand, you want to
win as many chips as possible. The best way it seems
to do that is to bet as many chips as you have. But
thatís not always the case. Take this example. An
all-in bet of $100 gets you one caller. But a bet
of $50 gets you three callers. Net result: $150 won
vs $100 won. So the all-in bet there isnít the best
value. Even worse, an all-in bet may scare off everybody,
killing the action on your strong hand. A smaller
bet might be able to keep opponents involved. Of course,
that being said, if your hand isnít strong enough
to play multi-way in the first place, you might prefer
the heads-up action.
New players, especially those who
learned Holdem watching tournament poker on television,
love moving all-in pre-flop with a hand like AA, KK
or A-K. Love it. But in a cash game, where the blinds
donít go up, you can afford to wait for much better
spots to move in than pre-flop with A-K. If you get
called, youíll probably be around 50 per cent to win,
but those arenít your best odds. If you move in pre-flop
with AA and get called, youíre in great shape, for
sure. But most times, you wonít get called and youíll
win only the blinds, and thatís a waste of a great
For the Bluff
Lots of online
Texas Holdem players make the following
big mistake: making an all-in bluff when a much smaller
bet would be much more effective. Bluffing $400 into
a $100 pot is a tactical error, plain and simple.
First, youíre risking $400 to win $100, giving 4 to
1 odds. If your bluff fails only slightly more than
20 percent of the time, youíre going to lose money.
The truth is $200 will usually serve the same purpose
as your $400 bet, with way less risk. If your opponentís
hand canít take a $400 bet, it probably canít take
a $200 bet either. If you get called or raised on
$200, you can easily put your opponent on a big hand
and likely save half your chips.
All-in for the Win
Things arenít the same in a cash game as they are
in Texas Holdem tournaments;
losing an all-in bet doesnít necessarily mean you
or your opponent are done. You can just go and buy
more chips. So the fear of the night being over with
an all-in move is not as much of a factor. To get
the right perspective on an all-in bet in a cash game,
think of it this way: simply making the largest bet
you can possibly make at any given time. If itís the
right play to make a bet this size (or bigger), then
move all-in. If it isnít, then donít.
The 'When'. Three good rules of thumb:
1. If youíre confident you have the best hand
and youíll be called, move all-in.
2. If you think your opponent is on a draw
and the best way to give him incorrect odds to call
is a decision for all of your chips, move all-in.
3. If youíre a short stack and youíre getting
the right odds to call or bet the remaining chips
And there you go. The ABCs of all-in
bets in a No-Limit cash game. Keep the confidence
up and make the right play and the terror will be
Note: The advice given in these
essays is the opinion of the author and not necessarily
the opinion of the owners of this website. Experts
do not always agree on all aspects of Texas Holdem
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