As you are flipping through the channels one evening you notice ESPN is having a marathon on the World Series of Poker, and you decide to see what the hype is about. As someone who has been an addict at playing the game on PokerQQ, I can understand the level of craze and fandom everywhere. Several hours later you find yourself watching two players battling back and forth, the tension in your living room is so tight that you do not realize the family dog has become your footstool. Finally, the moment you have been waiting for, one player has decided to go ‘all in’. As the other player calls, the hands are revealed and you see the bluff exposed. “How could he make that play!?” you exclaim as you kick what you believe to be your footstool in disbelief.
The art of poker is not easily classified. To be successful in the game, one must be knowledgeable in a vast amount of areas, literally a jack of all trades. A player must be able to calculate the probability they will catch a card which they need, and decide if the cost associated with seeing the next card is justified by the probability. Being able to ‘read’ your opponents is also essential to being successful. To truly master the art of reading players, one must develop their skills of observation and be able to detect any of the slightest signs a player may unknowingly give away which signals a strong or weak hand. Along the same lines, as a poker player you must be able to control your own tells which you give off by strictly disciplining yourself to be fully aware of every tiny movement or gesture you make. You can also use tells to your advantage by mixing up which movements or gestures you make for various hands, while making sure no patterns develop which other players may pick up on. Lastly but definitely not least, always pay tribute to lady luck, for when she turns on you, no strategy will save you.
Let these guidelines serve as a rough method to determine the proper time an all in play may be justified.
How should you know when the proper time to go all in is? By using the discussed guidelines, you may be able to derive the proper time to push your entire stack into the pot. Here are a few examples of what a poker player may consider before going all in:
Did his hand just twitch when he made that raise?
- You recall an earlier raise by the same player which his hand also twitched, and he folded to your all in move.
Consider the strength of your hand, and your odds, if they seem decent, go all in.
- You recall an earlier raise by the same player where his hand also twitched, and another player pushed all in. When the players laid down their hands, the player in question showed his two aces he was dealt.
Do not go all in unless you have a very strong hand, or very high odds of catching a strong hand.
- You’re unsure about the style of this player, seeing as that he just sat down at your table.
Calculate your odds, do the odds justify an all in move?
All of the sudden outspoken Joe has become silent as he makes a large raise.
- He became curiously quiet awhile ago when involved in a large pot, the pot went to the showdown and he showed Ace King.
These players enjoy entertaining themselves by listening to their own rambling while not involved in a large pot, but decide to take the game more seriously when they think they have a hand with the potential to earn them a large sum. Be wary and consider the strength of your hand, can it stand up against another strong hand?
- The player employed this strategy a few hands ago, and his competition all folded, he was then feeling cocky enough to display his horrible hand and hasn’t stopped talking about it since.
This player knows you are going to notice his sudden silence, and wants you to conclude that he has a good hand. He is probably trying to give himself something to rub in your face for the next few rounds. If your hand has some decent strength, strongly consider pushing this opponent all in.
- Outspoken Joe has been all over the place the last few rounds, throwing chips into pots randomly, and has managed thus far to not get any horrible beats while still catching some lucky cards to build his chip stack.
This player is a gamble to play against, since he has been so random, you cannot deduce any logical explanation of what he may be holding. Consider the strength of your hand and if it’s worth risking against a lose cannon such as outspoken Joe. You may be best off waiting until you are against another opponent who you can more accurately judge before pushing all in.
While I have only covered a tiny fraction of the possible scenarios one may encounter, you can see the general idea behind judging an all in move. In regards to the move made in the World Series of Poker you were watching, perhaps the player who pushed all in thought he had gotten a read off the other player and was hoping to capitalize off this opportunity. Use these rough guidelines, and through practice you will be able to accurately gauge the opportune time to push all in.