Saturday, February 7, 2009

Poker: When to Move All-in

Your Chips Are Bleeding Out

You are playing a no limit hold'em poker tournament. Unfortunately things are not going well.

Your chip stack is low, and in order to get back in the hunt, you must make an all-in move. But when is the right time to move all-in?

You can't wait too long or your chip stack will get so low that any raise you make will be called. And you don't want to move all-in too soon or you are going to put at risk too many chips when a standard raise is the best move.

Don't Get Behind the 8 Ball

The time to move all-in is when your chip stack is nine times or less the big blind. But, you want to make this all-in move as the first pre-flop raiser.

Why nine times the big blind instead of ten times the big blind?

At nine times the big blind you are getting slightly better odds on your play. For example, if your pre-flop raise is three times the big blind, and an opponent moves you all-in, you will be getting roughly 2.25 to 1.

At ten times the big blind, you are getting odds of 2 to 1 in the same scenario.

And the reason why you move all-in and don't just raise three times the big blind is because you want to make it less attractive for your opponents to call your bet. Plus, you also need to accumulate chips and doubling up at this stage is crucial if you expect to win.

What about eight times the big blind? It's a close decision between moving all-in with nine times or eight times the big blind. Frankly when you get down to either situation, move all-in. You need chips to win. So push your chips in the middle of the table and hope for the best.


Moving all-in pre-flop is an important play in a no limit tournament. If you get low in chips, remember not too wait too long and get below nine times the big blind. Take action. Embrace the risk in the game.

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