There’s really nothing quite like it. You’ve been waiting for your moment for what seems like ages. Folding away trash hands, picking your spots to make your stands, following your strategy, betting and raising other players with your chips – but now the time has arrived. You’re in a spot that demands you shove your whole stack and go “all-in” for a huge win.

It might be preflop. It might be after. But one thing is clear: you’ve got the best cards and you’re ready to risk it all.

Hold on. How did we get here? And are we about to lose our shirt?

Shirtless man in shorts standing in water playing poker

Okay, let’s back up a bit and talk about when you should be going all-in during a poker game so that you don’t wind up flushing your cash and chips down the drain by giving them to another player. We’re looking to win and double up our stack when we’re betting big, not to get busted out.

Going All-In Early

In a way, this can be one of the simplest betting decisions you make when you play online poker. Let’s cover the easiest situation in the game from a strategy standpoint: you’ve got pocket aces in your hand and someone else is shoving all-in with their entire cash stack (kings perhaps? Or maybe someone tilting a bit?). You’re not folding there no matter what. Other than that, you may consider shoving early with kings, ace-king, or other premium hands, especially if you think you’re up against an over-aggressive opponent that doesn’t have the goods and will probably fold (or better yet, will call with inferior cards).

But what if you’re trying to win an online poker tournament? How does that change things? Well, the best online tournaments will put you to a lot of all-in shoves with your stack when you play due to the nature of increasing blinds. As poker tournaments progress, blinds go up and you’ll need to be winning or your chips will get gobbled up by other players. This means that you can open up your all-in standards. If you’re a small stack (you only have 10 big blinds left while others have 40+), you probably need to shove with your face cards and decent pairs, and any time that you think you can get a fold out of other players.

Fortune favors the bold, and tournaments won’t allow you to play and bide your time forever.

Going All-In Early at online poker

Baiting Your Opponent to Go All In

When you play online poker, you sometimes need to look a little weak to get another player to feel comfortable enough to think they have the best cards. Then, they’ll try to dominate you by betting and putting in big raises. Small bets and checks when you’re first to act (that is, when you’re “out of position”) can make an opponent think the time is right to push you and your stack out of a hand.

There’s always room for a little misdirection in your strategy, right?

Let’s say you’re in an online tournament game and you limp in (simply ante up your big blind) preflop from early position with a pair of sixes in your hand. You get raised by a player in late position and hesitate for a bit before calling, hoping to set a trap. You’re the big stack at the table with the most chips, and you’re hoping it looks like you’re simply loosening up and playing more hands. The flop comes with a six, helping you make your set, along with other low cards. You read the other player as sitting on an overpair (a pocket pair that’s higher than any card on the board).

You check, projecting your thoughts out to the table: “Oh please, Mr. Strong Poker Hand, don’t hurt me. Don’t bet. Anything but that.”

The other player bets, one step closer to being trapped. Now, you could shove here, but he’ll probably be suspecting something. He may call it if he thinks you’re simply bullying him. Or you can try to project the image that you’re drawing to a hand and willing to pay for it. In any event, your whole strategy rests on making the other player think he can make you fold, or that he has the best hand in the event you call him.

The whole poker hand was a setup for your ultimate surprise win.

Baiting Your Opponent to Go All In

Going All-In During A Tournament

An online poker tournament is going to put you to a number of all-in decisions, if you want to reach the final table and get your cash. There’s just no way to avoid it. Everyone is under pressure and as chip stacks dwindle, players simply have to start betting, following a strategy that has them pushing with any decent cards they see. This will be true unless you’ve got a lot of luck or are playing really good poker and manage to get out to an early lead that you maintain for a long time.

The best online poker tournaments will help you find your courage when you’ve got the goods. You need to make your opportunities pay at one time or another if you’re going to keep you stack healthy enough to hold out and cash in the poker tourney. Your standards for going all-in probably need to relax a bit in a tournament. Preflop, players will be pushing with queens and less just to snatch up a round of bets that look stealable. Don’t think you need aces in every situation to make a call.

Keep an eye on the players that are playing aggressively and don’t let them take over the table and win by splashing chips around. You’ll also be in some heads-up or shorthanded tables, and going all in will happen more frequently there as well. If you allow your opponent to take the reins and control the table, you may get blinded to death.

Find your fire and make other players fold in a poker game when you have decent cards or are semi-bluffing with a very strong draw.

Keep your tournament poker fire going and soon it will become a blaze that consumes all your opponents.

When to Bluff All-In

This is about as ballsy a play as you can make in the game of poker, but when you pull it off, you’ll feel like an absolute boss. The key, of course, is finding the right moment for this kind of betting strategy. You need an opponent that will probably fold to protect their stack. It’s great if you’ve already seen this player lay down cards and have proof that the person can back down off a hand. If not, you’re looking for indicators of weakness. You’re also thinking through the hand and considering if the opponent has simply played weak to trap you. There are no guarantees when you play this game. But then, it makes a win that much sweeter. That’s the fun of online poker at Ignition!

Push those stacks, and may you double your cash more often than not!