There are a lot of different scenarios that can materialize in home poker games, poker tournaments or cash games so we’ll do our best to walk you through the most common all in situations you’ll find.
We’ve also created the perfect tool to end any confusion about side pots and all ins in your poker home games – the Side Pot Calculator.
Just enter the numbers into the calculator and it does all the work for you, explaining who wins what amount from the pot.
If you’re still confused about all-in situations from time to time, you’re not alone. Even the best players in the world can get mixed up and they have professional tournament directors/staff to call in to sort it all out.
Any specific questions you might have let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to solve the dilemma for you. Read more:
Rules for All-In Situations in Poker
While No-Limit or “All In” poker on the surface seems like a game designed for the most wealthy players or punters in the world, the actual rules for all-in poker situations do the exact opposite.
They give each player the chance to only bet what’s in front of them at the poker table.
Called “table stakes,” it means that in a poker hand you can only bet whatever money or chips you had on the table when the hand started.
You can’t reach for your wallet and bet more money, or put your car keys in the middle, or drop in the deed to your last 40 acres in South Texas.
What’s on the table is the only money you can put “all in” – even if it doesn’t match up exactly with the amount your opponent has.
All In Rules – Two Players
As you might imagine, in cash games, tournaments and poker home games everywhere, there are always situations where one player has more money (or chips) at the table than another.
With just two players in the pot, this is an easy situation to resolve. A player can always call an “all in” with the rest of his or her chips.
He or she is only eligible to win the portion of the pot that totals his or her entire stack at the start of the hand, though.
Eg: There's $100 in the pot. You have $25 left and your opponent bets $50. You are not “priced out” of the pot so to speak. If you want to call, you can put your $25 in the pot.
In this case, if no other players match the $50 bet, the opponent gets $25 back immediately - the amount you couldn't match. The player who shows down the best hand picks up the full pot in the middle of the table.
More Players = Side Pots
All-in rules for two players are pretty straightforward.
Even if you don’t have enough in your stack to match the full all in bet you can always put whatever you have left into the middle and be eligible to win that portion of the pot.
When three or more players are involved, things can get a little more complicated.
Not “impossible to figure out” complicated, but you will need to create “side pots” that match up with what each player has is his stack/put into the middle.
RULE: The golden, overarching rule to keep in mind is that each player matches each opponents' bet with as much as is left in his stack.
All players still in the pot are obligated to match whatever the smallest stack has contributed to the pot. This is the "main pot.”
The player with the next smallest stack then is required to match remaining bets from players with bigger stacks, and so on.
This is put into a “side pot” with each respective player.
How to Calculate Side Pots
Say there are three players left in a hand with stacks as follows:
- Player A: $25
- Player B: $50
- Player C: $100
All players have gone all in. Based on the size of the smallest stack, the main pot has $75 in it - $25 from each player.
This is the total amount Player A can win in the hand. The remaining chips of Player B ($25) are then matched up against the all-in bet from Player C.
As he only has $25 more, Player C is only required to put in $25 to "cover" his extra bet.
The "side pot," contested only between Players B and C, is $50. As Player C has $50 no other player can match, that $50 is returned to his or her stack immediately.
At showdown all players are eligible to win the main $75 pot.
If Player A has the best hand, he wins the main pot and the main pot only. Players B and C then compare their hands. The best hand between those two then takes the $50 side pot.
If Player B or C has the best hand between all three players, that player takes the money in both the main pot and the side pot.
If more than three players go All-In during a hand side pots are contested between individual players based on the exact same formula.
Important note: Only players who have contributed to a side pot can win the money in that side pot.
Try out our Side Pot Calculator right here to see it in action.
Betting Rules for All-In Situations
What happens if a player goes all in with a bet or a raise but it's not enough for a full raise to be completed?
There are two common rules: the "full bet" rule or the half bet rule.
If the "full bet" rule is in effect, as it usually is in No-Limit games, and the amount of an all-in is less than the minimum bet or the full amount of the previous raise, it's now a "real" raise and doesn't reopen the betting. If the "half bet" rule is in play if the amount is over half the minimum bet it is a raise and reopens the action.
Eg. Player 1 bets $50 into the pot and the player that acts next goes all in for $65.
As the extra $15 is not enough to constitute a "full raise" on Player 1's original bet, a third player can still raise instead of call as he has not yet had the option to raise.
Player 1 would then be able to call or raise the amount of Player 3's raise.
If the third player just calls, however, Player 1 can't re-raise as it would essentially be re-raising his own original bet. Player 1 can only call the extra $15 from both players and would contest an extra side pot of $30 with Player 3.
The main pot would have $50 from all three players in it for a total of $150.