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. 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:
Poker Side Pot Calculator
Rules for All-In Situations in Poker
No-Limit or “All In” poker gives each player the chance to only bet what’s in front of them at the poker table. These are 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. 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
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.
Example: 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. But you'll 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.
Example: 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.
Side Pot and All-in FAQs
When u play poker, do you win all the money?In Texas Holdem, you can win the total pot amount after each hand / round. You do this by having the best hand at showdown or by having all the other players fold to you. Sometimes, two players may have the same hand and will split the pot - so neither gets all the money (chips). In a cash game, you get this straight away and can cash out anytime. Meanwhile, at the end of a tournament, there will be a payout structure where the total buy-ins of all the players (minus rake taken by the house if any) are split among the top players. So rarely does a single player claim all the money.
What does all-in mean in poker?When a player goes all-in, they're committing their entire chip stack to the pot. In a poker hand you can bet - at maximum - the money or chips you have left on the table.
When can a player go all in in Texas Holdem?In a Fixed Limit Texas Holdem game, you can only bet as much as the pot. But in a no-limit Texas holdem game, you can virtually go all-in any time you want. However, you'll only be eligible to win your stack multiplied by the amount of callers = the main pot. Also, the 'All-In' rule in table stakes allows the player to call a bet even when they don't have enough chips, instantly putting them all-in.
We suggest you don't bluff all-in. And only perform this move when you're sure you have the winning hand. Or if you have a short stack of chips and a strong hand pre-flop, like pocket pairs or AK suited.
How do side pots work in poker?If two players go all-in, and the bigger stack of chips wins, then the other player is out. On the other hand, if the shorter stack wins, they get double their chips from their opponent. However, if there are 3 or more players in a pot with at least one all-in, chips get added to both the main pot and side pot.
The all-in player can only win their stake - which in this case is the amount of their whole stack (all-in). So if the other two or more players are all-in with bigger stacks or alternatively continue to bet "on the side", these additional chips go into a SIDE POT. If the all-in player wins the hand, they can only win the main pot. The second best hand will take the side pot.
Who wins the side pot in poker?Scenario 1:
If player A has 500 chip stack, play B has 1,000 chips and player C has 1,500, there would be a side pot. Because the 500-chip stack can't win more than their stake. Who wins the round determines who wins the main pots and side pots. But say Player A has the best hand, they get their 500 back plus the 500 from player B and 500 from player C. If player C has the second-best hand, they get the extra 500 chips in the side pot from player B's all-in and Player B would be out. And vice versa if player B wins.
One player is all-in pre-flop and two other players call the all-in, so all these chips go into the main pot. The other two players still have chips to bet with, unlike player A and continue to bet after the flop until the river. At showdown all three players show cards and player A is the winner. Player A can only win the main pot. So the second-best hand from Player B or C will take the side pot.