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Things to Consider when an Opponent Goes All In

Facing an all in bet is often a difficult situation and you’ll always wonder if your hand is strong enough to call, unless of course you know for a fact that you have an unbeatable hand. When deciding to call or not to call, many factors come into play to help you make that decision, and the context you’re in will also influence the decision.

The first thing you want to do is calculate risk vs rewards, in other words you want to consider the pot odds. This calculation alone should not determine the final decision, but should provide you with a mathematical feel for where you stand. It’s a guideline. So for instance, if there’s only you and another opponent, you have bottom pair, the pot is a total of $200 and the opponent goes all in for an extra $1300, the math will tell you that it makes no sense to call this. Pot odds are especially important if you are on a draw with more cards to come.

The table image of your opponent is something else you want to consider. Is your opponent generally aggressive or generally conservative? Facing an all in bet from a tight player is usually harder to call because you’re taking the bet a lot more seriously. Your own table image is equally important. If you are viewed as a conservative tight player that folds under pressure, it’s only normal that opponents will try to pressure you and going all in is a great way to make you fold.

Did anyone else call? When someone goes all in and someone else calls before you act, then it is likely that a player has at least top pair or better. How strong do you think your hand is? If you have top pair, how strong is your kicker? Is the top pair low? Perhaps someone has a better pocket pair. When you have callers before you, it is a clear indication that someone else has a really good hand, and if you’re not confident about yours, you should give it up unless pot odds tell you otherwise.

Compare chip stacks. If you call the opponent, can he knock you out? It’s easier to be a big stack calling the all in bet of a short stack, but if you’re in the reverse situation then you’re fighting for your life! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call, but make sure you consider all the factors. An aggressive player with chips will often pressure a short stack simply because they can. Are you facing a bully with no hand?

Consider table position and pot size. Let’s say this is a pre-flop situation, 5 players are in the hand when it gets to the SB, the blinds are expensive and there’s already a nice pot for the taking. Then the player in the SB goes all in with a bet that is larger than the pot. BB folds and goes back to you. This is a difficult spot because many things can be in play. It’s possible that the SB is making a move to steal a nice pot. It’s possible they have a hand. If you call, will someone else after you also call? The thing is when you act early and call, you’re increasing the pot odds for those that go after you. If someone considers implied pot odds, they might be tempted to call also. These hands can really get out of control and turn into a lottery, and you don’t want to take part in this unless you have a very strong hand.

Consider how much you’ve invested. Sometimes you may have acted early and only put in a small amount in the pot, but then things get interesting after. You could have a person that raised, two that called then one that went all in. If you don’t feel that confident about your hand and don’t want to put too much at risk, play it safe and fold. It’s not like you put a ton of money in the pot to begin with. In this case, another consideration is also the total number of players in the hand. Too many opponents means less chances of winning.


Replay the hand in your mind. How did the opponent play the hand? Did they slow play then raise at the end? Did they bet pre-flop? This could indicate they had a good starting hand, especially if they raised in early position.

Consider the board cards. Is there a pair on the board? A flush potential? A straight potential? These are dangerous flops. Someone could have a flush, a straight, three of a kind, or even a full house. When there’s only two players in a hand, an aggressive player will often bet into you on these flops if they don’t think your hand is strong. This is especially true if they have a lot more chips than you do. They are betting that you didn’t hit the flop, which is mathematically probable. They want to pretend like they hit the flop themselves and want you to fold. Sometimes your ace high is sufficient to beat them. Trust me, I know! I’ve gone all in with nothing more than once before because I felt I could get away with it and because I could afford to lose the hand.

As you can see, there are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself when facing an all in bet. While these questions are numerous, they will run through your mind in seconds. Your brain can be very fast, and with practice you get better at reading opponents and gauging the strength of their hands. There is no easy answer I can give you in terms of if you should call an all in bet or not. The answer will always lie in an analysis you must make. At the end of the day there are no certainties in poker unless you’re holding an unbeatable hand and that doesn’t happen a lot. Your job is to evaluate a series of factors and put forward your best guess based on the combined information. It’s the only way to answer the initial question “Is my hand strong enough”. Good luck!

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