The all-in bet is one of the most exciting tournament plays made in no-limit poker tournaments. The excitement and drama in the bet is in the potential elimination of the player making the bet.
The “all-in” bet is made when a player wishes to bet all they have on a hand, or when a player wishes to bet or raise a hand they wish to call but they lack the required quantity of chips.
When a player goes all-in care must be taken to ensure that the basic poker rule of “everyone contributing equally to the pot” is not violated. To order to ensure this when a player goes all-in, a side pot is created and used for the betting made between the remaining players playing the hand. For example:
- Player A goes all-in using all of his last 100 chips.
- Player B raises 100 making it 200 to call.
- Player C calls with 200 chips.
Because all players are required to contribute equally to the pot, but player A has only contributed 100 chips, a second pot is created. One pot (the original one) has in it 300 chips; 100 chips each from player A, player B, and player C, this pot will go to the player who has the best hand. The other pot (the side pot) has 200 chips in it 100 each from player B and player C, this pot will be won by one of these two players (as they are the ones who contributed to it).
One other situation that arises that calls for the use of a side pot is the case where a player goes all-in on the blind bet. Consider the case of a player on the big blind, costing 150 chips, but only having 75 chips remaining. This player will go all-in using all of his 75 chips. The rest of the players in this round play the hand as normal, the cost of betting doesn’t decrease for them because one player has insufficient chips to cover the blind bet. All other players who wish to see the flop must pay the $150 big blind.
The poker rule of “everyone contributing equally to the pot” has to be maintained, and in the event that a player calls there will be a second pot used in this round of betting. The original pot with $225 in it ($75 from each player) is played for by all of the players and is awarded to the player with the best hand. The second (side) pot is played for by all of the players who contributed to it and is won by the player with the best hand.
When there is a side pot the pots are generally awarded in reverse order to the order in which they were created. The most recently created pot (the side pot) with less players involved is paid out first, and then the “main” pot is paid out.