All casinos and many home games play poker by what are called table stakes rules, which state that each player starts each deal with a certain stake, and plays that deal with that stake. He may not remove money from the table or add money from his pocket during the play of a hand. Nor is a player allowed to hide or misrepresent the amount of his stake from other players; he must truthfully disclose the amount when asked. This requires some special rules to handle the case when a player is faced with a bet that he cannot call with his available stake.

“All in”

When a player is faced with a current bet amount that he has insufficient remaining stake to call and he wishes to call (he may of course fold without the need of special rules), he bets the remainder of his stake and declares himself all in. He may now hold onto his cards for the remainder of the deal as if he had called every bet, but he may not win any more money from any player above the amount of his bet.

For example, let’s assume that the first player in a betting round opens for $20, and the next player to bet has only $5 remaining of his stake. He bets the $5, declaring himself all in, and holds onto his cards. The next player in turn still has the $20 bet facing him, and if he can cover it he must call $20 or fold. If he calls $20, thus ending the betting round, instead of collecting all bets into the central pot as usual, the following procedure is applied: since there is an all-in player with only $5 bet, his $5, and $5 from each of the other players, is collected into the central pot (now called the main pot), as if the final bet had been only $5. This main pot (which may include any antes or bets from previous rounds) is the most the all-in player is eligible to win. The remaining money from the still-active bettors, in this case $15 apiece, is collected into a side pot that only the players who contributed to it are eligible to win. If there are further betting rounds, all bets are placed into the side pot while the all-in player continues to hold his cards but does not participate in further betting. Upon the showdown, the players eligible for the side pot—and only those players—reveal their hands, and the winner among them takes the side pot, regardless of what the all-in player holds (indeed, before he even shows). After the side pot is awarded, the all-in player then shows his hand, and if it is superior to all others shown, he wins the main pot (otherwise he loses as usual).

There is a strategic advantage to being all in: a player cannot be bluffed, because he is entitled to hold his cards and see the showdown without risking any more money. Opponents who continue to bet after the player is all in can still bluff each other out of the side mobile bitcoin casino , which is also to the player’s advantage since bluffing between opponents may reduce his competition. But these advantages are offset by the disadvantage that the player cannot win any more money than what his stake can cover.

Some players may choose to buy into games with a “short stack”, a stack of chips that is relatively small for the stakes being played, with the intention of going all in and not having to make any furthe decisions.

All in before the deal

If a player does not have sufficient money to cover the ante and blinds due, that player is automatically all in for the coming hand. Any money the player holds must be applied to the ante first, and if the full ante is covered, the remaining money is applied towards the blind.

If a player is all in for part of the ante, or the exact amount of the ante, an equal amount of every other player’s ante is placed in the main pot, with any remaining fraction of the ante and all blinds and further bets in the side pot.

If a player is all in for part of a blind, all antes go into the main pot. Players to act must call the complete amount of the big blind to call, even if the all-in player has posted less than a full big blind. At the end of the betting round, the bets and calls will be divided into the main pot and side pot as usual.

For example, Alice is playing at a table with 10 players in a tournament with an ante of $1 and blinds of $4/$8. Alice is due the big blind but she only has $8. She must pay the $1 ante and apply the remaining $7 towards the big blind, and she is all in. Bob, next to act, calls $8, the full big blind amount. Carol raises to $16 total. All remaining players fold, the small blind folds, and Bob folds. The amount in the main pot is $10 (the sum of all antes) plus the full $4 small blind since Alice had this amount covered, plus $7 from Alice and every other player who called at least that amount, namely Bob and Carol. The main pot is therefore $10+$4+$21=$35. The side pot of $10 ($1 in excess of Alice’s all-in bet from Bob, and $9 in excess of Alice’s all-in bet from Carol) is paid immediately to Carol when Bob folds.

Incomplete bet or raise

If a player goes all in with a bet or raise rather than a call, another special rule comes into play. There are two options in common use: pot-limit and no-limit games usually use what is called the full bet rule, while fixed-limit and spread-limit games may use either the full bet rule or the half bet rule. The full bet rule states that if the amount of an all-in bet is less than the minimum bet, or if the amount of an all-in raise is less than the full amount of the previous raise, it does not constitute a “real” raise, and therefore does not reopen the betting action. The half bet rule states that if an all-in bet or raise is equal to or larger than half the minimum amount, it does constitute a raise and reopens the action.

For example, with the full bet rule in effect, a player opens the betting round for $20, and the next player has a total stake of $30. He may raise to $30, declaring himself all in, but this does not constitute a “real” raise, in the following sense: if a third player now calls the $30, and the first player’s turn to act comes up, he may now call the additional $10, but he does not have the right to re-raise further. The all-in player’s pseudo-raise was really just a call with some extra money, and the third player’s call was just a call, so the initial opener’s bet was simply called by both remaining players, closing the betting round (even though he must still equalize the money by putting in the additional $10). If the half bet rule were being used, then that raise would count as a genuine raise and the first player would be entitled to re-raise if he chose to (creating a side pot for the amount of his re-raise and the third player’s call, if any).

In a game with a half bet rule, a player may complete an incomplete raise, if that player still has the right to raise (in other words, if that player has not yet acted in the betting round, or has not yet acted since the last full bet or raise). The act of completing a bet or raise reopens the betting to other remaining opponents.

For example, four players are in a hand, playing with a limit betting structure and a half bet rule. The current betting round is $20. Alice checks, and Bob checks. Carol goes all-in for $5. David, still to act, has the following options: fold, call $5, or complete the bet to a total of $20. If David calls the $5, Alice and Bob only have the option of calling or folding; neither can raise. But if David completes, either of them could raise.

Opening all-in hands

When all players are all in, or one player is playing only against opponents who are all in, no more betting can take place. Some casinos and many major tournaments require that all players still involved open, or immediately reveal, their hole cards in this case—the dealer will not continue dealing until all hands are flipped up. Likewise, any other cards that would normally be dealt face down, such as the final card in seven-card stud, may be dealt face-up. This rule discourages a form of collusion called “chip dumping”, in which one player deliberately loses his chips to another to give that player a greater chance of winning the tournament.

Open stakes

The alternative to table stakes rules is called “open stakes”, in which players are allowed to buy more chips during the hand and even to borrow money (often called “going light”). This may be appropriate for home or private games but is never allowed in casinos.

First, a player may go all in in exactly the same manner as in table stakes if he so chooses, rather than adding to his stake or borrowing. Because it is a strategic advantage to go all in with some hands while being able to add to your stake with others, such games should strictly enforce a minimum buy-in that is several times the maximum bet (or blinds, in the case of a no-limit or pot-limit game). A player who goes all in and wins a pot that is less than the minimum buy-in may not then add to his stake or borrow money during any future hand until he re-buys an amount sufficient to bring his stake up to a full buy-in.

A player may instead choose to buy chips with cash out-of-pocket at any time, even during the play of a hand, and his bets are limited only by the specified betting structure of the game.

Finally, a player may also borrow money by betting with an IOU, called a “marker”, payable to the winner of the pot. In order to bet with a marker, all players still active in the pot must agree to accept the marker. If any player refuses to accept a marker, the bettor may bet with cash out-of-pocket or go all-in. A player may also borrow money from a player not involved in the pot, giving him a personal marker in exchange for cash or chips, which the players in the pot are then compelled to accept. A player may borrow money in order to call a bet during a hand, and later in the same hand go all-in in the face of further betting; but if a player borrows money in order to raise, he forfeits the right to go all-in later in that same hand–if he is re-raised, he must borrow money to call, or fold.

Just as in table stakes, no player may remove chips or cash from the table once they are put in play (except small amounts for refreshments, tips, and such)–this includes all markers, whether one’s own or those won from other players.

Players should agree before play on the means and time limits of settling markers, and a convenient amount below which all markers must be accepted to simplify play.