I was thinking about the rules covering side pots for all-in situations, from these guideline:

An all-in player shall gain or lose nothing from actions after they are all in.

The idea is that once a player is all-in, the game is effectively over for them, they can't increase their chances by other people folding. The idea is that the only way you should gain by folds is by contributing to the pot, but all-in players don't have to do this, so they shouldn't gain.

I'll illustrate with an example.

Players A, B and C.

A all in for $100 B + C both call.

Betting continues, B raises to $200, C calls $200, B raises, C folds..

In this case, B keeps their hand, because they've matched an all in player.


  • A has the highest hand: A gets the $300 side pot, B gets the rest (normal).
  • B has the highest hand: B gets the entire pot (normal).
  • C has the highest hand: B wins C's contribution to the pot, which is all of the pot except A's $100. However, since C beat A and didn't fold to A, C gets A's contribution to the pot. C takes $100, B takes the rest.

What do people think? Is this a fairer way to deal with all-in situations?

  • 1
    In your scenario players B or C could open "fold" the flop and still see a showdown for the main pot. I might answer this later, but i can already see that this method is flawed/unfair. Interesting though.
    – Toby Booth
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 5:24
  • @TobyBooth: How do players b&c both fold after a is all-in? Once one of them folds, the action is over, they can't both fold.
    – Clinton
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 7:25
  • 1
    I dont understand the point here at all. What are you trying to achieve?
    – Gaz Winter
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 10:28
  • @clinton my mistake. I mean "B or C". Edited.
    – Toby Booth
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 18:35
  • I do not think it would be fairer.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 11:00

1 Answer 1


There is no right or wrong or fair or unfair way to structure a game of poker. You can set the rules to be whatever you want and it changes optimal strategy accordingly. If you want to run the game like this, that's fine and if people want to play it they can. And if they are smart they will play differently in certain situations because of it.

For example, going all-in with 67s or pocket 3's against multiple opponents in this structure would be a bad idea, because you'll need to make a huge hand to win if several of them call you. Right now it can be a good idea because if you get called in multiple places, often times one of those people will bet the others out by the river and you just have to beat one person heads up.

Another example: It would change the dynamic of people bluffing at the flop when they think there is a good chance they have a better hand than the all-in player but probably wont win a showdown against several players (for example with Ace hi). Since there would be a showdown for the main pot no matter what, this would be a dumb bluff and you'd be better off checking.

Yet another example: Right now a common situation to gain some free equity is to re-raise all in huge when there is an all-in and a call (or multiple calls) when you have a hand that is worth calling the all-in, but not a monster. There is a lot of dead money in the pot and you just have to beat the all-in player to win it. With this rule change, that would be a terrible play unless you had a monster, as nobody is going to ever call you unless they have a monster.

In summary: you can make this change if you like, but it wouldn't be an improvement over the current rules. It would just be a different game.

  • wilfra: Note that in you're example of raising an all-in after a call, if the calling player folds, you still take their call. Its just that the calling player has a chance to win the all-in player's contribution to the pot, not their own (as they've already lost it to the raising player by folding).
    – Clinton
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 3:46
  • @Clinton unless I'm not understanding something, that isn't accurate. When they call they are calling the all-in, not me. So they'd be live against the all-in player up to however much he had in his stack.
    – wilfra
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 5:16
  • 1
    "So they'd be live against the all-in player up to however much he had in his stack." That's the idea, but calling an all-in player doesn't protect your own stack. If you later fold, you lose your investment in the pot. The only difference is that because you called the all-in player you can still win their investment in the pot.
    – Clinton
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 5:53
  • 1
    Ok I misunderstood that wrinkle, so optimal strategy would change yet again. As I said in my answer, nothing wrong with this, it's just like creating a new game. The same with variations like adding wild cards or playing with your cards exposed on your forehead.
    – wilfra
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 8:48

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