Top All-In Moments

1 year ago
The Greatest All-In Moments
15:09
26 Jun

All-in is the most powerful play in poker player's arsenal. The fact that no-limit hold'em offers us the chance to - at any point in the game - play for the entirety of our stack makes it the Cadillac of poker. Those two simple words are a sure sign that someone's fortune is about to change. All-in plays have the power to shape poker history, particularly in the context of high stakes tournaments and cash games. Let's relive some of those moments once again!


This is probably the most memorable all-in situation from the WSOP Main Event ever. While the play itself might not be judged highly given today's standards, (it's very hard to represent the top of the range after checking back on such a wet board especially given the fact that all of the potentially turn semi-bluffs missed the river), the very adamant raise on the turn followed by the no-nonsense all-in bluff by Chris on the river were enough to shape the dynamic of that head's up match which ultimately resulted in Moneymaker's win and the beginning of the biggest poker boom in history. This situation is one of the best examples that a great all-in play has the potential to shape the history of the entire poker world.


While it's a shame that the biggest hand between two of the world's arguably best and most interesting players ended up being your garden variety nuts vs. effective second nuts situation, (it's hard to expect that Ivey has deuce six in his preflop range)... it's still the biggest hand against two of the all-time greats and therefore deserves a spot among the other top all-in moments of all time.

Even though this hand was a bad beat, it's still possible to spot greatness in some elements like the pot management or the Phil Ivey's reaction after his all-in was called by the nuts. Many other players would choose to wallow in their misfortune, but Ivey looked like someone who lost a buy-in in a live 1/2 cash game in some routine spot.


This is exactly what Doyle Brunson meant when he said that the key to no-limit hold'em is to force a man to make a decision for all his chips. Ivey read the table dynamics flawlessly and used his stack as a leverage to take down the pot. While in a live play situation timing trumps hand selection every time, Ivey's weak hole cards make this all-in play even more impressive and noteworthy. So much so that after all these years, 52o became a meme of sorts in Lex’s Twitch stream chat.


You can't put much more flair behind your all-in play than Motoyuki Mabuchi did in this particular situation. Most of us would be equally eager to push our chips all-in while holding quads in a WSOP tournament so it's hard to blame him for this slight lapse in poker etiquette. This is especially true when we take into consideration the devastating result of the hand.

There are many things that are special about this all-in, from the manner in which the chips landed in the middle of the pot, to the sheer statistical improbability of the situation, making it one of the most memorable hands in the poker history even though it wasn't played anywhere near the final table. Also, this all-in moment has the power of curing some of us from the doubts about rigged online shufflers by clearly showing that 1 in 2.7 billion situations also happen in the context of a sluggish 20 hand per hour live game.


Finally, we have the last hand in the seminal poker movie Rounders. Even though this all-in situation was conceived in the a mind of a writer instead of happening organically during the course of a poker game, it's arguably more powerful than some of the top all-in moments presented above. It's a conclusion to the amazing story of Mike McDermott that shaped the image of poker in the hearts and minds of players with this fascinating yet dangerous game of skil. The colorful character of Teddy KGB, masterfully portrayed by John Malkovich, makes the situation even more memorable (he clearly went to the Motoyuki Mabuchi school of putting chips into the pot).

The last hand of the movie is a mirror image of the situation that happens at the beginning of the story that forced the main protagonist to grow, and while it could be simply boiled down to flopping the nuts, it's about much more than that. It's about staying calm in the face of tragedy knowing that in the long run, the fortune will change if we work hard enough to let it. Rounders paved the way to placing poker in the mainstream years before Chris Moneymaker turned the $86 satellite into a $2.5 million WSOP Main Event win.


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Mateusz has been writing about poker for the better part of the last decade. He's deeply interested in many poker related subjects like psychology, game theory, fitness, nutritional science etc.Read more

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