IN poker it’s called going all in. A player bets all their chips on a single hand. If they win, they clean up. If they lose, they’re out the game. But it’s about psychology as much as the cards. Sometimes a player with a strong hand does it to lure the greedy to match the bet and fatten the pot. But it’s often done by a player with a weak hand to intimidate others into folding. The bluffer then collects what's on the table, leaving their opponents wondering if they were tricked or not.

We’re going to see the political equivalent at Westminster a lot in future, and intriguingly the Tories have been studying the SNP’s minority government for tips on how to play. There are obvious differences between the two of course, but also enough in common to be useful.

When Alex Salmond led his party into power in 2007 he did so by the narrowest of margins, winning one more MSP than Labour. But it was enough to sustain a minority government. The other parties deferred to the SNP’s success. There was never a realistic external threat and internal rebellion was unthinkable. Every Nat MSP knew there was a special place in hell for anyone who split and brought down the first SNP Government, risking independence. The party’s famous discipline was largely self-discipline, its MSPs united by a common goal.

Theresa May’s minority government, in contrast, is a wounded animal. Unlike Alex Salmond a decade ago, the Prime Minister heads an administration that is a product of conspicuous failure. The other parties aren’t getting out her way, they’re lining up to take a bite. And instead of being united by the party’s top policy objective, the Tories are divided by Brexit, with even cabinet members openly squabbling about its direction.

Surely the PM’s authority will soon be underwater and an election upon us? I’d have agreed just after the election, but now I think she might be more durable. No viable alternative leader has emerged for a start. There’s no lack of wannabes, but the timing is off. If Brexit is a car crash, do Mrs May’s rivals want to be at the wheel in 2019? Far better to let her take the blame Take over now and there might be irresistible pressure for an election. But wait until later, and that pressure will have eased off. So the thinking at Westminster is that Mrs May will be allowed to stay until Brexit, thanked for her services, and duly dumped.

But there is also parliamentary arithmetic to consider. What if the Tories suffer a catastrophic defeat, perhaps on a key aspect of Brexit, with the potential to precipitate an election? Won’t other parties and rebel Tories use their leverage to extract more and more concessions until the government no longer seems the author of its own policies? That’s one scenario.

Another in government is that the other parties don’t have as much leverage as they think. After all, just what are they threatening to do? Bring it all crashing down? Even do-or-die Leavers on the Tory benches don’t want Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. Nor are the SNP gagging for another election. Many of the 35 have chickenfeed majorities and the party could return to the pre-2015 days of half a dozen MPs if it faced the voters again soon.

The Tory thinking is self-interest will help the May government survive. More MPs fear an election than want one. If death and by-elections slashed the Tory-DUP numbers, the SNP might even face a fascinating choice between keeping the Tories in power or an electoral rout.

This is where the Holyrood experience is instructive, with senior Tories becoming students of the first SNP government. One lesson they’ve drawn is you need to keep up the pressure on the opposition by daring it to do its worst, to go all in, rather than fold. The classic example is the 2009 budget, which the SNP minority government lost on the first vote after the Greens pulled their support. Ministers muttered the government would fall - and the Greens get the blame. The Greens buckled and Mr Salmond came out of it stronger.

So expect a lot of brinkmanship from Mrs May. If she gets through the plotting season at autumn conference, she may well carry on another 18 months. Tory high command also senses a lot of the threats in the Commons are empty. It can go all in on votes on the basis enough MPs will blink rather than go to the polls. A threat involving political suicide isn’t much of a threat at all; the leverage is illusory. That’s the theory, at least. But as every poker player knows, someone always calls your bluff in the end.