Poker is not a game of cards, it’s a game of betting. Poker is played with various betting structures and rules for how much you can bet, raise or check-raise. If you’ve watched poker on TV you’re likely most familiar with this form – aka “No Limit” – which makes for spectacular “all ins” and exciting showdowns. The game usually being played on TV is No-Limit Texas Holdem so while these betting rules apply to many different forms of poker, consider these de facto Texas Holdem betting rules. But No-Limit isn’t the only way to make bets in poker. In fact for decades the most commonly played forms of poker were slow, steady “Limit” betting rounds that kept variance and wild bankroll swings to a minimum.
In this beginners guide to poker betting we’ll take a look at the most common betting rules in Texas Hold’em and beyond. We’ll start with the most popular one, of course – No Limit. It’s easier to explain, even though it’s not at all easy to master. Beginners Guide to Poker Betting No-Limit Poker In No-Limit Poker, as soon as it’s your turn to bet you’re allowed to bet all the chips that you have in front of you into the pot. You don’t even have to have the most chips at the the table — you can go “all in” with whatever you have in your stack. As we mentioned it makes for great drama at the table and tense, cards exposed Texas Hold’em showdowns where one player is playing for their cash game or tournament life on the turn of a single card. Don’t get confused by the exaggerated scenarios of film or TV though – you still can’t throw your car keys or your bearer bonds into the pot as they do it in the movies.
You can’t even dig into your wallet for more cash in the middle of a hand. Today’s No-Limit poker games always use a rule called “table stakes. It means that you can never bet anything above and beyond the money you had on the table when the hand started. So “no-limit” poker isn’t actually without limits. But for the sake of simplicity, No Limit is the term used to describe it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that no-limit poker is more dangerous for your bankroll than fixed-limit poker. It all depends on what stakes you play at.
Fixed-Limit Poker In fixed-limit poker, the size of each bet is fixed in advance. When you specify the size of a fixed-limit game, the convention is to give the size of the small bet and the big bet. For the internet generation this may seem a bit odd, and it’s different from no-limit and pot-limit poker. Often, the number of raises in each betting round is limited to three or four, after which the betting is “capped. This rule is often put out of play when only two players remain in the hand, in which case they can continue raising until all their money is in the pot. If they want to, that is. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that fixed-limit poker is easier than no-limit poker. Sure, you don’t stand to lose your entire stack after a single mistake, but on the other hand you won’t double your stack in one single move either. Fixed-limit is another game altogether and you have to play it differently.
Pot-Limit Poker In Pot-Limit poker the amount you can bet when it’s your turn is limited by the size of the pot. You can raise up to the amount that is in the pot after you have called the previous bet. This may sound a bit complicated and in practice it can get even trickier. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that pot-limit poker is safer for your bankroll than no-limit poker. Even if they are limited to the size of the pot, bets in pot-limit poker are generally not smaller than in no-limit. Most bets in no-limit poker are actually the size of the pot or smaller. How Betting Rounds Work in Poker Each poker hand is made up of a number of betting rounds. The number of betting rounds depends on the poker variation. In Texas Holdem there are four betting rounds.