on texas holdem

Texas Holdem Betting Structures



Betting structures for Texas Hold'em include Limit, Spread Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit.

Betting Options

In all betting structures (see below), each player has three to four options: fold, check (not always an option), call, or bet/raise.
  • Fold: you're pretty sure someone (or everyone) has a better hand than you do. You're not good at lying, so you can't "bluff" (make all the other players think you have a great hand) and so you decide to resign from the hand. If you had placed an earlier bet on this hand, you lose that money.

  • Check: After the first round (where you must bet a minimum amount), you may have the option to "check". If no other players have bet, you may "check" which means you don't want to bet or fold, so you let your turn pass without adding money to the pot. If a player that follows you does bet in the same round, you will be given the option to either match their bet or raise (and stay in the game) or fold (resign).

  • Call: A previous player has already placed a bet and you want to stay in the game, but with the minimum bet possible. The minimum bet is to match the bet of the previous player. For example, the previous player bet $20, you must bet $20.

  • Bet or Raise: In each round, you have the option to increase the amount of money in the pot. The first player to increase the amount of the pot places a bet. Subsequent players either call or raise. In any round, a raise is the first time a player bets more than all previous betters. If another player decides to bet even more, that is called a reraise.

Common Betting Structures


Limit

Limit is the most common betting structure. Most casinos offer Limit Holdem and most home games benefit from the civility of Limit Holdem. Limit is also the best structure for newbies -- best to learn in an atmosphere where you can't get caught up in the heat of the moment and hand over your car title because you think a pair of sevens is a surefire winning hand.

In Limit Hold'em, there are predetermined monetary increments you must adhere to -- you can't bet more and you can't bet less. Limit Hodem games are described as $1-2, $5-10, $100-200, etc. There are two numbers because the limit switches from the lower number to the higher number midway through the game. For example, in a $5-10 game, the betting is as follows:
  • Pre-flop, betting limit is $5
  • On the flop, betting limit is $5
  • On the turn, betting limit is $10
  • On the river, betting limit is $10
[NOTE: If you are not familiar with the terms used in the above example, please review Texas Holdem Rules]

Most casinos have a maximum number (or "cap") of raises allowed during each betting round. Home games can also benefit from limiting the number of raises allowed -- just make sure to set the limit prior to the start of play (a cap of three raises is standard).

The Blinds
Betting begins with the two players to the left of the dealer (or "dealer button"). In order to ensure that there is money in the pot for every hand, these two players are required to place money in the pot before the pocket cards are dealt. They place these bets with no knowledge of their pocket cards, i.e., "blind".

These two bets, the "little blind" (first player to the left of the dealer) and the "big blind" (second player to the left of the dealer) are pre-set amounts. The little blind is one-half the amount of the lower limit and the big blind if the full amount of the lower limit. For example, in a $5-$10 game, the little blind is $2.50 and the big blind is $5.00.

After the blinds are placed, the pocket cards are dealt and betting resumes with the player to the left of the player who placed the big blind. If the player who placed the little blind wishes to remain in the game, he must first "complete" his intitial bet (in our example above, he would be required to place another $2.50 in the pot).


Spread Limit

Very similar to Limit, but a range for bet size is provided. For example, in a $10-to-$20 spread, bets must be a minimum of $10, but can go as high as $20.


Pot Limit

Pot Limit is a structure where the maximum wager is based on the size of the pot. While that may sound simple enough, it's NOT. And here's why, the "pot" is defined as the amount of money in the pot PLUS all bets currently "on the table" (these are the bets of all players who bet prior to you in the hand), PLUS the minimum amount you have to bet in order to match the bet just prior to you. Confused, yet? Don't worry, you will be. Pot Limit poker is not for the faint of heart.

With Pot Limit, there are established blinds (see "Limit" above for more information on "blinds") that will be announced (e.g., $1 - $2). The minimum bet or raise is the amount of the big blind (e.g., $2).

Here's an example with a game that has $1 - $2 blinds (minimum bet/raise of $2):
  • Player 1: puts in the little blind ($1). Pot totals $1

  • Player 2: puts in the big blind ($2). Pot totals $3.

  • Player 3: has the option to fold (resign), call (bet $2), or raise ($4 - $7). Player 3 decides to raise $7. Before moving on to player 4, let's see how the raise range for Player 3 ($4 - $7) was calculated:
    • $4: matches previous bet of $2 plus minimum raise of $2
    • $5 - $6: matches previous bet of $2 plus $3 or $4 dollars
    • $7 (Pot Limit): matches previous bet of $2 bringing the size of the pot to $5 . So $5 is added to the minimum bet of $2 for a total bet of $7.
    Minimum bet to stay in game is now $7. Pot totals $12.

  • Player 4: has the option to fold (resign), call (bet $7), or raise ($9 - $21). Convinced he has a great hand, Player 4 decides to raise $26 (pot limit). Let's see how the raise range for Player 4 ($9 - $26) was calculated:
    • $9: matches previous bet of $7 plus minimum raise of $2
    • $10 - $25: matches previous bet of $7 plus $3 - $18
    • $26 (Pot Limit): matches previous bet of $7 bringing the size of the pot to $19 . So $19 is added to the minimum bet of $7 for a total bet of $26.
    Minimum bet to stay in game is now $26. Pot totals $38.
And so it goes through the last better. As you can see the size of the pot (and the required bet to stay in the game) can escalate fairly quickly.

Pot Limit is not a favorable structure for newbies.


No Limit

No Limit is the most popular betting structure for tournaments, including most televised games and the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP).

As with Pot Limit, there are predetermined blinds and the minimum bet is the size of the big blind. Unlike Pot Limit, the minimum raise is not the size of the big blind. In No Limit, the minimum raise must match the size of the previous bet OR raise.

Here's an example of how betting might go in a No-Limit game with blinds set at $10 - $20 (minimum bet of $20).
  • Player 1: puts in the little blind ($10).

  • Player 2: puts in the big blind ($20).

  • Player 3: has the option to fold (resign), call (bet $20), or raise ($40 - No Limit). Player 3 decides to raise with a bet of $40. Before moving on to player 4, let's see how the raise range for Player 4 ($40 - No Limit) was calculated:
    • $40: matches previous bet of $20 plus a raise which (minimally) must match the previous bet of $20
    • No Limit: In a No Limit game, the maximum bet/raise is only limited by the amount of money the player has.
    Minimum bet to stay in game is now $40.

  • Player 4: has the option to fold (resign), call (bet $40), or raise ($60 - No limit). Convinced he has a great hand, Player 4 decides to raise with a bet of $60. Let's see how the raise range for Player 4 ($60 - No Limit) was calculated:
    • $60: matches previous bet of $40 plus a raise which (minimally) must match the previous raise of $20
    • No Limit: In a No Limit game, the maximum bet/raise is only limited by the amount of money the player has.
    Minimum bet to stay in game is now $60.
And so it goes through the last better. As you can see the size of the pot (and the required bet to stay in the game) can escalate fairly quickly -- and in our example, players made the minimum raises.

No Limit is not a favorable structure for newbies.

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