Hold'em Betting Rules: No-Limit, Limit, Pot-Limit

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Even though No-Limit Texas Hold'em is the most popular form of poker being played today, there are still many players who would rather play a Limit or Pot-Limit variant instead.

In the world of poker, the popularity of No-Limit games is a relatively recent development. For many years poker was a Limit or Pot-Limit game. No-Limit only really took off once Doyle Brunson and his crew introduced the game to Las Vegas casinos.

Ever since, No-Limit has steadily increased in popularity, exploding into the spotlight with the 2003 WSOP Main Event, which amateur Chris Moneymaker won. Given that it's the most popular betting variation, it only makes sense to explain it first.

No-Limit Texas Hold'em

People are drawn to No-Limit because of its unique mix of skill, chance and action, and because you can bet all of your chips at any point during the hand.

In Texas Hold'em, players are always faced with the ability to choose one of three options:

  • Check (or call).
  • Bet (or raise).
  • Fold. (In a scenario where you can check, folding makes no sense, but it's still an option.)
  1. To call is simply to match the previous bet made (a check is the same thing, only when no bet has been made: in other words, a check is a call for free).
  2. To fold is to throw away your hand and wait until the next deal to play again. Folding is always free.
  3. If there has been no bet made yet, you have the option to bet. Once a bet is made, players to follow now have the option to raise the bet.
  4. In No-Limit a minimum bet is equal to the size of the big blind, while a maximum bet is the total amount of all of your chips. (Only chips that were included in your stack before the cards were dealt for that hand count, meaning you can't add (or remove) chips during a hand.)
  5. Once a bet has been made, the minimum you can raise is the size of the last bet. So if your opponent bets $5, the minimum raise you can make is $5 (for a total bet of $10). Again, the maximum raise is the total of whatever you have in front of you.
  6. How big a No-Limit Hold'em cash game is played is determined by its blind size. A $1/$2 game will have $1/$2 blinds, and the buy-in will vary from poker room to poker room.
  7. Generally the minimum buy-in will be 20 big blinds (so $40 in our example), and the maximum will be 100 big blinds ($200), though there are some casinos that spread games with no maximum buy-in.

Fixed-Limit Hold'em

The second most popular form of Texas Hold'em is Limit.

Whereas No-Limit is a game of brute force where players play big stacks and run up huge bluffs, Fixed Limit Hold'em is a more subtle, gentleman's game where players look to exploit small edges: a game of finesse and well-timed aggression.

  1. Unlike in No-Limit where you can bet all your chips whenever you want, Limit Hold'em plays with fixed betting limits.
  2. The size of the game is determined by the bet size. If you are playing in a $4/$8 game the small bet is $4 and the big bet $8. The blinds will be $2 and $4. The big blind is always equal to the size of the small bet.
  3. Play proceeds as it would in any Hold'em game; however, you bet and raise in increments. Before the flop and on the flop you bet in increments of the small bet. For example:
    • If you were the first to bet, you can only bet $4, and the next person could call or raise to a total of $8. Any player wanting to reraise after that can make it a total bet of $12.
    • On the turn and river players bet in increments of the big bet. If you were to bet the turn it would be $8 and to raise it would be $16, etc.
  4. In Fixed-Limit Hold'em there is a set number of raises you can make before the betting is capped. Although it can vary from room to room, action is typically capped at four or five bets (always check the house rules before playing your first hand).
  5. When betting is capped, it means that the players no longer have the option to raise; they can only call or fold until the next street is dealt.

Pot-Limit Hold'em

Pot-Limit Hold'em is a game in between  No-Limit and Fixed-Limit. You can't bet your stack whenever you want, but you can bet however much is in the pot at the time.

How you determine the maximum bet is by counting all the money in the pot and all of the bets on the table, including any call you would make before raising. (It sounds more complicated than it really is.)

Two examples for you:

  1. You're first to act on the flop with a pot of $15. You have the option to check or bet. You can bet anywhere from as little as the amount of the big blind, to the full amount of the pot ($15). Any bet in between is a "legal bet."
  2. You're second to act on the flop with a pot of $15. The first player bets $10. You now have the option to fold, call ($10) or raise.
    • Your minimum raise is equal to the amount of the previous bet. In this hand your minimum raise is $10 ($10 + $10 for a total bet of $20).
    • Your maximum raise is the amount of the pot. To do this, add up the pot + the bet + your call ($15 + $10 + $10 = $35). You are allowed to bet that total amount in addition to your call, meaning your total bet is $45 ($10 for the call + $35 for the size of the pot).
    • You can raise any amount in between the minimum and maximum raise amounts.

Pot-Limit Hold'em is not very popular, and is mostly seen only in some large tournaments (such as the WSOP), but the Pot-Limit betting structure is used in Pot-Limit Omaha.

But because Pot-Limit Omaha is rapidly becoming one of the most popular poker variations, it's a good idea to get acquainted with the Pot-Limit structure anyway.

Additional Texas Hold em Rules


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rick 2014-07-24 15:41:45

what is the minimum bet for players after the person in front of them goes all-in with less than the big blind

Jeanie B 2014-07-02 17:22:31

Texas Hold'em, no limit tournament. A player decides to leave the game, where do their chips go?

Jeanie B 2014-07-02 16:31:24

Texas Hold'em, no limit tournament. A player goes out. Another player offers to SHARE their chips with the person who just went out. Is this a legal?

Jack V 2014-06-21 11:55:45

in a Texas Holdem no limit Tournament game w/ the blinds at 200 and 400 pre-flop ,the first player raises to 800
the next player re-raises is their minimum raise 1600 or 1200?

Lorrie 2014-04-22 14:00:55

This is probably a dumb question. My son is trying to teach me this game (he's a teenager). My understanding of betting in poker is that if the person(s) before you places a bet, you must at least call the bet, raise the bed, or fold. He is telling me that I don't have to call the bet, but instead I can check and remain in the game. Is this true? It doesn't sound right to me, after all, he could put all his money in, and I would risk nothing but the blind.

joshua 2014-04-06 00:07:04

Cool

Goldie Knoxx 2013-10-03 17:49:18

e.g. 4 players. 1st person puts in $5, 2nd meets and puts in $5, next folds, next meets with $5. Then can the first person again raise before the flop is shown? can it keep going around? Debate from last night.

Blair crombie 2013-09-05 09:55:50

If I bet into a pot with my hand still on my chips and pull my chips back into my stack Is this legal a move?

Ted 2013-07-29 10:07:17

•Fold. (In a scenario where you can check, folding makes no sense, but it's still an option.)

This situation just came up for me. I was just in a tournament at a casino where I was given a one hand penalty for folding.

I was the small blind and two people limped in, I called the big blind with the 2 and 4 of diamonds and the big blind checks. The flop comes King King Ace. As I was the small blind the first action is to me with four people in the hand. Rather than checking I just folded my hand. The dealer stated I don't have the option to fold because I could have checked. I felt she was wrong but didn't make a big deal about it. The dealer stated it could have influenced decisions to be made by the remaing players which is what I wanted to do.

I have done this many times in other previous tournaments and this was the first time I was ever given a penalty. As John McEnroe would say, "You can not be serious".

lloyd 2013-07-07 16:08:29

I am in a no limit local holdum tournament and the big blind is 400 and I call. The flop comes and I am the first to act. I have a $500 chip so I say 500 and toss in the first bet of the round and I am called down that this is a string bet and I have to bet only 400 or raise to at least a minimum of 800. I believe that as the first one to bet that my 500 bet was legal but to satisfy everyone I took my chip back and raised to 1000 that satisfied everyone and I won the hand.

was I correct in thinking I could bet the 500?

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