Texas Holdem Betting Rules: No-Limit, Limit & Pot-Limit

poker betting rules

In the world of poker the popularity of No-Limit games is a relatively recent development. For many years, in fact, poker was predominantly a Limit or Pot-Limit game.

No-Limit poker only really took off once Doyle Brunson and his crew of Texas Road Gamblers introduced the game to Las Vegas casinos.

Ever since then No-Limit has steadily increased in popularity, exploding into the spotlight with Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker's $2m win in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event.

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 betting variant instead - with betting rules we'll explain below.

But given that No-Limit is the most popular betting variation today, we'll start with it first.

No-Limit Texas Hold'em Betting Rules

People are drawn to No-Limit betting variations because of its unique mix of skill, chance and action. 

poker betting

Also, of course, because it's a major adrenaline rush to bet all of your chips at any point during the hand.

As far as betting goes in Texas Hold'em players are always faced with the choice 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.

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Fixed-Limit Hold'em Betting Rules

The second most popular form of Texas Hold'em is Limit Holdem. 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 re-raise 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.

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Pot-Limit Hold'em Betting Rules

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:

  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 large tournament series such as the WSOP). But the Pot-Limit betting structure is used in Pot-Limit Omaha.

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. Here's a good Beginner's Guide to Pot-Limit Omaha strategy.

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Poker Betting Etiquette FAQ

While the rules behind exactly how much you can bet or raise for are fairly simple and easy-to-grasp, poker has an equal amount of betting etiquette rules it's important to understand as well.

how to make poker bets
Chips

It's the player's responsibility to pay attention to the bets and raises before and after the flop. Not doing so slows the game down and reduces the amount of hands players can see per hour.

What is "Betting Out of Turn?"

Players are also expected to pay attention to the order of the action and not make any action, including betting, out of turn. Acting out of turn in particularly important because it gives the players still to act behind more information than other players have had access to.

Players can also put out different bet sizes to alter or influence the hand before it even gets to them. The dealer or floor person on hand will be forced to rule on which actions are binding and which bets must be returned but it's better to just not bet out of turn in the first place.

What is "Splashing the Pot?"

While it may look good in the movies to throw a bunch of chips into the middle or shove your whole stack into the pile, it's considered poor etiquette and not encouraged in a real poker game or tournament.

Simply say "all in" or slide the proper amount of chips over the betting line. The dealer will bring the chips in, confirm the amount and add them to the pot for you.

What is a String Bet?

String bets come in a couple of different forms but they all represent more or less the same thing - a bet that is not complete or done in one complete motion.

One form of string bet, for example, is moving a stack of chips over the betting line and then reaching back and putting more chips over the line again. That is illegal as you might be trying to gauge the reaction of someone with the first bet/motion and then adding more once you see the information.

poker bet rules

Another form of string bet is announcing a bet of a certain size or a call first and then trying to add a raise on top. You must declare the full amount of the bet or put in the proper amount for it to be considered a legal raise.

If a player first puts in enough chips to call and then tries to add a raise on top it will only be considered a call and the player will have to take the raising chips back.

What is a Straddle Bet?

A straddle bet is made by the player to the left of the big blind. It's a bet that is twice the size of the big blind and must be made before the flop is dealt. A Sleeper Straddle is a straddle bet made by a player other than the player to the left of the big blind.

A mandatory straddle bet is something high-stakes players use to juice up the action in a cash game but it must be agreed to by all players before it can be put into the game. 

Chips

When Is a Bet a Bet?

A bet is officially a legal bet when:

  • Chips are moved forward and placed over the betting line on the table
  • A verbal declaration of "bet" or "raise" is made when it is your turn to act

Moving your hand forward and then pulling it back before making a raise may still be considered a binding action depending on the ruling of the floor.

If you put a single chip in the pot that is bigger than the bet but you don't say "raise" it is considered a call. If you try to make a raise but put in less than the required amount you'll be forced to add the remainder into the pot to make it a legal raise.

Can a Player Go "All In" with Less Than the Bet/Pot?"

In a No-Limit game players can go all in for their entire stack at any time. If they have less than the current bet or pot they can still do so but they can win no more than their total investment in the pot from each player they beat.

Anything above the total of the all in goes into a side pot for the other players to contest. 

If a player can't cover the ante or blinds in a pot that player is automatically all-in for the hand. Any chips are first applied to paying the ante and any extra goes to the blind.

More on Texas Hold'em Rules

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Johno 2012-11-26 21:47:35

#David winsor, yeah its allowed to show your cards if your the last person to act in an all in situation

big slick 2012-11-21 00:45:16

typo
Does player B have the option to raise player C

big slick 2012-11-21 00:42:25

Q:
player A checks
player B checks
player C bets $50
action goes back to player A
player A goes all in for $67
Does player c have the option to raise player C

Larry 2012-10-21 16:00:36

I was told in the second and subsequent rounds of betting, if you want to bet more than the big blind it must be in incraments of the big blind. ie: If the big blind is 4 you can not open the betting round with 5,6 or7, you must bet 8. How about 9, 10 etc?

nw 2011-12-12 09:10:13

can you please add an official ruling on the "under-raise" rule to your website. no one seems to be clear on it, dealers included, personally i find it blatantly straight forward, but can never find it in the poker rules on any website.. (need to to prove people wrong) :))

abdool 2011-11-14 00:09:28

On a table of 10, two guys are heads up and they play till the river. After the last betting stage the one player exposes his hand to claim the pot and the other player mucks since he lost. Can we as the observing players request to see the hand that was mucked?

David Perez 2011-10-08 02:52:20

Guys I just want to know which rules you apply when someone bets before his turn on texas hold'em tournaments and cash games. I will appreciate any comments on this matter.

UnclePhilly 2011-08-09 03:38:21

In no-limit hold-em if an all-in bet is greater than 1.5 of the original bet is it considered a raise?

Example: Post-flop; Player-A bets $500, Player-B calls, Player C goes all-in for $800. Can Player-A re-raise?

Where is this rule published where I can read it?

Melissa 2011-07-01 07:57:51

On The Big Game, it was pot-limit before the flop and then no-limit after the flop. How is the pot-limit calculated? My husband says that if the blinds are $100 - $200 and 3 people folded and then if someone raises say $1000 then the next person betting wanted to raise the pot it would also include the $200 from those that folded. I say it would only include what was in the pot. Who is right?

Lynette 2011-03-05 17:00:04

are big and little big blinds forfitted to an all in call that is small then the big blind and has the winning hand

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