INTRODUCTION TO POKER BETTING VARIATIONS
The game of Poker comes in many variations, from Texas Hold ‘Em to Seven Card Stud, and many international variations. But, the games themselves can have different types of betting involved in the play. Poker games can be fixed limit, no limit, or pot limit. Below are explanations of these forms of betting. For simplicity’s sake, these explanations assume we are playing a game of Hold ‘Em where the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2. To review the rules of Texas Hold ‘Em, click here.
Fixed limit games have fixed stakes that determine how much, or the range, in which people can bet. Following the conditions of a Hold ‘Em game described above, the player who is “under the gun” or the player to the left of the big blind, has 3 possible options.
- They can call the big blind ($2), this is also called a small bet.
- They may raise. However, since it is a fixed limit game, they can only raise $2 (for a $4 bet).
- They may fold and wait for the next hand.
Therefore, players may raise in increments of $2 or the big blind. This changes on the turn and on the river, players can then bet twice the big blind, or bet in $4 increments. These are called big bets. Players may bet or call $4 and raise in $4 increments. In the instructions for fixed limit games on this website, we clearly define for each poker game when big bets can begin.
Fixed limit games typically limit the amount of legal raises. Generally, players tap out at three raises, which after they are required to only call or fold.
Spread limit poker is very similar to fixed limit poker. However, rather than having fixed amount players can bet, players can bet in a range (between a minimum and a maximum bet).
In Pot Limit poker games the amount players can bet is dependent on the pot size. As the pot grows larger, so do the bets. Following our game paradigm as before, let’s examine how this would play out in a Hold ‘Em game. (Reminder these stipulations are applicable to many poker games, although some are traditionally played with certain betting variations).
The player to the left of the big blind has the same options as in Fixed limit; they may call, raise, or fold. However, the amount a player can raise has changed. A call would be placing a $2, equal to the big blind. If a player wishes to raise, they may raise up to $7. This is determined as follows: the small blind is $1, the big blind is $2, and to call is also $2, for a total of $5. So, a $7 is the $2 call plus the $5 raise.
Let’s examine another situation. There is $31 in the pot. The player to the left of the big blind can bet anywhere from $2 to $31. However, if they wish to raise, the minimum amount to raise is equal to the previous bet and the maximum is $93. So the pot is $62 and the call is $31, so the total bet is $124.
This can basically be thought of in the following way: if you wish to raise consider the amount needed to call and add that to the size of the pot, then raise the size of the pot, those added together give the total of the bet.
No limit is the traditional betting style Hold ‘Em is played with. The name of this variation says everything- there are no betting limits, just on the size of the blinds. Using out Hold ‘Em paradigm, the small blind and big blinds are fixed at $1 and $2, respectively. However, players may raise the minimum big blind size. However, this raise’s maximum is fixed at a number of chips in front of that player. If there was a bet previous to them, the minimum amount they may raise is the size of the bet directly before them. So, if a player bets $40, the next player may raise at least $80 ($40 call + $40 raise). This is similar to pot limit, however, the pot size has no limit since there is no limit on the amount players may raise.