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The Most Important Thing to Remember About Betting in PokerWait until it’s your turn to bet before acting. If you try to bet before it’s your turn, you reveal information to your opponents that they can use to modify their actions. If you fold (drop out of a hand when it’s not your turn), you’re revealing information about how many players will be in the pot.
The betting order almost always goes clockwise around the table. The player to your right acts before you do, and the player to your left acts after you do.
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Your Betting Options in a Poker GameYou only have five betting options to choose from. I explain each of them below.
- You can check – Until someone makes a bet, you can stay in the hand without betting any money at all. This is called “checking.”
- You can fold – This means you don’t have to put money into the pot, but you also forfeit all rights to continue in the hand. Any money you’ve already bet and put into the pot is now forfeit, too.
- You can bet – If you’re the first person in the round to make a bet, you’re “betting.” Once someone has placed a bet, the other players must call, fold, or raise.
- You can call – This means that someone else has bet, and you’re going to put that amount of money into the pot and stay in the hand to see who the winner will be, unless you change your mind in a later betting round and fold.
- You can raise – If someone before you has bet, you can raise them to increase the size of the bet. When it’s the bettor’s turn again, he can fold, call your raise, or re-raise.
Forced Bets – Antes and BlindsI’ve never played in a poker game without some kind of forced bet. This is a bet you must make if you want to get cards. Forced bets happen in one of two ways:
Rounds of BettingIn almost every variation of poker I’ve ever played, you had multiple rounds of betting, at least two, but usually more. The most basic type of poker is Five-Card Draw poker. It usually has just two betting rounds. You place your ante bet before getting your cards, creating a pot. Then, you get your five face-down cards. Once you’ve seen the cards, you get to engage in the betting round. Afterward, there’s a drawing phase, where you discard some cards and get new ones. After you’ve seen your final hand, there’s another round of betting. Following that second round of betting, there’s a showdown if multiple players are still in the pot. That’s when you compare the hands of the players still in the pot to see who wins the money. In Texas holdem, you have even more betting rounds.
You have a betting round after you get your hole cards, the first two cards in the game. You have a betting round on the flop, which is after the dealer has revealed the first three community cards in the game.
Betting Sizes and LimitsBefore you start playing in a poker game, you find out what stakes you’re playing for. This means that you know how big the antes and/or blinds are before sitting down to play. You also know the appropriate sizing of the bets during the other stages of the game. I’ll give some examples from common poker games below. Limit Texas holdem is a Texas holdem game where the betting ranges are narrowly defined. You’ll see the minimum bet for the first two rounds of betting as the first number, and the minimum bet for the next two rounds as the second number. For example, if you’re playing in a $5/$10 limit game, your bets must be in increments of $5 after the hole cards and the flop, and in increments of $10 after the turn and the river. The big blind in such a game is usually the same size as the lower bet, so the big blind would be $5 in this game. The small blind is usually roughly half the size of the big blind. It would be common to see a small blind of $2 or $3 in this situation. But Texas holdem can also be played as “pot limit” or “no limit.” In these games, the two numbers before the game will indicate the sizes of the blinds. For example, a $1/$2 pot limit or no limit game would have blinds sizes of $1 and $2. Then, in a pot limit game, you can bet and/or raise up to the size of the pot, including how much money would be in the pot if you just called the previous bet. Pots can get really large in pot limit poker faster than you’d think. In no limit holdem, you can bet or raise all the chips you have in front of you at the table. But the bets and raises also have to be in those increments.
If I bet $20, and you decide to raise me, you’d need to raise me at least $20, you couldn’t raise just $5 or $10.