The rule is:

  • You can raise the amount that is in the pot after you have called the previous bet.

This is quite complicated to be sure. Let's see if a few examples can make things clearer.

Some pot bet examples

Let's look at a few examples.

Example 1: There's $10 in the pot. You're first to act. In this case you can bet $10.

Example 2: There's $10 in the pot and a player has bet $3. To calculate your maximum bet, first pretend that you call that last bet. The total pot then contains 10 + 3 + 3 = $16. This is your maximum raise. With the $3 call, your total maximum bet would be $19.

Example 3: There's $10 in the pot, one player has bet $3 and another player has raised to $10. First pretend that you call the last bet of $10. The pot then contains 10 + 3 + 10 + 10 = $33. Your pot raise is $33, and your total bet $43.

Still complicated? Don't give up, there are a couple of smart tricks you can use. If you want to play pot limit poker live, you should definitely learn them.

How to make a pot bet

In online poker, the poker client will tell you exactly how much you're allowed to bet. In live poker, the common way to do this is to just pronounce the word "pot".

This establishes that you intend to bet the maximum, and then you can take your time to figure out how much that is.

Easy rule for pot bets

Here's another really helpful trick that you can use to calculate the correct size of a pot bet:

  • To get your maximum bet, multiply the last bet by three and add all other bets, including the original pot.

Does that sound insane to you? That's probably a sane reaction. But the truth is, it actually works! Let's do the same examples again.

Example 1: Three times the last bet is zero (no one has bet yet), and then you add the rest of the bets including the pot, which amounts to $10.

Example 2: Three times the last bet is 9, plus 10 is 19.

Example 3: Three times the last bet is 30, plus 10 + 3 is 43.

Luckily, this thumb rule works just as well in the first betting round, when the blinds are on the table.

If the small blind is $1 and the big blind $2, the max bet is 3*2 + 1 = 7.

With two limpers before you, the pot bet is 3*2 + 1 + 2 + 2 = 11.