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Fixed Limit, Pot Limit & No-Limit Poker - Betting Rules of Poker

11 April 2008, By:
Poker is played with various betting structures.

In some games you can only bet a certain fixed amount, while in others you can bet all your money in one go.

Let's take a look at the most common betting structures and see how they work.

We'll start with the most popular one. It's easier to explain, even though it's not at all easy to master.

No-Limit Poker

In No-Limit Poker, as soon as it's your turn to bet, you're allowed to bet all the chips that you have in front of you.

However, you're not allowed to throw your car keys or your bearer bonds into the pot, as they tend do it in the movies. You cannot even dig into your wallet for more cash in the middle of a hand.

Today's poker always uses a rule called "table stakes". It means that you can never bet anything else than the money you had on the table when the hand started.

As the sharp observer will have noticed, this means that there's a limit to the betting after all. No-limit poker isn't actually without limits.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that no-limit poker is more dangerous for your bankroll than fixed-limit poker. It all depends on what stakes you play at. A game of fixed limit Texas Holdem with blinds of $100/$200 certainly isn't cheaper than a no-limit game with blinds of $1/$2.

Pot-Limit Poker

In pot-limit poker, the amount you can bet when it's your turn is limited by the size of the pot.

The rule goes like this:

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

This may sound a bit complicated, but in practice it's even worse. Have courage though; there are some tricks you can use to master the pot bet. [link to article on calculating pot bets]

Don't make the mistake of thinking that pot-limit poker is safer for your bankroll than no-limit poker. Even if they are limited to the size of the pot, bets in pot-limit poker are generally not smaller than in no-limit. Fact is, most bets in no-limit poker are the size of the pot or smaller.

Fixed-Limit Poker

In fixed-limit poker, the size of each bet is fixed in advance. In Holdem and Omaha, the first two betting rounds use bets and raises the size of the big blind (called the small bet). In the following two betting rounds, bets and raises are twice the big blind (called the big bet).

When you specify the size of a fixed-limit game, the convention is to give the size of the small bet and the big bet. If the blinds are $1/$2, you'd say that the game is $2/$4. For the internet generation this may seem a bit odd, and it's different from no-limit and pot-limit poker. Still, it's common use.

Often, the number of raises in each betting round is limited to three or four, after which the betting is "capped". This means that you won't be able to put in more than $6 or $8 during the first round of betting in a Texas Holdem game with blinds at $1/$2.

This rule is often put out of play when only two players remain in the hand, in which case they can continue raising until all their money is in the pot. If they want to, that is.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that fixed-limit poker is easier than no-limit poker. Sure, you don't stand to lose your entire stack after a single mistake, but on the other hand you won't double your stack in one single move either. Fixed-limit is another game, and you have to play it differently.

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