The Betting Variations in Poker


The Betting Variations in Poker


A stack of white, red, and black poker chips.

The Betting Variations in Poker


A close up of red, black, green, and white poker chips.

Whether you play live or online poker, betting is the very essence of the game. Why, when, and how much you choose to bet will significantly impact your win rate and your bankroll, ultimately determining your success at the poker table. In this context, betting variations — fixed-limit, pot-limit, and no-limit — play an important role. The specific betting structure of the game you’re playing should influence your approach to bet sizing, value betting, bluffing, and other actions. To get a handle on this vital topic, read on for a closer look at the major betting structures in poker.

Fixed-Limit Poker Bets

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In poker, “fixed-limit” games (also known simply as limit games) have a betting structure with fixed, pre-set amounts that you can bet or raise by during each betting round. Depending on the betting round, there’s a small bet size and a large bet size (always listed in two-dollar figures), along with a limit on the maximum amount of raises you’re allowed. One bet and three raises per betting round is the norm.

Here’s how it works in practice. In a $4/$8 fixed-limit game, the small bet size is $4, and the big bet size is $8. As a result, raises are fixed at $4 for the preflop betting round and the flop. The big bet size of $8 then applies to the turn and the river. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the river with the nuts — $8 is the biggest bet you can make, regardless of the pot size. If you do bet, your opponent can increase the active bet by $8 and raise to $16. You can re-raise to $24, and they can re-raise one more time to $32. Now, since there’s been one bet and three raises, you can only call or fold.

Because it’s capped, fixed-limit betting in poker is less risky than other variations, making it ideal for beginners. Fixed-limit poker games are great if you want to see more streets more often and learn poker strategies as a beginner.

Pot-Limit Poker Bets

Pot-limit poker games increase the amount you can bet, along with the risk of playing. They’re listed in two-dollar figures, the same as limit games, and the minimum buy-in is usually 10 times the small bet size, with no maximum limit.

The main difference is that in pot-limit, the maximum you can raise by is the size of the pot. This may sound like a simple concept, but figuring out the pot size can be tricky. Say you’re playing in a $4/$8 pot-limit game. The pot contains $4 from the small blind and $8 from the big blind. The next player to act calls for $8. How much is the maximum you can raise if you want to “bet the pot?”

Here’s how to calculate the pot size in this preflop spot: $4 for the small blind, $8 for the big blind, and $8 for the caller makes $20. You can also call for $8, which brings the pot to $28. In theory, you can raise an additional $28. As a result, your maximum bet is $36 ($8 for the call, and $28 for the raise).

Postflop, if you’re the first to act, there are no bets or calls in front of you, so you can bet the pot by simply betting the amount that’s already in the pot. If there’s $100 in the pot, you can bet $100. If the player after you wants to raise to the maximum over the top of your $100 bet, they have to add the original pot amount ($100), plus your bet ($100), plus the amount to call your bet ($100), then add $100 (the amount to call your bet). This comes to $400 if your opponent wants to bet the pot.

As you can tell, pot-limit is a complicated betting structure best suited to players who enjoy a mental challenge. You’ll encounter it most frequently in games of pot-limit Omaha (PLO).

No-Limit Poker Bets

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No-limit is the most popular poker betting variation. As the name implies, there are no maximum betting limits — you can shove all your chips at any time. Minimum bets are determined by the blinds. Say the game is $4/$8 NLH (no-limit Hold’em). There are six players with $800 each in chips. The small blind posts $4, the big blind $8, the cards are dealt, and the player under the gun starts the round. There’s nothing to stop this player from going all in to the tune of $800.

This lack of limitations makes for great opportunities to be creative at the table. It also leads to some intense and dramatic situations. Players will risk millions of dollars in the later stages of high-stakes online poker tournaments such as the WSOP Main Event.

A great advantage of no-limit poker is that it’s easy for beginners to learn, but it’s also flexible enough for professionals to maximize their profits in a big way.

Play Poker Online Without Limits

There’s no limit to the amount and variety of poker you can experience at Borgata Online. Register to explore every variation of Omaha, seven-card stud, and Texas Hold’em online poker games. Meet like-minded players and enjoy cash games as well as daily, weekly, and monthly online poker tournaments. Enjoy the game at Borgata Online.