Betting Formats of Texas Hold Em

written by: John

HomeOnline Poker » Poker Strategy » Texas Hold Em » Betting

When getting started in Texas Hold'em, or any poker game for that matter, it is important to know what all the betting variations and rules are so that you can choose which game will best suit you and your style of play. Not to mention that it is nice to know what you are supposed to do when it is your turn to act.

Although there are several different betting variations in poker, the three that we will discuss below, fixed limit, pot limit, and no limit are the most common variations used today.

Fixed Limit Poker

The Fixed Limit betting variation was at one time the most popular way of playing poker. This variation is a bit more conservative as all the betting on each round or street is 'fixed' so that players can only bet or raise that amount. So in a $5/$10 limit hold'em game, players can only bet or raise $5 pre-flop and on the flop with the turn and river being $10 bets or raises. In a game where blinds are used, the small blind would be half of the big blind which is the smaller of the two bets. So using $5/$10 as our example, $5 would be the big blind so than the small blind would be $2.50. Although it will differ from game to game or casino to casino, most times there is a cap of 3 to 4 raises per round.

As we mentioned above, this is a conservative variation in poker as players are guaranteed to not lose any more than what can be maxed out by the end of the hand. Like using our $5/$10 as an example, it can only be raised 3 times on each betting round so $15 pre-flop, $15 on the flop, $30 on the turn and the river for a total of $90. That would be all that a player stands to lose in a single hand playing $5/$10 limit hold'em.

The most difficult thing about a fixed limit game whether it is Hold'em, Stud or Razz is that a player cannot bet enough to apply pressure to their opponents in hopes that they will fold. So, these games will generally have more players looking to draw to bigger hands and in many cases, they are generally correct in doing so.

So, if you are the kind of player who doesn't care for extensive pressure from your opponents in terms of betting and raising and would like to 'limit' the amount that you can potentially lose, then fixed limit games may be just for you.

Pot Limit Poker

The Pot Limit variation isn't nearly as common in Texas Hold'em as it is in Omaha, but nonetheless it is still available and can be found at many of the larger online poker sites.

Pot Limit betting is actually a slight mix between Fixed and No Limit as it limits what a player can bet but is only limited to what is currently in the pot. So for example, in a $10/$20 Hold'em game there would be the small blind at $10 and the big blind at $20 for a total of $30. The next player who wishes to make a bet would have to do so using a minimum of $20 with the bet not being able to exceed the size of the pot. So, let's say that this player bets the size of the pot which is $30 which makes the total $60. The next person to act still has to bet a minimum of $20 but can make the bet any amount between $20 and the size of the pot, which in this case is $60. And action like this would continue around the table until the betting was completed by someone.

Although it may seem as if this betting variation is still limiting, it really isn't as you go further in the hand. Generally pre-flop it is hard to bet enough to chase everyone away, but on 4th and 5th street, it's still possible to bet enough to cause your opponents to fold.

No Limit Poker

If you want to be able to bet enough to apply some pressure, then playing No Limit poker may be just the ticket.

The No Limit variation is generally played in Texas Hold'em and allows players to make any sized bet they wish and on any betting round when it is their turn to act. The only requirement to betting in No Limit games is that the minimum bet meets the size of the big blind. Outside of that, just about anything else goes.

For example, in a $100/$200 Hold'em game players will place the blinds which are $100 for the small blind and $200 for the big blind. The first person to act can make a bet as long as it is a minimum of $200 and can choose to declare 'all-in' and shove his or her stack in the middle if they wish. The next player can opt to call the bet or if the player has enough chips, raise over the top of the all-in.  

Even though the betting format is really easy and simple to learn, it really adds a complexity to any game that uses it. This is because players can bet as much as they want whether they are bluffing, betting for value or trying to manipulate players into calling. It is then up to everyone else to determine what the bet means and how to act.

As of today, No Limit is the most popular form of poker and is generally used in Hold'em but can also be found in Omaha games as well.

Betting in Poker

Although some of the betting formats such as Fixed and Pot Limit may seem confusing at first, it really only takes a hand or two to get the gist of it. It would be suggested to learn all of these betting formats since so many players nowadays are learning new games with most of them using different kinds of betting. In general, Texas Hold'em will use No Limit and Limit formats, Omaha will use Pot Limit and Stud/Razz will use the Fixed Limit format. Many forms of mixed games such as Horse or Hose use more than one betting format making it important to not only understand the format, but how to properly adjust your strategy for it.