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BASICS OF POKER BETTING: THE LOWDOWN

By Charles Hopkins Published 03/13/2006 | Games

Viewed from the monetary angle, there are two types of online poker games: low-limit games and high-limit games. The high-limit games are the ones where lots of money is involved and up for grabs, so obviously low-limit games are at the other end of the scale, and there is little money involved. However, since money is involved, it would help if you were to grasp the basics of poker betting.

Formal poker betting structures are always based on the limits imposed upon each bet. That gives us four types of games:

The Fixed-Limit Games

These games are also called structured limit games. Essentially, this basic rule of poker betting stipulates that players will only bet the amount set previously. Of course, a bet is equal to the small blind and the big blind is its double. Thus, when naming such a game, people use terms like 3/6, 15/30 games. This way a player knows from the start what he or she will be betting. So if you were playing a 2/4 game, you would bet 2 at a time, this being the amount placed as a bet on the flop and pre-flop. On the turn and on the river, however, bets will double and every bets value will become 4. There is also a limit of bets per round. Every player is allowed a maximum of four bets per round.

Sometimes, you might come across games that have three amounts in their name, like 3/6/12. In that case, the bets will be placed as we have just described, but when getting on the river, the bet is doubled again. So from 3 on the pre-flop and flop, it doubles on the turn to 6, and then doubles again on the river to 12. However, players are not obliged to place the re-doubled bet on the river. They have an option of either betting 6 or 12 whatever suits them.

The Spread Limit Games

This is the second basic rule of poker betting. There are games that include the betting amount within a range of values determined by the name of the game. In other words, these games monikers will contain the numbers that limit the bets on either side. For example, in a 3/6 game, players can place any bet as long as it is at least 3 and at most 6, as in a fixed limit game. However, now comes the difference: in a spread limit game, you can bet anything between 3 and 6 during any round.

We can find games that have four amounts in the name, like 4/ 8/ 10/ 12, which means that on the first two betting rounds, pre-flop and flop the player can bet between 4 and 8, on the third betting round, the turn, the player can bet anything between 4 and 10, and finally on the river the upper limit of the bets is increased to 12, so the bets can be anywhere from 4 to 12.

Although less common, there are some games that have three amounts in their names, like 3/6/12. This merely means that until the river the bets are between 3 and 6, but once the river is reached, the upper limit will increase and the bets can range from 3 to 12.

The Pot Limit Games

Rule three of the poker betting basics involves pot limit games. In these types of games the bets are flexible, and the only things that are settled are the amounts for the small and big blinds. In fact, the bet can be any amount -- from the big blind up to the size of the pot at that moment. Sometimes, two monetary amounts are used to name such a game, like 5/10. All that this means is that the small blind is 5 and the big blind 10, as well as the fact that the minimum bet is equal to the big blind. There are rules within the format of this type of game that may allow the pre-flop bets to be three or four times the size of the big blind, but this varies from game to game.

The No Limit Games

As is obvious from the header, in these games you can bet almost anything. Of course, that means anything between the size of the big blind and the money you still have on the table. This game, which involves the fourth poker betting basic, is sometimes referred to in terms of numbers like all the other games. So we may have a 5/10 game, which means that these are the values of the blinds and the bets will have to be larger than the second value, or the value of the big blind.

POKER BETTING STRATEGIES FOR INFORMAL GAMES

There are numerous betting methods and strategies that poker players over the years have developed for private or informal games. Since there are too many to list, we will confine ourselves to the more popular basics of poker betting for private games.

Set Limit

In this form of poker, players agree to a minimum and maximum bet where there is enough opportunity for them to make good raises. This is important because if you raise a decent amount of chips you might force others into folding. Also there is an agreement on a minimum ante by every player before the cards are dealt, so there is some money in the pot before you start playing. To stay in the game each player must bet an amount equal to the previous player or raise the stakes up to the maximum as agreed before play.

Straddle Method

Here a player initially bets an ante and the next player doubles the bet -- called straddle -- before the cards are dealt. Now the third player can either fold or double the straddle depending on his cards. The betting continues and each player must bet at least the same amount as the previous player. Here showdown occurs when no one else raises or the maximum bet is reached as agreed before play.

Freeze Out

In this version, the basic betting procedure is the same as in regular games but with certain exceptions. Betting is arranged using an agreed method and the objective is for one player to win all the chips. When a player runs out of chips, there is an immediate showdown and the player with the best hand wins the pot.

Running Out Of Money

Once again, the basic betting procedure here is the same as in regular games, but if a player runs out of money during the game, the remaining players open a second pot. Now the first player has to wait until a single player remains or there is a showdown. If one player remains then he definitely wins the second pot or else the player with the highest hand wins the pot. Now the hand that won the second pot is compared to that of the player who ran out of money. The player with the best hand wins the first or original pot.

If all this sounds too complicated, we simply suggest you try the rules out first hand. Nothing can beat a good grasp of the basics of poker betting.