Betting in Poker

If you’re learning how to play poker, you need to understand how betting rounds work. While the rules may differ based on the type of poker game you play, many fundamentals remain the same.

In each game round, each player will take turns to either match the previous player’s bet, raise the bet, or fold, which is to forfeit their cards for that round. When all of this has been completed, the betting round is over.

In Texas Hold’Em, there are five rounds to the game. The action begins pre-flop, followed by the flop, the turn (also known as fourth street), the river (fifth street), and the showdown. In each round following the flop, the dealer will add an additional card to the community cards until the showdown.

The Actions

The following are the main actions that a player can make during a poker game:

  • Check: A check can only be used when a player is not facing a previous bet or raise. When a player checks, they pass the action on to the next player without betting anything.
  • Call: A call is when a player matches the amount of the previous bet or raise.
  • Raise: A raise is what it sounds like–when a player raises, they up the best from the previous player. Therefore, other players must now equal your bet if they want to continue in the hand.
  • Fold: Folding is when players choose to forfeit their current hand and no longer compete for the current pot. To find out how and when to fold, check out our guide to folding in poker.
  • Check-Raise: A check-raise is a combination of two actions, the check, and the raise. First, a player must check on their first action and then raises after an opponent makes a bet. This action is dependent on another player making a bet during the betting round; if that does not happen, a check-raise cannot take place.


Blinds and antes are both types of mandatory bets that must be placed in the pot on each. A blind must be placed by a specific player during a round, while an ante-bet is typically made by all players on the table (with some exceptions).

In a standard game of Texas Hold ’em or Omaha, there will be a big blind and a small blind, with the former having to place a higher bet than the latter. This bet must be placed at the beginning of each hand.

After each hand, the blinds will shift clockwise to the next players on the table.

blind & antes


If you’re playing a multiway hand, you may end up in a situation where one of the players is all in, but the remaining players still have chips left behind. In these situations, the pot is split into a main pot and a side pot. The main pot contains all the chips that have been bet up until the point the first player is all in. This is the maximum amount that the all-in player can win.

However, as the remaining players are still in the hand and still have chips behind, a side pot is formed between those players. Any further betting action goes into the side pot, and these remaining players can win both the main and the side pot.

Once the hand is over, all players left in the hand turn their cards face up. All participants in the hand compete to win the main pot, but only the people who weren’t all in at the time of the first player’s all in can win the side pot.

The situation can occur when a player wins the side pot but loses the main pot. This happens when a player cannot beat the player who is all in, but has the best hand of the remaining players.


In every poker game you play, you need to provide some sort of buy-in. This buy-in acts as your stake in the game. There are two types of buy-in depending on whether you play tournaments or cash games.

  • Tournaments – You pay a set amount of money to buy-in to at the start of the event. You’re given tournament chips to play with, which have no cash value. Some tournaments may allow you to rebuy/re-enter if you lose all your chips early enough in the tournament or add on more chips for a set fee at the end of a rebuy period.
  • Cash Games – You exchange your money for casino chips that have a cash value. You use these chips to play with, and when you’re done, you exchange the casino chips for cash.

No matter what format of poker you play, you will need to buy in before you can begin.


When we talk about betting in poker, it’s quite a broad topic, so we break it down into different types of betting. Each type of betting is used in different scenarios during the game and for different strategic reasons. We’ll be taking a closer look at each type of betting:


There are three different types of Texas Hold’em formats that impose limits on the amount a player can bet. In the battle of No Limit vs. Limit vs. Pot-Limit betting structures, No Limit is by far the most popular of the three. The other two are rarely run in casinos anymore, and while they can be found online and each has WSOP bracelet events, people don’t find the games as interesting as No Limit Hold’em. To find out why let’s break down what each of these limits means for how the game is played.


No Limit is the most common type of poker game, and its rules are pretty self-explanatory. There is no limit on the number of chips a player can bet at any time. The majority of these games will use a blind and ante system. For example, a game with $3/$5 stakes means that the small blind posts $3 and the big blind posts $5 each round.

Given that the game has no limits, players are free to go all-in with their entire stack from any point. If you’ve ever watched poker on television, it was likely a game of No Limit. No Limit Hold’em is often favored by TV shows due to the possibility of explosive all-in moments.


Here’s an example of a hand that you could play in No Limit Hold’em but would be against the rules of Pot Limit or Limit:

  • It’s a $1/$2 cash game where everyone is sat with $1000, and Player A raises UTG to $10. It folds round to Player B in the BB, who 3bets to $50, and Player A calls. The flop comes J♣9♠5, and Player B bets $150 into a pot of $101. Player A moves all in for $950 total, and Player B calls.

In this hand, every single aggressive action was for more than the size of the pot, and you can see how quickly stacks of $1000 can find their way into the middle of the table.


Pot Limit is probably the second most popular type of poker game after no limit. In this game, the maximum amount that can be raised has to be equal to the amount in the pot. Seems relatively straightforward, right? You may think so, but It can get a little bit more complicated.

When making a pot-sized bet, you’ll need to consider the size of the pot, any outstanding bets, and then the amount you’d need to call the last bet. The first person to bet doesn’t have any of these issues to contend with, but the next person will have a slightly more complex equation.

To raise, they will have to sum up the amount of the pot from before the bet, the last bet, and then the amount needed to call. For example, if the pot size is $50, and the previous person raised the maximum, the maximum raise will be $150. To make a call, the player will need to wager another $50. This can be made simpler by simply multiplying the last raise by three and then adding it to the size of the pot.


Let’s look at a Pot Limit Hold’em hand example so we can see this in practice.

It’s a $1/$2 cash game where everyone is sat $200 deep, and in the CO, Player A wants to raise to the size of the pot. To calculate that, we can multiply the last bet by 3, then add the size of the pot before that bet – in this case, $2 x 3 + $1 = $7, so the maximum amount Player A can raise is $7.

On the BTN, Player B now wants to 3bet to the size of the pot. For this calculation, we multiply the last bet ($7 by Player A) by 3 and then add that to the size of the pot before the bet – $7 x 3 + $3 = $24, so the maximum amount Player B can raise is $24. Player A decides to call the 3bet, and we see a flop

The flop comes 876♣, Player A checks, and Player B bets the size of the pot, which is $51 after each player put in $24 preflop plus the $1 small blind and the $2 big blind. Player A would like to raise this bet, so to figure out the maximum, we multiply the last bet ($51) by 3 and add the size of the pot before that bet – $51 x 3 + $51 = $204. This is more than Player A has in their stack, so Player A just moves all in for their last $176, and Player B folds.

You’ll find in Pot Limit Hold’em that due to preflop raise sizes being capped to the size of the pot, you get much better odds when facing a 3bet compared to some of the standard raise sizes you see in No Limit Hold’em. It’s also much harder to get stacks into the middle, so you’ll see a lot more turns and rivers in Pot Limit games.


Limit Hold’em is the most restrictive game format of the three. You are only allowed to bet and raise in specific amounts based on the stakes you’re playing. The betting rounds are split two between preflop and postflop, where you play at half the stakes that the table is advertised, and the turn and river, where you play at the full stake level. Let’s look at an example:

The game is $1/$2 Limit Hold’em, but the blinds that are posted are $0.50/$1 by the SB and BB. Player A wants to raise from the HJ, and the only option they have is to raise to $2. Player B in the SB wants to re-raise, and their only option is to raise to $3.

Player C in the BB would also like to raise and the only size they can raise to is $4. Most Limit Hold’em games have a cap of 4 bets for each street so, after this raise, no one else can raise again. The action goes back to Player A, who calls the extra $2, and Player B calls as well.

  • The flop comes K♣8♠3 and Player C bets $1, and both Player A and Player B call.
  • The turn comes the 9♠, and now the betting limits have doubled – so each player can bet and raise $2 up to a maximum of $8 (4x the $2 bet). Player C bets $2, Player A raises to $4, Player B folds, and Player C calls.
  • The river is the 2, Player C checks, Player A bets $2, and Player C calls. Player A shows 9♣8♣ for two pair and Player C shows A8 for a pair of 8♠.

Due to the fixed bet sizes, you’ll find that in Limit Hold’em you’re constantly being laid a good price to continue against a bet and you don’t have to win very often for a call to be profitable, so expect to see a lot of speculative calls from your opponents when you play Limit Hold’em.


Another term for a protection bet, “betting to take down the hand” is done when you likely have the best hand but don’t want to see another card. Making this bet denies your opponent equity, while still allowing you to get called by worse hands. This strategy is best employed with vulnerable hands that are susceptible to overcards on the turn or river.

For example, you have 7s6s on the button in a $1/$2 cash game and raise it to $6. Your opponent calls and the flop is Ac7d3h. Now, you likely have the best hand with a pair of sevens on this board, but if you were to check back, you have no idea whether you still have the best hand on an 8, 9, T, J, Q, or K.

By making a small bet on the flop, you can get hands that have decent amounts of equity, such as JT, to fold, but they’ll still call hands like 54, 65, and 43. This protects your vulnerable hand while denying your opponent equity with two-overcard hands. If you get called, there’s still a chance you have the best hand, but you should proceed cautiously on later streets.


  • Vary Betting Size: Players should vary and adapt their betting size depending on the opponent they are playing and the type of bet they want to place. For example, in some instances, a player may want to play a fast-bet game and raise the stakes quickly, while in others, a slow-bet approach may be more suitable.
  • Learn to Spot the Various Betting Types: Aside from understanding and being able to place all the different bet types, it’s also essential to know when others are using them. Recognizing the type of bet your opponent is playing will give you an insight into their style of play and their likely reactions.
  • Keep it Basic with Inexperienced Players: When playing against inexperienced or weaker players, there is often very little need to take significant risks. In these instances, players can use their experience and know-how to take down their opponents while also playing a conservative game.
  • Manage Your Table Image: While it’s important in poker to be mindful of how your opponents are playing, you should pay equal attention to how you’re perceived at the table. Every other player at the table is going to be watching how you play and adjusting their strategy based on what they see, so if you know how you are perceived, you can be one step ahead of your opponents.


Understanding the intricacies of betting in poker is crucial for success at the tables. By mastering the different actions, from blinds and antes to various types of bets, players gain a strategic advantage. Whether it’s the freedom of no-limit betting, the calculated approach of pot-limit betting, or the structured nature of limit betting, each style offers unique opportunities.

To put your newfound knowledge into action, we recommend playing at one of our recommended best online poker sites. There, you can apply your betting strategies in a safe and engaging environment, testing your skills against fellow enthusiasts. Remember to utilize the betting tips we’ve shared throughout this guide to maximize your chances of taking down the hand.

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Jordan conroy


Jordan Conroy, a respected name in the online poker arena, has cultivated his authority through years of dedicated play and content creation. Since 2020, he has earned a stellar reputation for his in-depth analysis of poker theory and his ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest developments in the poker world.

Jordan’s dedication to staying at the forefront of poker knowledge allows him to consistently deliver top-quality content that resonates with both novice players and seasoned professionals.

Beyond his poker expertise, he brings a diverse perspective, closely following other competitive domains like soccer, snooker, and Formula 1, enriching his insights and providing a comprehensive understanding of the gaming landscape.

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