A three-bet, or 3-bet, describes the first re-raise before the flop in poker. If someone raises, you may call, fold,…Read More
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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 following are the main actions that a player can make during a poker game:
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.
MAIN POT AND SIDE POTS
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.
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:
A value bet is made when you have what you believe is the winning hand and hope to extract value and get a call from your opponent. While this sounds relatively simple, there are still some things to consider. First, you do not want your opponent to fold in this situation, so be sure not to bet too high. To ensure you get this right, you will need to assess several factors, including the player’s profiles and potential hands.
A continuation bet, or a C bet as it is commonly known, can be an incredibly effective bet to play in the right circumstances. In its simplest terms, a C Bet is when you have raised before the flop and then raise again during the flop. This tactic is a way of expressing your confidence in your hand. It can be a handy aggressive technique, especially in the latter stages of a game.
A probe bet is made out of position on the turn or the river when a player has not made a continuation bet in position. It is typically a small bet made to try and ascertain some information about an opponent’s range.
A slow pay betting style is a clever form of deception that can be used when a player has a strong hand. Using this approach, a player will play a strong hand in a deliberately weak play. They will make passive moves such as checking or calling their opponent’s bets instead of raising. It is the opposite of fast-playing. The aim is to lure the villain into launching a big bluff or raising their bets significantly.
An overbet is precisely what it sounds like–a very large bet typically made by people with a good range to either bluff or intimidate other players into folding.
Even if you’ve never played poker before, you’re no doubt heard of someone going “all-in.” An all-in bet is when a player places every chip they have currently have into a single bet. In No-Limit Texas Hold’em, an all-in bet can happen on any street, at any time in a hand. Needless to say, an all-in bet is often the riskiest bet to make.
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 Jc9s5h, 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 8h7h6c, 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 Kc8s3h and Player C bets $1, and both Player A and Player B call. The turn comes the 9s, 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 2h, Player C checks, Player A bets $2, and Player C calls. Player A shows 9c8c for two pair and Player C shows Ad8d for a pair of 8s.
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.
Betting out of turn in poker is when a player places a bet when it is not their turn. While this play is not allowed, it is a simple, honest mistake or mix-up in most instances.
Splashing the pot is when a player spills their chips over the table instead of following correct etiquette when placing a bet. Needless to say, you don’t need to worry about this happening if you are playing online poker!
A straddle bet is an extra bet placed before any of the cards are dealt. It is typically double the big blind. You will find different rules and variations of the straddle bet depending on where the game is played.
A bet in poker is when you place money on the outcome of a hand. There are various ways to bet in poker, the most common being call and raise.
A string bet is an illegal–and unethical–move in poker where a player does not make all of their intended move in one go. For example, a player may place a $100 raise in a game but do it by slowly placing a pair of $50 chips into the pot one at a time. Doing this is an illegal action often intended to elicit a reaction from the opposition. There are several types of string bets, including dropping your chips down one at a time and verbally declaring a call and a raise one after the other.
The minimum raise in a game of Texas Holdem Poker must be equal to the previous bet or raise. For example, if the opponent bets $10, the raise must be at least $10.
In a fixed limit game, players may only be able to go all-in when their stack is equal to or less than the pot. However, in a no-limit poker game, players can go all-in any time the action is on them.
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