How Betting Rounds Work

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If you’re new to 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, the most common poker game, 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. 

Blinds and Antes

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.  

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The Different Types of Bets

Value Bet

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. 

Continuation Bet

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. 

Probe Bet or Information Bet

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. 

The Slow Play Bet

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. 

Overbet

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. 

All In

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.

No Limit vs. Limit vs. Pot-Limit Betting

There are three main types of poker games, each with its own rules and limitations in betting. Each one will also affect the way players approach a game. 

No Limit 

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 that a player can place at any one time. The majority of these games will use a blinds and ante system. For example, a game with a $3/$5 stakes means that the small blind bets $3 and the big bets $5 each round. Given that there are no limits in the game, 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 due to the possibility of explosive all-in moments.

Pot Limit Betting 

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? It can get a little bit more complicated, however. 

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 a little bit simpler by simply multiplying the last raise by three and then adding it to the size of the pot. 

Limit

Unlike in a No-Limit game, where you could bet–and lose–your entire stack, in Limit games, betting is restricted to a set amount. For example, in a $10/$20 limit game, 

During the first two betting rounds (pre-flop and flop), bets and raises are equal to the big blind, known as the small bet. After that, on the turn and the river, raises must be twice the big blind; this is called a big bet. There is also a “cap” on betting in Limit Hold ’em, restricting each betting round to one bet and three raises.

Betting Tips

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. 

Poker Betting FAQs

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