Poker Betting Structures

Even a game as exciting and challenging as Poker can get old when played the same way for a long time. Two of the ways that veteran Poker fans have found to spice up their favorite pastime is by trying different types of betting structures in their favorite games or developing differing variations on traditional Poker games.

Changing the betting structure of any Poker game is a real challenge, because each change has an effect on players’ strategies and bankrolls. As one of the founders of the World Series of Poker, Crandell “Dandy” Addington, says: “Limit poker is a science, but no-limit is an art. In limit, you are shooting at a target. In no-limit, the target comes alive and shoots back at you.”

Whether the game is at home, in a live casino, or at an online poker site, players are likely to encounter four common betting structures: spread limit, pot limit, fixed limit and no limit.

Spread Limit Poker

Spread Limit is most common in friendly home games. With spread-limit, players agree in advance to bet any amount within a certain range, say $1 to $5. This structure means that the minimum bet is $1 and the most a player may bet or raise is $5. Also with spread limit, players also agree to meet the previous raise and bet higher. For example, if a player raises $3, then the next player to raise must raise at least $3 up to the spread limit.

Pot Limit Poker

Pot Limit games can get confusing despite their simple definition. In this betting structure, the most anyone can bet or raise is the amount of money in the pot at the time of his or her bet. This structure requires that players keep track mentally of how much is in the pot. This type of game also gets expensive if players tend to keep doubling the pot.

Fixed Limit Poker

Fixed Limit betting structures are what’s found in most casinos, partly because they’re simple to follow and because they allow players to budget their play. For example, players at a fixed-limit $2-$4 game may bet or raise $2 for the first two rounds, and then bet or raise $4 on the last rounds.

No Limit Poker

No Limit is the no-holds-barred form of betting. As many people have now seen in televised games of Texas Hold ’Em, no-limit Poker is just what it sounds like. At any point in the game, a player can go “all in,” meaning he or she can push all the chips onto the board as the bet. on television, you’ve seen the world of no limit. It’s just what it sounds like: at any point, you can push all the chips you have in front of you as a bet. Players who engage in no-limit games have to be well bankrolled so they can either see someone else’s “all-in” bet or go “all in” themselves if the right opportunity presents itself.

Texas Hold’em Betting Structures

The most popular Poker games where the highest hand wins include Five-Card Draw, Seven-Card Stud, Texas Hold ’Em, and Omaha (or Omaha High in contrast to Omaha Hi-Lo). Each of these games can be played with any of the four betting structures mentioned previously: spread limit, pot limit, fixed limit and no-limit.

Let’s look at some examples of Texas Hold ‘Em with the various betting structures, since this game is the most complicated of the popular versions.

In Fixed Limit games, a typical casino variety is a $4/$8 game. When betting structures of limit games are posted on casino boards, the two numbers always stand for the big blind amount and the betting amount after the Turn. In a 4/8 version, the big blind would be $4 and the small blind would be $2. Then players would bet and raise in multiples of $4 for the pre-flop and flop betting rounds. After the flop, the limit rises to $8 and each bet or raise must be in multiples of $8. Most casinos’ cheapest fixed-limit Hold ‘Em games are $2/4, but the limits can be any amount. Also, most Texas Hold ‘Em games in casinos are fixed-limit games.

In Spread Limit games, the lower number is the amount of big blind and the higher number is the betting limit after the Turn. For example, a game may be listed as $2-$10, which means that players are allowed to bet any amount within the posted range at any time. However, you don’t see many Texas Hold ‘Em games of this type at casinos.

No Limit games aren’t completely unrestricted, because the betting structure begins at a “floor” set by casino (remember that the house always gets its percentage no matter what the game). The betting structure of no-limit games is listed in terms of the amounts of the blinds, such as a $5/$10 game meaning $5 for the small blind and $10 for the big blind. Players then must bet or raise a minimum of $10 on each round. Thanks to the excitement of Poker tournaments, there has been greater demand for no-limit cash games at casinos.

Pot Limit games resemble no limit games except that there is no fixed betting amount except for the size of the pot. For instance, if the pot totals $100, then a player’s bet can’t exceed $100. In casinos, pot limit games’ betting structures are posted the same way as no-limit games in terms of the small and big blinds.

Casinos will post similar betting structures for Seven-Card Stud, Five-Card Draw and Omaha. Keep in mind that the playing strategy will differ for any Poker game depending on its betting structure. In other words, don’t play a high-rolling No Limit strategy in a low fixed-limit game, because you’ll only lose faster. Most novice Poker players feel comfortable playing in fixed-limit games because it gives them more chances to gain experience and budget their bankrolls.