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Lession One - Basics

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BETTING

After the cards have been dealt, a round of betting occurs starting with the player to the left of the dealer (or if there were blind bets, it starts with the player to the left of the big blind). When it’s your turn to act, you have several options one of which is to bet. There might be a restriction on the minimum and maximum amount you can bet. With so many different ways to bet in poker, it’s easy for beginners to be confused about betting structure. We’ll discuss all of them here.

When the action comes to you, you may fold and give up any claim to the pot, or you can:

  1. Check (Not bet any more money.) If nobody has bet yet, you can check. Also, if you had to post a blind bet, you can check when the action returns to you as long as the amount of the current bet is the same as your blind bet.
  1. Bet (First to put chips in the pot.) The value of the bet is determined if there are limits or not. For example, if you’re playing $2-$4 Limit Texas Hold ‘em, during the first and second round of betting you can only bet as high as the lower limit ($2 in this example). You can bet $4 during the third and final round of betting.
  1. Call (Matching the bet by putting chips in the pot.) This means you’ve put in the amount of chips into the pot needed to match the current bet. For example, the first player bets $2, the next person calls by putting $2 in the pot, and when the action comes to you, the bet is still only at $2, so you can call by putting $2 in the pot. You’ve matched the value of the bet and maintain a claim to the pot.
  1. Raise (See the bet and raise.) This means you’ve matched the bet and increased it by a certain amount. For example, the first player bets $2, the next player also bets $2 (the bet is still just $2) and you decide to see the bet (meaning putting in $2 to match the bet) and raising it another $2, making the bet now $4. The other two players have to put in at least $2 each when the action returns to them so they can match the current $4 bet and stay in the game.

ANTE

An ante is a small sum of chips every player must put in the pot before the cards are dealt it’s a forced bet. In home games where the dealer calls the game, you ante after they announce what game is going to be played. By having everyone ante, it makes sure all of the players have a stake in the game and that there’s money in the pot for the winner in case everyone immediately folds. If someone does not ante, it tells the dealer they do not wish to play that game and they will not be dealt cards. Stud and draw games often use an ante, which is usually 1/5 or 1/10 of the minimum bet. The value of the ante varies from game to game, so check before you play. Also, not all games use antes, but ‘blind bets’ instead.

BLIND BETS

Another forced bet, blind bets, are normally posted by one or two players immediately to the left of the dealer. Games with two blind bets have ‘small blinds,’ who bets first and is usually ½ or 1/3 of the minimum bet, and ‘big blinds,’ who bets second and is usually the same amount of the minimum bet. These values vary in every game. Flop games like Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha often use blind bets to get the action started.

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LIMITS

Betting structure finds its variety in limits: Limit, No-Limit, Pot-Limit and Spread-Limit.

LIMIT POKER: There is a maximum limit you can bet and raise per round and for the entire hand. The small and big blinds are predetermined: in a $2-$4 game, the small blind is $1 (half or a third of the lower betting limit) and the big blind is $2. During the first two rounds of betting (before the flop and on the flop), you can only bet or raise the lower limit ($2 in this example). You can bet or raise the maximum limit ($4 in this example) only on the fourth and final round of betting, the turn and the river.

NO-LIMIT POKER: This is where the action is! No-Limit games are full of excitement as you can win or lose a LOT of money! This is definitely not a game beginner players should play to learn poker. There is no limit to how much you can bet or raise. You can bet all your chips if you want, which you can’t do in Limit poker.

If you can’t wait for a trip to Las Vegas and desperately want to experience the rush of No-Limit poker today, visit PokerStars.com. They have enormous jackpots (over two million dollars given away monthly!) and numerous tables of different skill levels. This is also one of the best sites for No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em tournaments, which are held throughout the day.

POT-LIMIT POKER: The maximum limit you can bet or raise is the current (also called ‘active’) size of the pot. This is the most common betting structure in Europe. You can bet any sum between the value of the blind bet and the total sum of the pot.

SREAD-LIMIT POKER: You can bet any amount within a predetermined minimum and maximum value. For example, if the spread limit is $5 to $10, you can bet any amount within that range. This betting structure is common at lower limits.

Visit PokerStars.com to try out all of these different betting structures and limits. They have tournaments going on every day in all of the limits mentioned here. If you’re new to playing tournaments, this is a great place to start. They have an abundance of tips, strategies, and interactive teaching aids.

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