There are three main styles of betting at poker:
1. Limit Poker
This style is played mainly in poker clubs and casinos in the US. Each round of betting is limited to an exact amount and the number of raises and re-raises is limited also. For example, if the limits were posted as $10/20, that would mean that the Blinds would be $5 and $10 and pre-flop you could only raise $10. When the flop appears, again, only bets of $10 and raises of $10 would be permitted. Following the turn and the river, these bets and raises would then be set at $20. You are not permitted to depart from this structure.
2. Pot Limit
This used to be the form most popular in European card rooms. The Blinds would be set and then the maximum bet possible would be the current value of the pot. If the Blinds were, say, $2 and $5, the first raise you could make would be $7. A subsequent re-raiser would then be able to bet $14 – the total in the pot so far. This meant that initial raises were quite small, but subsequent bets and raises could get very large. This allowed more players to stay in early on and see the flop, but allowed strong hands to drive out weaker players with big bets after the flop.
Simply the best. Now, most people play No-Limit Poker in one form or another. This style allows you to bet whatever you like, at any time. If the Blinds are set at $2 and $5, you can push all your money into the middle on a whim. It allows you to exert maximum pressure on your opponents and can lead to huge swings and unbelievably tense decisions.
From the off, playing no-limit, one fact must remain at the forefront of your mind – this could be your last hand you could be wiped out completely. Every hand you enter must be done wisely, and with courage.
However, the guiding principle is that you can bet only the money that is on the table in front of you. You cannot reach down and suddenly produce more cash from a secret hideyhole. Equally, as with all forms of the game, you cannot be pushed out of a hand, just because you run out of money. Once you have all your money in a pot – you are all-in – you compete for that pot up to and including all the betting made untIl you went all-in. If other players continue to bet, they form a side pot of extra bets for which you are not competing. You remain however in the main pot and get to show your, cards if you have won.
Perhaps the best form of the game is No-Limit with a take-down option. This is proving popular in home games because it combines the excitement of No-Limit with a few prudent safeguards.
You buy-in for an agreed amount – let’s say $200 – and, if you win, you are then permitted to remove extra funds over and above that $200. If you are winning, you must keep at least your original stake in front of you to give the other players a chance to win it back. Of course, you can choose to sit out a few hands, or cash-in if you don’t want to play any more.
This is the style I recommend as it best combines all the great elements of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.