Article provided by The Poker Source
The temptation is overwhelming everywhere you look. Terms like – big blind, all in, the button and no limit are staring you in the face. You’re ready to get in the game, but what does it all mean? Not knowing the betting structure is enough to make even experienced poker players cringe and slink away from limit or no limit Texas Hold’em tables.
Never fear, once you learn the basics you’ll be out of the shallows and swimming with the sharks in no time. Let’s begin by discussing the basic betting structure of two of the world’s most popular poker games, fixes limit and no – limit Texas Hold’em.
You know the rules. After all poker is poker. But when it comes to limit and no-limit, the difference is night and day. Fixed limit games function on a strict betting structure. You can only bet in specific increments, no matter what the situation is.
A $1 / $2 Texas Hold’em game is a limit game where you can only bet and raise in those specific increments. During the first two rounds of betting you must bet $1. During the final two betting rounds the limit increases, and you must bet $2.
The Major League Of Poker
No limit is a completely different ballgame. This is the major leagues of poker. It has been popularized by television. No limit hold’em offers no betting structure. You can bet as little or as much as you’d like at anytime. From your first two cards all the way to the river, anytime you feel the need to say those two magic words, “all in”, you can. The term “all in” was made famous on TV and is an integral part of a no limit game. Going all in is choosing to bet all your chips. While you can go all in during fixed limit poker, it’s usually for a small amount. Going all in a fixed limit game is never as dramatic as pushing a large stack into no limit play.
If fixed limit and no limit are night and day, than house games and poker rooms are black and white. Betting in a house game involves passing the deal around, allowing each player a chance to deal. This is important because not only is the deal rotated, but the prized last betting position is also passed to each player. Acting last is a distinct advantage in most poker games. It is especially advantageous in Texas Hold’em. Seeing what other players have done before you are required to act is a valuable tool. By passing the deal, you are in essence making sure each player receives the privilege to act last once each round.
Dealer Button and Blinds
Poker rooms have no such luxury. They are required to provide a dealer to ensure a fair game. It is not possible to allow players to take turns dealing. This creates a unique problem…if a designated person was always dealing, than the person to his right would always be the last to act. To eliminate this advantage a “dealer button” was introduced. This small button is passed around the table after every hand. The person possessing the dealer button is treated as the dealer. While he does not actually deal the cards, he is awarded all the advantages of being the dealer. The casino dealer will start dealing the hand to the left of the dealer button. When it is time to bet, the person who possesses the dealer button will be last to act. Once the hand is over, the dealer button is passed to the next player to the left.
Causing as much confusion as the “dealer button” are the two additional Texas Hold’em mainstays, the small and big blind. Blinds are forced bets. Since there are no exposed cards in Texas Hold’em, it’s hard to make sure betting will start. Small and large blinds provide action to every pot. Blinds are used to get the betting started in both limit & no limit games. The only difference being that a blind in a limit game is usually correlated to the limit you are playing. Where as, no limit blinds will be designated amounts that are agreed on before starting the game.
The small blind is placed by the first player to the left of the dealer button and is normally half of the opening bet in a limit Texas Hold’em game. The player to the left of the small blind then places the second forced bet. The big blind is usually equal to the first rounds betting limit.
Once the blinds are placed and the cards are dealt, each player starting to the left of the big blind has the opportunity to call, raise or fold. The action then goes around the table. The small blind can complete the bet or fold. Folding would forfeit his small blind. The big blind then has one last chance to raise before the flop is dealt. After the flop, the betting continues in this pattern on the turn and river. Once the round ends, the dealer button is moved to the left and the small and big blinds are placed before the next round is dealt.
While there are differences between fixed limit and no limit Texas Hold’em, both play by the same standard betting rules. Once you’re comfortable with these simple procedures you’ll be able to sit in on any Texas Hold’em game. You may even feel comfortable enough to expand your playing to other poker varieties such as Omaha, which uses a very similar betting structure. That is another topic, for another day. If you have any questions on Texas Hold’em betting that were not addressed here, please feel free to post a question in our poker forum.