The previous lesson on poker was dedicated to the basics of Texas Hold ‘em. But we haven’t discussed the limits in poker betting to avoid rushing things. Considering the fact that our lessons are aimed at complete beginners, we try to provide new information gradually and in a systematic manner.
As you can tell by the name, these types of betting are limited by the casino or the poker room rules. In games with $2/$4 limits, the first two rounds are tied to a $2 move. The player has to either bet $2 or raise/reraise with an increase by $2. Let’s focus on the first round of the trade. In the example earlier, the size of the small blind is $1, which means that ‘under the gun player’ (the first player to the left of the big blind) can:
- call the $2 big blind
- raise the bet
- fold the cards and wait for the new deal.
He has no right to check, since the blinds have been placed.
After the first round, the first three community cards appear on the board. The maximum bet size still limits the players in poker which is $2. After the turn appears, the minimum bet of our example rises: now, if you wish to continue playing, the poker bet should be $4, and the maximum amount you can increase your bet by is also $4.
In the limited games of the Texas Hold’em, the number of possible rises is also usually limited. Most often, the bet increase is possible three times per round. This way, the rate of increase in the limited variant of poker is minimal.
In the pot-limit play, the rate increase limit is determined by the size of the pot, hence the name. A pot-limit game can get a lot more expensive than a fixed limit game. The pot is growing, so the poker bets are also growing.
In pot-limit, a UTG (Under The Gun) player has the same opportunities as a player in fixed limit poker: to call a bet, fold the cards or raise the bet. The minimum amount that he can raise is by $2, that is by the amount of the previous bet. And the maximum is $5: the pot consists of a small blind of $1 + a big blind of $2 + the player who sits beside the big blind, who is matching the big blind, which gives an additional $2.
Let’s discuss what can happen after the flop in the pot-limit game. If the first player actually raises to $7, the three other ones call and both of the blinds fold their cards. The pot would be $31 — this consists of $1 small blind, $2 big blind plus the first increasing one, $7 plus the three supporting ones which are $7 each ($1 + $2 + $7 + $7 + $7 + $7 = $31).
After the flop, the first player has a choice and can make a bet anywhere between $2 and $31 (the size of the pot). If he wagers $31, then the next player can call $31 or increase by a maximum of $93 ($63 in the pot plus the call size of $31), implying that the final bet will add up to $93 + $31 = $124.
As you can see, the pot and the bet size in the pot-limit hold ‘em increase much quicker than in fixed limit games. We need to focus on the post-flop game because they can escalate sharply, whereas pre-flop bets are usually small.
In the no-limit variant, the player can call, fold or raise, while the maximum rate of increase is determined only by the player’s stake. For example, if the player who goes after the big blind decides to raise, he can do so by $2 ( the minimum raise amount is the previous bet), or, if he has enough chips, by $10,000. The pot increase rate is limited only by the players’ stakes.
All-in bets (Va Banque)
In this lesson, we would also like to cover the topic of what to do if you don’t have enough chips for betting? The answer is pretty simple: go all-in.
To go “va banque” or “all-in” means to wager all your remaining chips. You always have the right to go all-in. For example, a player places $50, chooses all-in, and everyone else folds, apart from the player who has only $30 left in his hands. The player cannot match the bet of $50, but what he can do is go all-in and wager his $30. If there are no new players, the first player gets his $20 back (to match his bet with the opponent’s one).
The players cannot withdraw their bets, but they can withdraw extra money when the other player goes va banque with a smaller amount of money. Just like in the example with the unlimited hold ‘em, where a player could wager $10,000. If a player next to him calls while having only $10 and the rest of the players fold, then the player with $10,000 withdraws $9,990. This ends the trade, as the player that goes va banque has no money left at his disposal, and the winner is announced (after the river).
The question which is often asked on various poker forums is, “what if there are more than two people left in the hand?”. This complicates the game a little bit, and side pots are created for this matter. Let’s have a look at this example: two of the players have $50, and another one has only $10 remaining. In this example, the pot already contains $40. One of the players, who has $30, wagers $20.
If the player with $10 decides to match the bet and go va banque with his $10, then the last active player (who has $50) can also match the original stake, which is $20. Or he can also raise. If he matches the bet, then a side pot is created.
The main pot now consists of $70 (the original $40 plus $10 x 3). The player who had had $10 went va banque, so now he can only win this main pot. The side pot, consisting of $20, can only be won by those who created it.
The next card will start a new round. All the further bets will go into this side pot, not the main one. The players, who created the side pot, can win both the main pot and the side pot if their cards beat the players that went all-in. If the player who had $10 has the winning hand in the final round of the trade, he will win the $70, but the side pot will go to one of the two players that contributed to it — depending on who has a winning hand.
Sometimes, many side pots can be created during a hand if there is a large number of players. This is because not everyone has enough chips — the players who have fewer chips cannot win against those who had wagered more chips than they did.