Texas Holdem Betting
One of the core parts of the game of Texas holdem is betting. Each hand starts with forced bets that set up the rest of the game. The players who want to remain in the hand battle by placing bets until one is declared the winner.
Without betting the game of holdem wouldn't be popular and wouldn't be played in every poker room in the world and in millions of private and home games.
But did you now that the way you control your bets at the tables also helps control your ability to win?
Don't make the mistake of skipping this page because you think you know everything there is to now about how betting works at the holdem tables. Unless you already know everything there is to know about bet sizing and position and how you can use them to become more profitable you need to learn what's included on this page.
In this section we're only looking at the Texas holdem rules pertaining to betting. For a complete rules discussion involving all aspects of the game please see our Texas holdem rules page.
Before each hand starts a number of forced bets are required. The forced bets create a starting pot that the players fight for throughout the hand. Without a beginning pot many hands wouldn't have much action.
Texas holdem has two different types of forced bets. Almost all games have blinds, and a few games have antes.
Most Texas holdem games have a small blind and a big blind forced bet on each hand. The small blind is to the immediate left of the button or dealer position and the big blind is immediately to the left of the small blind. The big blind amount is set by the house or the table limits and the small blind is half the big blind.
In a limit holdem game the big blind is equal to the smaller of the two betting limits and the small blind is half of the big blind.
In a 40 / 80 limit game the big blind is 40 and the small blind is 40.
No limit Texas holdem games generally have the blind levels set by the house. The blind are sometimes tied to the m maximum buy in for the game, but not always. The best plan is to check the blinds and buy in levels for a no limit game before sitting down or otherwise joining a game.
The other type of forced bet is called an ante. They can be used in conjunction with blinds or in place of blinds. The most common place to use antes is in the later rounds of tournaments.
An ante is a small bet that everyone at the table must place into the pot before the initial cards are dealt. If blinds are also being used the players who place the blinds also have to place antes.
Once all of the required bets have been placed at the beginning of the hand each player receives their two hole cards and the first betting round is conducted. The first round of betting starts to the immediate left of the big blind position.
The player may fold, call the amount of the big blind or raise. In the case of a raise, the size of the raise depends on the game rules. In a limit holdem game the player may raise the lower of the two betting limits. So in a 40 / 80 game the player may raise 40. In a no limit game the player may raise anywhere from the amount of the big blind to the entire amount of chips they have on the table.
After the first player acts the next player to the left must act. They may fold, call the most recent bet which may be the big blind or another amount if a previous player raised, or raise. Play continues to the left until each player has called the highest bet or folded.
After the flop another betting round is conducted at the lower betting limit in a limit game or with no limits in a no limit game, starting with the first player remaining in the hand to the left of the dealer button.
The final two betting rounds, called the turn and river, are conducted like the second round of betting except in a limit game the bet amounts are the higher limit. In a 40 / 80 game the first two rounds are 40 increments and the last two are 80.
The last section covered the rules and the betting order, but it's important to understand and make sure you follow it at all times.
If you bet out of order it can create a situation where a player is given more information than their opponents, which is unfair. It also runs the chance of making some players angry, creating a tense situation at the table.
In a regular no limit Texas holdem game the blinds have been placed and the hole cards have been dealt. The first player to act makes a raise and the next player is considering what to do. The player who's supposed to act fourth folds her hand before the second player makes a decision.
The second player may make their decision at least partly based on what the remaining players may do. If they know there's less chance of being re-raised later in the round they may be more likely to call. By the fourth player folding before it's their turn they give the second player additional information before they should have it.
This is even more clearly evident if the button folds before the player to her right acts on a hand. But any player acting out of turn in any way is unfair to some of the players at the table, so it should be avoided at all times.
How to Bet
Different poker rooms and casinos have different house rules about the proper way to bet while playing Texas holdem. But most poker rooms accept a fairly universal set of procedures lie the one listed below.
- Players should separate the amount of chips they intend to bet from their chip stack, clearly behind the betting line on the table, before making any other actions. Most poker tables have a line in front of the players. If they leave chips behind the line they haven't acted yet, but as soon as they move chips over the line the bet has been made.
- Players should state their intention while moving all of the chips involved with their bet, call, or raise, across the bet line. If a player is calling she should state "call" as she moves the chips needed to call across the line.
- Chips should be slid across the line and left alone for the dealer to count. Chips should never be thrown into the pot.
- In the event of a player raising they should have the entire amount of the call and raise to push forward at the same time.
- Players making a raise should start "raise" or "I raise" before making their bet. Players are to never state call and then raise, because this is considered a string bet. In the case a player states "call" and then tries to raise, the player will be forced to call and not allowed to raise.
- If you have a question about how to do something ask the dealer before you act. If the dealer doesn't know or is unhelpful ask for a floor person immediately.
- Most house betting rules are clearly marked on the table or in the poker room. Take a few minutes to read them before you start playing.
The only other thing you may need to be aware of is the proper bet amounts and procedures in a pot limit Texas holdem game. About the only place you can find a pot limit game is online, which makes bet amounts easy because the computer software program determines all of the minimum and maximum bet limits for you.
In a pot limit game you can raise any amount up to the amount that's currently in the pot. This is pretty straightforward if you're making a bet into an unraised pot, but in a raised pot the rules can be a bit tricky until you understand them clearly.
In an unraised pot the maximum amount you may bet is simply equal to the pot size. So if the pot has $1,000 in it you can raise up to $1,000.
But in a raised pot you can raise up to the amount equal to the last raise plus the amount of the pot after the last raise.
At the beginning of the betting round the pot has $800 in it. One of your opponents bets $200 and everyone folds around to you and you want to raise the maximum amount. You can raise $1,200, putting a total amount of $1,400 in the pot. You have to put enough into the pot to make the call, so you have $200 in the call making the pot $1,200, and then you can raise the new amount of the pot, or $1,200.
The proper way to do this is state "I raise" and slide $1,400 across the line. Then you can separate the $200 for the call and the $1,200 for the raise.
While this isn't likely to happen often, it's possible a dealer may make a mistake or get confused in this situation. Unless you're directly involved in the hand it's usually best to keep your mouth shut as long as no one else seems bothered by a dealer mistake in this situation. It's not your job to police the table, unless you're involved in the hand.
The way you make and size your bets is something that is an important thing to incorporate with your overall strategy at the Texas holdem tables.
You'll find the best players are able to maximize the amount of money in their winning hands and minimize the amount in the pots when they lose.
The way to do this is by controlling the size of the pot with your bets and your bet sizes. While this may seem difficult at first, as you practice and gain experience you'll learn many f the little tricks you can use to influence the size of the pot.
In limit play you need to always bet and raise when you have the best hand and call and check when you have a hand where you're drawing toward a better hand. You don't have the luxury of making a large bet late in the hand when you hit your hand or to try to bluff a weaker player out of the pot.
Not only do you need to understand them when considering whether or not to call, you also need to understand how to influence your opponent's pot odds by betting and raising.
If you can make the pot odds incorrect for an opponent to call then every time they make a call you win money. You might not win every hand, but on average if an opponent calls when the pot odds are against them you add to your long term winnings.
In no limit play often the challenge is determining the correct size of your best when you're ahead to maximize the amount in the pot. You might think the way to get the most into the pot is by betting as much as possible, but the truth is you have to keep some players in the pot so you need to bet as much as they'll call. If you bet so much they fold when you're winning you aren't maximizing the amount you can win.
The best way to do this is learn as much about your opponents and how they play as possible. Watch how they play other hands and see which ones are willing to put too much money into the pot while chasing long shot draws. Then use this information against them when you're in a hand with them
You still need to use pot odds when playing no limit Texas holdem, and it's easier to make bets that put your opponents in negative expectation situations. By making bets the correct size to give your opponents negative pot odds as often as possible you stand a good chance to increase your profit over time.
In both limit and no limit Texas holdem you need to learn how to use your position relative to the dealer button and the blinds to influence the size of the pot. Learning the importance of position, and how to use it, is one of the major benchmarks in a Texas holdem player's career that separates the winners from the losers.
When you play Texas holdem you always are forced to make playing decisions with a limited amount of information. The only things you know for sure are the values of your pocket cards and the cards on the board. You can make educated guesses about what your opponents hold, but you can never be 100% sure unless you see their hand.
The simple fact is that the later you're forced to act in the hand the better your knowledge of what's happening. Even if the only bit of information you have that your opponents didn't have when they were forced to act is if they called, folded, or raised, it's still another valuable piece of the puzzle.
Every time you make a decision with more information than your opponents it's a profitable situation for you. This is an extension of positive expectation. Winning players make more positive expectation decisions than negative expectation decisions.
The best position at the table is the dealer or button position. In every round of betting expect the first you'll be able to act last.
If the betting round is checked to you your options include betting or checking and taking a free card. When you're drawing to a better hand the option to take a free card is valuable because you don't have to worry about if the pot odds are correct to make a call.
As you move to the right of the button your position becomes weaker and weaker. But sometimes if you're one or two off the button you can gain the same advantage of the button by raising and making the button fold. When you raise and everyone between you and the blinds folds you've effectively bought the button and the superior position it affords throughout the hand.
Texas holdem betting involves more than most players realize. Not only do you need to understand the rules and how betting works, but you also need to be able to use betting to your advantage throughout each hand.
Start incorporating betting techniques into your Texas holdem strategy and you should start seeing improved results. Use the tactics included above and learn as much about your opponents as possible and you'll be well on your way to increased profits and better results.