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
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
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
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
In the event of a player raising they should have the
entire amount of the call and raise to push forward at the
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.
This also means you must learn to use odds, outs, and pot
odds when determining what to do with your bets in limit Texas
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
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.
But when you have a strong hand you can bet or raise to put
maximum pressure on your opponents.
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
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