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At the start of any game or hand of poker, the rules of play and especially the rules of betting should already be known and agreed by all players. Betting is the major area where problems and disputes arise.

Betting has two main and one minor systems, Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit.

  • Limit This indicates a fixed amount to bet in each round. This cannot be exceeded. Pot size is thus manageable by all players. This is what the vast majority of professionals play and is played nearly all over the world.
  • Pot Limit This means that the next bet or raise can be an amount up to and including the current size of the pot. This can lead to a rapidly expanding pot which may force players to use all their money in one go (known as going all-in). A cooler version of this is Half-Pot Limit which makes bigger pots! Pot Limit makes for many short hands and the occasional very big one. Played in the UK and to a small degree in other countries.
  • No-Limit This is rare but is the form used for the World Championship event in Las Vegas. As it says, there is no limit to what you can bet. You will only experience this in tournaments

Each of the above systems of betting also uses Antes, Blinds, Betting, Calling, Checking and Raising in a predetermined way.

  • Antes are used mostly for Draw and Stud Games to create a pot before any cards have been dealt.
  • Blinds These are bets before the cards are dealt and used in Flop Games to force betting and make it necessary for all players to act after the initial deal.
  • Betting The round of betting usually starts with the player to left of the dealer but in Stud Games it is the highest hand showing that starts. If no bet has yet been made in a round then the player can Check.
  • Calling A player facing a bet from another player can elect to Call that bet by putting an amount into the pot that is equal to that bet.
  • Checking If the first player to act in a round of betting does not wish to make a bet then they can Check. Other players following in the order of action can then also check so long as no one has bet before them.
  • Raising If a player faces a bet, they can raise that bet by first calling it and then adding an amount at least equal to it. (In Limit it will be equal to it)

Special Rules It is generally necessary to figure out a set of rules for irregularities and going all-in before the game starts so that all players can be agreed.

  • Going All-In If you face a bet that is more than the money you have in front of you then you can place that in the pot and say "all-in". That amount will be matched by the others in the hand and any left over will form a side pot for which the others will continue to play. Your interest will only lie in the main pot.
  • String Bets Making a bet must be a clear, precise and one movement action. Moving two separate amounts of money into the pot as a bet is forbidden unless a verbal announcement of the full amount was first made. String Bets are disallowed and the player can only follow the last bet. (check if the last player checked)
  • Over Betting Betting more than the rules allow will be reduced to the correct limit.
  • Betting out-of-turn A bet out-of-turn can be an attempt to bluff and must be enforced when that players turn comes in the round. Other players are allowed to take advantage of this if they wish. It acts as a deterrent against betting out-of-turn.
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