How to Bet in Poker: The Ultimate Poker Betting Rules Guide

If you’re new to poker, learning the basics of betting is essential. This poker betting rules guide will teach you everything you need to know about making bets in poker, including when to raise, call, or fold.

You’ll also learn about different types of bets and what they mean for your hand.

Basic poker betting rules

All poker games revolve around gambling, so it is important to understand poker betting rules before you get into the game.

Many poker variations use the same poker betting rules, structure, and table position. Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha use the same system involving the dealer button, small blind, big blind, and other positions on a poker table.

poker betting rules

The small blind is always the player to the left of the dealer button and the big blind is the player to the left of the small blind.

What is the betting order in poker?

The first round of betting in poker games that use blinds usually begins with the player to their left of the big blind. The action continues clockwise around the table until all players have had the chance to act.

Some games use a system that includes an ante, or a forced bet placed by all players at the table.

In a bring-in system, the player with the weakest face-up card is the first player to act. The action then moves clockwise around the table.

How to bet in poker

The active player can choose from four actions when it is their turn to bet.

poker betting rules

  • Call: Match the amount of the previous bet or raise.
  • Raise: Increase the current open bet. A raise that you make after a previous raise is called a re-raise.
  • Check. Pass the action to the next person without placing a bet. You can only check if there is no open bet or raise.
  • Fold: Discard your cards and give up any chance of winning the hand.

What are blinds and antes?

Nearly all poker games have some form of forced betting. This automatically places money in the main pot before each hand. Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha use a small blind and a big blind as forced bets.

Let’s suppose you are playing online poker and find a cash game listed as $1/$2 NLHE. This means that the game has a $1 small blind and a $2 big blind.

The minimum bet that can be placed in most poker games is equal to the big blind.

Sometimes antes are included in blinds games, but others are ante-only. Antes are usually small forced bets from all players or only the big blind player.

Poker chips: the currency in a poker game

Poker cash games allow players to buy in with cash and receive the equivalent amount of poker chips for use as currency in a poker game. Cash game chips do carry cash value inside a casino.

Tournament chips, however, have no cash value. A tournament buy-in allows you to purchase a pre-determined number of tournament chips. The tournament ends when the last player has collected all of the chips.

What are hole cards and community cards in poker?

poker betting rules

Poker players have one goal at the table: to create the best five-card poker hand using a combination of hole cards and community cards.

Hole cards are dealt face-down and they stay that way throughout the hand, only visible to the player holding them. Community cards are dealt face-up and are visible to everyone on the table.

Showdown is the only time that hole cards can be exposed. This happens when players face their cards to determine who has the best hand and wins the game.

The main pot and side pot

Before a hand starts, blinds and antes go into the main pot. These chips are added to the pot every time an active player places a bet.

The main pot can only increase if the active players still have more chips they can bet. If there are three or more players in a hand, and at least one goes all-in, then the remaining players can compete for the side pot.

An all-in player who can’t place chips in the side pot can’t win that pot, regardless of whether they have the best hand at showdown. The side pot is won by the player with the best hand among the remaining players.

How to bet pre-flop

Let’s look at an example of a nine-handed $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em cash game. The $1/$2 symbol means that the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2.

The player under-the-gun (UTG) — sitting to the left of the big blind — is the first to act. He/she can call, raise, or fold.

The action moves clockwise around the table after the UTG player makes a move. Each player has the same chance to call, raise or fold. Unless further action is required, the player in the big blind will be the last to act.

Let’s say the UTG player raises the big blind to $6 in our hypothetical game. The action moves one player to the left and that player can choose to call (match the $6 bet), raise (increase the amount of bet), or fold.

If that player folds, and the three other players also fold, the next to act is the cutoff player, who is one seat to the right of the button. The cutoff player decides to call and the action moves to the button. He then folds.

The small blind, located one position to the left of the dealer, also folds, forfeiting their $1 small blind. The big blind, already having $2 in the pot, can call and put $4 more into the pot to match the $6 raise. The big blind can also raise, increasing the amount of bet, or fold, putting his $2 big blind into the pot.

In this example, the big blind calls, and the first round of betting is over. The pot is now $17 after the big blind, cutoff, and UTG players put $6 and the small blind is forfeited.

How to bet in post-flop rounds

If they are still in the hand, the small blind acts first in any round of betting following the flop. If not, the player to the left who is still active makes the first bet.

The “flop” is when the dealer shows the first three face-up community cards. The small blind can either check or place a bet.

In our example, the big blind player was the first to act. Let’s suppose that this player checks and passes the action on to the UTG player. This player places a $10 bet.

The cutoff player calls the $10 bet and the big blind re-raises to $40. The UTG player has the option to call and put $30 in the pot to match the previous bet, re-raise to a bigger amount, or fold. Let’s say the UTG player folds.

Now the action moves to the cutoff. If the cutoff folds, the hand is over and the big blind wins without the hand going into showdown.

The dealer now has $107 in the main pot and he deals a fourth face-up community card, known as the turn. The big blind player places a $60 bet and the cutoff calls.

The dealer then shows the final community card, also known as the river. The final round of betting takes place. The main pot now stands at $227 and the big blind checks.

The cutoff also checks and the final two players move on to the showdown.

The showdown is the final round where all remaining players reveal their hole cards. According to standard poker hand rankings, the player with the best hand wins.

What do No-Limit, Pot-Limit and Limit mean in poker?

There are three types of betting strategies: Limit, Pot-Limit, and No-Limit. Before you play, it is important to understand the betting structure of the game.

In a no-limit betting structure like Texas Hold’em, any player can bet all of their chips at any given time.

Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO), 7-Card Stud, Limit Hold’em, and Razz all use a limited betting structure.

Let’s look at the differences between limit, pot-limit, and no-limit betting structures in poker.

Betting rules in No-Limit Hold’em

The majority of no-limit games use blinds and a button.

For example, a no-limit hold’em cash game has $1/$2 stakes. Six people are seated at the table with $200 chips each.

The small blind posts $1 and the big blind posts $2. The hole cards are dealt and the UTG player starts the pre-flop betting round.

In a no-limit game, the UTG player can bet any amount. If the player bets all $200 of their chips, this is called going all-in.

Any player can go all-in at any time during a hand. The maximum amount for an all-in is equal to the total amount of chips in front of the player when the hand begins.

If you start with $200 then going all-in would mean betting $200. You cannot take $200 out of your pocket to increase your all-in wager.

You’ll find some of the most dramatic situations at a poker table with a no-limit betting structure. For example, in the final stages of the World Series of Poker Main Event, a player who goes all-in puts their tournament life on the line with millions of dollars at stake.

Betting rules in Pot-Limit Omaha

Pot-Limit Omaha is the second most popular poker game in the world. This game, also known as PLO, is one of many poker variations that can be played using pot-limit betting rules.

The maximum raise in a pot-limit poker game is equal to the pot’s size. Although this sounds simple, it can be difficult to calculate the maximum raise for a pot-limit betting structure.

To bet the pot, you must place a bet equal to the pot’s size, plus any outstanding bets and the amount you would have to put in to call the last outstanding wager.

If you are the first to act on any post-flop street, betting the pot is exactly the amount that is in the pot. There are no calls or bets in front of you to calculate.

For example, if you are the first to act on the flop and there is $100 in the pot, then betting the pot is $100.

If the player next in line wants to increase the maximum, they will need to add the pot amount ($100), plus your bet ($100), and the amount it would take to call your bet ($100).

The $300 is the maximum raise a player can make on top of their $100 bet. In this example, when your opponent “pots” it means that they are betting a total of $400 (the $300 maximum raise plus $100 to call your wager).

The easier way to do this is to calculate the size of the pot before the latest bet. Take the latest bet or raise, multiply it by three, and it to the amount in the pot. This will give you the maximum amount of money you can bet.

Let’s take, for example, a $1/$2 PLO cash game. You’re under the gun which means you’re the first one to act pre-flop. You’ve seen your hole cards. How much do you bet?

To figure this out, we can use the “multiply-by-three” rule. The small blind was $1 and the big blind was $2. You can take the $2 big blind bet as the most recent and multiply it by three.

This gives us $6. Add that to the $1 in the pot before the big blind’s bet and you get $7. This is our maximum bet from under the gun.

Let’s say the next players fold and the button announces “pot”. In this example, a “pot” bet would be three times your last bet, which was $7 under the gun.

Multiply that bet by three and it comes to $21. Add the $3 that was in the pot before the UTG bet and you get $24. This is the maximum bet the button player can make.

Betting rules on Limit Hold’em

Many poker games, such as stud variants, are played with a limit-betting structure. However, any poker game can be played with limited betting structures.

Limit Texas Hold’em games played at $2/$4 limits usually mean that the blinds are $1/$2. Limit games can be played with a small or large bet. The big blind is usually equal to the small bet.

Limit games often use a structure that allows for a maximum raise equal to the small amount in the first round and increases to the larger amount in the later rounds. After three raises, the betting cap is reached and subsequent players can only call after that.

For example, you are playing a $2/$4 Limit Texas Hold’em game and are in UTG position. You are the first to act pre-flop and have the option of calling the $2 big blind or raising it to a maximum of $4. You chose to call.

The cutoff player raises to $4 and the button raises to $6. The big blind raises $8, adding $6 to their $2 already committed to the pot.

As the UTG player, you now have the option of calling the $8 raise. This requires you to put $6 more into the pot. You can also fold but you cannot raise any more.

You choose to call, the cutoff calls and the button calls. With $33 in the pot, the four live players move on to the flop betting round.

The flop betting round follows the same pattern with a maximum bet/raise limit of $2, capped at $8. The maximum bet/raise for the turn and river betting rounds is $4, with a $16 cap.


All poker games revolve around betting, and it’s important to understand how poker betting rules work before getting into the game, no matter what poker variation you’re playing.

We hope you found this guide helpful and informative. If you’re looking to learn more about the game, be sure to check out our other posts on strategy and tips.

Good luck at the tables!