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  • Betting in Poker

    I remember learning to play poker and not quite understanding the rules completely, especially when it came to betting in poker. I know I am not the first person to be confused and I know I won’t be the last. But hopefully this article will prevent you from becoming one.

    I was playing a game and I had only $5 left. Like I said, I was still learning the game. Anyway, the bet was $10 and my thought was “I don’t have $10, I’ll have to fold”, which I did and wouldn’t you know it I had the winning hand. What did I do wrong? I didn't ask if I had any options. It turns out that this exact situation is covered. Let me explain what I should have done and what would have happened.

    First I'll setup the game. Still in the game were my two opponents, Mike and Jeff. Mike had placed a bet of $10. In this situation I am only required to bet $5 as this is all the money I have left. I would be in a situation called “all in”. Being “all in” brings up a special betting in poker structure which is called a “side pot”.

    What would happen is that $5 from Mike’s $10 would be placed in a side pot. Jeff has been doing better than me and can match Mike’s $10 bet. Jeff’s $10 bet would go into the side pot. For simplicity’s sake let's assume the betting is over at this point. If I have the best hand then I would win the main pot. The side pot would be won by the next best hand. The next best hand would be between Mike and Jeff as they are the only ones with money in the side pot. Should Jeff or Mike have the best hand they would win both the main and the side pot. If Mike and I were the only ones left in the game, then Mike would be able to bet only $5 thus ending the round of betting.

    You will see the above situation mostly in No Limit and Pot Limit games. This is due to the fact that the betting in poker games that have no limit or pot limits can become quite large.

    Betting in poker games that have a limit (Limit games) is different when compaired to No Limit or Pot Limit games. The amount that a player can bet is set at the start of the game. A $2/$5 game would mean that bets are set at $2 for the early rounds and $5 for the later rounds.

    In No limit games your maximum bet can be the number of chips in front of you. So if you have a $100 worth of chips you can bet $100.

    Pot Limit games allow you to place a bet up to the value of the chips in the pot. For example there is 40 dollars in the pot then the max bet is 40 dollars. This also means that as the game goes on the maximum bet allowed will increase.

    If I had known about side pots or at least asked a question about betting in poker, I could have won the main pot and lasted at least a few more hands. Knowing this, you won’t be caught in this situation. Let me tell you that sitting around while your buddies continue to play is not a lot of fun.

    - Charlie

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