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End User License Agreement. Win a free package. Play Money Tournament Schedule. Visit the PokerStars Blog. Play Money Leader Boards. This page describes poker betting and the subsequent showdown in some detail, and assumes some familiarity with the basics of poker, as provided for example on the poker rules page. Rules that are specific to particular poker variants are covered on the page for the variant in question. Poker is sometimes played for cash on the table, but it is far more convenient to use tokens known as poker chips.
Traditionally these came in three denominations of different colours, white chips being the cheapest, reds being worth five whites, and blue chips equal to 5 red or 25 white. These ratios could be adjusted according to the requirements of the game.
Chip sets nowadays often have a wider range of denominations, for example 1, 5, 10, 25 and , each of a different colour. Some sets also have 2, 20 and 50 and larger values. These chips will generally be provided by the host in a private game or the house in a public card room. Chips are bought from the host by the players as required for playing, and redeemed at the same rate when the player leaves.
Sometimes poker is played in the form of a tournament in which each player starts with an equal value of chips. Players who lose all their chips are eliminated, and play continues until one player has won all the chips. This form of poker is sometimes known as freezeout. If there is a large number of players, the game can begin with several tables, and as players drop out the survivors are consolidated onto fewer tables, taking their chips with them.
Towards the end, all the remaining players will compete at a single final table, using all the chips. A potential disadvantage of this type of game is that players who are eliminated have nothing to do while the others complete the game, and it may take a while before only one player remains. Normally the stakes the size of the blinds or minimum bets are increased periodically to bring the game to a quicker end. In a large tournament, rather than give all the money paid for the initial chips to the single winner, it is divided into prizes for first, second, third place and so on, given to the players who survived longest.
It is sometimes said that poker is a game that can only be played for money, and certainly a game of poker in which players did not mind who won and how much would be fairly boring and pointless.
It is possible, however, to play poker without money if the players care sufficiently about how many chips they win or lose. One way to achieve this is to play a tournament as described above, but in which the initial chips are free, or only a nominal entry fee is paid, and the prizes are objects rather than sums of money. As usual the player who wins all the chips gets the first prize, and there can be smaller prizes for runners up who survive almost to the end.
The desire to win a prize may be enough motivation to stay in the tournament as long as possible and treat one's chips as though they are valuable, and the game will work in much the same way as poker played for money, perhaps without the legal and moral problems sometimes associated with gambling.
There are great differences between poker players and what they expect from a game, and these are reflected in the variants and stakes chosen. At one extreme, there are those who enjoy poker primarily as a social pastime. They like to have a small amount of money at stake, to give the game a slight edge, but well within the amount that any player can easily afford to lose.
Often they will be more interested in the excitement of occasionally holding a particularly good hand or experiencing an unexpected turn of events than they are in optimising their play. They like plenty of action, if possible on every deal. On the whole such players prefer to play for limited stakes, and tend to favour exotic variants with wild cards and other innovations, often within the context of a dealer's choice game. At the opposite end of the spectrum are professional players whose aim is to win money.
They get their satisfaction from managing their chips skilfully and outwitting their opponents. If this involves folding most of the time and rarely playing a hand, that is fine so long as it is profitable.
They take pride in knowing the odds, analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the other players and using this knowledge to maximum advantage. These players generally like to stick to a single poker variant for a whole session, going for long term profit over a large number of deals. They prefer to play with higher betting limits, which allow the greater scope for skill and bluff.
There are of course all kinds of players with approaches to the game that fall between these two extremes. The betting process used in poker is known to card game historians as "vying", although in practice the card game terms "vie" and "vying" are obsolete. The players vie with each other by betting on who holds the best hand of cards. The bets are made by moving chips into a central area called the pot , pool or kitty. In most versions of poker there are several betting rounds or betting intervals , during which the deal or other game play is paused while the players take turns to act - that is to choose whether or not to place a bet.
Players who wish to stay in must at least match the other players' bets. These are the active players. A player who is unwilling to match the other players' bets can fold, dropping out of the action and abandoning any chance to win the chips in the pot. The betting round normally ends when the total amounts bet by all the active players are equal.
If at any stage there is only one active player, that player immediately wins the pot. Otherwise, after the last betting round, the pot is won by the active player who holds the best hand. During a betting round, the active players act in clockwise order around the table. It is very important that players act only in turn.
If you act out of turn you unnecessarily give information to your opponents, and you can be held to that action when your proper turn comes. The possible actions are as follows. During a betting round it is very helpful to keep each player's bets separate from the chips bet in previous betting rounds and from the bets of the other players.
That way it is easy to see how much everyone has bet and how much one has to pay to call. Some particularly well organised poker tables are marked with a betting line about 20cm in front of each player. This line separates the private area where a player's own cards and chips are kept from the common area holding the pot, the discards, and community cards, and so on. Any chips pushed across this line are considered to be in the pot.
At the end of each betting round the chips in the pot are amalgamated into a single pile or more than one pile if there are side pots - see below. Before joining a poker game, it is wise to have some idea how much one stands to win or lose.
This is determined largely by the betting limits - the minimum and maximum amounts that players are allowed to bet. Every game has a minimum amount that can be bet - this may correspond to the value of the smallest chip in use. Some games also have a fixed maximum bet: In other games there is no fixed maximum. The maximum bet can be proportional to the size of the pot at the time, which allows the size of the pot to increase exponentially, or one can play without a maximum limit, so that it is possible to bet all your chips at once if you wish.
Games with higher limits or without limits give greater scope for bluffing than those with low limits: In most games, bets are limited to the chips you have on the table in front of you. You are not allowed to buy extra chips in the middle of the betting or simply produce more money from your pocket in order to continue the betting.
This is known as playing for table stakes. The exact consequences when a player runs out of chips are rather complex and are described in the table stakes section below. These details become important when playing without a fixed maximum bet, since the betting can easily reach the point where all a player's chips are in the pot.
In games with a relatively small maximum bet, it is less likely that a player will run out of chips completely. Other structures are possible such as half pot limit , in which the maximum bet is half what the pot would contain if you called. Some online poker rooms provide capped no limit and pot limit games in which there is a maximum amount that a player can bet in one deal.
This amount, the cap , is lower than the maximum buy-in: All the betting rules of normal no limit and pot limit games apply, but in the game is played as though players whose chips stack is more than the cap in fact only have the amount of the cap in chips at the start of the deal. Any players whose total bets reach the cap are treated as though they were all-in. In fixed limit and spread limit games there is usually a limit on the number of raises in a single betting round.
One bet followed by three raises is a common limit, in which case the third raise is also known as the cap.
In some games the limit is different in earlier and later betting rounds. The purpose of this rule is to prevent two players from colluding by making a long series of small raises, which a third player wishing to remain in the pot has no option but to call.
For this reason, the limit normally does not apply when there are only two active players remaining. In this "heads-up" situation, either player can end the series of raises simply by calling the latest raise, so the protection of a limit is unnecessary. In formal games there is generally a rule that a raise cannot be less than the previous bet or raise. This rule only applies to raises: This rule appears to be fairly new: I have not seen it mentioned in any 20th century poker book. Perhaps it was introduced during the large, well publicised tournaments in the 's, which are largely responsible for the current popularity of poker.
This rule is now standard for formal poker and on-line poker, and has been introduced into some private games. Nevertheless, many private poker games are played without this minimum for raises. Any raise can be any amount from the minimum bet for the round up to the maximum, even if the previous bet was larger. In such a game, if the number of raises is limited, a player may legitimately make a minimum raise of a larger bet in order to consume one of the allowed raises and thereby restrict the potential size of the pot.
A bet that is at least the minimum is sometimes known as a full bet , and a raise that is as least as large as the largest bet or raise in the current betting round, and not less than a full bet is known as a full raise. Bets and raises that are smaller than this are known as incomplete bets or raises. When playing with table stakes, if one does not have enough chips for a full bet or raise, it is legal to go "all-in", putting all one's chips in the pot for an incomplete bet or raise - see the table stakes section for details.
A few games - especially fixed and spread limit games, and some low stakes private games - have a rule against the " check-raise ". With this rule in effect, if you call or check or pass during a betting round and some other player after you bets or raises, when the turn comes around to you again you are not allowed to raise: To raise in such a situation is sometimes known as sandbagging.
You have a good hand, but instead of betting you lie in wait, pretending to have indifferent cards, and when a player bets against you, you launch your ambush by raising back. In some circles this tactic is considered unfair or at least unfriendly and is therefore outlawed. Note however that even with this rule in effect, checking in one betting round does not prevent you from betting or raising in a later betting round, by which time your hand might have improved.
In most formal games and nearly all games without a fixed maximum bet pot limit and no limit games the check-raise is permitted and is considered a valid and useful tactic. Every poker game begins with some kind of compulsory payment to the pot. Without this, the players would have no incentive to bet. If you were to bet chips into an empty pot you would stand to lose them if another player with a good hand bet against you, but if all your opponents had indifferent hands and dropped out you would get back only the same chips that you put in, gaining nothing.
If the pot contains some chips to begin with, it is worthwhile for players with moderately good hands to bet in order to win those chips. The most straightforward way to start the pot is for every player to pay an equal, fixed ante before the deal. A practical problem with this is that quite often someone may forget to pay the ante, and when the shortage of chips in the pot is noticed, it can be difficult to establish who is at fault. A solution is to have the dealer pay a single, larger ante on behalf of all the players.
This is fair provided that everyone deals the same number of times during a session. Note that the ante does not count as a bet: In the first betting round players can simply check to stay in. In some games, one or more players are forced to make a blind bet before the cards are dealt. Normally the player s placing blinds will be immediately to the left of the dealer seat, sometimes including the dealer as well.
If the blinds are unequal in size they will increase to the left, the leftmost player placing the largest blind. The largest blind should be equal to the minimum bet for the game. Blinds do count as bets, so players who wish to stay in must at least call the biggest blind. The first betting round starts with the player to the left of the big blind, who may call, raise or fold.
The big blind player acts last, and may raise even if no one else has done any more than call. Alternatively, if no one else has raised, the big blind player may simply check to stay in, since the active players' bets are already equal. In games with blinds, the player to the left of the big blind may be allowed to straddle , which is to place a voluntary blind bet twice the size of the big blind before the cards are dealt.
In some games, if a player straddles, the next player to the left is allowed to re-straddle , placing a blind bet of twice as much again. The first betting round will begin to the left of the player who placed the largest straddle.
Normally a straddle also raises the betting limits proportionately: The purpose of straddling is to gain the advantage of acting last in the first betting round. However, this advantage is probably not worth as much as the cost of placing a blind bet which will be wasted if one's cards are poor. In stud poker, the pot is normally started by a compulsory bet known as the bring-in.
There may or may not be an ante as well. Unlike a blind bet, the bring-in is placed after the first part of the deal, and is based on a player's hand - in a stud game the player who must bet is determined by the up-card. Some games are played with a kill. This is a blind bet normally twice the size of the minimum bet, which must be placed by a certain player the killer in particular circumstances - for example after a big win or winning twice in a row. If the killer would otherwise have been due to place a blind, the kill replaces the blind.
As with a straddle, the minimum and maximum bets are increased in proportion if there is a kill. The first betting round may begin either to the left of the kill or to the left of the big blind according to local rules. Either way, players who wish to stay in must at least call the kill bet.
The killer can raise at his or her first turn. All formal poker games and tournaments in casinos and public card rooms and many private games are played for table stakes. This means that you can only bet using the chips that you have in front of you at the start of the deal. This rule is to prevent a player from suddenly betting a large sum which the other players were unaware of at the start of the deal and which they cannot afford to call.
When playing for table stakes:. Normally there is a minimum value of chips that must be bought in order to join a game. This is fixed by the host, and is typically around 10 to 20 times the minimum bet.