Betting in Limit Hold Em
A hand of Texas Hold'em has four rounds of betting. In a limit game, the first two betting rounds are set at a limit (such as $2), and the last two betting rounds are at twice the limit of the early rounds. All bets and raises must be in increments of the limit. Hold'em games are referred to by their limits. In a $2-4 limit game, the betting increments in the first two rounds are $2, and in the last two rounds, $4. The flowchart on page 13 shows the four betting rounds and the possible decisions in each round.
Seeding the Pot: Before any cards are dealt, two designated players must place blind bets to seed the pot. The player selected as the small blind must bet half the smaller limit. Then the player to the immediate left of the small blind, designated as the big blind, must bet the full amount of the smaller limit. In a typical $2-4 game, the small blind bet is $1 and the big blind bet is $2. After each hand, the blind positions shift to the left by one seat.
Round 1 —After the Deal: The first round of betting occurs after all players are dealt their pocket cards. Betting begins with the player to the immediate left of the big blind, who must call, meaning match the big blind bet in order to stay in the game. Betting proceeds to the left. To stay in the game, each player must call the current bet. All players, including the blinds, have the option of raising when it is their turn. Raises, which are a match and increase of the previous bet, are in increments of the big blind bet (if $2 is the blind bet, then all raises are in increments of $2). Usually, raises are capped at three: if three raises have been made, no further raising is allowed. When play reaches the small blind, that player must make up the difference between the small and big blind bets, plus any raises, to stay in the game. The big blind player has the option to raise (if the cap has not been reached) after all the other players have acted.
Round 2— After the Flop: After betting on the pocket cards is complete, the dealer exposes the first three community cards (the flop) on the table. In a $2-4 game, bets and raises after the flop are again in $2 increments. Betting starts with the small blind and continues to the left. The small blind may either bet or check (pass on making a bet). Because each player has the option of checking, it is possible for everyone to check after the flop, which will result in no additional money going into the pot. If a player checks and someone bets later on, the player who checked gets a turn to call the bet or even raise. Raising after checking is a play referred to as a check-raise. Once a bet is made, all players must at least call the bet to stay in the game, and raising is an option. To stay in the game, a player must call all bets and raises, which results in all remaining players contributing equally to the pot.
Round 3—After the Turn: After betting on the flop, a fourth card (the turn) is exposed on the board. Play again starts with the small blind, who either checks or bets. As play proceeds to the left, the increments for bets and raises are doubled. In a $2-4 game, bets are $4 after the turn card and raises are in increments of $4.
Round 4—At the River: After the third round of betting, the fifth card (the river card) is exposed. There is a final round of betting at the same level as the turn card.
If more than one player remains after the fourth round of betting, there is a showdown. The player with the highest-ranked hand wins the pot.