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Poker Basics 06: How to Play Pot Limit Texas Hold'em

Pot Limit Hold'em, No Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Hold'em are much the same game. The only difference is the betting structure. For more information about betting structures go here. If you are having difficulties with the poker terminology described below, please visit our glossary.

By definition, Pot Limit means the limit you may bet is the size of the already existent pot. A raise can include the size of the pot after the call is made.

The following page will provide the rules and the structure of the game. There will be graphics and text to walk you through terminology and step by step play of a round of Pot Limit Texas Hold'em. Once you have developed a feel for the game, the subsequent rounds will feel much easier.

The Dealer

 

The Dealer's Button

 

When the table is full, there will be 9 or 10 players. Another person (or computer when online) does the physical dealing of the cards and is not one of the players.

On the table is a small round disc called the button. This button is placed in front of the person who is the theoretical "dealer" to indicate where the dealing should begin. The button will often say 'D' on it. After every hand, the button moves clockwise as if each player at the table were getting a turn to deal.

Within the PokerPages' software, the dealer's button is always placed in seat 10 at the start of a game/tournament for the first hand and the small blind will be in seat 1 and the big blind will be in seat 2. Now the game begins.

The Blinds

 

The Blinds

 

The player to the immediate left of the dealer is always the small blind and to the small blinds left is the big blind. For example, in a Pot Limit game of Texas Hold'em, the small blind would post (place in front of him or her) $5 and the big blind would post $10. The blinds are pre-determined before the game begins.

The small and big blinds are compulsory bets. These two players are in actuality betting their first bet "in the blind." The motive for forcing these players to bet in the blind is to create action. Creating action gets money into the pot. This way no one can play for free (without folding) during the first round of betting.

When the next new hand is played the small blind then moves around to the player who was the big blind in the last hand, and the big blind moves to the player to his left. This movement of the small and big blinds continues throughout the game.

Pocket or Hole Cards

 

Hole Cards

 

Pot Limit Texas Hold'em uses all 52 cards in the deck. The dealer begins the deal with the small blind. There will be 2 unique cards called Pocket or Hole cards dealt face down to each player. The hole or pocket cards are exclusive to each player. Each player will view these cards and no other player will see the other players 2 cards.

Round One Betting

After the pocket or hole cards are dealt, the first round of betting begins. When involved in a hand, there are several actions a player can take.

The player may CALL the bet by matching the amount last bet.

The player may RAISE the bet by matching the amount of the last bet and adding an amount up to the new size of the pot including his call.

The player may FOLD. When a player folds, the action taken is one of passing and the player does not wish to enter the hand by placing any money in the pot

The first person to start the betting in the first round of Pot Limit Texas Hold'em is the player to the left of the big blind. stated before, the big blind has already made one complete bet. The first round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted and placed the same amount in the pot or folded.

The betting will continue until everyone in the pot has bet the same amount. That means that whenever there is a raise all the players still in the pot must call it, raise it or fold their hand. For example, if seat 5 raises then all the players behind him that want to stay in the pot will have to call the new amount or fold or re-raise.

 

Round One Betting

 

In our example, seat 3 calls the $10 (the big blinds amount) and raises $25 (the total of the pot). The pot now has a total of the two blinds ($15) the call of $10 and the raise of $25 making the pot $50.

The next player, seat 4 could call the bet of $10 plus the $25 raise from the previous player making it a total call of $35. This would give him the option to raise from $35 (the total amount of the previous bet) or the amount of the pot, which would be $85. Player 4 chooses to fold.

Player 5 also folds.

The player in seat 6 calls the raise of $35, seat 7 folds and seat 8 calls $35 making the pot a total of $120. The players in seats 9, 10, 1 (little blind) and 2 (big blind) fold. you can see, the pot may grow very rapidly as the deal progresses. See picture above.

The Flop

 

The Flop

 

The first round of betting is now complete. The dealer will burn the top card and place it in the discard pile. When playing online, the computer will place three cards in the middle of the table. In live play, the dealer will do it. After every player at the table has acted and placed the same amount in the pot or folded.

These 3 cards are known as the flop. These are the first 3 of 5 community cards (cards accessible to all players to use with their hole cards) to be dealt face up in the middle of the table. These 3 cards may be used by all the players in the game by combining them with the two unique cards held in their own hand to form the best possible hand.

The second round of betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer (the person with button.) This player may CHECK, which is deferring the first action to the next player or choose to bet.

It is of interest to note that after the flop, the players have seen 71% of all cards to be used. See picture above.

 

The Flop Betting

 

Just as in the first round of betting, the first player to the left of the dealer may bet the minimum of $10 (amount of original big blind) all the way to the amount in the pot. The next player, seat 3, is ready to act. Seat 3 may bet the $10 (the big blind,) no less, or any amount up to the size of the pot.

The pot is now $120 and the player in seat 3 elects to bet the $120. The total amount in the pot now is $240.

Seat 6 folds. Seat 8 calls the $120 and raises $360 making the pot now a grand total of $720. The 3 seat decides to call the $360 raise. The pot is now $1080.

The second round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted and placed the same amount in the pot, checked or folded. See picture above.

The Turn

 

The Turn

 

The second round of betting is now complete. The dealer will burn the next card and place a 4th card face up on the table. This card is known as the turn or 4th street. This round of betting will begin again with the player to the left of the dealer. Just as with the flop, the turn card may be used by all the players in the game by combining them with the two unique cards held in their own hand.

In our example, seat 3 checks, and seat 8 checks.

The third round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted. They will all have either, checked, placed the same amount in the pot, or folded.

The River

 

The River

 

The third round of betting is now complete. The dealer will burn the next card and place a 5th card on the table. This card is known as the river or 5th street. This round of betting will begin again with the player to the left of the dealer. Just as with the flop and the turn, the river card may be used by all the players in the game by combining them with the two unique cards held in their own hand.

A player may use 5 of the 7 cards to make the best hand possible. It may be the 2 unique cards in his or her hand combined with 3 from the board (table where community cards are located,) 1 unique card combined with 4 from the board or the 5 cards on the board. This is called playing the board.

In our example, player 3 checks, and player 8 bets $500. Player 3 calls the $500 and raises the pot, which is now $2080. The pot is now $4160. Player 8 calls the $2080. There is now $6240 in the pot. The fourth and final round of betting is complete after every player at the table has acted and placed the same amount in the pot, checked or folded.

Completion of Hand

The first person left in the hand to reveal his or her cards will be the one that made the last bet during the 4th round of the hand. If no bet was made and all the players checked, then, in order from the left of the dealer to the last player will show his or her hand. When a player has a better hand, it must be revealed in order to win.

If the player elects to throw the cards away because of it being of less value than any other revealed hand, he or she may muck the cards. To 'muck your cards' is to place the cards where they will be discarded.

When a player is sure that he or she is beaten, he or she may or may not elect to show his or her hand (because it gives information about what hand he or she held.) The dealer will identify who has the best hand and the pot will be given to this player.

Because the hand went to a showdown, the winning player has the right to request to see the losing hand even if the losing player mucks his hand.

 

River Betting

 

In the example, seat 3 reveals his hole cards to be the King and Queen of Hearts giving him the nut flush. Seat 8 turns over the Ace and Ten of diamonds giving him a full house of Aces full of Tens. The dealer shoves the pot to seat 8 because he won. See picture above.

End of Hand and on to the Next

 

Next Hand

 

All cards are returned to the dealer. The cards are shuffled and/or scrambled in preparation for the next hand. The dealer button is moved one position clockwise, indicating the new dealers position. The blinds are also moved one position clockwise and the blind bets are posted and a new hand begins.

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