Poker Betting Structures

Poker Betting Structures

In poker you can play for low stakes or high stakes and for almost any amount in between. The betting structure will play a very major role in determining how much you can win or lose in any session of poker playing.

The betting structure also influences players' bluffing strategy. In some structures bluffing is rare. In others, bluffing can be said to be the all of betting.

Betting structures are based on the limit of betting options. These limits refer to amounts that can be bet, the range within which players can bet, and the number of raises allowed in each betting round. Click for details on history, hand rankings/nicknames and poker terminology/glossary.

Spread Limit

This is the betting structure most common in home poker games. Players can bet within a range. For example, in a 25¢/50¢ game, the smallest bet allowed is 25¢ and the largest is 50¢ but players may bet any amount within that range. Sometimes the high bet limit is raised in later betting rounds but the idea stays the same that you can bet within the range from low to high bet.

Often there will be a three-raise limit in each betting round. Sometimes sandbagging or check-raising will be expressly not allowed. These rules lead to a quiet, friendly, low-stakes game with little bluffing.

Fixed Limit

This is common among newer players in casinos. The stakes can be high but are normally low in fixed limit games. There is a minimum bet and a maximum bet. You have to bet one or the other. When you raise, you can raise either the minimum or the maximum but not in between them. As in spread limit games, there is usually a maximum number of raises allowed per round.

For beginners, fixed limits may be a small step above low-stakes spread –limit games. The stakes are still low but bluffing becomes more of an option. This is especially so when the high bet is relatively high when compared with the low bet.

Some fixed limit games are for high stakes but high rollers prefer playing pot limit or no-limit poker.

Pot Limit

The high bet in pot limit is simply the size of the pot. In the first round of betting the high bet will be relatively low but as the game progresses the high bet becomes much higher. All the while the low bet stays the same. This leads to aggressive bluffing primarily as the pot grows.

Pot limit is a relatively small step below no-limit poker. If you are playing a pot- limit game with relatively high rollers you had better have a substantial bankroll. For this reason alone, most poker players never advance to pot-limit poker.

No Limit

This is the rarified air of the true poker pros. Here is where a player can go all-in, betting a large bankroll in a single hand even with a relatively small pot, hoping to either bluff an opponent or to induce an opponent to bet beyond the value of his own hand.


Friendly games in your basement rec room should always be spread limit. The stakes should be low to moderate. In these cases you are playing with friends and family. Going for the kill should be the furthest thing from your mind.

Limit poker is for beginners at casino poker. There is more room for bluffing. The stakes are low enough that you can get some much-needed experience even if your losses exceed your wins.

Pot limit and no-limit are for highly-experienced players or outright pros. The money that can be won is considerably higher but the money that can be lost is also much higher. Especially in no-limit poker, you must be completely ready for the cutthroat nature of the game, if you want to survive.

Posted by CCJ Team