Types of Betting Limits
Betting limits define how much a player may open or raise. There are four regular forms of betting limits: no limit, pot limit, fixed limit and spread limit. This page describes four principal betting limits for poker games and compares them with each other. Games with no limit and pot limit are called big bet games.
All betting limits define a minimum bet and the stated maximum, while often there is a betting unit that defines the smallest denomination in which bets can be made. For example 5 dollar betting unit obliges a player to bet in multiples of 5 dollar. If the betting limits of a game with such units are 20-40 dollars, bets can be 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 dollars.
Bring-ins and blinds can be smaller than a minimum limit. In such case, players can call a bring-in or a blind as it is or raise to the amount of the minimum bet. Such raise is called completing the bet.
In no limit games, players are allowed to raise any amount of his stake at any time, according to the table and stakes rules.
Pot limit games allow players to double the pot, viz. raise the amount equal to the size of the pot at the moment. Players may also raise less than the maximum as long as their raise is equal or greater than the previous bet or raise.
In games with spread limits players may raise any amount within a specified range. For example, in one to five limit game, players may raise 1 to 5 dollars, as they wish. Some spread limit games define different ranges for different round. For example, one to five, ten limit means that players may raise 1 to 5 dollars in early rounds and 1 to 10 dollars in the last betting round.
Fixed limit games have bets specified by the rules. A player may only choose to bet or not, and can not decide on the amount of the bet. Fixed limit games usually have higher bets for later betting round. For example, 20/40 fixed bet game allows 20 dollar raises on the first two rounds and 40 dollars raises on the later ones.
Four Bet Maximum:
Fixed limit games are normally played with a four bets maximum, which means that in any given betting round there can not be more than for bets of the fixed sides, so if one bet is made, it can not be raised more than three times. Some card rooms apply five bet maximum instead of four.
Spread and Fixed Limit vs. Pot and No Limit:
In the United States, most home games are played with spread limit, while casino games normally have spread or fixed limit. Only at the largest casinos there are high-stakes pot limit and no limit games. Outside the U.S. no limit and pot limit games are more common than spread and fixed limit.
Pot limit and no limit games involve theoretic skills and psychology, while spread and fixed limit games require skills of estimating odds. Most poker experts claim that no limit and pot limit games require more skills, while there are a few professionals who call fix limit games more skilled. The final event at the World Series of Poker is played with no limit, but the highest stakes cash games have fixed limit. So, it is unclear which format is more professional.