ante n : (poker) the initial contribution that each player makes to the pot v : place one's stake
EtymologyA Latin preposition and prefix; akin to Greek anti, Sanskrit anti, Gothic and-, anda- (only in comp.), AS. and-, ond-, (only in comp.: compare answer, along, G. ant-, ent- (in comp.).
PronunciationIPA: WEAE /ˈænt.i/
- Rhymes: -ænti
- auntie (if pronounced like "ant" with an 'i' on the end instead of like awwwntie.)
To make an investment in money, effort, or time before knowing one's chances
- This article describes only the common terms, rules, and procedures of betting in poker. See poker strategy for the strategic impact of betting.
ProcedurePlayers in a poker game act in turn, in clockwise rotation (acting out of turn can negatively affect other players). When it is a player's turn to act, the first verbal declaration or action he takes binds him to his choice of action; this rule prevents a player from changing his action after seeing how other players react to his initial action.
A player may fold by surrendering his cards (some games may have specific rules regarding how to fold--for example, in stud poker one must turn one's upcards face down). A player may check by tapping the table or making any similar motion. All other bets are made by placing chips in front of the player, but not directly into the pot ("splashing the pot" prevents other players from verifying the bet amount).
OpenThe act of making the first voluntary bet in a betting round is called opening the round. On the first betting round, it is also called opening the pot. Some poker variations have special rules about opening a round that may not apply to other bets. For example, a game may have a betting structure that specifies different allowable amounts for opening than for other bets, or may require a player to hold certain cards to open.
CallTo call is to match a bet or a raise. A betting round ends when all active players have bet an equal amount or no opponents call a player's bet or raise. If no opponents call a player's bet or raise, the player wins the pot.
The second and subsequent calls of a particular bet amount are sometimes called overcalls. A player calling a raise before he or she has invested money in the pot in that round is cold calling. For example, if in a betting round, Alice bets, Bob raises, and Carol calls, Carol "calls two bets cold". A player calling instead of raising with a strong hand is smooth calling, a form of slow play.
Calling when a player thinks he does not have the best hand is called a crying call.
In public card rooms and casinos where verbal declarations are binding, the word "call" is such a declaration. In public cardrooms, the practice of saying "I call, and raise $100" is considered a string raise and is not allowed. Saying "I call" commits you to the action of calling, and only calling.
Note that the verb "see" can often be used instead of "call": "Bob saw Carol's bet", although the latter can also be used with the bettor as the object: "I'll see you" means 'I will call your bet'. However, terms such as "overseeing" and "cold seeing" are not valid.
CheckIf no one has yet opened the betting round, a player may check, which is equivalent to calling the current bet of zero. When checking, a player declines making a bet; indicating that he does not choose to open, but that he wishes to keep his cards and retain the right to call or raise later in the same round if an opponent opens. In games played with blinds, players may not check on the opening round because they must either match (or raise) the big blind or fold. A player with a live big blind who chooses not to exercise his right to raise is said to check his option. If all players check, the betting round is over. A common way to signify checking is to tap the table with a fist or an open hand.
RaiseTo raise is to increase the size of the bet required to stay in the pot, forcing all subsequent players to call the new amount. If the current bet amount is nothing, this action is considered the opening bet. A player making the second (not counting the open) or subsequent raise of a betting round is said to re-raise.
Standard poker rules require that raises must be at least equal to the amount of the previous bet or raise. For example, if an opponent bets $5, a player may raise by another $5 (or more), but he may not raise by only $2. The primary purpose of the minimum raise rule is to avoid game delays caused by "nuisance" raises (small raises of large bets that have little effect on the action but take time). This rule is overridden by table stakes rules, so that a player may in fact raise a $5 bet by $2 if that $2 is his entire remaining stake.
In most casinos, fixed-limit and spread-limit games cap the total number of raises allowed in a single betting round (typically three or four, not including the opening bet of a round). For example in a casino with a three-raise rule, if one player opens the betting for $5, the next raises by $5 making it $10, a third player raises another $5, and a fourth player raises $5 again making the current bet $20, the betting is said to be capped at that point, and no further raises beyond the $20 level will be allowed on that round. It is common to suspend this rule when there are only two players betting in the round (called being heads-up), since either player can call the last raise if they wish. Pot-limit and no-limit games do not have a limit on the number of raises.
After a player raises an amount, the remaining players in the hand must match the raise or fold.
FoldTo fold is to discard one's hand and forfeit interest in the current pot. Folding may be indicated verbally or by discarding one's hand face down into the pile of other discards called the muck. In stud poker played in the United States, it is customary to signal folding by turning all of one's cards face down. In casinos in the United Kingdom, a player folds by giving his hand as is to the "house" dealer, who will spread the hand's upcards for the other players to see before mucking them.
It is a serious breach of etiquette to fold out of turn, that is, when it is not the folding player's turn to act, because this can harm other players. For example, if there are three players remaining and the first player in turn bets, the third player folding out of turn gives valuable strategic information to the second player (who is in turn at this point), to the detriment of the bettor. In some games, even folding in turn when a player is entitled to check (because there is no bet facing the player) is considered an out of turn fold since it gives away information to which other players would otherwise not be entitled. Finally, if a player folds out of turn in a stud poker game, the player in turn may demand that his upcards remain exposed until he has completed his turn. When folding, concealed cards should not be exposed unless no further betting is possible in the hand (i.e., unless the fold awards the pot to the only remaining player). A player is never required to expose his concealed cards when folding prior to the showdown.
Forced betsAll poker games require some forced bets in order to create an initial stake for the players to contest. The requirements for forced bets, and the betting limits of the game (see below) are collectively called the game's betting structure.
AnteAn ante is a forced bet in which each player places an equal amount of money or chips into the pot before the deal begins. Often this is either a single unit (a one-value or the smallest value available) or the amount of the minimum opening bet. In games where the acting dealer changes each turn, it is not uncommon for the players to agree that the dealer provides the ante for each player. This simplifies betting, but causes minor inequities if other players come and go or miss their turn to deal. During such times, the player can be given a special button indicating the need to pay an ante to the pot upon their return.
BlindsA blind or blind bet is a forced bet placed into the pot by one or more players before the deal begins, in a way that simulates bets made during play. The most common use of blinds as a betting structure calls for two blinds: the player after the dealer blinds about half of what would be a normal bet, and the next player blinds what would be a whole bet. Sometimes only one blind is used, and sometimes three. In the case of three blinds (usually one quarter, one quarter, and half a normal bet amount), the first blind goes "on the button", that is, is paid by the dealer. Similarly to a missed ante, a missed blind due to the player's temporary absence (i.e. for drinks or a restroom break) can be denoted by use of a special button. Upon the player's return, they must pay the applicable blind to the pot for the next hand they will participate in.
- For example, in a $2–4 limit game, the first player to the dealer's left (who, if not for the blinds, would be the first to act) posts a small blind of $1, and the next player in turn posts a big blind of $2. After the cards are dealt, play begins with the next player in turn (third from the dealer), who must either call $2, raise, or fold. When the betting returns to the player who blinded $1, he must equal the bet facing him (toward which he may count his $1), raise, or fold. If there have been no raises when action first gets to the big blind (that is, the bet amount facing him is just the amount of the big blind he posted), the big blind has the option to raise or check. This right to raise (called the option) occurs only once: if his raise is now called by every player, the first betting round closes as usual.
In some fixed-limit and spread-limit games, the big blind amount may be less than the normal betting minimum. Players acting after a sub-minimum blind have the right to call the blind as it is, even though it is less than the amount they would be required to bet, or they may raise the amount needed to bring the current bet up to the normal minimum, called completing the bet. For example, a game with a $5 fixed bet on the first round might have blinds of $1 and $2. Players acting after the blind may either call the $2, or raise to $5. After the bet is raised to $5, the next raise must be to $10 in accordance with the normal limits.
When a player in the blinds leaves the gameWhen one or more players in the small or big blinds permanently leaves the game, an adjustment is required in the positioning of the blinds and the button. There are three common rule sets to determine this:
- Simplified - The dealer button moves to the next active player
on the left, and the small and big blinds are paid by the first and
second players remaining to the left. This is the easiest to track,
but normally results in "missed blinds".
- In the special case of three players in a tournament being reduced to the two-player showdown, any leftover blinds are "written off" and the Simplified method is used, with the player "on the button" also paying the big blind.
- Moving button - As in Simplified, the button moves to the left to the next active player, and the blinds move to the next two active players. However, "missed" blinds are paid by the players whom the blind skipped; first big, then small. For instance, if the player on the big blind leaves, the big blind moves to the player two spaces left of the vacated seat, meaning the player to the immediate left has "missed" the big blind. To make up for this, instead of paying the small blind as the player would in Simplified, the player must pay the big blind along with the person to whom it progressed, meaning two big blinds are paid. Then, both of those players pay their small blind on the next hand, meaning one big and two small blinds are paid, with one small blind paid "on the button". Play then continues as normal. This is the most complex, but arguably the fairest method in terms of rotating the "privilege of last action" (the person who gets to see all other players' decisions before making his/her own).
- Dead button - Spots vacated by players who would pay a blind or be "on the button" during the next hand remain open for the purposes of shifting blinds and button. Thus, one or both of the blinds may not be paid in subsequent hands. When the button moves to an empty seat, the last active player before the empty seat retains the "privilege of last action", thus while simple, it can result in inequitable strategic situations.
Simplified moving button ruleThe button always moves forward to the next player and the small and big blinds post in the two seats to the left of the button. Players may miss blinds.
Dead button ruleThe big blind is posted by the player due for it, and the small blind and button are positioned accordingly. The small blind or button may be assigned to an empty seat. Players always pay a big blind followed by a small blind. There will be one and only one big blind per hand. If the small blind is assigned to a vacant seat, there is no small blind that hand. When the button is on a vacant seat, the cutoff player has last action on consecutive hands.
Example: Alice, Bob, Carol, David, and Ellen are seated in order; Carol is due the big blind.
- Case 1, Alice is eliminated: Carol posts the big blind. Bob posts the small blind. The button is on Alice's vacant seat.
- Case 2, Bob is eliminated: Carol posts the big blind. There is
no small blind. Alice has the button.
- Subsequent hand: David posts the big blind. Carol posts the small blind. The button is on Bob's vacant seat.
- Case 3, Alice and Bob are both eliminated: Carol posts the big
blind. There is no small blind. The button is on Alice's vacant
- Subsequent hand: David posts the big blind. Carol posts the small blind. The button is on Bob's vacant seat.
- Case 4, Alice, Bob and Carol are eliminated: David posts the
big blind. There is no small blind. The button skips to Bob's
- Subsequent hand: Ellen posts the big blind. David posts the small blind. The button is on Carol's vacant seat.
Moving button ruleThe button always moves forward to the next seat occupied by a player. The player two seats after the button posts a big blind, as well as any players the big blind skipped past. Players always post a small blind after the big blind. More than one small and/or big blind may be posted in a hand. Blinds may be posted after, on, or before the button. No player will have the right to act last for consecutive hands. The moving button rule can cause irregular blinds for several hands after a player is eliminated, and further complications can arise if players are eliminated on consecutive hands. The blinds eventually resolve to their normal positions.
Example: Alice, Bob, Carol, David, and Ellen are seated in order; Alice is due the button.
- Alice is eliminated: the button skips past her vacant seat to
Bob. Bob posts a small blind on top of the button. Carol and David
both post big blinds.
- Subsequent hand: Carol has the button. Carol and David both post small blinds. Ellen posts a big blind.
- Bob is eliminated: Alice has the button. Carol and David both
post big blinds.
- Subsequent hand: Carol has the button. Carol and David post small blinds. Ellen posts a big blind.
- Alice and Bob are both eliminated: Carol has the button. Carol,
David, and Ellen all post big blinds.
- Subsequent hand: David has the button. Carol, David, Ellen all post small blinds. The player after Ellen posts the big blind.
When there are only two playersThe normal rules for positioning the blinds do not apply when there are only two players at the table. The player on the button is always due the small blind, and the other player must pay the big blind. The player on the button is therefore the first to act before the flop, but last to act for all remaining betting rounds.
A special rule is also applied for placement of the button whenever the size of the table shrinks to two players. If three or more players are involved in a hand, and at the conclusion of the hand one or more players have busted out such that only two players remain for the next hand, the position of the button may need to be adjusted to begin heads-up play. The big blind always continues moving to the left, and then the button is positioned accordingly.
- For example, in a three-handed game, Alice is the button, Bob is the small blind, and Carol is the big blind. If Alice busts out, the next hand Bob will be the big blind, and the button will skip past Bob and move to Carol. On the other hand, if Carol busts out, Alice will be the big blind, Bob will get the button and will have to pay the small blind for the second hand in a row.
Bring-inA bring-in is a type of forced bet that occurs after the cards are initially dealt, but before any other action. One player, usually chosen by the value of cards dealt face up on the initial deal, is forced to open the betting by some small amount, after which players act after him in normal rotation.
The bring-in is normally assigned on the first betting round of a stud poker game to the player whose upcards indicate the poorest hand. For example, in traditional high hand stud games and high-low split games, the player showing the lowest card pays the bring-in. In low hand games, the player with the highest card showing pays the bring-in. The high card by suit order can be used to break ties if necessary.
In most fixed-limit and some spread-limit games, the bring-in amount is less than the normal betting minimum. The player forced to pay the bring-in may choose either to pay only what is required or to make a normal bet. Players acting after a sub-minimum bring-in have the right to call the bring-in as it is, even though it is less than the amount they would be required to bet, or they may raise the amount needed to bring the current bet up to the normal minimum, called completing the bet. For example, a game with a $5 fixed bet on the first round might have a bring-in of $2. Players acting after the bring-in can either call the $2, or raise to $5. After the bet is raised to $5, the next raise must be to $10 in accordance with the normal limits.
In a game where the bring-in is equal to the fixed bet (this is rare and not recommended), the game must either allow the bring-in player to optionally come in for a raise, or else the bring-in must be treated as live in the same way as a blind, so that the player is guaranteed his right to raise on the first betting round if he chooses.
PostSome cash games require a new player to post when joining a game already in progress. Posting in this context means putting an amount equal to the big blind into the pot before the deal. The post is a live bet, meaning that the amount can be applied towards a call or raise when it is the player's turn to act.
A player who is away from his seat and misses one or more blinds is also required to post to reenter the game. In this case, the amount to be posted is the sum of the big and small blinds, if both blinds were missed. The big blind amount is live, but the small blind amount is dead, meaning that it cannot be applied towards a call or raise.
Posting is not required if the player due the post happens to be in the big blind. It is therefore common for a new player to lock up a seat and then wait several hands before joining a table, or for a returning player to sit out several hands, so that he may enter in the big blind and avoid paying the post.
Straddle betsA straddle bet is an optional (voluntary) blind bet made by a player before receiving his cards. Straddles are typically used only in cash games played with fixed blind structures. Straddles are normally not permitted in tournament formats.
Live straddleThe player immediately to the left of the big blind may place a live straddle blind bet. The straddle must be the size of a normal raise over the big blind. A straddle is a live bet; the player placing the straddle effectively becomes the "bigger blind". Action begins with the player to the left of the straddle. If action returns to the straddle without a raise, the straddle has the option to raise. (This is part of what makes a straddle different from a sleeper because a sleeper does not have the option to raise if everyone folds or calls around to him.) The player to the left of a live straddle may re-straddle by placing a blind bet raising the original straddle.
Mississippi straddleA Mississippi straddle buys last action before the flop. House rules permitting Mississippi straddles are common in the southern United States. Usually, a Mississippi straddle can be made from any position, although some house rules only permit the button or the player to the right of the button to place a Mississippi straddle. Like a live straddle, a Mississippi straddle must be at least the minimum raise. Action begins with the player to the left of the straddle. If, for example (in a game with $10–25 blinds), the button puts a live $50 on it, the first player to act would be the small blind, followed by the big blind, and so on. If action gets back to the straddle with no raise, the straddle has the option of raising. The player to the right of a Mississippi straddle may re-straddle by placing a blind bet raising the original straddle.
SleepersA sleeper is a blind raise placed from any position at the table other than under the gun.
A game of no-limit poker with blinds of $1/$2. Alice is in the small blind, Bob is in the big blind, Carol is next to act, followed by David, with Ellen on the button.
- Straddle: Alice posts $1, Bob posts $2, Carol posts a straddle of $4. The hole cards are dealt. Because of the straddle, David is now first to act; he folds. Ellen calls the straddle. Alice folds. Bob, the big blind, calls the straddle by putting an additional $2 in the pot. Carol has the option of checking or raising; she makes a raise of $8. Ellen folds. Bob calls the raise, ending betting on this round.
- Mississippi straddle: Alice posts $1, Bob posts $2, Ellen, on the button, posts a Mississipi straddle of $4. Because of the straddle, Alice, the small blind, is now first to act; she folds. Bob calls the straddle by putting an additional $2 in the pot. Carol folds. David calls the straddle. Ellen has the option of checking or raising; she checks, ending betting on this round.
LimitsBetting limits apply to the amount a player may open or raise, and come in four common forms: no limit, pot limit (the two collectively called big bet poker), fixed limit, and spread limit.
All such games have a minimum bet as well as the stated maximums, and also commonly a betting unit, which is the smallest denomination in which bets can be made. For example, it is common for games with $20 and $40 betting limits to have a minimum betting unit of $5, so that all bets must be in multiples of $5, to simplify game play. It is also common for some games to have a bring-in that is less than the minimum for other bets. In this case, players may either call the bring-in, or raise to the full amount of a normal bet, called completing the bet.
Fixed limitIn a game played with a fixed-limit betting structure, a player chooses only whether to bet or not - the amount is fixed by rule. To enable the possibility of bluffing, the fixed amount generally doubles at some point in the game. This double wager amount is referred to as a big bet.
- For example, a four-round game called "20 and 40 limit" (usually written as $20/$40) may specify that each bet in the first two rounds is $20, and that each big bet used in the third and fourth rounds is $40. This amount applies to each raise, not the total amount bet in a round, so a player may bet $20, be raised $20, and then re-raise another $20, for a total bet of $60, in such a game.
Maximum number of raisesMost fixed-limit games will not allow more than a predefined number of raises in a betting round. The maximum number of raises depends on the casino house rules, and is usually posted conspicuously in the card room. Typically, an initial bet plus three raises, or a bet and four raises, are allowed.
- Consider this example in a $20/$40 game, with a posted limit of a bet and three raises. During a $20 round with three players, play could proceed as follows:
- Player A bets $20.
- Player B puts in another bet, raises another $20, making it $40 to play.
- Player C puts in a third bet, raising another $20 on that, thus making it $60 to play.
- Player A puts in the fourth bet (she is usually said to cap the betting).
- Once Player A has made her final bet, Players B and C may only call another two and one bets (respectively); they may not raise again because the betting is capped.
A common exception in this rule practiced in some card rooms is to allow unlimited raising when a pot is played heads up (when only two players are in the hand at the start of the betting round). Usually, this has occurred because all other players have folded, and only two remain. Many card rooms will permit these two players to continue re-raising each other until one player is all in.
Kill gameSometimes a fixed-limit game is played as a kill game. Such a game is played with an additional blind, called the kill blind. The kill blind can be posted from any position at the table. The amount posted is typically twice the typical blind for that game. For example, in a $20/$40 game, the large blind is typically $20. If this game were played with a full kill, the kill blind would be $40. It is also common to find a game with a half kill. For example, when the kill is active in $4/$8 game with a half kill, the game is played at a $6/$12 limit. A pot built from this betting structure is known as a kill pot.
- If the action folds all the way around to the small blind, the maximum amount the small blind can raise is also not universally agreed upon. Some games treat the big blind as a "raise" of the small blind for the purpose of calculating the maximum raise—the small blind is allowed to call the big blind, and then make a pot sized raise of twice the big blind, for a total bet of three times the big blind. Other games treat the blinds as dead money for the purpose of calculating the raise, and allow the small blind to make the same size raise as any other player, i.e. a total bet of three times the big blind plus the small blind.
Because of the disparity in methods of calculation, and the fact that the issue is certain to come up often, most major tournaments will announce the amount of the maximum opening raise to all players any time the betting limits are increased.
No limitA game played with a no-limit betting structure allows each player to raise any amount of his stake at any time (subject to the table stakes rules and any other rules about raising).
Table stakes rulesAll casinos and many home games play poker by what are called table stakes rules, which state that each player starts each deal with a certain stake, and plays that deal with that stake. A player may not remove money from the table or add money from his or her pocket during the play of a hand. In essence, table stakes rules creates a maximum and a minimum buy-in amount for cash game poker as well as rules for adding and removing the stake from play. A player also may not take a portion of their money or stake off the table, unless they opt to leave the game and remove their entire stake from play. Players are not allowed to hide or misrepresent the amount of their stake from other players and must truthfully disclose the amount when asked.
Common among inexperienced players is the act of "going south" after winning a big pot, which is to take a portion of your stake out of play, often as an attempt to hedge one's risk after a win.
Table stakes are the rule in most cash poker games because it allows players with vastly different bankrolls a reasonable amount of protection when playing with one another. They are usually set in relation to the blinds. For example, in a $1/2 No Limit cash game, the minimum stake is often set at $40 while maximum stake is often set at $200, or 20 and 100 big blinds respectively.
This also requires some special rules to handle the case when a player is faced with a bet that he cannot call with his available stake.
"All in"When a player is faced with a current bet amount that he has insufficient remaining stake to call and he wishes to call (he may of course fold without the need of special rules), he bets the remainder of his stake and declares himself all in. He may now hold onto his cards for the remainder of the deal as if he had called every bet, but he may not win any more money from any player above the amount of his bet. In no-limit games, a player may also open the betting by going all in, that is, betting his entire stack.
- For example, let's assume that the first player in a betting round opens for $20, and the next player to bet has only $5 remaining of his stake. He bets the $5, declaring himself all in, and holds onto his cards. The next player in turn still has the $20 bet facing him, and if he can cover it he must call $20 or fold. If he calls $20, thus ending the betting round, instead of collecting all bets into the central pot as usual, the following procedure is applied: since there is an all-in player with only $5 bet, his $5, and $5 from each of the other players, is collected into the central pot (now called the main pot), as if the final bet had been only $5. This main pot (which may include any antes or bets from previous rounds) is the most the all-in player is eligible to win. The remaining money from the still-active bettors, in this case $15 apiece, is collected into a side pot that only the players who contributed to it are eligible to win. If there are further betting rounds, all bets are placed into the side pot while the all-in player continues to hold his cards but does not participate in further betting. If someone from still-active bettors folds during next betting rounds, he loses the right to showdown his hand for the main pot or any side pot. Upon the showdown, the players eligible for the side pot—and only those players—reveal their hands, and the winner among them takes the side pot, regardless of what the all-in player holds (indeed, before he even shows). After the side pot is awarded, the all-in player then shows his hand, and if it is superior to all others shown, he wins the main pot (otherwise he loses as usual).
There is a strategic advantage to being all in: a player cannot be bluffed, because he is entitled to hold his cards and see the showdown without risking any more money. Opponents who continue to bet after the player is all in can still bluff each other out of the side pot, which is also to the player's advantage since bluffing between opponents may reduce his competition. But these advantages are offset by the disadvantage that the player cannot win any more money than his stake can cover.
Some players may choose to buy into games with a "short stack", a stack of chips that is relatively small for the stakes being played, with the intention of going all in after the flop and not having to make any further decisions. However, this is generally a non-optimal strategy in the long-term, since the player does not maximize his gains on his winning hands.
All-in before the deal
If a player does not have sufficient money to cover the ante and blinds due, that player is automatically all-in for the coming hand. Any money the player holds must be applied to the ante first, and if the full ante is covered, the remaining money is applied towards the blind.
If a player is all in for part of the ante, or the exact amount of the ante, an equal amount of every other player's ante is placed in the main pot, with any remaining fraction of the ante and all blinds and further bets in the side pot.
If a player is all in for part of a blind, all antes go into the main pot. Players to act must call the complete amount of the big blind to call, even if the all-in player has posted less than a full big blind. At the end of the betting round, the bets and calls will be divided into the main pot and side pot as usual.
- For example, Alice is playing at a table with 10 players in a tournament with an ante of $1 and blinds of $4/$8. Alice is due the big blind but she only has $8. She must pay the $1 ante and apply the remaining $7 towards the big blind, and she is all in. Bob, next to act, calls $8, the full big blind amount. Carol raises to $16 total. All remaining players fold, the small blind folds, and Bob folds. The amount in the main pot is $10 (the sum of all antes) plus the full $4 small blind since Alice had this amount covered, plus $7 from Alice and every other player who called at least that amount, namely Bob and Carol. The main pot is therefore $10+$4+$21=$35. The side pot of $10 ($1 in excess of Alice's all-in bet from Bob, and $9 in excess of Alice's all-in bet from Carol) is paid immediately to Carol when Bob folds.
Incomplete bet or raise
If a player goes all in with a bet or raise rather than a call, another special rule comes into play. There are two options in common use: pot-limit and no-limit games usually use what is called the full bet rule, while fixed-limit and spread-limit games may use either the full bet rule or the half bet rule. The full bet rule states that if the amount of an all-in bet is less than the minimum bet, or if the amount of an all-in raise is less than the full amount of the previous raise, it does not constitute a "real" raise, and therefore does not reopen the betting action. The half bet rule states that if an all-in bet or raise is equal to or larger than half the minimum amount, it does constitute a raise and reopens the action.
- For example, with the full bet rule in effect, a player opens the betting round for $20, and the next player has a total stake of $30. He may raise to $30, declaring himself all in, but this does not constitute a "real" raise, in the following sense: if a third player now calls the $30, and the first player's turn to act comes up, he may now call the additional $10, but he does not have the right to re-raise further. The all-in player's pseudo-raise was really just a call with some extra money, and the third player's call was just a call, so the initial opener's bet was simply called by both remaining players, closing the betting round (even though he must still equalize the money by putting in the additional $10). If the half bet rule were being used, then that raise would count as a genuine raise and the first player would be entitled to re-raise if he chose to (creating a side pot for the amount of his re-raise and the third player's call, if any).
In a game with a half bet rule, a player may complete an incomplete raise, if that player still has the right to raise (in other words, if that player has not yet acted in the betting round, or has not yet acted since the last full bet or raise). The act of completing a bet or raise reopens the betting to other remaining opponents.
- For example, four players are in a hand, playing with a limit betting structure and a half bet rule. The current betting round is $20. Alice checks, and Bob checks. Carol goes all-in for $5. David, still to act, has the following options: fold, call $5, or complete the bet to a total of $20. If David calls the $5, Alice and Bob only have the option of calling or folding; neither can raise. But if David completes, either of them could raise.
Opening all-in hands
When all players in the pot are all-in, or one player is playing alone against opponents who are all all-in, no more betting can take place. Some casinos and many major tournaments require that all players still involved open, or immediately reveal, their hole cards in this case—the dealer will not continue dealing until all hands are flipped up. Likewise, any other cards that would normally be dealt face down, such as the final card in seven-card stud, may be dealt face-up. Such action is automatic in online poker. This rule discourages a form of tournament collusion called "chip dumping", in which one player deliberately loses his chips to another to give that player a greater chance of winning.
Open stakesThe alternative to table stakes rules is called "open stakes", in which players are allowed to buy more chips during the hand and even to borrow money (often called "going light"). This may be appropriate for home or private games but is never allowed in casinos.
First, a player may go all in in exactly the same manner as in table stakes if he so chooses, rather than adding to his stake or borrowing. Because it is a strategic advantage to go all in with some hands while being able to add to your stake with others, such games should strictly enforce a minimum buy-in that is several times the maximum bet (or blinds, in the case of a no-limit or pot-limit game). A player who goes all in and wins a pot that is less than the minimum buy-in may not then add to his stake or borrow money during any future hand until he re-buys an amount sufficient to bring his stake up to a full buy-in.
A player may instead choose to buy chips with cash out-of-pocket at any time, even during the play of a hand, and his bets are limited only by the specified betting structure of the game.
Finally, a player may also borrow money by betting with an IOU, called a "marker", payable to the winner of the pot. In order to bet with a marker, all players still active in the pot must agree to accept the marker. If any player refuses to accept a marker, the bettor may bet with cash out-of-pocket or go all-in. A player may also borrow money from a player not involved in the pot, giving him a personal marker in exchange for cash or chips, which the players in the pot are then compelled to accept. A player may borrow money in order to call a bet during a hand, and later in the same hand go all-in in the face of further betting; but if a player borrows money in order to raise, he forfeits the right to go all-in later in that same hand--if he is re-raised, he must borrow money to call, or fold.
Just as in table stakes, no player may remove chips or cash from the table once they are put in play (except small amounts for refreshments, tips, and such)--this includes all markers, whether one's own or those won from other players.
Players should agree before play on the means and time limits of settling markers, and a convenient amount below which all markers must be accepted to simplify play.
ante in French: Blind
ante in Swedish: Spread limit
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