Betting Variations | What are the Differences Between Fixed Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit Poker?


The game of Poker comes in many variations, from Texas Hold’em to Seven Card Stud, and many international variations. But the games themselves can have different types of betting involved in the play. Poker games can be fixed limit, pot limit, or no limit. Below are explanations of these forms of betting.


Fixed Limit

In a game played with a fixed-limit betting structure, a player chooses only whether to bet or not—the amount is fixed by rule in most situations.


For example, the blinds are $1 and $2, and the player’s position is “under the gun” (UTG). In fixed limit poker, they have three options:


  • Call the big blind ($2), this is also called a small bet.
  • They may raise. However, since it is a fixed limit game, it can only be raised by $2 (for a $4 bet).
  • They may fold and wait for the next hand.


Therefore, players may raise in increments of $2 or the big blind. This changes on the turn and on the river, players can then bet twice the big blind, or bet in $4 increments. These are called big bets. Players may bet or call $4 and raise in $4 increments.


Fixed limit games typically limit the amount of legal raises. Generally, players tap out at three raises, which after they are required to only call or fold.


It’s also worth briefly mentioning a variation on fixed limit called spread limit poker. It’s very similar to fixed limit except the amount of the allowable bet is fixed to a range rather than a particular amount.


For example, in a $1-$3 spread limit poker game, you have the option to bet or raise anywhere from $1 to $3. The normal restriction is that each bet or raise must be at least the size of the previous bet or raise. For example, if the action is on you and an opponent raised $2 you could not re-raise $1. Your options for re-raising would be either $2 or $3.


Pot Limit

In pot limit, the highest allowed bet is always the same as all the chips in the pot. It means that the maximum bet will increase as the pot grows.


Let’s review an example with the same stakes we mentioned in fixed limit, $1 and $2.


The player to the left of the big blind has the same options as in Fixed limit; they may call, raise, or fold. However, the amount a player can raise has changed. A call would be placing a $2, equal to the big blind. If a player wishes to raise, they may raise up to $7. This is determined as follows: the small blind is $1, the big blind is $2, and to call is also $2, for a total of $5. So, a $7 is the $2 call plus the $5 raise.


Let’s examine another situation. There is $31 in the pot. The player to the left of the big blind can bet anywhere from $2 to $31. However, if they wish to raise, the minimum amount to raise is equal to the previous bet and the maximum is $93. So the pot is $62 and the call is $31, so the total bet is $124.


This can basically be thought of in the following way: if you wish to raise consider the amount needed to call and add that to the size of the pot, then raise the size of the pot, those added together give the total of the bet.


No Limit

In no limit, you’re allowed to bet or raise in any size orders. If a player wants to bet all his chips before the flop, it's allowed. And you are always allowed to call a bet even if the size of the previous bet is bigger than the total amount of your chips.


If a limit game could be characterized by the influence of mathematics, a no limit game holds more psychological aspects. Pot odds are still critical knowledge, but the frequency of bluffing and often extravagant bluffing adds extra dimensions.


No limit is in a way more free than limit because you can choose exactly how much you want to bet all the time. This condition results in a faster game since the hand is already decided before the flop or just after the flop more often. Starting hands that need few cards to develop into strong hands will consequently become more valuable. These are pocket pairs and hands that contain high cards.

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