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How betting actions work at the table

May 15, 2018

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You’re at the table and the first round of hole cards have been dealt to each player. The Small Blind and Big Blind have posted their bets. What happens next?

Each player now has the option to bet (open). The first player with the option to bet is the player in the third chair to the left of the Dealer (behind the Small Blind and Big Blind). This position is called Under the Gun. The first player to bet and each player in turn has the option to:

  • Call – to match the highest previous player’s bet, the player will need to contribute, at a minimum, the amount of the big blind’s posted bet.
  • Raiseto increase the size of the bet to everyone in the hand. Typically, the minimum raise must be at least the big blind bet size.
  • Fold – to return your cards to the Dealer and do not play in the hand.
  • Check – only available when there is no previous bet. You should never fold when you have the option to check.
    Note: During the pre-flop round, only the player in the Big Blind position will have the opportunity to check (if no player has raised). The Big Blind will also have the option to raise, and if they do, the round of betting continues.

Betting continues until all bets are equalized. Bets are considered equalized when the betting round rotation returns to the player who originally made the highest bet and when every other player either called the bet or folded. A full round of betting until equalization is achieved is called an orbit.

You may not have enough chips to meet a bet for an amount that is larger than all the chips that other players have contributed to the pot. In this situation, you may bet your entire chip stack and this is called an all-in bet. You will no longer be able to participate in any subsequent betting in the hand.

If more than two players are still in a hand where one player is all-in, bets made after that point are added to a side pot. Side pots may only be won by players who have paid in the required bets that created the side pot. Even though your all-in bet wins the main pot, you are not eligible to win the side pot. The best hand of the other players who contributed to the side pot will be declared the winner of the chips in the side pot.

Now that you know how betting actions work, you’re ready to learn all about position! We’ll cover the basics on what early, middle, and late positions all mean in our upcoming article next week.