Each time you enter into a game of poker, whether it’s at an online or live site, blinds make up a big part of the game. Adding forced bets motivates the players to enter the pot regardless of their hand –– they have to choose between making a premium bet or playing a hand that may not be powerful. This pressure of having to pay the blinds forces players not to be idle and wait for the best hands, which runs the risk of letting their stacks dwindle.
Players must take into account how blinds change the dynamics of the game and how to account and leverage on it to maximize their winnings. In this guide, we will walk through the considerations you must make before placing a bet when playing this style of poker, which is the mainstay of online poker.
When you start evaluating whether this betting site is a good option, take note of the blinds of each site –– these make up the starting point for every bet. For example, if the blinds are $2/4, players have to base their pre-flop raise on the big blind ($4). Once this is done, players are then subjected to three betting structures that determine the game format.
Fixed limit poker games are often the go-to to get familiar with bet sizing in response to blinds. By placing restrictions on bets and raises and fixing them to the big blind value, it gives beginner players a hard limit on how much they can bet. This results in players being unable to bet or raise beyond the big blind. For example, if the stakes are at $2/$4, each call and raise will cost $4. This means that their total bet would be $8, which is made up of two $4 call and raise.
Pot limit poker games allow bets up to the amount that is in the pot. For example, if there is currently $10 in the pot, players can bet up to $10. This also applies to raising, where the maximum amount you can raise is dependent on the amount in the pot in addition to the amount you need to call. If there is currently $15 in the pot, and you have to call $5 to continue, the pot has a total of $20 in theory. Hence, the largest raise you can make is $25 ($20 pot with a $5 raise).
By far the most thrilling variation, no-limit poker games have no cap on the amount you can bet. It allows players to bet any amount of chips, provided that it is the same or more than the minimum bet or raise. This allows for players to exercise their bluffing skills to their full potential and creates a high-stakes game. You might have had a weak hand but betting a big bet can cause the opponent to fold, thus allowing you to take the pot.
There are a set of actions that can be taken when playing poker. Here is a brief breakdown of the following actions and their impact on the game:
In poker, betting is when the first player places money in the pot. The amount is dependent on the blind size, size of the pot, and the betting structure (Fixed, Pot, or No Limit).
Raising means that a player chooses to increase the cost required to keep your hand after a bet has been made. If a player bets $4, you have the opportunity to raise it to $44 in a No-Limit game. Another clever move in poker is the check-raise, where you first check, let another player bet, then raise your bet. This is commonly used to assert dominance because the check seems like it was used to trap your opponents.
Calling is where a player matches the previous largest bet in the game. Should you choose to not continue, you can elect to fold, where you forfeit your hand.
If you have matched the previous largest bet or no one pre-flops while you’re in the big blind, you can choose to check. Checking allows the player to force the subsequent player to make an action without having to put money into the pot themselves. This can also be done if no player chooses to bet post-flop.
Re-raising inflates the amount of money required to continue playing a hand after the bet that someone has made has been raised once. The amount by which you can re-raise is determined by both the amount that is in the pot and the betting structure of the game.
A sequence of rounds (known as streets) makes up a poker game. For every new street, starting bets are placed and players continue their turns until one remains or a showdown or two players face off against each other, otherwise known as a showdown. The end of each round then signals the start of the next subsequent round. Depending on the type of game, the blinds may be stepped up at certain points of the game; cash games never increase their blinds, whilst tournaments increase them from round to round.
Two cards are dealt with each player at the start of the round, which is known as pre-flop. Betting then commences and if there are two or more players in the flop, the game then proceeds to a street called the flop.
In flop, betting re-commences once more once the dealer of the game lays out three community cards. Similar to the previous round, the game will commence to the next street (turn) should there still be more than one player remaining in the pot.
During the street known as the turn, the dealer lays out the fourth community card and betting occurs. Should two or more players be left standing in the pot, the final street commences.
The fifth community card is drawn in the river, where should two or more players remain after betting, the showdown will commence.
A showdown occurs when all the remaining players show their hands to everyone at the table. The winner of the showdown is determined by who has the best hand. The rankings of hands vary depending on the type of poker variant you are playing, so it is important to familiarize yourself with the hand rankings before embarking on a game.
There are a few actions you can make in poker, and each action should be taken in response to certain situations:
Reading your opponent is vital to call their bluffs. Should you feel like they are tight, you should consider folding your hand (even strong ones) when they bet and vice versa when they appear loose and you’re deciding to call. Remember, however, that opponents will also be using how you look and your reactions against you, too.
You should also consider the pot size when considering whether to bet, as you may not be able to follow up with a raise in order to bluff if your stack is unable to match the pot size.
In online poker, you must keep track of the bets you make, as the requirement of having to meet the limits and minimums of blinds will require you to plan your stacks accordingly. By playing smart and folding when necessary (even when it’s painful), you can save a bit of money with each hand. The saved amount will definitely add up throughout the game and will allow you greater options as the game progresses.