Differences Between No Limit, Pot Limit and Fixed Limit Poker

John Mehaffey - February 22, 2012

There are three different types of betting structures used in online poker. The three structures are no limit, pot limit, and fixed limit. The most popular structure by far is no limit, especially No Limit Texas Hold’em. Fixed limit games are still popular. Pot limit is the least popular structure for Texas Hold’em although it is the most popular structure for Omaha.

No Limit

No Limit poker means that a player can bet any amount of chips that are in front of them at any time the action is on them. To start a hand, two players post a blind. There is a small blind and a big blind. If the game is $1/2 no limit then the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2. The player to the left of the big blind starts the action. They can either fold, call the $2 big blind, or raise any amount. Once that player acts, the same option is given to each player around the table. The amount to call can go up if a player in front of them raises. If there are no raises, the small blind will need to call $1 to see the flop. If there is a raise, the small blind will be able to pay $1 less than the total bet because their small blind is considered to be a part of their contribution to the pot. They also have the option of raising. If there are no raises, the big blind can either check and see the flop for free, or raise any amount. If there is a raise in front of them they will already have $2 towards calling the raise.

After the flop, the small blind is the first to act. If the small blind folded before the flop, the first action starts with the player closest to the left of the small blind. If a player bets, the minimum a player can bet is the amount of the big blind which in this case is $2. A player can bet all of the chips in front of them at any time. Once a player bets, any player that would like to raise after them must raise at least the amount of the original bet. For example, if a player bets $6, the minimum raise would then be $6. This means a raiser would have to make it at least a total of $12.

If a player does not have enough chips in front of them to call a bet they can go all in. A player can never be bet out of a hand because they do not have enough chips in front of them. If a player calls all in for less than the original bet a side pot is created. If there is at least one caller, or if all players check, the turn is dealt and there is the same action. The action is also the same on the river. If all but one player is all in the action ends and the dealer deals the remaining board cards. Players are not required to show their cards when the action is over due to all but one player being all in in a cash game, in tournaments players must show their cards.

Pot Limit

Pot limit is similar to no limit in terms of blinds. Raises though are different. Instead of a player being able to bet all of the chips in front of them, a player can only bet the amount of the pot. If a player is required to call a bet but would like to raise, the player can include the amount that they have to call in the amount of the raise. For example, if the game is $1/2 and the action is preflop, the player that is first to act before the flop can raise up to $7. This is because the pot was $3 when the action got to them. They then called the $2, plus raised $5, the amount of the total pot when they called the bet. Figuring out the math is pot limit can be complicated. That is why playing pot limit online is preferable to playing it live. That is because the online poker software will already figure out what the max bet is for a player. A player will not be able to bet more than the total pot because the software will not allow it. Pot limit is a popular variation for Omaha and Omaha High/Low.

Fixed Limit

Fixed limit is popular in most games. All stud games are dealt fixed limit as are many Texas Hold’em and Omaha High/Low games. Fixed limit is simple, just like in no limit and pot limit there is a small blind and a big blind. In a $1/2 game the blinds would be $.50 and $1. The action starts to the left of the big blind. That player must call $1, raise $1, or fold. A player can only bet or raise the amount of the big blind before and after the flop. On the turn and river the bet sizes double. That means is a $1/2 game with $.50 and $1 blinds, the turn and river would require a player to bet $2 or check. If $2 was bet in front of them, a player would have to call $2, raise $2 making it $4, or fold.

What is Best for Free Bankroll Players?

Fixed limit games are best for free bankroll players. That is because in no limit and pot limit, one mistake can wipe out your entire bankroll. That is especially true for players that are just starting out with their free bankroll. When starting out at online poker, play fixed limit games, at least until you feel comfortable and have built up a cushion where a mistake or two will not wipe out all of your free poker money.