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  Limit Poker

Limit Poker is the kind played most often in the United States, and less so in other parts of the world. In limit poker, the betting is rigidly structured: in "5-10 Texas Hold'em," for example, all bets or raises during the first two betting rounds must be in $5 increments. No bets in amounts such as $1, $7, $10, or $30 would be allowed. During the second two betting rounds (on the Turn and River), all bets and raises must be in $10 increments. A player can no longer bet only $5, and still cannot bet more than $10. The lone exception to this occurs when a player is down to his last few chips. If in this hypothetical 5-10 game, a player had only $3 left, he would be allowed to bet it, or to call with it.
As a result of the rigidly defined betting structure, it is difficult, though not quite impossible, for one pot to define an entire day's play. Pots tend to stay within a certain range in size, unless multiple players engage in a hand with multiple raises for several rounds, a situation that occurs only rarely.

  Pot Limit Poker

Pot-Limit Poker is the kind played more in Europe, and as a tournament game in America. In a pot-limit game, the blinds or antes determine the size of the betting, and at any point, the next player to act can bet any amount up to the size of the pot. For example, in a pot-limit texas hold'em game with blinds of $5 and $10, the next player to act can either call for $10 or raise by placing any amount from $20 up to $35 in the pot.

The $20 minimum for a raise stems from the fact that a raise must be at least the size of the prior bet. So the minimum raise in this situation is the $10 blind plus another $10. The $35 figure comes from the player calling the big blind's $10 bet, which puts a total of $25 in the pot, and then raising the size of the pot (10 + 25 = 35).

Assuming this player did indeed make a pot-sized raise, the next player to act could either call the $35, or raise by betting any amount from $70 up through $105. The $105 figure comes from calling the $35 bet, which puts a total of $70 in the pot, and then raising the full size of the pot (35 + 70 = 105). As you can see, a re-raise by yet another player, or by one of the earlier players, could make a pot that started with two relatively small blinds quite huge indeed. The next maximum wager would be $420 (calling the $140 in the pot, and raising the full $280 pot size), creating a pot of $560. The opportunity for continued growth on later rounds means this pot could easily wind up with several thousand dollars in it, something that could never happen in a limit game with $5 and $10 blinds.

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  No Limit Poker

No-Limit Poker is more closely related to pot-limit than it is to limit, and so it too is a popular game in Europe that is played primarily in tournaments in America. The betting structure is simple, because there is almost no structure: the blinds or antes start off the hand, and at any point, any player may raise any amount, up to and including the full stack of chips in front of him (which is called "moving all-in").

As with both limit and pot-limit, if a player bets more than another player has in front of him, he cannot force the other player out of the hand; the player with fewer chips is allowed to call whatever portion of the bet he can. For example, if in a no-limit texas hold'em game with blinds of $10 and $20, a player raises $700, another player in the game who only has $200 in front of him can say "I call for what I have," and if no other player enters the pot, the initial bettor would take back $500 of his bet, and the cards would be dealt to conclusion with no further betting, because players are not allowed to buy additional chips (or, in a real world game, take additional cash out of their wallet) in the middle of a hand in any form of poker.

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  Side Pots

If a third player wished to engage, he could call the full $700, or raise even more. If he called the $700, the "main pot" for which all three players are eligible to win, would contain $600 (because each contributed $200), and a "side pot" of $1,000. The two players remaining in the hand are allowed to bet at each other, to the extent they have chips remaining, on the future betting rounds. These bets apply only to the side pot, and if one side-pot player folds, the other takes the side pot immediately, regardless of whether or not his hand is superior to the all-in player's hand: that hand is contesting only the $600 main pot.

This explanation of side pots applies equally to limit and pot-limit games. In large, multi-way pots where several combatants have short stacks, it is not uncommon for more than one side pot to be created.

  Kill Games

Kill games provide an opportunity for the occasional larger size stake game without the need to play at the higher stake throughout a session. In a kill game, anytime a player scoops an entire pot (usually it must be larger than a given minimum size), he is given a "kill" button. If that player then scoops a second consecutive pot, the next hand dealt will be a "kill" hand.

In a full kill game, the stakes double during a kill hand (for example, a 10-20 game becomes a 20-40 game). In a game employing a half-kill (a fairly common variation), the stakes increase by 50% for the kill hand (so a 10-20 game would become a 15-30 game).

The player who has scooped the two consecutive pots is forced to place an amount equal to the size of the game's big blind on the kill button (or into the pot, in an Internet card room, as there is no physical kill button to stack chips upon). The "hot" player is thus put at a slight disadvantage during the increased-stake hand, because he has to put this money at risk before he sees his cards. Just as the big blind gets an option to raise even though no one else has raised, so too does the player with the kill button blind money get a chance to raise the pot.

If the player with the kill button scoops the pot again, the next hand is again a kill pot and that player must again post a blind bet. The stakes do not re-double. As soon as someone other than the "scooper" wins a hand, the game returns to the normal stake.

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  Split Pots

If two or more players finish a hand with exactly the same value hand, they divide the money in the pot equally. Suits (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs) do not matter in ranking hands for this purpose.

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