Poker Basics: Betting Rounds
In all of poker there are only five possible betting actions: Check, Bet, Call, Raise, and Fold. (A sixth action, Take the cash and run with the pot, is available in some home games, but never on GamesGrid.)
Check: No one has bet in this round yet. On turn, a player declines to start the betting, but is still in the hand.
Bet: No one has bet in this round, and on turn a player decides to put his money into the pot. Players after the bettor must call the bet, raise, or fold to the bet.
Call: Someone has previously bet, and a player in turn matches that amount.
Raise: Someone has previously bet, but a player in turn decides to bet more. Players after the raiser must call the raise, re-raise, or fold.
Fold: Someone has bet, and a player in turn declines to match that amount. That player's hand is dead and can no longer win the pot. Sadness ensues.
The Guiding Principle of the Betting Round: At the end of each round of betting, all players remaining in the hand must have contributed the same amount to the pot.
Let's look at an example from the final round of betting in a hand. There is $100 already in the pot (from the previous betting rounds), and four players remain: Pride, Envy, Greed, and Sloth.
Pride is first to act. Since no one has bet before him in this round, his options are to check or bet. He checks.
The action passes to Envy, who may also check or bet. She bets $10.
The action passes to Greed, who has the option of calling the $10 bet, raising to a higher amount, or folding. Greed calls the $10 bet.
The action passes to Sloth, who raises to $20. (He calls the $10 bet, and raises $10 more.)
Now the action comes back to Pride. Why? Because of The Guiding Principle: At the end of each round of betting, all players remaining in the hand have contributed the same amount to the pot. At this point, Pride has contributed $0, Envy has contributed $10, Greed has contributed $10, and Sloth has contributed $20. The round is not yet complete.
Pride has the option of calling the $20, raising, or folding. Pride sighs, then folds. He can no longer win the pot.
The action passes to Envy. Envy has put in $10, and was raised $10 more by Sloth. She could simply call the $10 raise, but instead elects to re-raise, making her total contribution $30.
Greed has put in $10, but was then raised and re-raised. He could call for $20 more, re-raise once again, or fold. He folds. The remaining players are Envy and Sloth, and the action passes to Sloth.
Sloth has put in $20 and was re-raised by Envy. Sloth must choose between folding, calling the $10 raise, or re-raising once again.
- If Sloth folds, Envy is the sole remaining player and wins the pot.
- If Sloth calls, the two remaining players have each put in $30 and the round of betting is complete. Because this is the final round of betting, the player with the best hand wins the pot.
- If Sloth re-raises, the action passes back to Envy.
In fact, Sloth calls. Envy was bluffing with a poor hand, and Sloth wins the pot.
One action sequence deserving special mention is the check-raise. A player checks (possibly indicating weakness) and a following player bets. When the action returns to the opening player, he raises. Is he weak? Is he strong? Is he bluffing? Is he confused? Check-raising is allowed at all GamesGrid Poker tables.