There are four common betting structures in the game of poker. The betting structure of the game determines the betting rules for that game. The betting structure of the game that you choose to play will affect the strategy that you should be using to play the game so it is important to be familiar with them.
Spread limit games are popular in home games. As the name suggests, the limit is spread out over a range of amounts. Players can bet any amount within that range. For example, if the spread limit is $1 to $5, a player can bet from a minimum of $1 to a maximum of $5 or anything in between. In addition, players have to raise the same amount or more than the person who raised before them. For example, if the person before you raised by $3, you have to raise by at least $3, regardless of what you were originally planning to raise by.
You will sometimes encounter spread limit games that have three or four betting amounts. For example, if you are playing a $1-$5-$10 spread limit game, in the pre-flop, flop and turn rounds you can bet between $1 and $5 and in the river round, you can bet between $1 and $10. If you are playing a $1-$5-$10-$10, then in the pre-flop and flop rounds you can bet between $1 and $5 and in the turn and river rounds you can bet between $1 and $10.
Fixed limit games are commonly played in casinos. They are also sometimes referred to as structured limit games. Quite simply, these games have fixed limits. This means that the amount that each player can bet or raise is fixed throughout the game. If you are playing a $5/$10 fixed limit poker game, in the first two rounds (the pre-flop and the flop rounds) every player can only bet or raise $5 and in the last two rounds (the turn and the river rounds), every player can only bet or raise $10. There are four bets that each player can make per round.
It is less common, but possible to have three betting amounts in structured games. The difference lies in the river round. In this round, players will have a choice of betting amounts to play. For example if the game is a $5/$10/$20 game, in the pre-flop and flop rounds, the player will have to bet or raise by $5. In the turn round, the player will have to raise by $10, but in the river round, the player can choose to raise by either $10 or $20.
In pot limit games, the limit that is placed on bets and raises is the amount that is currently in the pot. In other words, the largest amount that any player can bet or raise is the amount that is in the pot at the time of their bet. The minimum amount that a player can bet is the amount of the big blind. In other words, if you are playing a $1/$2 pot limit game, $2 is the amount of the big blind and so is the minimum amount that a player can bet at any time. This type of poker can become quite expensive if players keep doubling the pot. Sometimes, in pot limit games, the first person who bets will be allowed to bet three to four times the size of the pot. In some games this is only allowed pre-flop.
A popular variation of pot limit games in Europe is the half-pot limit game. In this variation, players can bet any amount between the big blind and half the size of the pot at the time of your bet.
No limit poker games are typically the games that you will have seen played in televised poker tournaments. In these games, as the name suggests, there is no limit to the bets and raises that you make. At any point in the game you are able to bet up to the maximum number of chips that you are holding at that point. The minimum amount that you can bet at any time is the amount of the big blind. If you are playing a $1/$2 no limit poker game, the minimum amount that you can bet is $2 up to any amount that you choose.