Poker Tournament Betting Structures

Learn to play different betting structures


Poker is not just about the cards, it involves plenty of betting too. Poker bets, however, are different in case of different types of tournaments. These various methods of betting are called betting structures, which have a great influence on the strategies employed by poker players. In case of both online as well as live poker tournaments, the betting structures are usually structured, semi-structured, and unstructured.


Limit Tournaments


Also known as fixed limit (FL) tournaments, they have the most well-defined of betting structure. All raises and bets in case of limit games are previously fixed, and players cannot bet more or less than the predetermined amount.


In FL tournaments, the player can only choose whether to bet or not; determining the size of the bet is not in his/her power. The bet is usually doubled during the latter half of the tournament; while in the early stages, the bet amount is smaller. So, the bet in the early stages is known as the small bet and that in the later stages is known as the big bet. For instance, in $10 – 20 poker, players may bet $10 during the initial betting rounds and $20 during the later betting rounds. 


In case of this betting structure, the number of re-raises and raises are also limited. Most poker sites permit 3 raises and a bet for each round of betting.  The number of raises permitted depends upon the poker site in question. Some online poker halls permit any number of raises, especially when only two players are involved.


Owing to their structured nature, limit tournaments are ideal for those new to online gaming. If limits are placed on how much players can bet, there will also be limits on how much players can lose. Limit tournaments, therefore, ensure that new poker players don’t go broke.


Spread Limit Tournaments


Spread Limit Tournaments employ a reasonable blend of structured and unstructured betting methods. These tournaments are structured in the sense that players must bet only within the predetermined range or spread limit. At the same time, spread limit games are unstructured because players can bet on any amount within the betting range.


For example, in case of a game of $5 - 10 Spread Limit Texas Hold’em, players are allowed to bet anywhere between $5 and $10. The minimum amount that a player can bet is $5, and the maximum amount that can be bet is $10.


Poker rules permit a wide betting range, where the bets increase drastically in size during the last betting rounds. For example, the laws in California do not permit no limit betting. So in California, the betting ranges for spread limit games are very wide; for example, $5 - 150 or $10 - 1500.


Pot Limit Tournaments


The betting method of pot limit tournaments can be considered to be semi-structured. The player can place maximum bets equal to the value of the pot. Simultaneously, they can also choose a bet lower than the value of the pot. As for raises, they can be either equal to or double the size of the pot.


No Limit Tournaments


The entire poker world loves no limit poker tournaments. They are the toughest tournaments and the most exciting tournaments in the world of poker. The betting in case of no limit games is completely unstructured. Players can bet and raise as much as they like and at any time they like. This means that players can lose their entire stack of chips at any moment if they make a bad move. A lucrative move, on the other hand, can land a lot of chips on the lucky player’s lap.


Owing to their betting structure, no limit tournaments are immensely popular. They can keep players and spectators alike sitting at the edge of their seats. Moreover, the tournament moves at top speed. For these reasons, no limit poker tournaments are more televised than any other form of poker.


Finally, all raises must be equal to the previous bet, a rule that holds true for all forms of poker and betting systems. If players don’t have the required chips, the “all-in” comes to the rescue, enabling them to bet all they have even if it is lower than the previous bet.


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