Poker Lesson 06

The betting in the remaining rounds
In the previous lesson, I ran through the various actions in the first betting round in hold'em, but intentionally saved one important rule until now: the rule concerning live blinds.

This rule states that even if no other player puts in a raise during the first betting round (= no other player wishes to bet more than the amount of the big blind), the player in the big blind still has the right to raise when eventually it is his or her turn to speak during the first betting round. (Naturally, the player in the small blind may also raise on his turn.)

This rule is for the sake of fairness. All previous players in the betting round had the chance to raise, when it was their respective turn to act; naturally, the player in the big blind must not be denied this possibility!

When sitting in the big blind, you must not hesitate to use this raising action in the right situation. If you for example have a premium starting hand like K-K, you should raise from the big blind if a couple of the other players have decided to call you.

So much for the first betting round... but there are three more betting rounds to follow: one after the flop, one after the fourth card (the turn), and the last one after the fifth card (the river).

These three betting rounds are all played in the same way, once the subsequent card or cards have been dealt faceup onto the table: the first "active player" (= player who has not folded) to the left of the dealer button is the first to act, and the other active players follow in clockwise order.

The difference in comparison to the first betting round is that now you may either check or bet: meaning you either (a) choose not to put any more money into the pot, or (b) choose to put more money into the pot.

If you choose to check, this means that you decide to see what the others will do first: for now you choose to "bet zero chips", but reserve the right to call, raise or fold if someone else decides to put more money into the pot. In live play, you show this by either saying "Check" when it is your turn, or by knocking lightly on the table with your hand or fingers. When playing online, you of course instead click on "Check".

Keep in mind that you can ONLY check as long as no other player has bet in the same round! Sometimes in a betting round the remaining active players will all choose to check, meaning no more money goes into the pot in that round, meaning that those players get to look at the next card "for free".

If you instead choose to bet, this means that you put in one or more chips, as a sign that you consider yourself to have a good hand and wish to lay claim to the pot. Online, you do this by typing in the desired amount, and then clicking on "Bet". (If you play fixed-limit – more about this in future lessons – you cannot like in pot-limit or no-limit choose the amount you wish to bet; instead you bet a pre-set amount automatically, when you click on "Bet".)

As soon as you or another player chooses to bet, the following players no longer have the option to check in that same betting round. Instead they are immediately and once again facing the classic decision in poker: fold, call or raise?

Keep in mind that once a betting round is over, all the chips/money that were bet in that round must go into the pot in the middle of the table. (This is done automatically when playing online.) Each subsequent betting round "starts from zero". Thus, if you are the first to bet in any of the three latter betting rounds (not the first round), you do not "raise" since there is no bet to raise; instead you are putting in the opening bet for that betting round, which another player may or may not raise.

And finally, when sitting in a live-action game (against "physical" opponents), keep in mind that all the chips you bet, you should place before you and halfway towards the middle of the table; this makes it easy to see who is active in the pot, and with how much. Tossing your chips directly into the pot (splashing) is considered a very rude beginner's mistake!