In years gone by, Limit Holdem was the most popular poker variant and in fact when online poker first took off it was Limit Holdem that dominated the traffic. The rise of the No Limit variant has seen it decline drastically in popularity over the last 10 years. However, it still holds a place in popular mixed game rotations such as HORSE and the 8- and 10-game mixed rotations at online poker sites.
How to Play Limit Hold’em
To begin the action, the two players in the seats to the dealer’s left must pay blind bets which form the initial pot that players compete for. The player in the seat immediately to the dealer’s left pays ‘small blind’ and the next player in a clockwise direction pays the ‘big blind’ which is usually double the small blind. Every player receives two cards faced down and the betting action begins with the player to the left of the big blind. He may ‘call’ the big blind by putting in enough chips to match the bet, ‘raise’ to double the big blind or ‘fold’ and give up on the hand.
The action proceeds around the table with each player calling, raising or folding. If the action reaches the small blind and no raise has been made he has the option to pay the remaining amount to make up the big blind as well as raising or folding. Similarly with no raise in front, the big blind can ‘check’, meaning the hand progresses, or raise.
In Limit Holdem, raises on the first betting round must be in increments of the amount of the big blind. For example the first raise must be to double the big blind, and then a re-raise would be to three times the big blind. Usually the action is capped on all rounds to no more than one bet and three raises.
If there is a raise on the first betting round and all players fold then the raising player wins the pot. If everyone folds, the big blind wins the pot. If all raises have been matched of if some players just call the big blind then the hand proceeds to the ‘flop’. On the flop, the dealer places three cards face up on the table which can be used by all players to make their hand. There is then a round of betting which starts on the player closest to the small blind in a clockwise direction and players have the option to check (passing the action on to the next player), bet, or raise if there has been a bet in front of them. Once again on the flop, all bets and raises must be in increments of the big blind.
If a player bets or raises and everyone folds, that player wins the pot. If the last bet on the flop has been called or if all players check, we proceed to the ‘turn’. On the turn, the dealer places a single card faced up which again can be used by all of the players remaining in the pot to make their best 5-card hand. After the turn is dealt, there is another round of betting but this time the increments of the bet will be twice the big blind. This amount is known as the ‘big bet’. Again there can be a maximum of 4 bets put in on the turn.
If there are still two or players in the pot we proceed to the last round, the ‘river’. On the river, the dealer puts a final single card face up on the table and players now must evaluate their best 5-card poker hand from the 7 cards available in total. The river features a final betting round where the betting increment is again the amount of the big bet. If the last bet on the river is called or if all players check, players must show down their hole cards and the pot is awarded to the player with the best 5-card poker hand.