Antes, Blinds, Chips and Limits Explained

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When playing Poker for cash, whether in a tournament, a so-called Ring Game, or at home with friends, a number of important conventions are followed pertaining to the “pot,” which is all of the money wagered on a single hand. These have evolved over more than a century of Poker play to help make the game more lively, while reducing the incidence of disagreements at the table. Here, then, are the basic ABC’s of playing for Poker pots:

Ante – Pronounced “AN-tee,” this is a specified amount that must be placed in the pot by each player before a hand of Poker is dealt, much like an entry fee. How much is “anted up” is determined by the dealer in a “dealer’s choice” game or by the posted House Rules when participating in an organised Poker room, casino, tournament, or Poker web site. Typically, the amount of the ante is equal to the minimum bet allowed, such as “penny ante” Poker. Those who make the ante are said to be “in” and receive cards, while those who do not are said to “sit out” the hand. In hands of Poker where no winner is declared, such as Jacks or Better with no players able to open the betting, a second ante may be called for before cards are redealt to all remaining active players.

Blind – This is an opening bet required of one or more players in games such as Texas Hold’em or Omaha. Before receiving any cards, a specified amount must be placed in the pot by the player “sitting on the blind” position, usually to the immediate left of the dealer. Sometimes, double blinds are required and two players must put in wagers before the deal. Quite often, the first blind is less than the second, usually by half, and called the “Small Blind.” The larger of the two is known as the “Big Blind.” Unlike games with antes, no player needs to put money in the pot except the player(s) on the blind.

Bring In – This is a special type of opening wager which has characteristics of both the ante and the blind. It is commonly applied in “stud” Poker games where some of a player’s cards are dealt face up. After cards are received by every participant, the player showing the lowest card up must put the specified “bring in” amount into the pot. It is a convention employed to get the wagering started.

Chips – These are tokens used to represent money. They may be made of wood, metal, clay, or a synthetic material such as plastic. Different colours are used to indicate the denominations, typically white for one unit, red for five units, green for 25 units, and black for 100 units. Other colours, such as blue, brown or yellow, may be used for higher values. The amount of cash exchanged initially for the chips is called the “buy in.” Redeeming the chips for currency at the end of a game is called “cashing in.”

Marker – When speaking of cash games, this refers to a note of credit, I.O.U, or loan, written on paper. It is signed by the player and held by an issuing authority in exchange for an equivalent amount of chips. When the chips are redeemed in sufficient number to “clear” or “cover” the marker, the paper is returned to the player.

Limit Poker – This refers to any Poker game in which there are restrictions on betting and raising. It usually applies not only to how much may be wagered but how many times bets can be raised in a round.

Pot Limit Poker – This is a form of Limit Poker in which the maximum amount that may be bet or raised at any time is limited to amount equal to whatever is in the pot at the time. When a hand begins, the Pot Limit is the sum of all the antes or bets contributed prior to the deal. As soon as betting begins, it increases by whatever amount has been added to the pot during intervening actions.

No Limit Poker – As the name suggests, players may wager any amount at any time. The only restriction on the size of the bet or raise is that it may not exceed all of the chips a player possesses at the time of the bet. In others words, additional chips may not be purchased, nor may markers be used, unless so stated by the House Rules.

Table Stakes – This refers to the practice of limiting betting to the amount of chips the player has showing on the table at the time of making a wager. It applies not only to No Limit games but anytime a player wishes to bet, call, or raise but has insufficient funds showing. In such cases, a player may go “all in,” staking all of the chips at his/her disposal and then ride along for the rest of the hand. Any amounts contributed to the pot by other players in excess of the all-in total are treated as a “side pot” to be won or reclaimed by players who were able to cover the all-in wager.

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