In every game of poker, there is a pot to win. The pot is the combined contribution by all the players. The starting size of the pot is determined by the amount of the ante and/or blind bets. Thereafter, the pot grows after every round of betting.
Ante & Blinds
Since the objective of poker is to win the pot, there must be something to play for in the first place. By using ante or blind bets, the pot is guaranteed to offer something for the winner.
Antes are compulsory bets made by all players before the hand is dealt. Each player bets an equal amount of money to start the game and the amount is agreed by all players.
Blinds are bets made before the cards are dealt. They are called blind bets because the bets are placed before the player has seen his or her hole cards. Certain players will be designated to post the blinds.
In the game of Texas Hold'em, they are known as the small blind and the big blind. The small blind sits to the immediate left of the dealer button while the big blind is the player sitting to the immediate left of the small blind.
The Betting Round
A game of poker consists of a number of betting rounds that take place after new cards are revealed to the players. Every betting round is a chance for the players to either increase their bets if they think they have a winning hand or to forfeit the pot if they feel that their hands are poor.
When it is your turn to bet during the betting round, you will be presented with one or more of the following actions to take.
Open: If you are the first player to start the betting round or if the previous player has announced "check", you will receive this option. If you do not wish to make the opening bet, you can opt to check or fold. Usually at this point in time, you should check instead of fold since since its free to check.
Check: You can check if you are the first player to start the betting round or if the previous player has also checked. If all players checked, then the next phase of the game commences.
Call: You call if you just want to match the bet made by the previous player and stay in the pot.
Raise: You can increase the bet by raising. In limited games, there is a limit to the amount you may raise as well as the number of times you can raise the bet. Once any player raise, all players must match the raise to stay in the game and so the betting round continues until the last player has called the raise.
Fold: If you do not wish to bet, you may opt to fold. Your cards will be returned to dealer and placed in the muck pile and you can no longer win the pot.