Explanation of Pot Limit

Both cash games and tournaments use three primary betting structures.

No Limit – Players can bet any amount at any given time even if it means betting larger than the current pot size. There is no cap on how many bets and raises can be made on a given street.

Pot limit – Players can bet up to pot size at any given time, but not larger. There is no cap on how many bets and raises can be made on a given street.

Fixed Limit – Players are forced to bet in fixed intervals using either a small bet sizing or a large bet sizing depending on the street. There is a maximum amount of raises legally allowed on each street, typically one bet and three subsequent raises.

Example of Pot Limit used in a sentence -> Although Omaha is most often played with a pot limit betting structure, it does sometimes appear with both a no limit and fixed limit betting structure.

How to Use Pot Limit as Part of Your Poker Strategy

Since we don’t have the ability to overbet in pot limit games, ensuring we start building the pot with good hands on the earlier streets is important. If we fail to do this, our opponent will be able to effectively limit the size of the pot by just calling against our bets.

While it’s possible to ask the dealer to calculate a pot-sized raise for us, it’s useful to be able to do this ourselves. Although calculating a pot-sized raise is straightforward, the process needs to be learned since it might not be immediately intuitive.

Example – Calculating a Pot Sized Raise

On the flop there is $100 in the middle. Our opponent bets $50. What is the maximum legal raise size in a pot limit variant of poker?

On first glance it may appear as if there is $150 in the middle, making the maximum allowable raise size an extra $150 to a total of $200. This is not how calculating a pot-size raise works however. We can test whether our maths is correct by looking at the price our opponent would get on a call if we were to raise the flop to $200 (he should get exactly 2:1 or 33% on the call if our raise is truly pot-size). 

Pot: $100
Villain bets $50
Hero raises to $200

Villain needs to call $150 into a total pot of $500 (after the call). $150/$500 = 0.3 or 30% pot odds. Close, but not quite.

The trick is to imagine that we first make the call and then look at the size of the total pot. If we just call villain’s bet there would be $200 in the middle – this is the amount we can raise. If we raise by an additional $200 against villain’s $50 then our total bet-size would be $250. Let’s run the maths on this as a quick check:

Pot: $100
Villain bets $50
Hero raises to $250

Villain would need to call $200 into a total pot of $600 (after the call). $200/$600 = 0.333 or 33.33 pot odds. This equates exactly to the 2:1 odds we would expect when facing a pot-sized raise.

See Also 

Structure, No Limit, Fixed Limit, Omaha, Pot Odds

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