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Pot Limit Betting

Posted on | April 10, 2009 |

PL is a betting structure that requires certain mathematical capabilities to master. Players need to be able to track pot sizes and they have to be able to calculate a pot-size raise instantly. In order to move on to PL strategy considerations, one first needs to understand how PL betting works.

Now then, even though PL betting isn’t quite as mathematically intimidating as it seems at first glance, it is still the most complicated betting structure, and you’d do better to whip your basics into shape, especially if you plan to play PL games live and there is no computer involved to do the calculus for you.

In PL, you cannot bet as much as you want, but you are not tied by a fixed limit either. In this respect, the structure is between FL and NL. The maximum that you are allowed to bet or raise, is the equivalent of the current pot size. That includes the money already in the pot, the bets and raises that players have already made and the call you make before you actually place your bet. Online, the software calculates the pot size for you, so all you have to do is to set the bet slider anywhere you want up to the maximum limit, which is determined and set by the software. Offline, you’ll have to do the calculus yourself if you do not plan on making a fool of yourself and blocking play with your incompetence.

The formula to calculating the pot size may seem a tad complicated, but in reality it isn’t. Let’s take a look at an actual example to set things straight:

If you are first to act on the flop and the pot contains $15, your calculus is easy. You can bet as much as you want up to a maximum of $15, because that is the pot size at the moment of your action. The minimum bet size here is that of the BB. You check and an opponent behind you bets $10. All the other players fold around to you. This is where it gets interesting. First, for the minimum bet: you must bet at least $20 if you decide not to fold. Why is that? Your bet needs to be the size of the previous bet at least, which is $10, but you also need to call the bet first, before you raise it. $10 (your call) + $10 (the minimum bet) = $20. Your maximum bet is $45. You can’t bet more than the size of the pot, which is $15 (the pot size on the flop) + $10 (your opponent’s bet) + $10 (your call) = $35. This is how much you can bet on top of your $10 call, which gives you a total of $45.

The PL betting structure is probably the least popular of the three standard betting structures. Some games (like Omaha) are well suited for this structure though and the biggest live and online events often feature PL Omaha. Take durrrr’s $1 million challenge for instance: Antonius and Dwan are playing PL Omaha in it.

PL games put players to the test from a variety of angles. FL poker is about mathematical odds and discipline. It basically requires levels 1-2 of poker thought. NL Poker is a reads and psychology based game with a heavy accent on implied odds. That game requires levels 3-4. PL, which is somewhere between the two as far as the betting structure is concerned, will require both analytical thinking and psychology skills. The possibilities offered by the PL betting structure will diminish the pure pot odds but its limitations will also diminish the implied odds.

Here are some of the most important aspects of PL Poker strategy: pot control is essential. Pot control is extremely important in NL Poker too, but because of the fact that the pot size will directly influence the size of future bets, it becomes vital in PL.

Every single bet matters in PL. A small bet can amount to a lot on account of how this betting structure works. Building up a large pot when in possession of a monster may seem more difficult than in NL because of the limitations, but a skilled PL player will achieve it by subtly opening the door for the betting with a small bet. The snowball effect than takes hold and before one knows it the pot size escalates radically.

Make sure you’re signed up to a rakeback deal when playing any sort of PL game. The presence of the poker rake will constitute a huge impediment to maximizing your winnings. Poker props earn even better rakeback percentages than square rakeback players. You may want to consider that option too.


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