All poker games require some forced bets in order to create an initial stake for the players to contest. The requirements for forced bets, and the betting limits of the game (see below) are collectively called the game’s betting structure.

Ante

An ante is a forced bet in which each player places an equal amount of money or chips into the pot before the deal begins. In games where the acting dealer changes each turn, it is not uncommon for the players to agree that the dealer provides the ante for each player. This simplifies betting, but causes minor inequities if other players come and go or miss their turn to deal.

Blinds

A blind or blind bet is a forced bet placed into the pot by one or more players before the deal begins, in a way that simulates bets made during play. The most common use of blinds as a betting structure calls for two blinds: the player after the dealer blinds about half of what would be a normal bet, and the next player blinds what would be a whole bet. Sometimes only one blind is used, and sometimes three. In the case of three blinds (usually one quarter, one quarter, and half a normal bet amount), the first blind goes “on the button”, that is, is paid by the dealer.

For example, in a $2-$4 limit game, the first player to the dealer’s left (who, if not for the blinds, would be the first to act) makes a blind bet of $1, and the next player in turn posts a big blind of $2. After the cards are dealt, play begins with the next player in turn (third from the dealer), who must either call $2, raise, or fold. When the betting returns to the player who blinded $1, he must equal the bet facing him (toward which he may count his $1), raise, or fold. If there have been no raises when action first gets to the big blind (that is, the bet amount facing him is just the amount of the big blind he posted), the big blind has the option to raise or check. This right to raise (called the option) occurs only once: if his raise is now called by every player, the first betting round closes as usual.

In some fixed-limit and spread-limit games, the big blind amount may be less than the normal betting minimum. Players acting after a sub-minimum blind have the right to call the blind as it is, even though it is less than the amount they would be required to bet, or they may raise the amount needed to bring the current bet up to the normal minimum, called completing the bet. For example, a game with a $5 fixed bet on the first round might have blinds of $1 and $2. Players acting after the blind may either call the $2, or raise to $5. After the bet is raised to $5, the next raise must be to $10 in accordance with the normal limits.

When a player in the blinds leaves the game

When one or more players in the small or big blinds leaves the game, an adjustment is required in the positioning of the blinds and the button. In online cash games, the simplified moving button rule is common. In live cash games, the dead button rule is common. In tournaments, the dead button and moving button rules are common. Other variations on these rules exist. [1][2][3]

Simplified moving button rule

The button always moves forward to the next player and the small and big blinds post in the two seats to the left of the button. Players may miss blinds.

Dead button rule

The big blind is posted by the player due for it, and the small blind and button are positioned accordingly. The small blind or button may be assigned to an empty seat. Players always pay a big blind followed by a small blind. There will be one and only one big blind per hand. If the small blind is assigned to a vacant seat, there is no small blind that hand. When the button is on a vacant seat, the best crypto casinos 2022 player has last action on consecutive hands.

Example: Alice, Bob, Carol, David, and Ellen are seated in order; Carol is due the big blind.

Case 1, Alice is eliminated: Carol posts the big blind. Bob posts the small blind. The button is on Alice’s vacant seat.

Case 2, Bob is eliminated: Carol posts the big blind. There is no small blind. Alice has the button.

Subsequent hand: David posts the big blind. Carol posts the small blind. The button is on Bob’s vacant seat.

Case 3, Alice and Bob are both eliminated: Carol posts the big blind. There is no small blind. The button is on Alice’s vacant seat.

Subsequent hand: David posts the big blind. Carol posts the small blind. The button is on Bob’s vacant seat.

Case 4, Alice, Bob and Carol are eliminated: David posts the big blind. There is no small blind. The button skips to Bob’s vacant seat.

Subsequent hand: Ellen posts the big blind. David posts the small blind. The button is on Carol’s vacant seat.

Moving button rule

The button always moves forward to the next seat occupied by a player. The player two seats after the button posts a big blind, as well as any players the big blind skipped past. Players always post a small blind after the big blind. More than one small and/or big blind may be posted in a hand. Blinds may be posted after, on, or before the button. No player will have the right to act last for consecutive hands. The moving button rule can cause irregular blinds for several hands after a player is eliminated, and further complications can arise if players are eliminated on consecutive hands. The blinds eventually resolve to their normal positions.

Example: Alice, Bob, Carol, David, and Ellen are seated in order; Alice is due the button.

Alice is eliminated: the button skips past her vacant seat to Bob. Bob posts a small blind on top of the button. Carol and David both post big blinds.

Subsequent hand: Carol has the button. Carol and David both post small blinds. Ellen posts a big blind.

Bob is eliminated: Alice has the button. Carol and David both post big blinds.

Subsequent hand: Carol has the button. Carol and David post small blinds. Ellen posts a big blind.

Alice and Bob are both eliminated: Carol has the button. Carol, David, and Ellen all post big blinds.

Subsequent hand: David has the button. Carol, David, Ellen all post small blinds. The player after Ellen posts the big blind.

When there are only two players

The normal rules for positioning the blinds do not apply when there are only two players at the table. The player on the button is always due the small blind, and the other player must pay the big blind. The player on the button is therefore the first to act before the flop, but last to act for all remaining betting rounds.

A special rule is also applied for placement of the button whenever the size of the table shrinks to two players. If three or more players are involved in a hand, and at the conclusion of the hand one or more players have busted out such that only two players remain for the next hand, the position of the button may need to be adjusted to begin heads-up play. The big blind always continues moving to the left, and then the button is positioned accordingly.

For example, in a three-handed game, Alice is the button, Bob is the small blind, and Carol is the big blind. If Alice busts out, the next hand Bob will be the big blind, and the button will skip past Bob and move to Carol. On the other hand, if Carol busts out, Alice will be the big blind, Bob will get the button and will have to pay the small blind for the second hand in a row.

Bring-in

A bring-in is a type of forced bet that occurs after the cards are initially dealt, but before any other action. One player, usually chosen by the value of cards dealt face up on the initial deal, is forced to open the betting by some small amount, after which players act after him in normal rotation.

The bring-in is normally assigned on the first betting round of a stud poker game to the player whose upcards indicate the poorest hand. For example, in traditional high hand stud games and high-low split games, the player showing the lowest card pays the bring-in. In low hand games, the player with the highest card showing pays the bring-in. The high card by suit order can be used to break ties if necessary.

In most fixed-limit and some spread-limit games, the bring-in amount is less than the normal betting minimum. The player forced to pay the bring-in may choose either to pay only what is required or to make a normal bet. Players acting after a sub-minimum bring-in have the right to call the bring-in as it is, even though it is less than the amount they would be required to bet, or they may raise the amount needed to bring the current bet up to the normal minimum, called completing the bet. For example, a game with a $5 fixed bet on the first round might have a bring-in of $2. Players acting after the bring-in can either call the $2, or raise to $5. After the bet is raised to $5, the next raise must be to $10 in accordance with the normal limits.

In a game where the bring-in is equal to the fixed bet (this is rare and not recommended), the game must either allow the bring-in player to optionally come in for a raise, or else the bring-in must be treated as live in the same way as a blind, so that the player is guaranteed his right to raise on the first betting round if he chooses.

Post

Some cash games require a new player to post when joining a game already in progress. Posting in this context means putting an amount equal to the big blind into the pot before the deal. The post is a live bet, meaning that the amount can be applied towards a call or raise when it is the player’s turn to act.

A player who is away from his seat and misses one or more blinds is also required to post to reenter the game. In this case, the amount to be posted is the sum of the big and small blinds, if both blinds were missed. The big blind amount is live, but the small blind amount is dead, meaning that it cannot be applied towards a call or raise.

Posting is not required if the player due the post happens to be in the big blind. It is therefore common for a new player to lock up a seat and then wait several hands before joining a table, or for a returning player to sit out several hands, so that he may enter in the big blind and avoid paying the post.