One of the basics involved in learning how to play poker is to understand that it is a game of betting. If there is no betting involved, it’s not poker. No one can play poker with even a minimal level of competence if they don’t understand poker hand rankings and poker betting.
Order of Betting
It’s incredibly important to understand that you don’t bet out of turn during a poker game. All players act in turn according to the rules of the game, and even though these rules vary from game to game, 2 things don’t vary:
Betting goes clockwise around the table
Betting when it’s not your turn is BAD
How to Bet
Online, betting is pretty easy, because you just click on the button that corresponds to the action you want to take. But in real live poker, you’re going to either use some combination of hand signals and chip movement or speak up. Either way, you need to know how to bet.
To bet into a pot, you can just announce that you’d like to bet. Or, if you’re not the vocal type, you can move the chips in the amount of your bet forward in front of you. Don’t throw the chips into the pot though. This is called “splashing the pot”, and it makes it difficult to ascertain whether or not you put in the right amount.
Raising works the same way, only you announce “raise” instead of “bet”. Be careful not to get your chips in two motions, one for the bet and the other for the raise. That’s called a “string bet”, and it’s not allowed. (String betting can be used to gauge other players’ reactions to your call before raising.) This is a common beginner’s mistake in live poker.
Folding is really easy. You announce “fold” and/or move your cards toward the dealer so they can muck the cards.
Checking is also pretty easy. You announce “check”, or you just tap the table with your hand.
I prefer to announce my action verbally, although most players just use the chips and hand motions when they bet.
Types of Betting Action
Opening bets: The first person to put money into the pot is opening the action.
Calling: Someone who calls is someone who matches the amount already bet so she can continue to play.
Raising: Someone who raises is increasing the amount of the bet. Most games have a cap on how many times a pot can be raised into. To stay in the hand, other players have to call all the raises too.
Checking: Someone checks when they decide not to bet or fold.
Folding: Folding isn’t really a betting activity but an absence of betting activity. You fold your hand when you throw it into the muck and give up any claim to the pot.