First time poker player: I have question about how Raising works
November 4, 2017 7:38 AM   Subscribe

I played poker last night for the first time with a group of other first-timers after reading several articles that detailed the rules. But when we started playing we found that raising was confusing. Here's the question:

Let's say the person to left of the dealer bet $5 (the starting bet in our game). The next person to the left wants to Raise by doubling the bet. Does that person put down $5 + $5 = $10 on the table? Or does that person have to match the $5 then put down the raised bet of $10 (i.e., $5 + $10 = $15)?

We found ourselves in situations where the bets weren't even - players who wanted to stay in the game had different amounts of money on the table. That didn't make sense, and I think it's because we didn't understand how raising works.

So if the bet is $5 and I want to raise, how much do I put down?

(This question assumes that a Raise is a doubling of the bet. I know that you can raise more or less than double in various situations)
posted by crapples to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
$10. Default is to match the bet (call). Hence the common (stereotypical) phrasing “I’ll see your $5 (puts in $5) and raise $5 (puts in another $5).”
posted by supercres at 7:44 AM on November 4, 2017

You put down as much as the person before you, then the amount you want to add - i.e. $5 and raise another $5.

I don't know that there some specific significance to doubling the bet - in every game I've played, everybody can raise by as much as they feel like.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:45 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think there's some basic element of the game that I'm not understanding so let me make this more explicit:

Player one plays $5
Player two wants to Raise so she plays 5 + 5 = 10
Player three wants to Call so he plays 10 (because that's the bet now)
Player four wants to Raise so he plays 10 + 10 = 20

We're back to Player One who only has $5 on the table, but the bet is now $20. Does player one now play $15 to Call? Then player two plays $10 to call? Then player three plays $10 to call?

The problem we had is that people had different amounts on the table and I read that the betting round can't end until everyone has the same amount on the table.

Am I missing something?
Or maybe I'm asking the wrong question.
Also, thank you Dr Dracator and supercres!
posted by crapples at 7:54 AM on November 4, 2017

Yes, player 4 raised to $20 so all the other players have to meet that bet or they're out.

BTW as Dracator said there's no reason 4 had to double the bet in order to raise. He could have raised by $2 for a total bet of $12 for example, and then everybody else would have to meet the $12.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:03 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding that your analysis of the situation is exactly right; everyone has to end up betting $20 total if they want to stay in the hand.

Often, doubling the bet is a rule, although one can, of course, decide what your "house rules" are. In most casinos, if you're playing "no limit" games (i.e. games where the betting amounts are not prescribed), you must at least double the bet when you raise.

Also, the “I’ll see your $5 (puts in $5) and raise $5 (puts in another $5)” thing is typically not an acceptable way to raise. It's called a "string bet." The standard way to raise would be to just say "Raise to $10" and put all the money in all at once (or, equally acceptable is to announce "Raise" and then just put in whatever amount you want). The reason a string bet is typically not allowed is because it's viewed as an illegal way to get information from the people you're playing against. So, you say, "I'll call your $5 (put the money in)..." and then look to see what the reaction is from your opponents before you decide whether to actually finish the raising. This is the type of thing that is explicitly forbidden in the casino (usually you give up the option to raise if you first announce "call"), but is not a big deal in most home games (where you might be given a hard time by experienced poker players, but not otherwise sanctioned). Again, though, you get to set your "house rules."
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:18 AM on November 4, 2017 [6 favorites]

OK - that makes sense. I was thinking that if the bet was 20 then you had to put an additional 20 on the table. Meaning that Player 1 in my scenario would have to put down 20 making her bet total 25. So the math wasn't working.

But no, she just has to match the highest bet on the table putting down however much it takes to do that.

This really helps. I want to play again now! Thanks!
posted by crapples at 8:27 AM on November 4, 2017

Betegeuse has it right. If I'm playing a truly "for fun" game where my total bankroll is $20 (so the raises are more like nickels than fivers) I don't mind the "see your bet and raise you" thing. But I would be irritated if it was happening in a game where the amount of money is significant. The fundamental tension in poker is between paying to stay in ("see the cards") and getting pushed out by those with stronger hands, so call vs. raise is very important to determining that.
posted by wnissen at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2017

Sorry, didn’t mean to suggest that it was polite or ok or allowed, just that it’s a mannerism that’s associated with raising in poker by us plebs.
posted by supercres at 9:25 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Despite its ubiquity in many film and television depictions of poker the "I'll see your bet and raise" thing is not done, as several commenters have already pointed out. "See" is not a word you will hear as an action in a serious poker game these days. Whether it ever once was I don't really know, but for at least several decades that I've played it has not been.

Anything could be permitted in a home game, I suppose, but in games that are professionally run, when the betting action reaches you you have three options:
  • call
  • raise
  • fold
The safest, most unambiguous way to make your intention clear when it is your turn to act is to speak: say "call", "raise", or "fold". However, it is acceptable to proceed without speaking. This can lead to confusion between calling and raising, however, unless you put out an amount of chips exactly matching the current bet. If you intend to raise, you must generally put all of your chips out in one action (unless you have verbally announced your intention first.) It's bad form, and will usually be disallowed (unless, as I say, you have first verbally made clear what you plan to do) to put out some chips then reach back to you stack to grab more chips and add them in a second action.

On edit: Also, don't do things like say "I call and raise.." If you state that you are calling, that's binding in most games. "Call and raise" is not a thing -- "call" and "raise" are mutually exclusive options. You will certainly run into people who try to imitate what they have seen in film and "see and raise" or "call and raise" but they will generally get smacked down and it leads to confusion and bad feeling. Limit yourself to "call", "raise", or "fold" and you'll get along much better.
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:00 PM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have an old book called “The rules of neighborhood poker” and it’s pretty good about outlining the rules and gameplay in an easy to understand way as well as emphasizing the fun in casual poker. Has a ton of games if you’re not purists.

The way to think of the raising and betting is that everyone who is in is in for the same amount. Decide if you have an ante and if you do, everyone puts in the same amount to start the hand. Let’s say it’s a dollar. You have 4 players so that’s $4 in the pot to start but does not affect betting.

Then you pass out cards and the first player can pass or bet. Let’s say they pass. Player 2 says $1. Player 3 says “raise to 2”. Player 4 says, “I’ll see that, in for $2.” Now it’s back to Player 1, they can meet the pot (put in $2 since they passed) or fold. But if they want to keep playing they need to either match the current bet or raise it. Player 1 stays in by putting in $2. Player 2 only has $1 in at this point so they can raise, fold or meet the pot. If they choose to meet, they put in $1 because they already have $1 in from the beginning. Now everyone is equal and you deal your next card (depending on your game) or start showing to determine winner. I believe the last to raise starts showing.
posted by amanda at 6:33 PM on November 4, 2017

I'd like to point out a couple things, with the caveat that I'm coming from the standpoint of a professional poker room; home games are of course free to set whatever rules they want.

First, your reference to 'on the table' is confusing. In typical parlance, a player having $20 "on the table" means they have that much total in front of them that they could potentially play or bet. What they have wagered in a hand so far is normally called "in the pot".

Next, the typical minimum raise is the mount of the last raise, not the last bet. Maximum raise is completely dependent on the game setup; if you're playing no-limit, then obviously there is no maximum. There are several options for limit games, including fixed, spread, and pot.

Finally, there should always be a method where someone with less money can't be forced out of the hand. Otherwise, the person with the biggest bankroll could always just bet everything they have and push everyone out. You can do this by either limiting betting to the bankroll to the smallest chip stack, or if you like math, use side pots.

Example where Players A, B and C are in a hand. Player A starts with $12 on the table (not yet committed to the pot), and players B and C start with $20.

Player A bets $5. Player B raises to $10. Player C raises to $15 ($10 + $5; last raise was $5 so that's the minimum additional raise.) Player A only has $7 left. Player A can put this remaining $7 in the pot, but can only win $12 (his total chips at the start of the hand) from players B and C, regardless of how much B and C put in the pot beyond that.

Player A puts his remaining $7 in the main pot. Player B is still obligated to put in another $5 to match player C, and does. Now, since player A is all in, his $12 plus $12 from B and C's bets are placed in the main pot, and B and C's remaining bets go into a separate side pot for $6 that only they play for. (This is also why people's bets should always remain in front of them until the betting round is complete. Throwing your bet into the main bet pile is 'splashing the pot' and will get you chastised by the dealer.) B and C show their hands, and the $6 side pot goes to the better hand. Now, A shows their hand, and best hand of all three takes the $36 main pot.

Again, that's all how it's done in a casino/card room. Home games can set whatever rules everyone agrees to.
posted by SquidLips at 9:51 AM on November 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

The arrangement described by SquidLips, whereby players who run out of chips can still remain eligible for a portion of the pot, is called "table stakes" if you want to learn more about it (and that's also why it's important to be clear about what you mean by "on the table" vs "in the pot", as the amount of chips that a player has on the table is a significant limitation on betting.)
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:56 PM on November 6, 2017

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