There are a number of betting structures that are popular in the poker games of today, but the most popular are by far the betting structures of limit, pot limit and no limit. These three limits together define a super majority of poker games played around the world and therefore no basic education in poker is complete without an explanation of what these three structures are and exactly what they mean.
The limit betting structure is actually the most structured one, because players are only allowed to bet in increments of a pre-determined amount. For example, if the blinds in a particular poker game were $1 and $2, then the betting in the first round would be in increments of $2. A player could initially call the $2, fold or else raise another $2 to $4. In any given round, the cap of bet amounts rests at four times the betting increment, so players could raise to $4, $6 and then $8 successively, but no player could then raise it past $8 in that betting round.
From the third betting round onwards in the limit betting structure, the betting increment doubles and in the example would be $4. This means that a player would initially bet $4, with a player wanting to raise being required to raise to $8. Another raise would warrant $12 in bets while the capping raise would move everything up to $16. The one exception to the cap rule is on the final betting round when there are only two players left in the pot. In this case, if players want to raise beyond the four-bet capping limit, they can in certain casinos.
There are a number of other betting structures around aside from limit and one of those betting structures is pot limit. Pot limit is less structured than limit, but there is still one big rule involved in the betting that players can do and you have probably already inferred from the name of the betting structure that the rule has something to do with the pot. In any given hand, a player can not raise more than the size of the pot, with their call and the initial bet added to the size of the pot.
This means that if the pot is $10 and player A bets $2, player B would be able to raise a maximum of $14 beyond their call ($10 in the pot + $2 bet from player A + player B’s $2 call). This is somewhat confusing at times, but if you are playing online it is all figured out mathematically for you and you do not need to worry.
The no limit betting structure is less structured than either the limit betting structure or the pot limit betting structure. In no limit, there is quite literally no limit to how much you can bet! You can even bet your entire stack at once, executing a move that is known as going all in.