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Spread Limit

Spread Limit Poker Games

by Jesse Knight
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Spread Limit Poker
Spread limit - A betting structure with an established minimum and maximum bet, which allows for any amount within that range to be wagered.


In a poker game, the betting can be structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. A game with structured betting is more commonly called a “limit” game. “Structure” refers to the fact that the bet amounts are defined. This essentially means that, as the hand progresses, the size of the bet you may make at any given point is predetermined, and determines the size of the game. Commonly, in a structured game there will be two bet sizes, a big bet and a small bet. The big bet is usually equal to two small bets, and both are used to identify the game in question. For example a 10-20 Texas Hold’em game would feature a small bet of $10 and a large bet of $20.

If you want to bet in a limit game, you must bet the exact amount of the predetermined bet, no more and no less. In most limit games, the small bet is used for the first two betting rounds, and the big bet is used for all subsequent betting rounds. Increasing the size of the bet as the hand progresses helps to keep the bet from losing its impact as the size of the pot grows.

A game with unstructured betting allows for players to bet any amount, so long as it meets or exceeds the minimum bet. This is commonly referred to as No-Limit poker. In a no-limit game, the minimum bet is usually equal to the amount of the big blind.

A semi-structured game is a hybrid of the two. In a semi-structured game, an upper and a lower condition provide a loose structure, with players free to bet any amount in between. Pot limit poker and spread limit poker are examples of semi-structured games. In a pot limit game, the lower betting limit is set by the size of the big blind, and the upper limit is set by the size of the pot, so that the limit grows alongside the pot. This creates the potential for the pot to grow exponentially, and can result in very large pots. Pot limit is considered a “skill” structure, because the luck factor is greatly reduced when compared to a limit game.

A spread limit game has an established lower limit and an established upper limit, and these remain consistent throughout the hand. Players may bet any amount between these limits when it is their turn to act. Since the upper betting limit typically does not change in a spread limit game, the game is milder and the action is less explosive than in a pot limit game. Of course, the larger the spread, the more potential there is for big pots and intense action. A game with a $2-$5 spread is not going to have the same potential for action as a game with a $2-$20 spread.

Spread limit games are fairly rare, both in brick and mortar casinos and online. Most players either prefer the mild action of a structured game or else they want the exact opposite, the intense action of an unstructured game. For this reason, most casino spread either no-limit poker, limit poker, or both. Pot limit games are also frequently played at higher limits, because they often produce as much action as no limit games, and they require as much or more skill. There just isn’t much demand for the spread limit structure at either the lower limits or the higher limits, and so casinos generally don’t use it.

In fact, if you have ever played in a spread limit game, you will notice that the upper limit is frequently the default bet. If the game is $2-$20 spread limit, the most commonly wagered amount will be $20. Compare the action in this game with that of a $10-$20 limit game, where the bet will always be either $10 or $20. Since everyone is betting $20 all the time in both games, the action is frequently similar. One major difference between the two is that the spread limit game runs significantly slower, as bet amount can vary. The house wants the games to run as quickly as possible, so that they can maximize revenue. This makes a Limit game the logical choice over a spread limit game of equal size, as far as the house is concerned.

Occasionally, a casino may be prevented from using a no limit or pot limit structure, because state or local regulations prohibit it. These types of regulations have cropped up from time to time in various places, in an attempt to keep high stakes gaming out of these communities. Casinos in these areas will sometimes use the spread limit structure, because it is as close to an unstructured game as they are allowed to get.

Usage: Spread Limit Stud, Spread Limit Hold’em

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