In poker, the minimum bet is the amount of the big blind. For example, if blinds are $2 and $5, the minimum bet would be $5. The minimum raise in poker is either twice as much as the previous bet, or the previous bet plus the difference between the two previous bets of the same betting round.
For example, if player A bets 50 and player B raises to 130, then player C may raise the minimum by betting 210, which is 130 + (130 – 50).
The “ante” bet in poker
Besides the blinds, in poker tournaments players may have to post a small bet before the cards are dealt. This is usually referred to as the ante.
Whereas in the past all players had to post the ante, it has become increasingly common to use a “button ante”, or even a “big blind ante”.
This means that the small bet will only be posted, respectively, by the player who has the button (the dealer, not the one who actually deals the card) or by the big blind.
This makes it a lot easier and faster, and reduces the chances of mistakes — for example, if a player forgets to post the bet, or if the dealer forgets to put it in the middle.
If the tournament has button antes or big blind antes, then generally this will be the same amount of the big blind, or half the big blind if the table is short-handed.
The ante is always a fixed bet — players cannot bet more (it wouldn’t make sense) and definitely cannot bet less, unless their stack is less than the ante amount, which is very rare.
In most cases, there will not be ante bets until the later levels of the tournaments. Here’s a possible example of the first eight levels of a poker tournament.
In seven card stud, which is one of the most famous poker variants, antes replace the blinds.
In other words, each player has to post an ante before the deal, but there is no small blind and there is no big blind.
Whereas in Texas Hold’em it is the player left to the big blind who acts first — in seven-card stud the betting order is determined by whoever has the lowest upcard.
Calculating the minimum raise in poker
As mentioned in the first paragraph, the minimum raise is the previous bet times two. However, if there is a bet and a raise, then the minimum re-raise will be the previous bet plus the difference between the previous two bets.
The exception would be if a player raises all-in and their stack is less than the legit minimum raise (which is called an under raise). But they don’t have any other option at that point.
In some home games or friendly rooms, this rule is simplified: the minimum raise is always twice the previous bet.
For example, if player A bets 15 and player B raises to 45, then the minimum re-raise will be 90 (45 times two) instead of 75.
But it’s not an official rule by any means.
If you’re still confused about how to calculate the minimum raise in poker, have a look at the following examples…
What if a player has less than the minimum bet?
In poker there are rare situations in which a player can’t even bet the minimum. Examples:
- An under raise (as explained previously)
- The minimum bet in a cash game is $5 and a player goes all-in with $3
- In a poker tournament, blinds are 2,000/4,000 and the big blind has only a 1,000 chip left
So, what happens in this case?
It’s quite simple — the player will still bet whatever they have left, even if it’s less than the minimum.
If they win, they’ll win whatever they had left times the number of players who called them (the main pot, but not the side pot).
Does it make sense to bet/raise the minimum?
I’m not the greatest poker player, so the following won’t necessarily be the best advice.
But in general, raising the minimum is not the best decision.
If you have a very good hand, or a draw, and you’re trying to build the pot, then it could make sense to make a small raise, but not the minimum raise.
If you’re bluffing, and want to scare your opponent off, then why raise the minimum? It wouldn’t make sense for them to fold — there’s too much in the pot already. They could interpret that as a value bet of course, but I’ve never seen anyone fold against a min-raise.
There are situations in which raising the minimum would be a correct decision, but they are quite rare. One example I can think of would be preflop raises in poker tournaments.
- Minimum bet = Big blind
- Minimum raise = Twice the opening bet
- Minimum re-raise = Last bet + (Last bet – Opening bet)
- An all-in which is less than the minimum will be considered a call