Types of Poker Bets: Forced Bets
In simple terms, a forced bet is a mandatory poker bet that a player must make. In almost all cases, they are at (or near) the beginning of the game – there’s no folding, no bluffing, no holding back – you make the bet to enter the hand.
There are generally three types of forced bet: The player is in position for a rotating forced bet (“blinds”); the game has a beginning bet that all players pay (ante), or the player, in select games, has a certain card / hand (called a bring-in). Those sound pretty simple on the surface, but there’s a little more to them. Here are some more detailed explanations:
A blind (otherwise known as a “blind bet”) is a forced bet that is placed into the pot by one or more players before the deal begins in certain games (like Texas Hold ‘Em). A blind bet is most often used in casino and tournament games, and is designed to ensure that there is betting action on each hand (otherwise players could play for free). There may be more than one blind in a game (for example, a big blind, and a small blind.)
An ante is a forced bet where each player puts an equal, pre-determined amount into the pot before the deal begins. In a game with a rotating dealer, it may be deemed easier for the dealer to provide the ante for the entire group. While “one pays for all” simplifies betting, it can cause minor issues (for example, leaving just before it’s your turn to put in for everyone will likely elicit grumbles.) Casino and tournament play usually requires a larger ante than that of a home game. Once an ante is established, betting begins with the player to the immediate left of the dealer.
A bring-in forced bet is usually assigned on the first round of certain poker variations, such as some forms of stud poker. Usually the bring-in is assigned to the lowest showing hand (hopefully ensuring that player stays in the game). In fixed limit (and some spread limit) games, the bring-in amount is typically less than the normal betting minimum (“let’s go easy on the weak hand”). The player forced to pay the bring-in may choose either to pay what is required, or make a normal (higher) bet.
The general reasoning behind all forced bets is the same – it makes certain that nobody can just sit at the table and keep folding until they have a good hand. Forced betting ensures players have a reason to actually play, less they slowly go broke (and who wants to do that?)