Even though No-Limit Texas Hold'em is the most popular form of poker being played today, there are still many players who would rather play a Limit or Pot-Limit variant instead.
In the world of poker, the popularity of No-Limit games is a relatively recent development. For many years poker was a Limit or Pot-Limit game.
No-Limit only really took off once Doyle Brunson and his crew introduced the game to Las Vegas casinos.
Ever since, No-Limit has steadily increased in popularity, exploding into the spotlight with the 2003 Chris Moneymaker won. Given that it's the most popular betting variation, it only makes sense to explain it first.
No-Limit Texas Hold'em
People are drawn to No-Limit because of its unique mix of skill, chance and action, and because you can bet all of your chips at any point during the hand.
In Texas Hold'em, players are always faced with the ability to choose one of three options:
Check (or call).
Bet (or raise).
Fold. (In a scenario where you can check, folding makes no sense, but it's still an option.)
To call is simply to match the previous bet made (a check is the same thing, only when no bet has been made: in other words, a check is a call for free).
To fold is to throw away your hand and wait until the next deal to play again. Folding is always free.
If there has been no bet made yet, you have the option to bet. Once a bet is made, players to follow now have the option to raise the bet.
In No-Limit a minimum bet is equal to the size of the big blind, while a maximum bet is the total amount of all of your chips. (Only chips that were included in your stack before the cards were dealt for that hand count, meaning you can't add (or remove) chips during a hand.)
Once a bet has been made, the minimum you can raise is the size of the last bet. So if your opponent bets $5, the minimum raise you can make is $5 (for a total bet of $10). Again, the maximum raise is the total of whatever you have in front of you.
How big a No-Limit Hold'em cash game is played is determined by its blind size. A $1/$2 game will have $1/$2 blinds, and the buy-in will vary from poker room to poker room.
Generally the minimum buy-in will be 20 big blinds (so $40 in our example), and the maximum will be 100 big blinds ($200), though there are some casinos that spread games with no maximum buy-in.