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Limit versus No-Limit Texas Hold’em Poker

By Mel Judah on October 6th, 2009.

Many people see poker on TV and jump straight into no-limit Texas Hold’em when they first learn how to play. It then becomes very hard for them later to learn how to play limit Texas Hold’em effectively. I strongly recommend that players learn how to play limit Texas Hold’em successfully before they move up to no-limit Texas Hold’em.

If you concentrate on limit Texas Hold’em first, it gives you a very solid foundation. Also, when you do make mistakes they’re far less costly. There are a number of subtle yet significant differences between the two games.

In limit Texas Hold’em you are betting units and not putting your entire stack at risk. It allows you to put in more bets and take additional risk without hurting your stack too much. The betting is less about bluffing and more about strategic decisions such as getting in extra bets when it matters, deciding whether to raise on the flop or turn, raising to make a pot bigger with your straight or flush draw, or getting paid off when you have overcards.

Generally, you’ll start with better hands in limit Texas Hold’em than you do in no-limit Texas Hold’em. Of course, your range of starting hands will depend on how loose or tight the game is and your position. If you are playing at a very tight table, you are not likely have a significant advantage over many of your opponents once they call you. If you raise and get called by people at a tight table you have to be very careful after the flop in limit Texas Hold’em.

If you are in a very loose limit game, you have a better chance of having an advantage over an initial raiser if you are able to isolate him. A lot of people call in a loose game, and you’ll find that many loose players will raise with any two connected cards. If you have a hand such as AJ and a loose player to your right raises, you can three-bet. That way, you’ll stand a good chance of eliminating players to your left. In this example, you may be well ahead of the loose player who made the initial bet. In a tight game, that same opportunity is less likely to occur.

In no-limit Texas Hold’em, on the other hand, you can go broke at any time and have to be more aggressive in the way you play to protect your stack. No-limit allows you to create fear in your opponents so there tends to be more bluffing and greater use of position to win. You can also use position in no-limit to play small to medium pairs or suited connectors that will be paid off well if you hit the flop and your opponent has a premium hand, opportunities which are entirely different than in a limit game.