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Limit vs. No Limit Texas Hold'em

The Differences Between Limit and No Limit Texas Hold'em

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Written By: Mike Wittmeyer

Limit and no limit holdem are two poker games that may look very similar, but in reality there are many differences between the two. These variations of poker are both complex and intriguing in their own way, so let's jump in. 

Betting/Structure 

In both limit and no limit holdem there are fixed antes and blinds. In no limit, a 2/4 game has $2 and $4 blinds. In limit holdem, a 2/4 game has $1 and $2 blinds. The reason for this is because the "2/4" is representing the bets that can be made, not the blinds. Pre-flop or on the flop, a player can only bet $2 at a time. After the flop a player can bet $4 at a time. The small blind is always one half of the small bet, and the big blind is always equal to one small bet. In no limit a player can bet any amount of chips at any time, as long as their bet is at least the size of the small blind. A raise also has to be at least the amount of the original bet. For example, if a player bets $10 in this 2/4 no limit game, any player who raises must raise at least to $20. 

Play/Strategy 

Besides being structurally different, limit Texas holdem is a different game strategy wise vs. no limit Texas holdem. Limit holdem is a quite mechanical game, where decisions are made quickly based on pot odds and the strength of a hand. No limit holdem creates many unique, stress inducing situations where all of a player's chips are on the line, and they have to make a well thought out decision. As a result of this, limit players need much less strength and courage to win compared to no limit players. It takes courage to bluff, and many no limit pots are won on well executed bluffs. Winning in limit Texas holdem is often attainable by betting for value. Betting for value is betting hands where you think you have your opponent beat and want to extract the most out of him. One example of betting for value would be if you held 89 and the board ended up being 7TJ Q A. Most players would check down here, as a King beats their hand with a higher straight. However, its likely your hand is best in a heads up situation, so you should bet, and if you are raised you can safely fold. The reason you shouldn't check is because if you check and your opponent bets, you are going to call and lose one bet. However if you bet, there's a chance your opponent will call with a lesser hand and you win a nice pot. Even if you are raised and have to fold, you are still losing just that one bet. Another more common example of betting for value in limit Texas holdem occurs often, and most players play it incorrectly. When you are in a heads up or 3-way pot, and you flop mid pair, you should often bet. Say for example, you held 67 and the flop is J72. Both players in front of you check to you, and there is no one behind you. You should often bet here, because its very likely neither of them has a Jack, so your hand is best. Also, you will often get called down with little more than ace high, which is money you would have never earned if you hadn't bet in this situation. In no limit, most money is made when buying a pot, or semi bluffing. When you are buying a pot, you think your opponent has nothing, so you are trying to steal the pot with a weak hand. If you are semi bluffing, you are trying to win the pot right there, but if you are called you have an out. An example of semi bluffing would be if you held 78 and the flop was 59Q. Your opponent checks, and you feel you can win the pot with a bet. Even if you are called, you have an out to a gut-shot straight draw, and another chance to knock your opponent out of the hand on the turn if you think he has a weak or drawing hand. The most common way a large pot is won in no limit is by trapping your opponent. This is almost impossible to do in limit, because you only have three opportunities to bet money, then you show down. However, in no limit, you can feign weakness at the start of a hand to try and induce a bluff later. For example, if you held AK and the flop is 10JQ, an opponent will often bet into you with top pair, or perhaps a pair and a straight draw. If you just call this bet, he will figure you for having a drawing hand, and might try to force you off the draw. This is where you will win a large pot, because by check/calling you have masked your hand as a drawing hand instead of the monster it is. Overall, limit Texas holdem vs. no limit Texas holdem is a different game. If you are a new poker player choosing what one to play, you may want to consider a few things. First, do you have the heart and muscle to bet aggressively and push players off pots by bluffing? If not, you will probably not be a successful no limit player. However, if you don't want to make quick calculated decisions based on pot odds and your hand's value, limit Texas holdem may not be the game for you. Most players fit into one of these two categories, so choose one, find a poker site, and start winning money!

Author Bio:  Mike Wittmeyer is an experienced online poker player along with being webmaster of Coinflippoker.com , a site for sit and go strategy and online poker bonuses.