If No Limit Hold’em is the Cadillac of poker, Limit Hold’em is the Toyota Camry.
Solid, dependable, and not nearly as flashy.
Limit was THE way to play Hold’em until the poker boom took off in the early to mid 2000s.
Even until 2005, Limit Hold’em (abbreviated as LHE) was the cash game of choice because bad players don’t lose quickly and the game is lightning fast with big pots brewing.
I guess I’m a cantankerous old man at heart because I have always enjoyed playing LHE more than its big bet counterpart.
The first hand of online poker I played was $.50/1 on PartyPoker way back in the day and that was the game I learned how to play.
For tournaments, no limit is simply a better game; but for cash games, though, it’s hard to beat LHE. I’d encourage people to take up playing LHE from time to time if your local game has an option for it.
Sometimes limit holdem is the softest game in the room!
Fixed Limit Hold’em Tips
Most people who know Hold’em as its unlimited wagering version make some pretty huge mistakes when they sit down for the first time at a LHE table. Here are a few tips to help you avoid those errors as a NLHE player that doesn’t yet understand solid LHE fundamentals:
- Hurry up. LHE is a fast game and rarely do people take more than 5 seconds to make any decision. For anyone who plays serious games, this is a huge deal and make it a fun and exciting game compared to no limit games which are often somewhat boring and monotonous because people take so long to make basic decisions. It’s not uncommon to get twice as many hands at a LHE table as a no limit table because the players act as soon as they know what to do. It’s not important to Hollywood on big decisions because each decision isn’t really that big. The only way to make a decision that costs you more than one bet is by folding, and not many people do that in this game. If you take too long regularly, you will not make many friends.
- Don’t look at stack sizes, look at the pot. In no limit, you rarely look at the pot odds you’re immediately getting to make most calls because people make bets of about half to ¾ the size of the pot. You tend to look more at the stack sizes to see what your implied odds are. In LHE, the pot size is everything. Calling a bet with a gutshot when the pot is only laying you 4:1 is a big mistake. Folding when the pot is laying you 15:1 is a big mistake as well. It’s really important to know how to calculate likely outs quickly in LHE because the pace of play is very fast and it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of calling too much with your weaker hands.
- You have to play a lot of crappy hands in the big blind. It’s very easy to look down at a hand like K5o and fold to a raise and a bunch of coldcalls but you’d generally be making a mistake in some games. If someone raises and gets 3 coldcalls and it’s on you in the big blind, you’re getting 9.5:1 to call. That means you only need about 10% equity to call and it’s very hard to find a situation where you should fold in this spot. This is one of my favorite things about LHE, because it allows you to play pots with poor players without having a premium hand and it’s entirely justifiable.
- Big cards are king. Implied odds are not nearly as important in LHE. If you get dealt a big pair, you don’t risk going broke with them if someone flops a set because the maximum someone can force you to lose is one bet on every street if you just want to see what they have. So you mostly just want to make a decently strong hand like top pair as often as possible. The hands that benefit the most from this are big cards that have good equity against a wide range of hands. KQ is a big hand in limit holdem because making top pair is a big deal.
- Be Careful with Coldcalling. LHE is a game of intense aggression. You risk little by betting and running into a better hand because they can only raise you one more bet, and getting someone to fold for one bet into a big pot when they’re getting upwards of 10:1 or better on their money is a big deal. For that reason, it’s important to always maintain the lead if you can and to drive people out of the pot behind you. If someone raises and no one else has entered the pot, you should reraise them to isolate with basically any hand you’re playing. Only in extremely loose games with lots of weak players should you ever coldcall before the flop, and only if you want to encourage a multiway pot with a hand like small pocket pairs or good suited connectors like 87s.
- Don’t Bluff too Much. LHE is a game of putting the correct amount of money into the pot with the hand you are dealt according to your chances of winning the pot with that hand. It’s rare you can pull off a bluff to actually get someone to fold a hand of any value. Sometimes in the right spot you can get someone to fold ace high, but even that is risky because they will get to call until the river and if they ever make a pair or have a stronger hand than you thought, they are simply not folding. It’s more important in LHE to get them to fold a hand they should call you with that you still beat! Confused? For example, raising a bettor on a flop of T93 when you have JT is probably getting good value against them, but the best reason to do it is to potentially knock out the guy behind you who has two overcards like AQ and would be getting correct odds to call if you just call.
- Plan how to best put in raises. In LHE, once you make it to the turn the bet size doubles. For this reason, it’s important that you understand that you want more bets to go in on the turn/river with your good hands than preflop and the flop. Waiting until the turn to raise is a common tactic but there’s basically no reason to wait until the river. In no limit, the river is by far the most important street but in LHE that is easily the turn. People’s odds to call are suddenly cut in half and this is where a lot of your big decisions are made. Raising as soon as you flop a strong hand may seem like the best strategy, but it makes you extremely transparent and it can cost you money in the long run. You have a set number of bets you can make; it’s important to use them wisely.
If you’ve never given LHE a shot, find a game near you and try it.
I’ve found that LHE games tend to be more lively with people talking and joking in pots whereas most no limit games have people trying to look intimidating and stern. You’re well on your way to learning another game!
(Note: Want a crash course in No Limit postflop play? The Postflop Engine is like a mini-training course created by Doug Polk and Ryan Fee, and it’s all about forming a postflop game plan. Check it out below!)