Limit Hold’em poker gets much less attention than No Limit, as players can’t stack their opponent, double up in one hand, or attempt the big bluffs they see on TV.
Limit, however, is a game that can be crushed by employing correct strategy. The betting is fixed on every round, but the strategy is still complex. There are a few things that No Limit players need to keep in mind when they are getting started.
1. Bankroll Management
First of all, you will need the right bankroll size. The general guideline is 300 big bets. (Remember that a big bet is twice the big blind.) That means in a $.25/$.50 game where the big blind is $.25, you need to have a minimum of $150 in your bankroll. This way, you will be able to absorb a few runs of bad luck without risking going broke. If losing your bankroll isn’t going to financially cripple you, you can relax the requirement a bit.
2. Stack Sizes
A big contrast to No Limit is the fact that stack size means very little in limit poker. This makes perfect sense since you can’t ever bet big. You only need to be sure you always have over 12 big bets on the table at all times, so you’re able to put in the maximum number of bets on every street and maximize your potential profits. It would be terrible to flop top set and only have a couple of bets left against a player with middle set, for example.
3. Adjust to Frequent Decisions
Limit poker involves making tons of small decisions compared to No Limit where a few huge decisions determine your success. If your limit game has a lot of holes, your mistakes will add up very quickly, so don’t start to think Limit is low risk. You can’t lose your stack on one bet but you can easily blow through it in a couple rounds with poor preflop or postflop play, so you need to be very careful with every single decision you make.
4. Only Play Premium Hands, and Play Them Aggressively
In limit poker, players often see mediocre hands winning big multiway pots so they start seeing flops with a wide variety of hands, since it’s cheap and it can’t be raised big behind them. Don’t fall into this trap, and continue to play only the best poker hands.
In most limit games, it is correct to raise almost all the hands you play. You want to maximize the amount of bets your opponents put in when you have a better hand. Many players like to limp in and see if the flop hits them, but in the long run, this is costing them money.
5. Don’t Cold-Call Preflop
You need to play very tightly when facing a raise in any poker game. In limit poker, though, you should almost never cold-call a raise before the flop. If your hand is good enough to play, you should re-raise in order to take initiative in the hand. If it’s not, you’re better off folding. If you cold-call, the raiser will almost always make a continuation bet and you’ll be forced to fold unless you connected with the flop. If you re-raised preflop, they’ll often check to you and you’ll be able to keep up the aggression in the case of neither player flopping a great hand.
5. Bet for Value, Rarely Bluff
When you are just getting started, you want to play straightforward poker. If you think you have the best hand, like a good pair, bet and raise. Even if your hand is unimproved, your bets are often still for value. For example, if you raise AK and see a low flop, you should almost always keep betting. You don’t want to give a free card to a hand like QJ, for example and worse aces or king high will often call you down.
Unlike No Limit, you don’t risk much by continuation betting; you can’t get raised larger than one bet. If you are raised, though, it’s usually time to slow down and fold on the turn if you don’t improve.
Also, there is very little reason to try moves like bluffing a preflop raiser with mediocre cards. You can’t bet big enough to get them to fold, and you will lose a lot of money over time.
With these poker fundamentals in place, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful limit player.