Limit vs No Limit PokerArticle By: RuffPoker.com
Limit and No Limit holdem are two totally different games of poker. OK so they are both texas holdem by classification but there the similarities end. Both games command very different types of player, betting habits and psychology. In limit holdem you play against more social poker players, more for the enjoyment and the camaraderie, because the restricted betting format gives everybody much more chance of winning. You can’t bully people out of a game or bluff your way out of trouble. Anybody with any remote sort of hand is always going to see the next card. A $1 raise isn’t going to change somebody’s mindset if they are sat with something/anything that on the turn of a card could be great. For example in limit holdem - on a .50/$1 limit holdem table you can only ever bet either .50 or $1, until there is a raise, and then you can only go up in $1 increments. Taking this into consideration you will soon deduce that at limit holdem tables a) the quality of player will be far less, and b) there will be lots of players simply online having fun, i.e. playing loose.
Now in no limit holdem the ability to play tight, bluff/call/raise at the appropriate time and to play with an understanding of position become much more important. In no limit holdem you may be in late position, see everyone check at the sight of 2 aces on the flop and be left with one of two scenarios, a) should you make a bet, hoping to see everyone else fold thinking you have that unbeatable ace, even though you have nothing, or b) is somebody hiding the fact they have a monster hand for fear of scaring everyone else off, and because of this are slow playing the hand, waiting for someone to make a bet, only to trump them by going with a big re-raise on the river. In most instances I would make an ‘exploratory’ bet in this situation. If then I am re-raised, I will fold without question. Pots are harder to come by the higher the table stakes, and especially at no limit holdem, as such take what you can when you get the opportunity, bet fast with good hands before somebody catches up and don’t be afraid to bluff in telling situations, especially when you are in late position.
Taking a further example of the subtle differences between no limit and limit holdem. Your holding K-5 in late position, the flop comes A-K-6. As you are last to act, in no limit holdem you can make a brave bet in this instance and scare not only those who have a K (because of the Ace on the board) but also those who are looking at a potential flush or straight. However in limit holdem this will almost never work. People will hang around even if they have a 6. Worse still people will hang around even if they are 2 miracle cards away from a flush/straight. That is because the level of betting is not going to scare them off. I would guess that more often than not this play in no limit holdem will see you take down the pot. Most likely is that everyone else folds to your large bet, thinking you have another ace. In limit holdem however, more often than not you will lose at the showdown. That pesky 6 will give an opponent trips, that miracle flush will materialise. Your pair of K’s with a dodgy kicker is very weak once you get all the way to the river.
Of course you can do very well at limit holdem. If you are disciplined with what you play, what you call and how far you go with the percentages, you can capitalise on those poor/loose players. What you MUST be able to accept however is that bad beats are far more likely, AND common. In the main a bad beat in no limit holdem can be as a result of one of two things, either a) you have not bet big enough to scare your opponent off, or b) you just got damned unlucky with an all in on the turn/river. As such I personally feel I have much more control over the game and how it progresses in no limit holdem. Limit holdem is fun, it allows you to get involved in more hands, but it does require a greater degree of luck. No limit is more about psychology, and having the guts to make a move when you aren’t necessarily in winning positions.