Learning Limit Texas Hold’em

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Cory | Poker Articles, Poker Cash Games

Submitted by Cory, this article belong to the Poker Cash Games series.

Cory wrote a great article on why it’s a good idea to start by learning limit Texas Hold’em if you’re a cash game poker beginner.

If you’re just beginning to learn cash game poker, you should start by getting a solid grasp of limit games.  Sure, limit poker isn’t as exciting as no limit, it’s not as glamorous and they don’t show it on TV, but before you jump in to no limit cash games, you’ll want to have a strong limit game.  This is for a few reasons.

First, it’s easy to take a successful limit player and turn him or her in to a winning no limit player.  This is not true the other way.  People who start with no limit tend to have a much more difficult time adjusting and adapting to a fixed limit betting structure.  As we’ve discussed before, it’s important to have a working knowledge of as many of the games as possible, so since it’s easy to turn a fixed limit player in to a no limit player later down the road, start your poker cash game career in limit hold ‘em.

The second reason is limit hold ‘em forces players to be far more competent with the mathematics of poker than no limit.  With implied odds being the main factor in big bet games, pot odds are often times a secondary consideration when you’re deciding whether or not to make a call with a drawing hand.  Fixed bet games have little to offer in the way of implied odds, so the main focus is on the pot odds of any call, or the pot odds you might be laying an opponent if you bet.

Another reason limit games are good to start with is in a small bet game you’ll need to learn quickly how to get that one extra bet of value with the best hand and how to avoid giving away that one extra bet when you’re behind.  Getting max value in a limit game can be a lot tougher than in a no limit game, that’s why plays like check raising are over rated in no limit, but essential to winning in limit.  In no limit, with you’re whole stack behind you and in play on any given hand it’s like trying to extract value with a chain saw, but in limit you need to get every little bit of extra money in the pot that you can, so it’s more like getting value with a razor blade.  You’re just chipping away at your opponents.

The best part is, when you’ve developed the ability to accurately read situations in a fixed bet game, once you start playing no limit, people’s obvious betting patterns become so much easier to exploit.  In limit games you have to train yourself to pick up on subtlety, in no limit games, most low stakes players aren’t savvy enough to use subtlety in their strategy, so their betting mistakes are large and obvious.  If you’re used to reading what each fixed bet means, when you play no limit, the betting tells will be so easy to see that your opponents may as well just turn their cards face up often times.

I was a winning no limit player for a while, but not exactly a big steady winner.  I took some time off playing no limit and spent over a year just learning and playing fixed limit.  When I returned to the no limit game I couldn’t help but crushing.  It was like I always knew when I was ahead and when I was behind just because I had trained myself to watch for all of the small signs and switching back to no limit all the signs of how strong or weak my opponents are got magnified exponentially.  My next couple of articles will give a basic strategy to beat low stakes limit Texas hold ‘em, then how to apply the concepts that you’ve developed from small bet poker to a big bet game like no limit hold ‘em.

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