Limit concepts in a no limit poker game

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Cory | Poker Articles, Poker Cash Games

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

This is the third article in series written by Cory on limit cash games and how lessons learned here can be applied in no limit cash games as well. If you haven’t already read the previous articles in the series check them out here.

So I can safely assume that after reading my last three articles you’ve learned the importance of having a solid limit hold ‘em game, the basics of winning loose passive limit hold ‘em games and have put in many hours and thousands of hands at limit hold ‘em and now you’re ready to see what this has to do with helping your no limit game. I want to show you a few key issues that are highlighted in limit hold ‘em, that are slightly less important in no limit, but a superior understanding of these ideas will help you win a little more and lose a lot less.

Pot Odds

In limit, pot odds dictate nearly every decision when you’re faced with a bet. If you have a draw are you getting at least the minimum odds to call? If you have a made hand, what kind of pot odds are you laying your opponents? If you have a monster draw multi-way, what kind of pot equity do you have if the betting gets capped on the flop?

In no limit, you’ll be faced with many implied odds decisions, but always keep the pot odds in mind. Implied odds are guess work at best trying to calculate how much your opponents are likely to call should you hit. For this reason, immediate pot odds are less important when you’re looking at a small pair pre-flop, since if you hit your hand it will be very hidden and you should have very high implied odds, but you had better be getting close to 3:1 immediate pot odds on a flush draw since the 3rd flush card is often an action killer, thus shrinking your implied odds.

Since you have a much better understanding of how to use your pot odds, just add your implied odds to your decision making process. Every time you’re faced with a decision with a drawing hand, think of what immediate pot odds you’re getting and what future implied odds you’re likely to get.

The Free Card Play

Remember the free card play from the limit articles? Try this in your no limit game sometime. Most low stakes no limit players often adopt the same, “check to the raiser,” mentality. If you’re faced with a bet on the flop, try sometimes putting in a raise with a draw so you have the option of checking back if you miss the turn.

In no limit I’m more likely to try a free card play with either a hand with a smaller chance of getting there, a gutshot, or a hand with lower implied odds like a flush draw. With the gutshot I also don’t want to try a free card play if my opponent under bets the pot laying me a pretty good price. I don’t get a good price on one way straight draws much, so when I do I need to take advantage of it, but if my opponent bets half or 2/3 of the pot, I may try raising for a little fold equity and for my possible free card. Make sure this play is done with a read that this opponent is less comfortable with pressure. That bit of extra fold equity is very important in a no limit situation.

With a flush draw, I don’t mind occasionally trying the free card play since often times my action is going to be killed when my gin card comes. This way if I make it, I’ve built up a bigger pot for my opponents to try and fight for and they’re less likely to put me on a flush draw because they would have expected me to just call. There’s at least a possibility that I can improve my implied odds with a position raise on the flop.


I’m sure you figured out through your limit hold ‘em experiment that you really need to be showing down the best hand most times. Bluffing opportunities are far more common in no limit games, so hopefully you’ve learned patience through your limit experience. Too many no limit players tend to just fire away at pots, thinking they have far more fold equity than they really do. It should be much easier for you to see when nobody wants a pot and collect the dead money since it’s so much harder to see with a fixed limit betting structure. You should also have a clear picture of when someone intends to play the hand down. Remember in your limit games where you’d bet the turn and your opponent would snap call without even thinking about it? What did that tell you? It always tells me that 95% of the time he’s just calling the river no matter what. Now I know I can value bet the river with good hands and I can just check losers. Start thinking about that in a no limit context, it’s often easy to tell when someone decides they’re going to showdown no matter what. Play your hand accordingly.

Thin Value

This is something you always hear talked about with fixed betting games, but not often with no limit games. However, similar concepts apply. Money left on the table by not betting winning hands on the river is the same as money lost. When you have position in a no limit game, your value can’t be quite as thin as you don’t always want to give up your button, but you still need to be betting if you think there’s a reasonable chance that you get called by worse.

These are just a few ways you can integrate what you’ve learned from limit in to a no limit betting format. You’ll find other interesting details that carry over as you play more. Now you’re ready to play no limit against people who are less prepared with their fundamental poker knowledge and if you see a big time fish in a limit game, you can comfortably sit in that game and crush as well.

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