Top 10 poker strategy tips for limit cash games

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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Cash Games, Poker Strategy

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

This is the second article in an article series where Cory sums up the top 10 most important limit poker cash game strategy tips. Enjoy! If you haven’t read the first article yet, go to top 10 limit poker cash game strategy tips.

Tip #6.  Counting all of your outs.

Most people when they have a draw only count outs to their primary draw.  Since limit hold ‘em is based so much on the math, we’ll need to be a little more precise.  In this example we have AD KD and the flop is QD, 8D, 3S.  Most people will easily see that we have a nut flush draw, but we also have a backdoor straight draw and two over cards to make top pair.

We have the nine outs for our flush draw, but we also have six over card outs and a running jack ten.  However, our over card outs don’t give us the nuts, so we can’t count them as full outs as we could easily lose to two pair, so count them as half outs, we have three outs to make top pair.  Counting a back door straight draw works like this.  If you have an open ended backdoor straight draw, 8, 9, T, or 5, 6, 7, count that as one and a half outs.  If you have a one gapper like 4, 5, 7 count it as one out.  If you have a two gapper like A, K, Q, like in our above example, you need exactly J, T, count it as half an out.  So in our example with AD KD we have nine flush outs, three outs to top pair and half an out to a backdoor Broadway straight, for a total of twelve and a half outs.  Counting all of your outs can transfer a marginally correct fold to a marginally correct call and remember limit is all about precision.

Tip #7.  Big pots, long shot hand.

If the pot is very small we are losing money by calling with weak draws.  Since we don’t have the implied odds of a big bet game, gut shots and backdoor draws are sucker hands in a small pot.  However, when the pot is very large and multi-way, we can allow ourselves to call with a very low likelihood of winning as long as our draw is to the nuts.

Let’s have the AD KD hand again and the flop comes QS, TC, 6D.  We capped it for four bets pre-flop against three opponents putting sixteen small bets in the pot.  The first person bets and both other players call adding three more small bets making a pot of nineteen small bets, we’re getting 19:1 with 2 overs, a gut shot straight draw and a backdoor flush draw.  Our straight will make us the nuts and our backdoor flush will make us the nuts, so we’re raising here for value.  We’re making up a very small percentage of the pot with a hand that has about a 9% chance to make the nuts on the turn, but if the turn is another diamond we’ll be close to 25% to make the nuts on the river.  We can stay aggressive on this flop, we’ll have the odds to call on the turn, even if the turn eliminates our flush draw.  We won’t win this pot often, but on the few occasions we do, we’ll win more than enough to pay for all the times we called and missed.  When the pot is very large, see the next card with any chance of making a nut hand.

Tip #8. If you call on the turn be prepared to show down.

The vast majority of the time, if our hand is strong enough to call a bet on the turn, we’ll be almost forced by the pot odds to call on the river.  So remember, when we’re deciding if we can really call this bet on the turn our real decision is if we can call a bet on the turn and on the river.  The only reasons to call the turn and fold the river really is if we have a draw that missed and we don’t think our hand has showdown value, or if the worst possible card comes.  An example of this would be if we have AS AC and the flop comes 9H, 8H, 2D.  We’re betting and raising this flop.  The turn is a 3H and our opponent leads.  We’re at least calling or maybe even raising here  planning to call down on the river if our opponent leads, but then the river is the 7H and he leads again.  We can’t beat anything our opponent could have, so we’ll probably have to fold our AA.

However, these are rare cases and most times that call on the turn means a call on the river.  Don’t forget this when you’ve bluff check raised the flop and lead the turn.  If we’re bluffing and don’t improve if our opponent calls a bet on the turn, he’s probably calling a bet on the river, so we shouldn’t dig ourselves in too deep of a hole by bluffing.  If our opponent suspects we’re bluffing he knows exactly how much he’ll need to pay to call down and it isn’t much, so be careful.

Tip #9.  Getting max value and getting thin value.

Getting value in no limit games is often pretty easy.  Make bets that your opponent can justify calling with a hand weaker than yours.  In a limit game getting maximum value on your hand can be a little tough.  This is why check raising the flop is important, or in position we might just call a bet on the flop with a very strong hand since our opponent is likely to keep control of the hand by betting on the turn, then we can raise the turn.  If we’d have raised the flop, our opponent is probably going to check the turn and even if he calls our turn bet, we’ve still lost one small bet that we would have won by calling the flop in position.

Getting thin value is betting on the river with a weak hand hoping that the pot is big enough to induce an even weaker hand to call.  Here is where we need to talk about a play that is the best friend of all low stakes limit hold ‘em players and it comes in to play mostly on the turn and river.  It’s betting out hoping for thin value and folding if our opponent raises.  The thinking is, our opponent could call down with a hand weaker than ours, but most low stakes players aren’t putting in a raise on the turn or river without a pretty big hand.  So we bet for value, but our opponent’s raise alerts us that we’re beat and we can fold, saving ourselves two small bets, the bet we’d have to call now and the bet that pot odds would require us to call on the river.

Most times if we have the betting lead in the hand and at least some showdown value, we’ll want to maintain the betting lead, but be ready to give up the hand if our opponent takes it away from us, especially on the last two streets.  Most low stakes players are much more comfortable just calling on the big bet streets.

Tip #10. Keeping it in perspective.

Most no limit players hate limit because they can never force a hand to fold.  They can never push anyone off a pot, so they think it’s impossible to win.  This is just simply silly thinking.  If we have a hand that is a statistical favorite to win, we want a call.  Even if our opponent draws out sometimes, we still want the call over the long run.  Sometimes though, when we get a case of the run bads it seems like we’re always getting drawn out on, no matter how big a favorite we are.  We need to keep this in perspective, limit hold ‘em might make us want to throw up sometimes, but just think about how profitable our plays are when opponents are calling down with the worst of it just to hit a lucky two pair or trips on the river.  Don’t let yourself get discouraged even though it’s tough sometimes.  Just play solid, remember that every hand is just one hand, every session is just a small part of a poker career and dropping thirty big bets getting it in good isn’t fun, but if our opponents never drew out, we could never get a game going.

Ok, now you’ve got ten tips to help you begin your limit hold ‘em journey.  Have fun, don’t worry about getting drawn out on.  If you play better than your opponents, especially post flop, you’ll start to win.  Next we’ll talk about how to transfer some of the limit hold ‘em skills to no limit games.

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