Limit Texas Holdem vs. No Limit Texas Holdem – the debate goes on. Which game should you master? Well, everyone here at FTR has their own opinion. We have very skilled and profitable players
profiting from both forms of the game. I have my opinion too, and No Limit Texas Holdem, hands down, is the game for me.
Limit Texas Holdem “limits” the amount you can bet on each of the four betting rounds. If you are seated at a $2-4 limit table, the small blind will be $1 and the big blind will be $2. You may ONLY bet or raise $2 pre-flop, and only $2 after the flop. On the turn and river, you may only bet or raise $4. So, all the betting increments on the first two rounds of betting are consistently $2, and all betting increments on the second two rounds are consistently $4. You are also limited to three raises.
In No-limit Texas Hold’em a player may bet all of his/her chips at any time At a $.25-.50 no limit table, the small blind is $.25, the big blind is $.50, the minimum bet for all four rounds of betting is $.50, and the maximum bet for all rounds is whatever you have at the table. At PartyPoker.com, where I’ve been playing the $.25-.50 tables most recently, the maximum bankroll you may sit down with is $50. So at any point in a hand, you have the ability to put it all on the line by going all-in, even as your bankroll increases. There are also no limits to the number of raises.
The strategy behind Limit Texas Holdem is actually very different from that of No-Limit Holdem. Although the dynamics of the game are the same, the strategies drastically change. I found that No-Limit Texas Holdem is drastically more profitable per hour than Limit Texas Holdem, given similar bankrolls.
It is difficult to win the game of low Limit Texas Holdem. I learned the hard way. Like most of you, I started playing these low limit games. Playing a $1-2 or $2-4 table is fun, but difficult to be consistently profitable. What a grind! And what devastating variances! I studied books, I played online, and yet I still could not avoid the monster downward variances that would just wipe me out.
If you research low Limit Texas Holdem online, you’ll find that a decent player should make about 1BB/hr (one big bet per hour) on average, with a pretty large standard deviation. Unless you’re playing a $10-20 limit table or higher (which I was not willing to do), that hardly seems worthwhile. Not to mention, different resources recommend sitting down with at least 20X or 40X the BB, so you would need a starting bankroll of $800 just to play the $1-2 limit tables!
The game of No-Limit Texas Holdem is where I found the answer. As a no limit player, I found I had so much more control over the outcome of a game. If I have a good hand, I can make a large enough bet to discourage players from chasing a draw hand. This is almost impossible in the low stakes limit game where everyone just calls all the way down to the river, and is justified to do so because of the pot odds (the size of the bet compared to the size of the pot). If I can limit those players calling me down by betting them out, the odds of my strong hand holding up and winning increases dramatically.
In the game of No-Limit Texas Holdem, I can win pots by semi-bluffing or stone cold bluffing. There is more opportunity to play the person as opposed to just playing the cards. At any point,
you could potentially end the hand with a crushing bet.
The game of No-Limit Texas Holdem is actually cheaper! At first, I was nervous sitting down at a no limit table. I could risk my entire bankroll on any hand! But then I learned that
I could sit down at a table with as little as $20 as opposed to the $400 mentioned above, and yet make MORE MONEY at the no limit tables. There are fewer swings in my rate of profitability. I earn a little at a time consistently, as opposed to the larger deviations in higher stakes limit holdem.
The game of no limit Texas Holdem offers a wider range of strategy and deception. You can vary your bet depending on the strength of your hand. You could bet $.50 on your nut flush hoping to entice a raise with your weak bet, or go all-in for $50 on the same hand hoping someone will call the possible bluff. You can play the same hand multiple ways to keep your opponents guessing.
Limit Holdem has its advantages. I just couldn’t take maximize the advantages as skillfully as no limit Holdem. Limit Texas Holdem is all about tiny, slight edges that you exploit from lesser
skilled players. No limit Texas Holdem is about monster edges that you exploit from lesser skilled players.
The game of No-Limit Texas Holdem is also relatively new to many players. However, no-limit is becoming very popular due to televised poker tournaments. In print, there are tons of books on limit holdem, but far less dedicated to no limit strategies. And it is difficult to find a no limit holdem game in the card casinos, because most Texas Holdem tables are dedicated to limit poker. I have found that the quality of players and skill online compared to the total population is weaker on the no limit tables than the limit tables, making the game that much easier. I believe with no limit holdem, you have a much greater ability to exploit the poor players by utilizing a sound strategy. You can punish poor players to a much farther extent than in limit holdem. This is one of the keys to making money at no limit holdem, taking advantage of the structure of the game to profit off the poor players.
Now, this is just my opinion. I know plenty of talented limit players that are profitable, winning poker players. So, try both games out for yourself and find which variation suits you! I would suggest starting out with play money. You can join Empire Poker and play for free. This, by no means, is a substitute for the real thing. Don’t think you’ve figured out the game because you can win play chips at will. But getting used to the game, the flow, and the software, will help prepare you for what’s to come.
Like anything, no limit Texas Holdem will require studying and practice. But it’ll be worth it in the end. Making money is fun.