Limit Poker Strategy For Improving Your Results
Fixed Limit poker is a great starting point for the novice player. It allows players to get their feet wet with Texas Holdem at micro stakes or whatever stakes you feel comfortable with, and actually gain some experience and learn how to play without getting hurt too bad. In fixed limit poker, if the stakes were $1/3, the blinds are $1 and all bets are $3. So you are never put to a decision to call your entire stack and you won't experience any major swings in the game unless you're just running bad.
Pot Limit poker, also known as pot-limit or PL, is a type of game where the betting limit at the table is proportionate to the size of the pot at the time of a bet. So, for instance, if there are three players in a hand after the flop, all of whom paid a $20 blind and $5 ante to play, the pot size is $75. If you're first to act, the limit you can bet is $75. After that, a player who wants to raise can raise the new pot size, which would not be $150. If #3 folds, and you want to raise, you can bet a maximum of $600 now (call 3, raise 3), and so on. Of course, this is a relatively slow-paced brand of playing, and a strong, solid poker strategy is necessary for success.
Developing a Poker Strategy for Limit Poker
There are an infinite number of strategies and multiple variables you can implement based on the players at the table, your position relative to the button, the cards in your hand, the cards in play, and so on. The idea behind any good strategy is to build from a few solid principles. From there, it's mostly about practice and feel. For instance, a principle you learn about strategy A can be tweaked depending on the situation, your experience, and your read on the table. But it all starts with learning the basics.
Play an 80/20 Style of Poker
The 80/20 rule has been colloquially hijacked to mean "80% emotion, 20%" game. And if you're wondering what that means, so are we. You see, the 80/20 rule is really supposed to mean that a player should play an incredibly solid game, folding 80% of the time and only playing 20% of the pots, making sure starting hands are relatively strong. Starting hands considered strong enough for 80/20 include: A + any face, any pocket pair, suited connectors of 9 or better, two face cards, particularly suited, or anyplace you can get in for free or a very cheap limp. The benefit here is more than allowing yourself to get good cards. It also helps you with the long game. Players at the table notice you only come in strong. So, later in the game, the bluffing advantage is in your favor in a big way. A 8-5 off-suit can be played like a pair of Queens.
Play Steady Regardless of Position
In a no limit game, which we'll discuss later, you can act in position (on the button, in the blinds, etc) in a strong manner and show strength enough to scare some people. In limit, however, acting in this fashion pre-flop isn't going to scare anyone away. This is because the pot size is rarely going to be large enough for a fold. So while you might be trying to scare people away with pocket Jacks, that 7-8 suited might come along for the ride because he/she got in for a good price. If the flop comes out 9, 10, J, not only are you beat, but you'll never know it. You'll keep plugging away for value, while you're really digging a hole.
Only Commit with Odds
The thing to remember about limit is that a big chip stack, or a big chip push, doesn't scare anyone. It can do no damage. A player with 20 big blinds is just as dangerous as a player with 80 big blinds. Committing to a pot in limit means steadily betting the pot. The problem here isn't that you're risking anything; it's that other players get overly committed to pots, and that's when river outdraws tend to rear their head. A good rule of thumb is to only become committed to a pot when you have odds, never to bluff and never, ever to chase. But if you can read the board and assess that you have the better of the hands, then committing should be no issue. Be careful, though; read for draws and always watch the slow-play. Limit allows some crazier, rarer hands to be played than no-limit.
Remember, these strategy tips are basically just principles. They can be—and should be—expanded upon, tweaked during a game, and played by feel. The idea is to use these strategies as a starting point, but also playing in enough live games that you get used to implementing them with minor variations depending on the situation. The more you play, the better your feel will get. You will know when and when not to commit, which hands to come in with, where to break from your usual style, etc. It's all about repetition and feel with poker. We're simply trying to provide you with a basic template to use to mold your own unique strategy. When you are ready to start playing legal online poker, check out our poker site reviews which go into great detail on the poker room, what they offer new players and what games they offer.