Limit Vs. No Limit Poker
Two of the most popular forms of poker are No Limit Texas Hold’em and Limit Texas Hold’em. Limit poker is still popular in US cardrooms, and you’ll find a decent range of cash games online in poker rooms at top online casinos in the US.
When it comes to No Limit poker, you’ll have a massive variety of tournaments and cash tables at your disposal.
So which game to go for, especially if you’re a poker player just starting out? Let’s examine the similarities and differences, and work through some key strategies for both disciplines.
May the Odds Be in Your Favor
Whatever type of poker you’re playing, you’ll need a rudimentary grasp of odds. Essentially, the odds help a poker player work out whether a hand is worth continuing with. If the odds aren’t in your favor, you can make an informed decision to let the hand go. If it is, it will help you determine bet size.
Pot Odds: In a nutshell, pot odds refers to the ratio of the size of the bet you need to call compared to the size of the pot.
Imagine there is $90 in the pot. A player on the other side of the table bets $10, making the total pot $100. You’ll need to bet $10 in order to call, so your pot odds are 10/1; you stand to win 10x your bet by making the call.
Drawing Odds: Now you can work out the odds of your hand improving. Let’s say you hold two pair on a board and need one of 8 possible cards out of 32 left in order to improve your hand.
Your hand odds, or drawing odds, would be 32/8, or 4/1. As that’s lower than the pot odds of 10/1, it’s an easy call to make.
Implied Odds: Implied odds is a little more complex to understand. Essentially, implied odds refer to the amount of money you can potentially make if you hit outs on later streets. Implied odds also consider the likelihood of your opponent calling you down all the way.
Your implied odds also increase if you go to the flop multiway. You can make a call with a marginal hand preflop if you think there will be a lot of callers. Hit your made hand on the flop and your implied odds are huge with so many players left in.
CHECK OUT: Our Guide to The Basic Rules of Poker
Limit Poker Games
When comparing Limit vs No Limit poker, we need to look first at the standard betting during the hand. The betting limit varies between the two disciplines, and this can have a huge impact on how you play a hand.
In Limit Texas Hold’em, there will be two bet sizes available: the small bet and the big bet. Imagine you’re playing a Limit poker cash game where the blinds are $1/$2.
The small blind will be $1 and the big blind $2. However, the small bet is worth double the small blind, or $2. The big bet is worth double the big blind, or $4.
In Limit Hold’em the small bet is used preflop and on the flop. The big bet is used for the turn and river.
Let’s say you are heads-up against an opponent in a Limit cash game with blinds of $1/$2. You decide to raise but you can only make it $4. Your opponent raises, but can only make it $8 to go. You make the call and we see a flop.
Flop: Again, the maximum bet size is $4. You bet and your opponent calls.
Turn: Now you can use the big bet. You bet $8, and your opponent raises to $16. You fold and the villain takes the pot.
Some cardrooms will cap the betting in a limit game after a certain number of raises. However, this varies between casinos, and online cardrooms will have their own rules too.
No Limit Poker Games
In a No Limit Texas Hold’em game, you aren’t restricted by a betting limits. As long as you raise at least double the big blind or previous bet, you can bet what you want.
Imagine you’re playing in a No Limit poker cash game at $5/$10. The small blind is $5, and the big blind is $10. You’re first to act.
Your minimum raise amount would be $10, but there would be no limit on your maximum raise. You can even bet all your chips, even if you can’t match the current bet.
Imagine you are sitting at a No Limit poker cash game and have $500 behind. The blinds are $5/$10 and your opponent raises to $100. You now have the option of raising the minimum to $200 or going all-in for the whole $500. Even if you have your opponent covered, they can call for whatever chips they have left.
Buy-ins in Limit Poker Games
When comparing Limit vs No Limit poker, we need to consider buy-ins. You need to assess three things when deciding what to sit down with:
- Min/max buy-in available on the poker site
- Your personal bankroll
- Your skill level
Most online poker rooms will carry a min buy-in of 10x the big bet. So, in a game of $2/4 Limit poker (blinds $1/$2), where the small bet and big bet are $2 and $4, the minimum buy-in would be $40. The maximum buy-in varies, but some sites won’t impose an upper limit.
Because there are strict rules to the betting in a game of Limit Texas Hold’em, a limit player don’t really need to sit down with a lot. However, because more hands in Limit poker go to showdown, you should always be prepared to have a few re-buys available.
Buy-Ins in No Limit Games
Now let’s consider what you should sit down with in a game of No Limit Texas Hold’em. Buy-ins need to be large enough in a No Limit poker game so you can comfortably cover most bets.
In any case, most cardrooms will impose a minimum buy-in limit before you sit down. This can be anywhere from 30-40 big blinds. The maximum buy-in might be 100-250 big blinds. If you’re playing online, you’ll see the min/max buy-in limits clearly displayed in the lobby.
So, how many buy-ins should you have in a standard NLHE cash game? It all depends on what you are prepared to lose, and the levels you’re comfortable playing at.
Let’s say you’re happy playing at $0.25/$0.50 tables online. You don’t get caught out too often, and you have found a lot of mediocre opposition. Consider, then, sitting down with a bankroll of 100bb.
Of course, if you learn to multi-table, you’ll need to have enough buy-ins to cover every table you’re at. For four tables at once, that means having 400bb.
What if you’re an aggressive player who likes to play lots of pots? Now you can consider dropping your buy-in. Instead of 100bb, sit down with 20-25bb.
Advantages of No Limit vs. Limit Poker Games
So, which discipline should you go for? When judging Limit vs No Limit poker, you can compare a range of factors to help you decide which discipline to concentrate on.
Pot Odds vs Implied Odds: Limit poker is definitely a game where pot odds come to the fore. You will often get good pot odds to call in a Limit game. But in No Limit games, you are often relying on implied pot odds where you have a read on a particular opponent. If math is your thing, you’ll be more comfortable with Limit poker strategy.
Handling Downswings: Because of the bet restrictions in Limit, you can keep a better handle of the pot size. That means keeping a better handle on your bankroll. In No Limit poker, you are taking much larger risks with your stack when a player moves all-in. In a cash game, you may find yourself going bust time and again if you keep being outmuscled by an aggressive player.
Showdown: Limit Hold’em encourages chasing. It’s easier to go to a showdown when the betting sizes are so small. There isn’t that issue in No Limit Texas Hold’em, where you can make an opponent fold pre-flop with an aggressive bet.
Standard of Players: Because No Limit Texas Hold’em is the more popular form of the game, it attracts far more players than Limit poker. That means the general quality of player in NLHE is a lot lower than Limit. Indeed, the standard of Limit Texas Hold’em is considered very good at the biggest online poker sites. Plus, Limit is played a lot more in brick-and-mortar cardrooms, especially in the US. Many players have migrated online, taking their skill set with them.
No Limit Poker Strategies for Cash Games
Let’s move onto some basic strategy for cash games. Once you know the No Limit Texas Hold’em rules, you’ll need to grasp a few simple moves.
Understand Bet Sizes: Knowing how to bet in Texas Hold’em no limit games is essential if you want to win at cash games. Keep your raises standard so you don’t give off too much information. So, pre-flop that means making your raises 2.5x to 3x the big blind without deviating. Post-flop, modern strategy suggests you bet around 13-14x bb to thin out the field.
Play Premium Hands Strongly: As in tournaments, you need to raise your strong hands pre-flop in No Limit Texas Hold’em cash games. Cash games attract a lot of callers, so you need to thin the field out as best you can.
Check Multiway Flops: In cash games, you are going to see a lot more multiway pots on the flop than you will in tournaments. That means your strong hands may struggle when up against more than one opponent. Consider checking top pairs and overpairs, especially if there are 4 or more players in the hand. Don’t be afraid to fold hands when you’ve missed, even if you think you have odds to call.
Play Position: It’s important to be in position when you make strong bets. If an opponent just checks, especially a weak one, don’t be afraid to over-raise to force them out.
CHECK OUT: More Online Poker Strategy & Tips
Limit Poker Strategies for Cash Games
There aren’t the same choice of Limit Hold’em poker games as there are No Limit. But just because the variety is limited, it doesn’t mean your Limit poker strategy needs to be.
Play Your Premium Hands Aggressively: In No Limit Hold’em, you can be pushed off marginal hands in early position with a well-timed all-in. There won’t be that problem in Limit games. You’ll be going to showdown cheaply with a lot more hands, so make them count. Consider folding your small pairs that may well be behind on the flop or turn. Similarly, make raises or re-raises with premium hands like big pairs and big suited connectors.
Try Limit Hold’em Before No Limit: If you’re a beginner just starting out, it’s worth trying Limit poker before you hit the NLHE tables. Limit is great for learning basic pot odds and understanding the math. You also avoid crazy players in NLHE games who love to move all-in with junk. Plus, you’ll have much more joy from adapting your Limit play to No Limit. It’s much harder doing it in reverse.
Make Your Raises Count on the Turn: Players love to chase river cards in Limit Texas Hold’em. That’s why utilizing the big bet on the turn is a great way of forcing out marginal hands. Learn to check-raise more too. They are much easier to get through in a game of Limit Hold’em than they are in No Limit. Remember, in Limit poker, you’re trying to get as much money into the pot as possible.
Jon Young is a writer and magazine editor with over 12 years' experience in the gaming sector. He has written on everything from poker and slots to casino, sports betting and mobile gambling. When not trying to take down the Mega Moolah jackpot he can be found playing poker tournaments in casinos.