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Before the Flop

Limit Hold'em: An Introduction

Although not as popular as it once was, Limit Hold'em is still widely played all over the world and online at PokerStars. It's a great game for beginners, as the risks are lower than in No Limit Hold'em, plus the skills you learn in Limit can be useful when moving on to play other poker games. Another reason why it's great for new players is that you can only bet a fixed amount at any time. This means you never have to worry about how much to bet, and you can only lose a relatively small amount of chips in a single hand. Limit Hold'em can often involve very complex decisions however, which means that advanced players can get an edge over their opponents, as they are more likely to be making the correct play.

Introducing this series of articles

This course includes excerpts from the best-selling book, Internet Texas Hold'em by Matthew Hilger.

The goal is to give you a clear strategy to beat the small stakes Fixed-Limit Tables using a tight-aggressive playing style. The next four articles are separated into the single streets of a Hold'em hand.

  • The Preflop article teaches you how to play your hand based on its strength, your opponents play and your position at the table. It features a starting hand chart that gives you clear advice on each possible Preflop situation.
  • The Flop article teaches you in multiple examples how to evaluate the value of your hand on the flop.
  • The Turn article gives clear guidelines on how you play your hand by using all the different betting moves. And also shows that you sometimes just need to fold. 
  • The River: your decision on the river can be costly, this final article shows you how to win the maximum and lose the minimum.
     
Here's a closer look at how the Fixed Limit Hold'em is played and some basic strategy:

The blinds

The blinds in limit games are considerably bigger than in No Limit. For example, in a $1/$2 limit game, the blinds would be $0.50 and $1. Having bigger blinds makes playing from the blinds and defending them more important, but it also makes stealing them more profitable.

Playing draws

Strong draws, such as open-ended straight draws and flush draws, can almost always be played profitably in Limit Hold'em. This is because you can only bet a fixed amount, which is relatively small compared to the pot. For example, if there's $20 in the pot and your opponent bets $4, then you only have to risk $4 in order to win $24. This means you don't have to hit your draw that often to justify the risk. This can make Limit Hold'em frustrating at times, because you can't always protect your strong hands against draws. However, it also means you can call against strong hands with four cards to a straight or flush, and win big pots if you hit.

Playing Tight-Aggressive

We'll look at playing Tight-Aggressive in more detail later, but it's worth pointing out that it can often be a good strategy when playing Limit Hold'em, because it's important to only play strong hands and fold weak ones. Beginners may find this boring at first, but your patience will pay off in the long run. When you do have a strong hand, play it aggressively if the situation is correct, especially when you are on a draw. Even if you don't have a huge hand, playing it aggressively will put pressure on your opponent and hopefully make them fold.

limit strategy

Consider how many tables to play

Beginners should only play one table at a time, so that they can concentrate fully on the game and get to know the PokerStars software. More experienced players can add one or more tables to the mix, but it's important to only play an amount of tables that give you enough time to always make the best possible decision.


Other Fixed Limit Strategy

  • Waiting for the big blind saves money! You might have to wait for several hands until you are on the big blind, but it's worth waiting. Therefore only pay when you have to, as it makes no sense to pay the big blind if you plan to fold most of the time.
  • You should buy in for a minimum of 25 big bets. The idea behind this is that you should have at least 12 big bets before the start of a hand (at a $0.02/$0.04 table, that equals $1). Then, if you find a monster hand, you can raise to the maximum (the cap) in all four rounds of betting, to achieve maximum profit. In order to do this you need 12 big bets. If you buy in for less than 25 big bets, you will have to buy more chips as soon as you lose a hand.
Pre-Flop Play in Limit Hold'em

This article outlines some key points when playing pre-flop in Limit Hold'em. In general, the betting round bef ...

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