Limit Hold’em

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Limit Hold’em

You often hear the opinion that limit poker is a meaningless, unprofitable game, or that it is too primitive, or too boring, or all of these things together. Most of these opinions are based on a lack of knowledge concerning the subject.


In poker, you make money on the mistakes that your opponents make. The more expensive their mistakes are, the more money you will earn. While playing NL Hold'em, your opponents can make a really big mistake, i.e. lose their whole chip stack in one deal. In other words, it can be 100BB or even more – however, it's difficult to win more than 6-7BB in one deal when playing limit Hold'em. A good player can win more playing no-limit poker, as more skill is required when playing the game.


This is seldom true in practice, because the lower pot size is compensated by the amount of pots. Most deals in NL end pre-flop or on the flop itself. The turn and river are played extremely infrequently.


Stakes rarely come into play at the table. The ability to play the turn and river is vital for a good player, but a NL player rarely has the opportunity to put these skills into practice. When playing limit poker, players reach the showdown in many more deals, and one has to play expensive streets all the time. Where there are expensive streets, there are expensive mistakes, and good skills create excellent profits. If in NL Hold'em you are dealt J5o on BB, you are most likely to fold instantly and ignore the rest of the deal. In limit poker this hand is played. In addition, in most cases you will miss the flop. You cannot play such rags in a fit-or-fold style, which is why you will have to bluff after the miss. Also, it is quite a difficult task to bluff in limit poker. Generally, you will always get into marginal situations having marginal hands in big pots by limit Hold'em standards. The skill of knowing your way around in such situations requires serious potential and a deep understanding of the game. Therefore, it's possible to make big amounts of money on it as well.


Strangely, in many countries there are almost no limit poker players. What is the reason for that? First of all, it is a fashion and advertising issue. Most players discover poker by watching TV tournaments. That's why newbies begin with tournaments, and where there are tournaments, there are SNGs, and where there are SNGs, there is unlimited cash.


The second limit-poker issue is the large rake on micro and middle stakes. In fact, before level 10/20, the rake will always be larger than your win rate. In other words, you win, say, $3,000, $2,000 of which you give back to the casino, and have $1,000 left – and this is only the case when you are a brilliant player. As the limit increases the rake decreases, but the ability level of your opponents grows significantly as well. In fact, whatever the limit you start with, you will have a hard time. To be the best among the players at the table is not enough. You will have to be significantly better than anyone else. It is almost unachievable while studying. That's why a good rakeback on low and middle stakes limit poker is crucial.


Unfortunately, I know too many players who would have come all the way from micro stakes until the 200-400 level. At the same time though I saw players who, after mastering the basic strategies – making good pre-flop tables and learning how to play at a reasonably good level – start their extensive development, i.e. increase the amount of playing tables. They think that they already know everything and that they can make money easily, playing 14 tables and getting income from rakeback only. It's a sad view. I have looked through most of the so-called limit “professionals” at starting from level 5/10. All of them play in the red; all of them make peanuts, being driven insane day after day. The worst thing is when people decide to become the supernova elite on PokerStars or something like that. It's a road to nowhere. Mass-tablers only ever become satisfactory players. The do not grow as poker regulars and feel bad at the same time because they lose. In such a format limit poker looks like the worse type of SNG. In fact, there's no limit to perfection in limit Hold'em. The feeling that you already know everything is a serious deception. If you work constantly on your playing, it is possible to earn the whole lot.

I went all the way from 2/4 to 100/200 myself. It it complicated, but achievable … and the real money begins at this point too.


Play limit poker and listen to good music ;)